Saturday, September 8, 2007

Tuesday's Triumph, and the 20-Mile Palisades Run

Two more names for the Fred's Team honor roll today:

Total to date:


Thank you to all my wonderful supporters. I definitely earned your support today.

I have returned from the annual Fred's Team/NY Flyers Palisades run. Rather, I survived the annual Fred's Team/NY Flyers Palisades run. OK, I exaggerate a little, but let me tell you: 20 miles, 80+ degree heat, high humidity, and did I mention the hills?

I had heard tale of this run. I didn't do it last year because I had already signed up for the Fitness Games in Central Park, which was good ultimately because I had a bladder infection and went to the bathroom (no exaggeration) 7 times over 11 miles (just under two hours) before doing the actual 4-mile race. It's a 20 mile out and back across the George Washington Bridge and into Fort Lee Park. The Park's got a lot of rolling hills, the most notorious being mile 9, a straight uphill. There's a restroom and a water fountain at the top of the hill, plus there were aid stations at miles 5 and 9. I had originally signed up to do 18 but after Tuesday's training triumph I decided to go for the full 20. Wimp no more!

Tuesday's triumph: we did an "easy" speed workout at the Riverbank track. Three one mile repeats with a quarter-mile recovery in between. Run the mile at 30-45 seconds under your normal mile pace. My normal mile is about a 9:30. My miles Tuesday -- 7:50, 8:06, and 8:10. 7:50! I've never run under an 8-minute mile!!

Today's run, not so much. I was the first arrival. I figured I'd get there too early or too late, I opted for too early. I showed up at 6:45am for a 7:45am start, and we didn't really get rolling until 8:00. Good lawd. There was a really nice guy there, a guy named Dan who was with the Flyers (the Flyers, btw, are a running club, not a charity fundraising team like Fred's Team. There are a lot of running clubs in NYC. A number of Fred's Team members are also Flyers.) He pegged me for a runner on the train (the Fred's Team shirt and Fuel Belt was a giveaway) and we kept each other company while we waited for more people to show -- over 100 people were doing the run.

One of the things he asked was if I really needed to use my Camelbak. That's a water carrier you wear around your waist or on your back. I got one for this summer, knowing I'd have to do a couple of runs with not a lot of water accessible. I sweat like a moose when I run (and people wonder why I'm not dating men I meet while running) and I like to have water with me. I only have a 2-bottle Fuel Belt, and knowing it was going to be a hot day, I knew I'd need more than that in order to make it between fuel stops. A word about the Camelbak, it is a faux Camelbak, I'll admit, and I can't believe that you couldn't get by with an off-brand water carrier, and yet, it's kind of true. The bag I got had no instructions (and believe it or not, you need instructions, because I didn't realize you need to slit the mouthpiece open. When I first tried drinking out of it, I sucked so hard I thought my eyes were going to pop out of my head,) you can't fully clean the insides, and because the pack itself sits directly on your back (the Camelbak is a bladder inside a pack) it tends to get smelly. PS: I was the only person running who had a Camelbak, faux or otherwise.

So everyone gathers and we head out. The first five miles are getting over the GWB and down the road to get to the Park, then into the Park and to the first stop at mile 5. There are a lot of small rolling hills in the Park, and I also didn't really notice that the roadway from the Bridge to the Park was downhill. Alls I thought was, this isn't too bad. I was keeping a steady pace, I felt great. The Park is beautiful, there's lots of shade, and the water is gorgeous. One enormous hill, and we were at mile 5.

Still feeling good, four miles to the next stop. The views are getting more majestic, the hills are getting tougher. I figure, up now, down later. Rolling hills go up AND down, and I was only noticing the uphills.

Mile 9. Still feeling good, I get some Gatorade and water. I ask, "Which way is the last mile?" The volunteer points at the hill going straight up. We had been warned beforehand that mile 9 is a killer, don't do it unless you're really feeling good because it will wear you out. However, the only thing separating me from the bathroom and cold water was that hill. And nothing keeps me from a bathroom.

Alls I have to say is, mile 9 was exactly as advertised. The bathroom and cold water fountain were worth the trip. My time for miles 1-10: 1 hour 43 minutes

Going back, mile 11 was, of course, delightful, straight downhill. After that, it was all downhill, but in a different way. Going out, you don't really notice how many hills there are because you're fresh and at the beginning of a run. Coming back, you notice every single hill. By this time, it was really humid, and I was beginning to slow down. Nothing was hurting too much, I was just worn out. Had I not done the hill, I probably would've had a lot more energy left, but you know, I had to do the hill. Getting to the 5 mile (now the 15 mile) rest stop was the longest 4 miles I had ever run. Honestly, the only thing I was thinking about was -- I didn't want to be the last person back. Sad, but true. That was the only thing I could think of. I know I wasn't running to beat anybody, it was all about me enjoying myself and getting a good run in, but by God, I ran a sub-8:00 mile on Tuesday and this is the best I can do? I went from "I'm going to finish this strong" to "I hope I can finish this."

I was never happier to see the "pit crew" and get some Gatorade and water. A couple of people pulled in behind me, sweating really hard. I refilled my Fuel Belt and headed out for the last five miles. I was so glad I had my faux Camelbak. Looking back on it, maybe I would've run faster without it, possibly out of desperation to get to a water stop, or because I wouldn't have had the extra weight on me, even though it weighed barely a pound. But it's my security blanket on long runs, and maybe I did run a little slower because I had it, but I wanted to enjoy the run and not be worrying about water.

Again, I had completely not realized how friggin' hilly the first few miles of this course was, and now that it was the last few miles I was really suffering. I had to take a few walk breaks to get a little energy back, and I went through all of my Gatorade. When I finally hit the end of the Park, I realized to my horror that the road leading back to the Bridge was uphill. However, there were about 6 runners right outside the mouth of the Park, drinking Gatorade from a beverage truck. Even though I still had water in my pack, I bought water, because I needed the cold. I guzzled some, gave some to Gina, poured the rest over my head, and we all said, hell no, and walked up the street to the Bridge. Then over the Bridge, and there we were. 20 miles.

Time for miles 11-20: 1 hour 47 minutes. Total time: 3 hours, 30 minutes. It was probably a little more, but I did stop the clock at the water stops, the restroom stop, and I confess, for some of the time we walked to the Bridge.

One ice bath and six hours later, here I am.

It was a lovely run, and despite the exhaustion I did have a good time. I was grateful to get out of Central Park and Riverside Park, and see some beautiful scenery. The only blotch on the day was my time. I'm not sure if I could've gone much faster, and I've been told by many people who've done the run that it is a brutal run. It was also humid and hot, and the marathon will be cooler. I should take comfort in that, and know that my time today will probably not be an indicator of my time in the marathon. But geez, I was one of the last people to finish. That's just a little demoralizing when I was just starting to believe that I was really faster this year. I'm sure I'll get over it; I'll talk to the Team and get some encouragement and words of wisdom. Or if you have any to share, please do, I could sure use them. You can post a comment right here on this blog.

Until next time...

1 comment:

nyflygirl said...

Hi there! I'm a Flyer, and I did 15 miles of this run on Saturday (BTW-I saw a couple others with Camelbaks so you weren't alone!!) and honestly, it kicked my ass moreso than when I did the full 20 last year-and I'm blaming the weather for this one (and several others shared my sentiments.) And honestly, knowing how tough the terrain is, I really don't run this particular run for time-I just want to get the miles in comfortably. I was one of the last to finish the 20 last year but then again-i did get my goal time on marathon day. :) Good luck with the rest of your training!!