Saturday, January 23, 2010

No-half, please!

Running two bridges was fun
. I did seven miles. My knee held up, but it was giving me not-too subtle hints that I needed to be careful. Eight miles was surprisingly peaceful and my knee didn’t hurt. I thought it would be smooth running from there on to the half.

The following week I ran the New York Road Runner’s Fred Lebow Classic. It was 5m. I don’t know if it was the cold or the maclessness, but I was struggling through everything I was doing that week. It was the coldest, hardest five miles I have ever run.

I knew it wasn’t just the temperature – I’ve run outside when it’s been colder - but that didn’t help. My knee and now my hip too were complaining. Though I managed to drag myself to the finish line, at 13:27 minutes per mile I might as well have walked.

A big part of the problem was fear. I had a busy weekend that included a five mile race and a nine mile run. A friend suggested I run the race then continue for four more. I knew it would be hard: it would require not carrying a bag with me and skipping the bagel.

Ditching the bag meant not having a dry change of clothes to look forward to, but the nine mile stopping point left me right by a subway entrance which made the cold less of an issue. A change in the routine was scary, but I thought I could handle it. The bagel was another matter.

One of the city’s best-kept secrets is the New York Road Runner’s bagels. Sure, everything does taste better after a good run, particularly when it is free, but I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say the bagels they hand out after races are the best. If you want proof, just go stand past a NYRR finish line and watch: you’ll get to see people wearing expensive running gear elbowing each other to get to the free bagels and greedily grabbing as many as four at time. I wouldn't be surprised if many people ran NYRR races only for the bagels.

As I ran my five miles I couldn’t get the bagels out of my mind. My favorite is cinnamon. They make them without raisins. Thinking of skipping it made my heart heavy and my feet along with it. I was dragging in a sorry way – freezing and barely shuffling along.

At around mile four, I decided to put myself out of my misery and give up on the idea of running nine miles. My knee was hurting. It made no sense to continue. I crossed the finish line and grabbed my bagel. I even dropped a couple of tears as I bit into it.

Not one to leave well enough alone, I tried to go for nine miles the following day. My knee and my hip were both worse. I ran about four miles and had to walk home.
I haven’t run since and I’m not running tomorrow’s half-marathon. Though it pains me to skip the bagel, I don’t think I’m strong enough to run a half-marathon right now and I’m not willing to risk my knee and possibly my hip to find out.

Besides, what matters the most to me is not tomorrow’s race, but the one in November. And I'm sure that's going to be the best bagel ever!

For now, rest. But soon, I’ll be running again. The Park Slope Armory opens next week. With an indoor track, treadmills, and machines it has everything I need to supplement my long runs and get ready for the marathon. Best of all, with YMCA charter prices and a co-op discount I have no reason not to join.

Can’t wait!

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