Saturday, November 17, 2007

Inaugural Run: LAF to Flower Hill via the "Southern Route"

For this run, I chose the song "Forbidden Corn". It's a nice instrumental from the movie, "The New World". It sums up my run pretty well.

Course: LA Fitness-Flower Hill-Southern Route
Towns: New Hyde Park, Lake Success,
Manhasset Hills, Herricks, Searingtown,
North Hills, Flower Hill
Distance: 13.1 Miles (1/2 Marathon)
Date: Saturday, November 17, 2007
Time: 2:30pm.
Weather: 43F, Strong Headwing during first half.
Overcast, Turning Dark.
Course Path: (see chart)
Course Elevation: (see chart)

I'm flying out tomorrow to Cleveland on assignment and will be gone just 1 day. That's enough to miss 2 days of running.

It's time for the test. A long run. A half-marathon. In the New York City Marathon, I paced myself and did all I could to avoid getting overwhelmed by the wonderful fans and overall electricity of the city. And by the time I reached the Pulaski Bridge, the clock had then read 2:01:01.

Today was pretty cold. Not brutal, but cold enough that I'm glad I wore two layers. It consisted of an blue UnderArmour shirt, plus a light blue Hind full body technical shirt. I also wore my Nike FitDry gloves too. I still wore my shorts though, because my legs can withstand sub zero weather.

Having done a full circuit training regimen this morning to go along with my Ab Workout, avoided me having to waste the precious daylight I had left to do my run. Graciously, I changed at LA Fitness but left immediately afterwards.

The beginning of my run was a left out to Union Turnpike. Not much in the way of a sidewalk here. It was either the shoulder lane of the Turnpike or the grass and mud trail. I chose the latter. Union Turnpike turns into Marcus Ave and that was a bit tricky with it's five way intersection. I had to speed up a bit to avoid any disasters, and made my way to MeadowFarm Road, where I made a left.

Mile 1= 9:03

Meadow Farm road is considered to be in Manhasset Hills. There were beautiful homes there and it felt nice to run through a residential neighborhood instead of the normal chaos of cars I run with. This is what makes the difference between this "southern route" to Flower Hill, and the "northern route", which primarily heads East on Northern Boulevard.

Making a right on Old Courthouse Road, I see even more spectacular homes, and nicely manicured gardens. "It's nice to have money", I thought. But it's even nicer to be loved, and I was taking good care of my body today (ie. loving myself) as an example.

Mile 2 = 9:14 (probably due to my "stargazing" at the homes...)

Making a left on Shelter Rock Road, I immediately surmised that the hills were coming. And I was right. But I was also prepared too. "Lift legs high!"... "Angle your body forward!"... "Arms as pistons! Arms as pistons!"...
The wind was biting too as it appeared is was trying to push me back south, and back
away from the homes in the land known as Port Washington, the halfway point, and apex of my run.

Can anyone tell me what does "I.U." in "I.U. Wilets Road" means? This was the first thing that popped into my very cold forehead as I made my right turn to head for Searingtown Road about another mile away. November days in New York means that sunlight is sparse. The sun was starting to make it's move. And I needed to do the same.

Mile 3 = 8:42

I made my left onto Searingtown Road halfway into Mile 3. More hills ahead. Windy roads, picket fences and all uphill.

Mile 4 = 9:10

Searingtown Road becomes Port Washington Boulevard. I immediately began to notice the landscape around me. There was the Long Island Expressway ahead of me. It's tricky around there because the southbound side that I go north on does not have a sidewalk. On the other side is Christopher Morley Park, a place I know very fondly. And in an odd sort of way, as I past all of these historic and emotional landmarks, I felt as if I was home, even though I have never had the money to afford such places. This town belongs to me, and I to it. It is a spiritual bond....and I am glad to have this renewed energy running through my body because the BIG hill prior to Miracle Mile is fast approaching. Between that and the merciless wind that is freezing certain unmentionable part of my body, I will be drawing on that "extra", something that I now am beginning to admit that I do well.. Triumph over Adversity.

Mile 5 = 9:02

Whee! Downhill, but dangerous. As there is no shoulder, and so I have to play chicken and cross the road to the same side of traffic, plus jump a short metal rail dividing the sidewalk from the road. I'm trying not to slap my feet hard into the concrete and I barrel down the hill. Up ahead, the Landmark Diner, Bed Bath & Beyond. And beyond that, a whole lot more...

As I pass St. Francis Hospital on my left, I cross and head up Farm View Road on the right. FarmView is actually an uphill road. Gradual, subtle, but there. It doesn't matter to me though. Because as I make the left onto Hewlett Lane, I am no longer running anymore. I am sprinting.
Watch out. Here comes the Alex express. Making only 1 local stop....

Mile 6 = 7:30 (my fastest mile by over a minute over any other mile. Inspiration is the key to life.)

Country Club Road was the turnaround point. But this time, I slowed down quite a bit to look, covet, lament, and fight off the urge to let too much of my inner chi to drain out. After all, I was only half way through my run. The war drums in my head began to sound, and it was time to pace myself, and get into a long-distance run battle mode. The worst miles were ahead of me. And that was the road back to reality.

Mile 7 = 9:00

Did I mention that I made a choice not to bring any water with me? I had set out this run to be one of being mentally and physical toughness. I need to be tougher. Need to make my body and my soul as hard as a rock, and be shaken by no one and nothing. The run back up the hill past the Miracle Mile, tested my endurance and my will. I hung on. I don't say this with pride, just solemn resolve when I say that I won't let anything beat me.

Mile 8 = 9:08

Goodbye Flower Hill, and goodbye Port Washington. See you around soon, I hope. It's mostly flat around here, but there are downhills now. My legs are sore, so while it seems that I am going very fast, it is just an illusion at this point. At least the headwind is now a tailwind. The sun has been completed replaced by the grayness that is now all around me. This grayness is only temporary. Darkness will be setting in shortly.

Mile 9 = 8:37

The mind begins to play a few tricks on me. My clothes are getting heavy, my legs too. And they are taking me forever to get me to IU Willets. Then that road appeared like an eternity too. I am slowing down. I worry about my getting older and if Mother Nature is going to let me have my way at the Long Island Marathon in May of '08.

Mile 10 = 9:16

"No concessions! Must fight off the will to lose my will!!" Now I am no longer fighting Mother Nature anymore, but now I am fighting myself, and my limits. It has only been 13 days since I ran the New York City Marathon. This is where the typical runner ends, and the human spirit begins. No man can judge another, but I can judge myself. And court is now in session...."Dig in! Keep running! Don't Stop! If you do, you wont want to run again, or will run slower!!" Shelter Rock Road right ahead. Full steam again. Left turn followed by a long subtle downhill. Legs are feeling like rusty torpedoes being shown off at a naval museum.

Mile 11 = 9:21

Finally arriving to Old Courthouse Road, for yet another look at the beautiful houses. Everyone is no doubt indoors watching TV, relaxing, or perhaps working on projects. I am outside. I am giving myself another class known as Mental Toughness 301. I am still wondering when if ever, I will graduate.

It is getting colder. I can see my breath now. I do well in the cold though. There is a serene stillness of it, that is charming in a way. In the meantime, this road is taking forever. One thing I have learned, anything with the world "Old" in it, is $$$. Old Westbury, Old Bethpage, Old Courthouse Road.

My mind has played a nasty trick on me. It is getting dark and the street signs are getting harder to see. Did I already pass Meadowfarm Road accidentally? I nearly come to a stop, and then I caught hold of myself, and started my leg engine again before completely stalling. Meadowfarm Road. Sign up ahead. Thank You, God.

And as soon as I turn on it, I can see Marcus Avenue ahead too. Thank You, again...

Mile 12 = 9:26

Traffic is a mess on Marcus, especially near the five way intersection. I decided to cross to the south side, so that when I approach Union Turnpike, I will running on the sidewalk of the Lake Success Shopping Center and not the trail. I love trails because the ground is softer, but in the dark, this is a risky proposition. One missed rock, or loose tree branch, and a wipeout is a possibility.

At this point I am looking at my Garmin 305. My goal is to break 2 hours for the Half-Marathon. Remember at the NYC Marathon my half-marathon mark was 2:01:01. I was pacing myself of course, but not being in a race here, and running by my lonesome, makes it hard to hold yourself to a goal. Stay focused, Alex. You can do it (I think. LOL).

As I am passing by the bus stop in front of the Lake Success Shopping Center, I start to pick up speed. My reserve tank has been opened for use, as I start to dump whatever adrenaline I have left to try to make my goal a reality.

Okay, I guess I am a risk taker. There was a light ahead, so I decided to cross Union Turnpike ahead and run the last 1/4 mile or more, on the trail. It is dark now. The only lights, are those coming from the flood lamps at the Gateway complex, completely recessed behind my running trail. And from the Strike bowling alley just across the street alongside the Medical complex that is there.....

Mile 13: 8:48 !

Behind the tress that I am breezing by, I can see the LA Fitness facility in the distance. Another goal. Another accomplishment. It is a nice thing when I successfully complete a goal. It gives me joy. But the best was yet to come. I looked at my watch just as the 13 mile lap got tallied, and while the 8:48 was a real nice surpirse. What was even nicer, was the explosiveness of my strides. The train was back on track, and I was going to finish strong again. God Bless.

Mile 13.1: 48.55 seconds (8:05 pace)

In the end, I did the training run in 1 hour 57 minutes and 5 seconds. Not bad for a training run!

For me, the best part about finishing a run is that it makes me feel like this:

This was me in 1984. I was 19 then.

And that is exactly how I felt today....

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