Sunday, August 10, 2008

Park to Park. My Version.

So, something to finally blog about!
Today was one of those unbelievable days. While I didn't feel like I was 100% charged at first, I sure am, even know as I'm writing this, feeling pretty good about myself. Well enough about the self-admiration society. Let's get to business.

This morning I woke up at 6am. Damn was the first word out of my mouth as I realized that I had not charged either my shuffle nor my garmin. By 7:30am when I left, I had enough juice in both and averted a "catastrophe". What a wimp. Actually, I've been doing quite a bit of running without music of late, ever since my iPod Nano became an iPod DooDoo at my NYRR Long Training Run last Saturday.

My initial trek started off with a Karnazes-like maneuver. As I was running towards Forest Park on Lefferts, I was munching on a Everything Flat toasted with butter. It's what a bagel would look like after Bronxilla would sit on it. As I jogged, with Gatorade bottle in left hand and toasted heaven in my right, some people looked at my hapless situation and just shrugged their heads as I ran by them. I even think one person might have said "Get a table" in the same vein of "Get a room" something when two people have the urge for, err you know what I mean.

I wasn't going too slow, but since I had been walking off some of the uphills, I noticed that I might not make the 8am kick off with the club on Woodhaven Boulevard.
The bagel was by now, well inside my digestive vault. Yum Yum. I picked up the pace and made it on time. A few minutes early in fact. Scott was not there, which I figured, because he was probably having too much fun watching steamy women in a steamy room in steamy positions. In other words, Bikram Yoga.

Interestingly, almost everybody that ran today wore their Forest Park Road Runners Club Shirt. Which reminded me: I still needed to sign up for the Club Championships. Another thing, that I had remembered was that I was not going to be able to join the team this Thursday in the city for restaurant week. I was supposed to go and join them at Icon's on the Eastside, but I actually have a concert that night, Journey/Heart/Cheap Trick.

I had told Bonnie, that I was going to be parting ways with the group run shortly. Mentioning that I was going to be making a left turn onto Queens Boulevard and not a right as we normally do, wrapping around Ballys and heading back into the park.

The park was nice and cool. But I knew that Queens Boulevard, an wide-open roadway was going to be a pressure-cooker with the sun out and all. Having forgotten my SPF, I was going to run in the shady side of the road, but did not, as that side went with the flow of traffic, and I always run against it so to see the cars ahead of me. I'm sure the poor lad that died needlessly in Brooklyn had his eyes peeled, before he was taken the other day, but that story jarred me, and I didn't want to be playing poker with the grim reaper anytime soon.

Speaking of the grim reaper, did I tell you it was hot on Queens Boulevard today?
Okay, Okay, this is no "Badwater". I wasn't running up any mountains, and the only melting taking place under my soles was just the occassional strewn garbage from last night's restaurant bags on the sidewalk. I love New York (happy Dad?). It was nonetheless hot, but with my visor and sunglasses this year, I seem to be doing so much better in this God-forsaken heat.

I ran with my iPhone and even snapped off a few pictures before the battery went dead. Guess I didn't charge EVERYTHING! Oy-Veh. (Scott, please confirm if that is the correct spelling)

I was really in the groove and flying well at long training run levels (betweem 9-10 minutes per mile). Most of my running was on the road itself whenever possible, as the sidewalks started teeming with peeps. Especially around Queens Center, where I have to tell people to watch out in 17 different languages, none American.

Queens Boulevard is mostly flat except for two hills. The biggest challenge on Queens Boulevard is that you need to be very attentive if you wish to avoid become road pizza. If you see a car. Then car wins. Bus? Bus Wins. It's that simple. What I like about Queenie Boolybard as James Guadaloupe a once-friend of mine in the long long ago past used to say, is that it has a lot of landmarks, and is not a boring run at all. Just dangerous as heck.

So the first hill was approaching on 61st street. This hill runs for about 10 blocks and is a considerable hill, if you are not prepped for it. I stopped at the BP Gast station just past the entrance to the BQE and bought a water. The machine was nearly sold out. Every button was pressed and finally the last one struck gold. Whew! Forget about the hydration. I almost lost a buck! :-)

The hill was not so bad, and I was feeling great. I almost had to pinch myself to make sure I was running in this 43 year old body, because for a second I swore that there was a house invasion in my sleep last night, and my brain had been switched into a much younger, leaner bod.

The hill ended, and the famous "7" train EL was in plain sight. Unexpected surprise though...Apparently there was road work, and for an entire mile, NYC had stripped off the top layers of asphalt, leaving in its wake a very hard, rough and jagged surface. Ugh. This lasted nearly till I got to Queensboro Plaza (Confusion Central).

Yes Queensboro Plaza is a mess. Always has been. Train tracks, subway ELs, 52 car lanes going in all directions. There's virtually no way to get to the Queensboro Bridge pedestrian walk without playing an elusive game of "chicken" with the motorists. No matter how tired one is, ONE MUST BE EXTREMELY ATTENTIVE HERE!

Ahh, the lovely Queensboro Bridge. NYC Marathon's mile 15-16 as I know it to be. Always kicking my butt, until last year, when I aced it (finally) but never relenting. It's the second highest elevation at 125 feet (laughter from those who live in Colorado may now begin), yet for us city slickers, walking up a flight of stairs can be a chore, y'know?

I ran very strong across the bridge today. Never stopped, and when I came off the bridge to 1st avenue, a wave of excitement washed over me, as only a 6-time NYC Marathoner would know why. Also, 12 miles done and I'm feeling great!

With construction on the street, I had to wiggle my way around, until I got to Central Park south and ran the length till I hit Columbus Circle. I did all I could to hold back the massive adrenaline that just wanted to rush out of my system. Columbus Circle is, after all, the almost-end of the Marathon.

The park was loaded. Cyclists, RollerBladers, People making out, Dog walkers, People getting mugged (just joking). I made sure to stay in my lane with the rest of the runners. The MonsterCable headphones with the connectable iPod Shuffle is such a liberating item. No wires. Anyone who has run with a player should know what I'm talking about. Wires are just a nuisance. I got it at my local Apple store, and I highly advise it, if you're a serious runner, who needs his/her tunes.

There was one person, and Jesus how I wished my iPhone had some juice in it, who was jogging while pushing a stroller that had a baby. Holding on to the left side of the stroller, was the guy's son, who was actually on a scooter. It was very cool to see an entire family moving via the force of one runner.

Harlem Hill, once known as Heartbreak Hill, was run in reverse (clockwise), so the ascent was not so bad. Still, I was really feeling it. I was now heading back south on the East Side, and remembered about registering for the Club Championship race next Saturday. So I lumbered out of CP at 90th street and went to NYRR. The club was a ghost town. No one, except for the girl at the desk and the guy painting the staircase behind her. I signed up, and headed back out and back to the park. Legs a little sore, as I walked/jogged on/off for about a quarter-mile. It wasn't till I got past the 86th Street Transverse, where I started to pick it up again.
I was approaching mile 19 and reverse-engineering "Cat Hill". I hate that little mound of trouble. Yet, I somehow remained focused and stoked. I was going to make it out of the park in one piece it seemed. All I needed now, was just a couple of green lights (because I did not want to risk cramping by having to stop), and I would be on the "E" train at 53rd Street heading back to homebase.

All I can say is "wow". It's not so much the 20.5 miles (did another .5 when running from the train station in Union Turnpike back to the apartment). It's the fact that my legs held up so well. I was wearing my New Balance 1123s which feel like a dream even though they are .5 size (10.5) too big.

After this run was done, I came home and took the kids to Rockaway beach. Yes, I even played "monkey in the middle" (oh shit, the shots I'm going to probably be taking now).

The only negative to today from a running standpoint is that I purchased a 12-piece bucket of KFC for the beach trip. Mmmmm... Fried Chicken. See? It's just so futile!

Oh shit....It's 9:15pm now & I just got up out of my chair!!!!!
This photo has absolutely nothing to do about running, but it had to be shown. It was my daughter being a goof-ball with her bug-eyes on!


DGA said...

People getting mugged in New York? Hahahahahahaha! Where is your creativity? That is so normal!
Very funny the languages spoken while running through Queens Blvd! Maybe you should add: "Hey Mack, pull over!" That is NY Gestapo language.
By the way? Are the Russians sending airplanes and tanks to Queens Blvd. too?
Steffie very funny with those eyes!
Monkey in the middle? Are you imitating our commander in chief?
Nice job.

Anonymous said...

The bug eyes are very cute; however, she would look even cuter with something "Hello Kitty" on!

Anonymous said...

9 more weeks until we run the NYC marathon!!!!! I CAN'T WAIT!!! I'M SOOOO STOKED ABOUT THIS!!!

Anonymous said...

I'm totally adding you to my list...

CTmarathoner said...

Alex --loved this post...congrats on a creative 20 miler ...from the streets of Queens to Manhattan.
re you running the Queens 1/2??
It will be an early morning:((