This morning’s 10-miler would be my first run of the week without company, and I was ready for some alone time. Reassuringly, I wasn’t feeling nervous about the extra mile–usually my long runs intimidate me a little, in that good way that helps to train the brain along with the body.
The weather report was for crappy weather–cold, confused precipitation, neither snow nor rain–that would get worse as the day went on, which meant only one thing: up and at ’em. Once out there, I was in no hurry, however, to rush through the miles.
I took a familiar route–through Long Island City, up over the 59th Street Bridge, up the East River Rec Path, then turn around after 5 miles and come back. I was concerned I’d get bored with the route, so I brought along my Blackberry to stop and take photos. I thought this would make me pay attention for little visual treats, and change the tenor of the workout for me.
At both the Manhattan and Queens termini of the Queensboro Bridge, there are strip clubs. In Queens, we have Scandals. In Manhattan, Sapphire awaits (Howard Stern’s favorite Scores used to be here).
When I say I know every inch of my bridge’s pedestrian path–every incline, every nook where litter collects, every divot where ice will form first, every bit of graffiti–I do not exaggerate. I could talk you through it with my eyes closed, visualizing the route from either shore. I have always wanted to capture this bit of graffiti. “Big Kid —>” lives on the western slope, and I’m more apt to notice it when I’m running into the city rather than home from work. Who is Kid? Is there also a Little Kid? Is the arrow meant to indicate where Big Kid is located, or the direction in which s/he should proceed?
I kept the pace easy, or “highly breathable,” as I like to think of it. No need to pant on the long run. My slowest splits were Miles 2 and 8, when I was ascending the bridge. It was a breezy along the East River, but nothing like AG and I had battled on Thursday morning. There’s nothing like standing just below the 59th Street Bridge and looking up at her lattices and scalloped edges; it always lifts my spirits.
At the turn around point at East 100th Street, there’s a terrific view of the Hellgate and Triboro Bridges. They are a little distant–the river gets very wide here–but still graceful the way they insist against the sky.
Adding a mile always plants a little seed of concern for my hamstrings, and in fact my right one was still slightly achy when I set out. But by the time I was back in quiet Queens, away from the whoosh and rumble of the traffic along the FDR and the bridge, I was no longer achy. I knew I’d have to stretch, but I was relaxed. My shoulders were low, my back straight. I was grateful to my body for being strong and instinctual; indeed, I loved my legs and my heart and my stomach for carrying me through.