Posts Tagged ‘hell gate bridge’

Runner’s High

Major freaking out Tuesday night due to predicted snow, which seriously conflicted with my personal plans for Wednesday morning of running 8 miles at race pace (aka as fast as I can for 8 miles without puking). I was mostly resigned to running 4 on the treadie in the gym before work, and had prepared for such an emergency. But lo, hark the herald angels sang! The snow arrived later than expected and when I arose at 5 AM, there wasn’t even yet an inch of accumulation on the ground. Scree! Change of plans–I ws going to try and salvage this pace run STAT! Disregarding the fact hat Husband was tucked snug in the bed at 5 AM, I rummaged through my drawers to pull out my tights, long-sleeved tech tees, billed cap, gloves, key pocket–you get the picture. I raised a holy racket and the boy didn’t even stir. The dog glared at me once but the two of them were steadfastly refusing to accept my insanity. They would not stage an intervention; they knew better than to try and stop me.

Ten minutes later I was standing outside my apartment, with ponytail (billed caps really fuck with my preferred hairdo) and Little G all dialed up. It was brr cold brr so I wasn’t going to mess around with a warm-up mile for this pace run. Heck no, I just took off like a bat out of hell. Or maybe like a snow leopard through the mountains of Afghanistan. Or whatever. The first mile was cold, it was the snowiest and as I ran across the 39th Street Bridge into Astoria the wind seemed to have some sort of vendetta against my neck. But I pushed through, reminding myself the faster I ran the quicker I’d warm up!

And before I knew it I was tucked warmly into a side street of Astoria, pounding my way towards the Hell Gate Bridge. It was dark, and I knew I’d be home before the sun arose–that ‘s the clip at which I was moving. But the magical thing about the snow at night is the way is grabs the tiniest bit of light and throws it back at you times ten. Queens  was a gentle glimmer, all around me. I was grateful that the snow hadn’t fallen upon ice, and that it was relatively dry (as far as snow goes). I could run swiftly because I had confident footing the whole way, without MicroSpikes or Yaktrax.

At one point, I looked down at myself and laughed as I brushed off the dusting of snow that had gathered upon my chest. Even moving as fast as I was, my curves allowed for a snowdrift. It was astounding, there was hardly anyone else out at all. Just a few desperate Latino day workers trudging to the local pickup spot, and me. I most definitely didn’t see any other runners out. I had my iPod in so I can’t wax poetical for you about the silence of the city, or the scrunch of my sneakers through the snow. But I can tell you that it was a marvel to look up and see all for blocks up 37th Street. It was a canyon of white, with the two-story row houses, wrought iron gates, sidewalks, cars, trees, hedges of yews, all coated in snow. The flakes lessened but never abated. There were sections of sidewalk where my footprints were the first to mar the eloquent layer of snow. When I’d pass through those stretches, I thought Now who says city running is a crowded affair? I am trailblazing right now, at this moment.

At the turnaround, at the foot of the Hell Gate Bridge, I was reluctant to pause because I was after all training for pace. But I looked up as best I could. I saw the turbulent river, steel gray with little scratches of white ice and froth.  I saw the bridge, thick in her presence but delicate in her stretch and curve towards Manhattan. She was flattered by a blurring mist of snow, an old woman recaptured as she was in her prime thanks to a fogged lens.

Oh and let’s talk about pace for a minute. Even Steven (at least, for me). My slowest mile was 8:40 and the fastest 7:58, but most of the miles were within 5 seconds of each other (8:15, 8:16, 8:17, 8:18, 8:20). My HR averaged between 163 and 170 bpm, which is typical for this sort of workout. But mostly, I kept thinking of something that’s been told to me time and again, “You are faster than you think you are.” So I kept pushing, I kept pumping and I kept pounding because I didn’t feel like I was going to puke or cramp up. And because I felt like I was flying. I was a snowflake, whirling through Queens, yet to settle somewhere along the sidewalk to sparkle and shine. I was caught in the breeze and I was making the breeze, making a draft even as I pushed through the wind.

When I clicked off Little G in front of my apartment, around 6:40 AM, I was buoyed by relief and pride. I was relieved that the weather hadn’t messed up my training schedule, and proud that I had absolutely put a stake in the heart of that vampire pace run. I owned it! 7.98 miles in 1:06:31 for an average 8:20 pace.

I am not kidding when I say that the runner’s high that resulted from that workout carried me through the entire day, and still lingers with me even now. Nothing could ruffle me or pierce my bubble of joy. I hope you all have a run like that. One that not only contributes to your training but that sustains you through the day and sets you to sleep with a smile upon your lips.

Running. There is nothing else like it. On days like today, I wish it was a man that looked like Clive Owen so I could grab him by the ears and kiss his face off, that’s how happy running has made me today.

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[December 6, 2009. Sunnyside to Astoria, Queens, 6.75 miles in 1:08:10] I like the way the Hell Gate Bridge hangs over an entire neighborhood in Western Astoria. You can see it as you run from Steinway up Ditmars, towards Astoria Park and Shore Drive.  There are traces of it even sooner though; looking south down certain cross streets, you can see the rusty brown trestle that rumbles above, on its approach over the East River. Running down Ditmars, Astoria Park spreads out to the left, between Hell Gate Bridge and the Triboro Bridge, which spans the East River just a little further south. The bridges are held aloft by enormous pedestals, the size of buildings themselves. I have run next to these pedestals, beneath these bridges. I imagine a gigantic circle of cloth, like a parachute, flung over the tops of the two bridges to create a domed world that would include the park and the river, an urban terrarium if you will. There is a 400-meter track in the Southwest corner of Astoria Park, which affords in-your-face views of the Triboro Bridge (as well as a comfortable, measured surface upon which to pay homage to the gods of speed). I imagine living in one of the apartments at the corner of Ditmars and Shore, the ones on the top floor that overlook the park, the bridges, and the river. What would life be like with a daily view of land and sea, of a running route and an escape route?

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