The Marathon Diaries: Back From Vacation, Into the Grind

Back from vacation and back to work.

Sid and I planned to meet in the park Thursday to do some speed work, but the crazy weather put a damper on our plans, so I ended up running alone in the rain. When you're training for a race, you're like the United States Postal Service, baby -- you run no matter what -- rain, sleet or shine. Must say, it's kind of rad to run in the rain. I feel a little like G.I. Jane. (at least in my head).

So Sid and I ended up meeting Saturday at 9 a.m. at 90th and Fifth, a favorite meeting spot. Coach had a whole host of training "goodies" for me. We did a series of warm-up exercises: kick your butt, kick your front, some Nutcracker-inspired march thing, and some running and jumping stuff that was a mix of Qbert and Super Mario Brothers. (Yes, I'm dating myself -- I remember the original Space Invaders game on a Texas Instrument cartridge, the good old days!). All the exercises were designed to warm up the calves, loosen the hips and prepare the body for the day's run.

I was very impressed with Sid's limitless energy. He clearly has the joints of someone at least 40 years younger -- he was bouncing all over the place, floating like a butterfly. Me, not so much, but I muddled my way through it.

After the warm-up, it was time to get down to the getdown. The plan was to run about 90 minutes at a moderate conversational pace, approximately 9 minutes a mile. That's about a minute slower than my race-day pace, but it's meant to teach my body how to process oxygen better. To be perfectly honest, when I'm running to the beats of Pitbull, Jay-Z and the Crue (I have a wide range of musical tastes), I get excited and end up running too fast -- which means I'm probably running more anaerobically.

We had a great training run in the park. The sun was out, and the park was alive with energy. It was a little muddy after the crazy rain we'd been having, but it was awesome. I've said previously Sid is the mayor of Central Park, and we couldn't take 10 steps without Sid running past someone who would say, "What's up, Sid?" And Sid would reply right back, doling out advice and encouragement.

We chatted the entire run about our lives -- why we run, how we got started running. I knew Sid was a pretty amazing dude but I realized during the run I'd barely scratched the surface of his Amazing Dudeness. His story is is truly remarkable and inspirational, a story that should be told in a dedicated video post. (See video above.)

Coach kept me on the pace, man -- like, right on it. Not too fast, not too slow. Consistent. Towards the end I noticed we seemed to be moving faster. My old buddy Fred Sanford was coming back.

"Sid, are we moving faster?" 

"Yeah, I want you to feel this last bit, girl. Feel it!" 

And feel it I did. I struggled to keep up with Coach on the last-stretch sprint to our finish line.

"Good job," he said as I looked at him in awe. Now that dude kicks!

It was a good run. I didn't feel like I had one foot in the grave and another on a banana peel when it was over, so all in all, pretty good. Sid's advice after a run is to soak in a nice bath, so I took a cold plunge at my gym. The water is like 50 degrees and I swear every time I get in my heart stops. It's excruciating, but it works -- we're totally frenemies.

"All you need is 12 minutes -- that's it," said Sid. No worries there. Definitely had no plans to stay in longer.

Here was the big takeaway for me this week: Sid finally broke it down. To get to my 3:30 time goal, I needed to do three runs a week: tempo, speed and long run. The bottom line is, somewhere in all of my "ing" (kickboxing, Zumba-ing, cycling, swimming), something has to go (sigh). So that's the deal. But as the saying goes, "Something's gotta give."

I'm checking with Sid for this week's marching orders to fill the next exciting chapter of "Days of our Running Lives" -- so stay tuned!


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