Sixty degrees Fahrenheit on February 18th! What did I do with this gift from the weather gods, this sweet reprieve from the frigid and inhospitable conditions we’ve endured since December? As if I had any other option! I went for a run–in shorts and a tee-shirt–of course.
I was dogsitting in Chelsea that weekend, so I ran to the West Side Highway Greenway for an out-and-back. It was 7:30 PM by the time I made it out, and I saw the first wave of people heading towards date-nights and girls’-nights; I saw relaxed workers heading home from happy-hours as I sped through Chelsea. Meh, rather be running. The air was heavy and gentle on my skin. My foot cadence was quicker than usual, and before I knew it I was pleasantly sweaty. My muscles felt supple, my breathing hard.
I wasn’t exactly giddy; rather, I felt a little smug. Many of the other runners out on the Greenway were struggling: they were run/walking, or holding their sides to relieve a stitch. Smugness can never just be enjoyed; I knew there would be a karmic backlash eventually but nevertheless I couldn’t resist feeling a little bit fitter and superior than these fair-weather joggers. I’m out there four seasons, people! Days like February 18th are my petty reward for being a foot soldier of winter running. 4 miles run in 34:16. Average pace 8:34; fastest mile 8:19; slowest mile 8:53.
I didn’t have to wait long for karma to nip me on the tush. Sunday morning I raced the Cherry Tree Relay in Prospect Park with @nycbklyngirl (EG) and @mdwstrnNYer (Tuesday morning MP) as the first runner on Team Tweet–and the “real feel” temperature was 16*F. Except for the 20 minutes I was racing, I was a block of ice from the second I left the apartment at 8:30 AM until I got home and could stand under a hot shower around 1 PM.
The race itself was a lot of fun. The 10-mile course went three times around Prospect Park, in Brooklyn. I was the first runner, primarily because I was the least fit teammate and Leg 1 was about 2 millimeters shorter than the other legs. I ran as hard as I thought I could sustain for 3 miles, and managed some decent splits on Mile 1 and 3, but the rolling uphill terrain and headwind in Mile 2 slowed me down by nearly 40 seconds! I could feel that I had lost speed and fitness since my PRs this Fall, but it was expected so I didn’t beat myself up about it. Instead, I took the race for what it was: a chance to push myself a little, a taste of the relay experience (I am already pining for the Green Mountain Relay, which I am skipping this summer), and a moment to talk running with my Twitter friends. Turns out we came in 57th overall, in 1:17:24, but 8th out of all Female teams! Not so bad! 3.21 miles run in 25:30. Average pace 7:56; fastest mile 7:45; slowest mile 8:19. EG’s race report (she has the distinction of being the speediest of us three.)
Betty continues to burn me, even though I am trying my best to keep up with Pilates and my PT exercises. At an anomalous yoga class on Monday I strained my right hamstring, so that is an annoyance but not a concern. I just hope she’s better by April, when I want to begin basebuilding for my Fall marathon training. I am mostly sure I will sign up for the inaugural running of the Empire State Marathon, in Syracuse, NY. The new Boston Qualifying requirements mean that I have a chance to run a qualifying time for the 2012 race (my time is still 3:45 for one more year). I still might not be able to get in, though, since the fastest runners will have a chance to register first. By the time registration opens for me, it might be full. It’s a chance I am willing to take while the qualifying time is still within a range I think I can hit. It’s still a goal of mine to BQ before I am 40, and since I turn 38 in a month, time is running out for me!
In the meantime, I am trying to run three days a week, go to Pilates twice a week, and hit the gym the other two days. Ambitious, yes. But when I fit it all in, I feel a sense of well-being both physically and mentally, so I will continue to strive for this routine.