With a renewed spirit I spent a nice chunk of the weekend doing what else? Running! Saturday morning I met up with Elyssa on the southern ramp to the GWB and we started our journey of a long run into NJ. Over the bridge we went and into the network of trails that encompass the Palisades Interstate Park. We've run this route together before but only went so far as to about 4 miles in before heading down to the water's edge and running back towards the bridge. However today was one of those return to summer days, doggy, hot, and full of sunshine, that, while being nice for a day at the beach are no picnic for a run of about 18 miles. Neither of us wanted to emerge from the calm of the trails to the exposed concrete of the Hudson River paths back in Manhattan. And thus we made the executive decision to remain on the long path out to the ranger's station before turning around and coming back. At least on the trails it was a wee bit cooler and we were mostly protected from the nasty sun. These trails are great and soooo accessible from the city! I mean, we ran here, can't be much more accessible than that. :-) The trails themselves have some areas more technical than others and there are points were you do need to walk at the risk of turning an ankle, breaking a limb or taking a very big spill ...note: I did take a small spill but it only resulted in me looking more dirt bag than I already was with no injury to report. But overall the trails are very runnable and very enjoyable. As you can see on the linked maps above, the trails run right along the Hudson heading north. In fact if we had continued to run north we'd eventually end up back in NY state without having to traverse the river. This shall be a future run.
For this one we hit the ranger's station around 9.38 miles and turned around to re-cover a portion of the long path before diverging down the steep descent to the edge of the Hudson, covering ground heading south on a less technical trail and then using the ultra fun only slightly intimidating cliff stairs to ascend back up to the height of the GWB. Our final mile+ was covered hustling back across the bridge into NY, ending with 18.75 miles in total. Sure it took a lot longer than 18.75 miles should be we saved our legs, adding some variety and had a blast doing so.
On to the next day and another episode of bi-polar running , but this year in reverse! This is the second year I've run the Continental Airlines Fifth Avenue Mile, it's a great race and a huge draw for a ton of local and world talent. The best part is finishing up your heat and sticking around to catch the local sub-elites and elites run down what is normally a very busy avenue in Manhattan. I remember totally feeling like I wanted to puke prior to this race last year, Missy & I were both scared to death and even after running a few quarters to warm-up couldn't help but think that dying was a real possibility in the course of this single mile race. A bit dramatic, no? But real! :-) Unfortunately I wasn't lucky enough to have Missy's company again this year but I did retain the knowledge that neither of us did in fact perish as a part of last year's race. I didn't quite plan out my warm-up well enough and only had time to run up to the start and get through a few strides prior to my age group lining up. Seems like the group of 30-39 year old women grew a lot since last September, so much so that I was stuck behind way too many people laden with headphones and water bottles --- hmmm, this is merely a mile race, while difficult in nature b/c of speed, I really doubt anyone would have an issue with hydration or boredom during those 1600 some odd meters. Right? Anywho, too many people in front of me resulting in a bit of dodging after the gun fired. I already knew my legs weren't 100% due to yesterday's adventure but they weren't sore nor totally dead so I pushed a bit and enjoyed the rest. You crest a nice little hill at the 1/2 mile mark and from there it's a fun ride down to the finish near the Plaza. I didn't work too hard and I didn't die - yay! 6 minutes and 40 seconds later it was all done and I was happy with the effort and result.
The remainder of my morning and early afternoon were spent catching the other heats and sticking around for the real fun. Great, close finishes in both the pro men and women races provided even more inspiration and a lot of jaw dropping - 3:52 for the men and 4:24 for the women!!! Check out the photos in the various galleries here!