4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

Right Now

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My run tonight was intended to be a ho-hum mid-week 5 mile run, but it turned into one of the best non-race running experiences I’ve had in a long time.

Let me back up to this morning. I set the alarm early, intending to get up early for a bike ride. Although I did get up early, ended up staying home to work. Partly because I was too lazy, and partly because I’m still worried about my elbow, and partly because I had a lot of work to do. So, I vowed that I would, absolutely, get out for a run tonight. I have a long run planned for Saturday, and so today’s run was really for nothing more than getting some miles in and giving me a rest day tomorrow, my literal definition of junk miles.

Fast forward to tonight. My first responsibility was to pick up my 14 year old from her dance school at 7:30. Home before 8, and my next responsibility was to hang out with my 8 year old until 9, as my wife was working in the bedroom till then, and my 8 year old has a cute way of missing me when I’m not around and wanting my company. This meant no run until 9:30 or so. And, unfortunately, the temps were dropping steadily by the hour.

Layered up, 3 shirts, tights and pants on bottom, extra pair of gloves, ‘gator’ thingy that covers the neck and throat, and I was finally ready to go. I really was dreading this, but also looking forward to the challenge. WeatherBug was reporting 24 degrees, but with sustained 25 mile per hour winds, out of the north! Ouch!

I decided on a route that takes me south (with the wind) and then back up north (against the wind). On a day like today, I thought it was better to have the easy effort in the first half with the wind and then once warmed up, battle the wind in the second half. This is against what one would typically do in the winter time, where common convention says run against the wind first to have an easier second half.

Last decision was playlist. I have a ‘running’ playlist of about 16 songs that I typically listen to on short runs. It would have lasted for my planned 5.2 mile run, but for some reason, I decided to play the 5-star playlist on my iphone, which is about 90 songs that I don’t mind hearing when running. I think in my mind I was hoping for some variety. And, this ended up being the highlight of my run, and a big reason I got through it so easily.

First up was Bat Out of Hell. That is one of the perfect running songs, and one I don’t hear so often. It is long, and one I can really get into. One can get lost in that song, and at a good 10 minutes or so, by the time it is over, a mile has gone by. And that is what happened. I was running, with the wind at my back, like a bat out of hell!

The song ended, as I worked my way down Allen St (1st Ave), approaching Delancey St. I didn’t really notice though, as I was focused on the intersection and getting through it. Delancey is tough, because if you miss it, that means up to 60 seconds of waiting to cross. As I approached, I saw there was no way to catch it on the green. But, with literally dozens of runs down that way, I knew that the westbound traffic has a left turn light, and then a slight delay before it goes green for everyone. And, later at night, it is definitely possible to slip behind the turning cars and before the rest of the traffic comes through. I saw my opening, and went for it. As I hit the island in the middle, I could see that the full green had not occurred yet, and I was able to get all the way across. Victory!

Once I made it across, and shifted into a lower recovery gear, my brain registered the next song that had just begun, The Boss’ Born to Run. How perfect is that: “baby we were born to run!”. Once past Delancey, you hit a nice downhill down to the East River. With the wind at my back, listening to Born to Run, literally felt like I was flying. I think I may have hit that runners high people talk about. As I approached the river, in the darkness, I noticed the huge hulking Manhattan Bridge, high above, and it struck me how just yesterday morning, I was literally running a couple of hundred feet above my head, over that same bridge to Brooklyn. Was just in awe.

Got down to the river and turned south, headed for South Street Seaport and my turn-around point at Wall St. I was anxiously waiting to see what song would come up next, and it was another gem of a running song, Van Halen’s, Right Now. “Don’t wanna wait till tomorrow. Why put if off another day?”. I felt like it was perfect, it did perfectly define the run. Right Now perfectly summed up what I was doing. Getting the run in, despite the weather, despite the time, despite how busy my life is. Exactly, “why put it off another day?”

Those 3 songs took me almost all the way down to the turn-around point. I knew that it would get hard once I turned around, and I would have to deal with the wind head on, but I had such a great start to the run, and I was in such high spirits, that it didn’t matter.

The rest of the playlist doesn’t matter, in fact, it is a bit of a blur. No doubt, the rest of the run was hard, as I came down from the runners high. On the way back, I started feeling bogged down by the layers, and started noticing how my legs were not fresh and how my quads were a bit sore, and then the wind kept blowing until the finish.

But, finish I did, and after I hit stop on my watch, and then hit stop on RunKeeper on my iPhone, the iPhone battery promptly died. Even that worked out perfectly.

So, at the end of the day, my junk mile run turned into one of the most satisfying experiences I’ve had on a ho-hum daily run in a long time.

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Written by SCL

January 28, 2010 at 11:54 pm

One Response

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  1. Dude, your an awesome writer. I really felt like I was running right along side of you while reading this. Really nice Scott!! **HUGE SMILE**

    michjoy61

    January 29, 2010 at 7:35 am


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