Today was my last run over 10 miles before race day, and I decided to run the last 13 miles of the course. Conveniently, and as you all know, I live within running distance of the Queensborough Bridge, which is just past the halfway point for the marathon. It ended up being one of the easiest runs of my whole training season-it was so easy it almost felt like cheating.
The temperature was a perfect 47F, and I wore shorts, a t-shirt and my gloves. As far as gear, I filled four water bottles on my fuel belt, and of course little G was along for the ride (I figured he’d protect me as I ran through the Big, Bag Bronx). I also tucked my BlackBerry into one of the pockets on my RaceReady shorts, as I was venturing into unfamiliar territory, and because I wanted to take pictures (for me, for you).
At around 12:30, I set off. Over the bridge, no prob (except I was so leaden I ran 11’s the first 3 miles). Up First Avenue, I tried to imagine the roaring crowds everyone talks about, but it was difficult given that I was maneuvering around the Sunday brunchers who were clogging the sidewalks. Finally I gave up on the maneuvering and ran in the bike lane; this was highly preferably and it’s when I hit my rhythm at around consistent 9 minute miles. (Photo: First Avenue & 86th Street)
Up I ran, pleased at how quickly the miles were ticking off. My mind was astoundingly blank, given all the stress I’m feeling from work, and all the chores and (work) emails that await me at home.
Before I knew it I was at the Willis Avenue Bridge. Compared to the 59th Street Bridge, this is a baby bridge. The surface of it is metal grating, which I noted because that will be hard to run over on November 2nd (today I ran on the paved pedestrian walkway). (Photo: Willis Avenue Bridge)
So, with little fanfare I entered the Bronx. I somehow made a wrong turn and had to stop and ask a couple of beat cops directions; they clearly thought I was nuts. On I trotted, across 138th Street (a bustling community hub of a street, I enjoyed the people watching here) to the Madison Avenue Bridge (another baby bridge) which deposits you right onto Fifth Avenue. I turned left, and ran through a very spiffy Harlem, the brownstones really shown to their best advantage in the resplendency of early Fall. Marcus Garvey Park, from what I could tell, is a little jewel of a green space. (Photos: Madison Avneue Bridge & Marcus Garvey Park)
Next, the big scenery switch was at 110th Street, where I began to run along the east side of Central Park. It was cool to note, the whole route, all the “Marathon Course” banners hung from the lampposts. I felt like I was running along a historical trail. I had to stop at the Conservatory Garden, which spread greenly and primly out from behind its wrought iron gates like something from Versailles, or Buckingham Palace. I’ve never seen it before, and it was small treasure to still be surprised by the park where I’ve run so many miles. (Photo: Central Park Conservatory Garden)
Tourists, tourists and more tourists with their foreign dollars keeping our city afloat, meandering inattentively and jamming the sidewalks and rec lane. I darted between and around them, my blank mind keeping me from getting aggravated. Into the park at 86th Street, where I was one of just a smattering of runners headed clockwise; the hordes were pretty much all running counter. I appreciated the light as it shifted between the still-leafy trees, slashing across the road in front of me. Then, down along the loop to the corner near the Plaza Hotel. I headed west on 59th Street, then jumped back into the park right before Columbus Circle, and ran up to Tavern on the Green, picking up my speed on those last few hills before what will be the finish line. (Photo: Central Park, heading south along east side)
I clicked off little G after 13.61 miles, which took me 2:09:38. This is about 12 minutes slower than I hope to run these last miles on race day (I heart the negative split), but nevertheless a good effort at a 9:38 pace, not to mention a huge boost to my mental preparation. (Photo: Tavern on the Green)