Saturday, September 8, 2007

Inaugural Long Run: Long Island City -> Central Park Loop

First of all let me start by saying......1 more day to Spain! I can't wait !!!!!

Okay, now that I got that out of my system, I have to say that I am really happy by my mileage this week, but even more astounded by my recovery process. It feels like after a few hours I'm ready to go back out and run again. I asked my girlfriend if she was lacing my food with any substances that has been recently taken by Rick Ankiel of the Cardinals. Only "Sazon" by Goya, she told me.

Seriously though, I have done 50 miles already and I still have one crack tomorrow to break my all-time week record. I already have broken other records too. In the last 30 days, I have run 200 miles. Also, I am on an 8-day consecutive run streak. Another record.

In fact, as I write this now, I am feeling good. I haven't gotten as much sleep as I would like, but I have been sleeping deep, and eating well. I wanted to run as many miles as I could because with me being in Spain until the 18th, there's no saying how much running I will be able to do. To top it all off, I checked the forecast, and they are calling for rain the first three days while we are in Marbella. Sheez. So much for the Costa Del SOL.....

Now for the report on today's run...

Course: Long Island City -> Central Park Loop
Towns: Queens:Long Island City,
Queensboro Bridge (59th St. Bridge)
Manhattan: Central Park, Columbus Circle,
Upper East Side
Distance: 11.2 Miles
Date: Saturday, September 8, 2007
Time: 01:30PM
Weather: 92F, 70% Humidity
Course Path: (see map)
Elevations: (see graph)

This isn't an inaugural run really. I've run Central Park a 'bazillion' times already. However, this is the first time that I run it starting from my girlfriend's job in Long Island City, and it is the first time that I ran it as a 'non-race' event during the life of this blog....

This marks the second time this year that I have crossed over the East River (first time was the Williamsburgh Bridge). I could tell this was going to be a broiling hot day. Usually, the only advantage to crossing the 59th Street bridge are the swirling winds that help to cool you down on a hot, humid day like today. And even though it was windy, it was very hot air.

Long Island City has to be one of the dreariest parts of all of New York. It's loaded with empty factories, and unkept facades. Considering that this is the ONLY part of Queens that the New York City Marathon goes through, it's no wonder why people who come from all over the world view Queens as a dump (including someone who lives in Tamarac, Florida). Sorry to offend, but with it confluence of overhead, noisy, subway trains, a mess of traffic below, and graffiti-laden iron 'El's' everywhere, it is a World-Class Dump in what is otherwise a World-Class City.

The Queensboro Bridge was built in 1909. And it looks it. After years of neglect and corrosion, the city finally decided to do something about it. And so, in 1987, it started to fix the bridge. 20 years later, they are STILL fixing the bridge, it still looks like it's going to collapse (like what happened in Minneapolis last month), and it's cost us taxpayers over $330 million dollars.

With it's steep rise and unforgiving steel, it is without a doubt, the most challenging part of the New York City Marathon to me.

Upon exiting the bridge, there were some extra barriers, forcing me to have to backtrack to 1st Avenue before turning around to making my approach to Central Park South. Of course, I was stopping & starting both my Polar sensor as well as my Nike+Ipod sensor at every street corner that I encountered a red light, which seemed like all of them.

Central Park South is home to famous renowned hotels such as the Ritz-Carlton and the Plaza Hotel. But to me, it is famous for the fact that whenever I run through this part in the NYC Marathon, it means that I have less than a 1/2 mile to go. And let me tell you, just thinking of that, made me want to sprint. Oh, yes, there is the occassional. 6-foot-4 inch Scandinavian, that will literally knock you out of his way as he too turns for the park in search of an NYC Marathon medal, but all in all, it is a great feeling whenever I run through these parts.

As I made my way through to Columbus Circle, I could not hold my breath long enough from smelling the stench of horse maneure that seemed to jam itself through my nostrils. Too many handsome cabs where parked in the vicinity, and the heat only made the aroma even more pervasive. All I can tell you is that there's nothing 'handsome' about smelling horseshit everywhere. And to think that right across the street is the Ritz-Carlton. At $600 per night for the cheapest room, I think someone could afford picking up that poop, no? I was really thirsty, but didn't stop until I had passed all of the shitmaking factories, and had already entered the park through Columbus circle. Almost immediately, I stopped quickly to buy a bottle of water ($2) and then was off again.

Let me begin by saying that without Central Park, New York would be nothing more than a big, 1-dimensional city, abundent in concrete and steel, but void of life and greenery. Central Park is the most visited city park in the United States, and its appearance in many movies and television shows has made it among the most famous city parks in the world. But you knew that already. What you might not know is that this is also the site of where I typically freeze my balls off, when I, yours truly, spend the better part of the first 3 months of the year, running as many races as I can to qualify for the following year's Marathon.

CP has several challenging hills, both up and down. And if the hills don't getcha, then perhaps the cyclists or careless rollerbladers will. Most are pretty careful, but there are a few out there that will force you to keep a general watch for what's happening on the road. In fact, I decided to go clock-wise around the full loop (10km) of the park. Interestingly, I must have been only 1 of about 10 people that did this. There seemed like at least a thousand people or more that went counter-clockwise. Why Is This I Wonder??? So, I ran clockwise, so that I could keep my eye on what was coming at me. This is especially important when you are wearing music on your ears.

As you can see on your left, I've included a picture of Central Park and all of it's main attractions. I will tell you (and show you) all of the sites that I ran past. I did not take pictures, but I'd like to thank everyone who posted pictures on the 'net that I am using, for the purposes of glorifying NY even more. Thank You.

Look at those pictures! Now, I won't be close-minded. I KNOW that there are a lot of other beautiful cities with radiant parks out there. Still, it is a privilege to be taking in a part of this. Central Park was built before the Civil War (1859) and it's definitely stood the test of time....

Coming up on West Dr. is Heckscher's Playground followed by the ballfields. By now I was totally soaked with sweat from head to toe. It was incredible to see how lively the park was.

There were tens of thousands of people relaxing, playing, exercising at Sheep Meadow today, just like the picture shows above. The sun was strong, and everyone was having fun!

Since I was 4 years old, and listening to my portable record-player while I rode my hobby horse, I always loved the Beatles. They were, probably still are, may always be, my favorite musicians. It really pained me when my best friend Doug Botero had called me crying on that fateful night of December 8, 1980 with the unbelievable news of his killing. 5 years later, with no less pain then when it had happened, many gathered around to pay homage to him. This time it would not be in front of his home in the Dakotas building on 72nd St. however, but instead in Central Park. He loved New York, and Yoko showed her appreciation by having New York build a memorial in his name. It was designed by Bruce Kelly (1948-1993), the chief landscape architect for the Central Park Conservancy and was inaugurated on Lennon's birthday, 9 October 1985, by his widow Yoko Ono, who had underwritten the project. The entrance to the memorial is located on Central Park West at west 72nd Street, directly across from the Dakota Apartments, where Lennon lived for the latter part of his life and where he was murdered.

My journey north in the park would not take me to this, but I did observe a solemn moment as I passed through this area.

I passed the Lake on my right, which leads to the famous Boat House on the east side of the park. Gondolas are still rented and used for most of the summer there. Beware, however of the mosquitoes. I took a gondola with my ex-wife Bern, and ex-friends, Gerry and Treacy (I know a lot of exes..), and I was eaten alive!

Belvedere Castle:
I passed this on my right.
2nd highest natural elevation in Central Park.
Ask me if I care. LOL. Hey, I am MELTING by now!!!

The Delacorte Theatre. Thanks in part to volunteer services I performed back last December, my company invited Ileana and I to a front-row performance of Romeo & Juliet last month. The play was awesome, and having the honor of eating a gourmet picnic dinner on a the same blanket as that of your CEO and his daughter was no small thing gift either. We had a wonderful night with great memories, and running past the pavilion reminded me of it!

The Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir

Lennon wasn't the only one with a memorial. Although, this was here as a real reservoir to supply the city with water at one point, it was renamed for Jackie O' in 1994. She didn't live too far from here either. With the 1.58 mile jogging track, the Jackie O' Reservoir is most familiar to runners who enjoy the precise nature of their daily run. Contributing to the exhilarating exercise is the view. This 106-acre body of water was enclosed by an unsightly chain-linked fence, but in 2003 they erected a cast-iron ornamentation styled fence, so that runners could easily see across the reservoir and across the expanse of the urban skyline.

And, according to New York Magazine:

Though the path encircling the water is a favorite for joggers, you can buck the
trend and stroll—just remember that you're expected to travel counterclockwise
(some people take this rule very seriously) it was replaced with
a provides some of the best views of the City skyline.


Once I had passed the tennis courts, pools, and North Meadow it was time to attack the dreaded "Great Hill" or "Harlem Hill", as some people call it ( I once heard it called "Heartbreak Hill" but there's only one true Heartbreak Hill and that's along the course of the Boston Marathon, I believe). I am going to break the rules here and let you in on a ground secret though.. Harlem Hill is actually nothing! Oh sure, it's a little bit of climb, but in truth, if you are going CLOCKWISE (I bet that pissed a lot of counter-clock peeps) in CP, then you have been going up hill for 3 miles already! The real toughie is not Harlem Hill, but when you start to head to the northeast end of the park. At first, you go downhill. Your mind starts to think like, 'Whew! it's over!'...........WRONG! Because halfway to the east end, you encounter not one, not two, but three hills, one steeper than the next. It's only after you have passed south of the Reservoir on the east end do you start to go downhill, mostly for good.

Other nice Central Park photos:

Water Conservancy...................Water Conservatory...............Harlem Meer............

I actually made a modification on my route today. I exited at 72nd Street, and ran down to Lexington Avenue, before make a right. I was in search of a Radio Shack so that I could find a power transformer for Spain. Straight ahead I saw the sky crossing for Hunter College.

Ahhh, Hunter College. I remembered my one semester there. I went namely for a girl that I had really fallen in love with, only to have the love go unrequited. What a fool I was. Unfortunately for me, that would not have been the last time that I would have been an idiot in holding out for what essentially turned out to be nothing more than suffering and despair. It took a long, long, time, but God bless, I finally grew up! Unlike the women in my past, I can at least say that Ileana is not in the "hurt" business. But wait! I am writing a bit much on the subject of 'love' aren't I? After all, this is a blog called 'Road To New York', not 'Road to Eternal Damnation'!!!!!

Anyway....N-E-V-E-R A-G-A-I-N-!!!!

On an upbeat note....After all those years (since 1983, to be exact), Mariella's Pizza was still there! They had some of the best pizza I ever had. Unfortunately, I was down to 3 bucks of which I needed 2 of them to take the subway back home, so no pizza for me.

Anyway, all sweated up, I headed into the subway station on 53rd and Lex. Fortunately, I did not have to wait long (my feet were hurtin' ..... not to mention kickin'!!) to hop on the 'E' train.

Before I knew it, I was already getting out at Union Turnpike, and not long after that, taking what must have been my 12th shower this week (another record). In fact, this might have been the longest blog I've ever written. Lots of records broken this week.......


frasi said...

Hello. Alex, i am frasi, a spanish runner. I will go to new york marathon 2007. If you are in Madrid, we will run together in the retiro park

Alex Gonzalez said...

Hi Frasi,
I just got back from Spain tonight. I actually stayed in Puerto Banus. I went all over the Costa Del Sol, Ronda, and even my mother's home town of Sevilla.

What are you expecting to complete the race in?