Posts Tagged ‘paragon sports’

At the last Media Challenge race, one of my coworkers told me about the Nike Speed Workouts, which meet every Wednesday at 6:30 in Paragon Sports off Union Square. Since we all know how auspicious running suggestions from my coworkers are, it should come as no surprise that I had a great experience this evening.

While I have no problem motivating myself to get out and do my mileage runs by myself, the more technical workouts intimidate me, and so in my first four “official” weeks of marathon training, I skipped all of my proscribed speed workouts. Even today, my nervousness about the evening’s workout increased the closer it got to 6 PM. This is pretty standard for me whenever I’m about to do something for the first time, or head off to a room full of strangers. I got there about 5 minutes late, but they registered me and checked my bags in record time, and a friendly pace setter named Kevin was waiting for all the stragglers, and we ran over to the East River Park Track together. As luck would have it, he was chatty, filling the air around the six of us with vapid patter as we hoofed it eastward.  This is when I learned that my pace group would be based on my 5k time. Since I haven’t run a 5k in over a year, I went with my 8:40 pace from my last 3.5 mile race in Central Park, and decided to run with the 8:30 group.

If I’d had a trowel, I coud have scooped up the humidity and put it in my pocket for later, like when I used to bring home sand from the beach as a child. I was beaded in sweat after our 1.75 mile warm up to the track. I soon learned we’d be doing a workout called downward ladders, where we run 1000 meters at our 5k pace, then incrementally increase the pace as we drop the distance of the repeats. Sounded complicated and scary to me, so I told myself that all I had to do was stick right behind the pace setter and let her do all the calculating and thinking.

As it turns out, one of the other latecomers put herself in the 8:30 pace group with me. On the first repeat, she and I shared a glance: This is the pace we ran on the way over. Which wasn’t to say we weren’t breathing heavily after the repeats. But, given the heat and the fact that this was the first time I’d ever voluntarily run on a track (that’s right!), I was OK with perhaps being in a less challenging pace group.

Have any of you New York City runners ever worked out at the 6th Street Track? It sits right on the East River, and there’s an amazing view of that river from almost every angle of the track. On my first few laps around, I was completely distracted by the view of everything. The brown river, the orange track, the green field, the blue sky. Muscular runners dashed in sweaty ovals. Lithe women stretched out on the field, their lean legs extending in opposing directions. Coaches called out splits as their athletes sped by. People played team Frisbee on the field (purple versus orange). Those who had completed their workouts sat hunched on the bleachers with Gatorade. What a great atmosphere, I loved it!

Once I got that first rung of the ladder done, my nervousness abated and I started to have fun. By the time we’d descended all the way to 200 meters, I was hooked. I had a great workout, got in nearly 6 miles all told, met some nice people, and discovered a new place to run (because the path that brings you into the track apparently goes from Kips Bay all the way down to the Lower East Side).

I know that the nervousness I get leading up to doing new things is 99.9% of the time unwarranted, but I don’t know if I’d ever trade it for nonchalance. I don’t think I’d be this pleased with myself, and as excited about this new Wednesday workout, if I’d been feeling casual at 6 PM.

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