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Posts Tagged ‘hicksville’

Who’s ever seen that movie by Truffaut? 

Ask anyone and they’ll tell you romance (not to be confused with sweetness) makes me nervous; it’s too contrived. But I am also a woman who loves the cathartic melodrama, the vision-blurring, sob-inducing sweep and emotional hurl of operas like La Traviata or Madama Butterfly. So, in other words, sometimes even I am open to a romantic gesture. When I was studying abroad, my Italian boyfriend came to the train station in Rome and surprised me on the platform, just moments before my train was leaving for Paris, to accompany me so we could have a few final, intense days together before I returned to the States. What woman could resist? We fell into each other’s arms with kisses and tears, and the other italiani on the platform nearly applauded from the spectacle of it all. Bravi! I heard one nonna say softly to herself. 

Wednesday evening I returned to Sunnyside after a week of living with and taking care of my Nana. I descended from the Q32 bus to see Husband, holding a dozen roses in one arm and the dog on her leash in the other. He smiled shyly at me, his body relaxing the moment he clapped eyes on me. I felt so appreciated, and missed; I was glad to be home and glad for a this bit of sidewalk romance. Nevertheless, as soon as we finished dinner just an hour later I had to head out the door again, this time for a 5-miler. Husband protested, “You are always running away from me!” No, I replied, I run in a circle which brings me back to you.  It was evening when I went out–just a few minutes after 7, but already dark. Wasn’t it just last week when running at 7 would have meant full daylight? I headed over the Queensboro Bridge—touching down in Manhattan for but a moment before heading back towards home for the second time that day. Those 5 miles took me 47:29, and all my splits cooperated, falling nicely within a 29-second range. 

The sun was just beginning to exert its influence over the night on Friday morning when I wrapped up my second run of the week over the 59th Street Bridge. I was sleepy, still not back in my routine. My legs felt heavy, the right one especially. Thursday’s PT exercises had left me achy and my time reflected it (4.95 miles in 49:43 minutes). As I moved across my bridge, the traffic grumbling and streetlights glaring south of me, I recalled the predawn run which started my week. During those 3.11 miles, the only sound I heard for 29 minutes was the chk-chk-chk and spsssh-spsssh of lawn sprinklers as I moved through the flat, cloaked streets of Hicksville. I wished I was back there, insinuating my heartbeat and breath between dormant houses and extinguished cars.

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It’s Better in the Dark

Friday morning, having made a complete 180 regarding my fear of the suburban dark, I bounded out of bed, excited to run through the final hour of night. Once again, the cool air refreshed me and I pulled the silence of the neighborhood around me, lost in my thoughts. I thought about other runners I know who get up at 5 AM, too, for their own training, and I felt linked with them. I wondered if they too were alone on the streets of their town, if they were passing beneath leafy tree branches, if they too were heading straight down the middle of the road. I was enjoying my solitude, and I didn’t feel alone because I knew there was someone else out there doing exactly the same thing I was. Maybe we’d even clicked on our Garmins at the same moment, too! I finished my 4.26 miles in a zippy 38:17, once again benefitting from the flat course.

Friday night and Saturday morning I spent in Queens, so before I headed back out to Hicksville for Nana I decided to take my long run. Danielle gave me the thumbs-up on 9 miles, and I was nervous. I headed out at 8:30, an energy gel in my pocket, my iPod turned to the Dump Runners Club podcast (I am woefully behind; Miss ya, Matty!), and a bottle of water in my hand. Even though the bulk of my run would be over the 59th Street Bridge and back, I headed east on 43rd Avenue so I could pad the route with an extra mile on the front end. I hate running up those steps on the East Side Rec Path, but if I turn around at the foot of them it’s only 8 miles there and back. My pace was quite uneven (fluctuating between a 10:57 and an 8:04) — the hills on the bridge really slowed me down — but I was putting out consistent effort the whole time. Miles 7 and 8 were amazing, I felt terrific. At around 8 and a half miles, I started to get a little emotional, because I wasn’t in pain, and I wasn’t exhausted; in fact, my last mile was my fastest. I ran 9 miles in 1:26:23, for a 9:36 average pace. I was encouraged! But no messing around: I stretched bigtime.

I was also tired. I slept the whole car ride from Sunnyside to Hicksville, and last night I was in bed at 9 PM. Today, I ran 4 miles in full sun (I may have slept in–8 AM is late for me) and discovered that this neighborhood is much more interesting when cloaked in darkness. These 4 miles run in 35:09 brings my weekly mileage total to 24.45 miles. With the consent of my body and my PT, I am thinking about running 10.5 next Saturday, and 12 the following Saturday, then taper the week of  October 5th. We’llsee. It’s not a plan (I don’t want to jinx it); it’s just a thought.

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Winding to Division

For the next several days, I find myself in strange and wonderful living arrangements–I am staying with my 93-year old Nana while my mom (who has been living with Nana for about a month now) is off visiting her grandchildren in Colorado. I like the symmetry of that–grandmothers and granddaughters united, here and there. 

My Nana lives in the western suburbs of Long Island, which means this city girl must forsake her Sunnyside Loop and her Queensboro Bridge, and instead skirt around this neighborhood of small houses for her workouts here in Hicksville. 

Apart from taking the Long Island Rail Road back and forth to work, and leaving the office at 2:45 to get the 3:07 Express, my routine is pretty much the same. Up at 5 AM for my run, in bed around 9:30 PM. I love waking up early in my Nana’s house–it’s how we’ve always done it. When I was a girl, I would stay with her in the summer and every day we’d get up at 4 AM or earlier to drive to Jones Beach and get there before the sun rose. We’d go to sleep in our bathing suits, and I remember my grandfather carrying me in his arms out to the car. My Nana was an active woman and an early riser most of her life, and she would often get up and go jogging or walking in the hour before dawn. So, it’s only right that I would, too. 

On Thursday, my first morning waking up at Nan’s, I almost bagged the run, though. I was scared! It was so dark out there, and there was no traffic and no people. In Sunnyside, there are cars and people out even at 5:20 AM, and the street lights illuminate nearly every inch of my route.  Here off Jerusalem Avenue in Hicksville, there was nothing. But I threw myself out the door and slipped into what remained of the night. I clicked on Little G, and ran out of the court onto Winding Road, a squiggly pig’s tail of a street. My heart was pounding as I plunged into the night, irrationally imagining strange animals running at me from the hedges. 

But soon Winding turned into Division, and I realized that no malice crouched behind the azaleas. Relaxing, I began to really take in my surroundings. It was still and quiet, the only sound was the soft spray of a sprinkler every several blocks. The air was cool and a light breeze blew (just for me, since there was no one else out to enjoy it). Maple trees spread their branches across the street, obscuring the sky and making it darker going for me. There was the occasional yellow-bulbed street lamp, but the stars were providing a bit of illumination too. I liked looking up when the trees parted, to see gray shredded clouds striping the navy sky. 

Hicksville is a pretty flat town (it was perfect for a pace run this Winter), so I enjoyed a quicker pace than usual for a morning run. I ran 3.72 miles in 34:33, and my splits were 9:36, 9:13, 9:13, 6:05 (9:05 pace for .72 of a mile). When I was done, I was a little sad to leave the calming, cosseting darkness. I would have preferred to have kept running, my footsteps keeping me just outside of the wan pools of light cast by the streetlights.

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A Pace Run for Nana

I dread and dislike pace runs. It’s a sentiment I’ve shared before; they never go well, they’re friggin’ hard, and they stress me out for days beforehand. This weekend’s pace run: 7 miles. Heaven help me. 

I had all kinds of excuses at the ready to bag the workout. I was exhausted from a high-pressure week at work. I was emotionally wrung out from a morning of helping my 93-year old Nana, who is recovering from a bout with pneumonia that put her in the hospital a couple of weeks ago. By the time I hit the road, it would be dark. But, this morning before I left the apartment I’d foreseen all of this and had planned ahead. I’d packed my running clothes and even plotted a 7-mile route, right from the door of Nana’s house. 

Around 3:30, I floated the idea by her, about leaving for my run from her house. She said, “That’s smart. Go now so you can get it in. And that way I don’t have to worry about you running in the dark.” The lady is so cool, she instantly got it. She even told me a route she used to go when she would walk long distances when she was younger. 

And so, 15 minutes later, I kissed Nana on the cheek and was out the door, Little G on my wrist and the course directions on a sticky note in my pocket. This time, I took Julie’s advice and gave myself the first mile as a warm-up, and ran it at nine minutes, giving my heart a chance to settle down, my legs a chance to warm up and my shoulders a chance to unhunch. This seems to have made a big difference, because the rest of my run was damn good. I paced myself by feel, trying to maintain the effort rather than by constantly checking Little G. Miles 4, 5, and 6 were much more challenging as I was running into a stiff headwind–even though I was working harder (as my heart rate indicates), those miles were still slower. Then, when I finally got out of the wind, I didn’t reduce effort and ran a crazy-fast final mile. 

While I can’t say I love this workout yet, I must admit that this successful one has got me starting to warm to the idea of the next pace run. At least, it doesn’t seem as intimidating as it did two weeks ago

Total time: 57:38, average pace 8:14 (w/o warm-up mile: 48:32 & 8:05)
1 mile – 9:06 (133 bpm)
2 mile – 8:09 (165 bpm)
3 mile – 8:08 (166 bpm)
4 mile – 8:16 (172 bpm)
5 mile – 8:18 (175 bpm)
6 mile – 8:06 (177 bpm)
7 mile – 7:34 (174 bpm)

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