Marathon #9: Another Self-Inflicted Marathon Through Central Park


After my horrid performance in Rockland County, New York, I felt like I needed to bounce back in a rather quiet, determined way. My September marathon was scheduled for the middle of the month in Dayton, Ohio. I have heard nothing but amazing things about The Air Force Marathon, and I was really looking forward to it; however, life gets in the way at times – and responsibilities elsewhere required me to cancel my reservations. So just like June, when I missed the Lake Placid Marathon, I was faced with a dilemma. I needed to keep my promise of a marathon a month – but I was now left without a race to run.

I enjoyed a relaxing, long Labor Day Weekend visiting family in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I even got to play a really fun round of golf with my cousin Dennis, on the Michigan University course. I hacked away at the ball for a few hours, actually hit 4-5 ok shots (the rest of my swings were downright embarrassing – at one point a woodchuck literally rolled his eyes at me as i attempted (in vain) to escape the rough along the 8th fairway). As poorly as i played, i could have cared less because laughed the whole way through. good company has a way of making you forget some of the things that sat sour in your mind. Spending time with family was just the type of magic elixir I needed to shake off my lousy August performance.

Upon my return, I felt that spark come back. I had been feeling a bit down due to my inability to push through a rather tame injury during the Self Transcendence Marathon. I expected much more from myself than I actually delivered. Now that the spark was back, I decided to capitalize on my new-found positivity and crank out 26.2 in the same manner as my June run. Time to completely exorcise the demon.

The Saturday after Labor Day, I decided to leave my apartment really early and run at least 13 miles before the beginning of my Team for Kids weekly long training run. I would then join up with the team as a mentor, and run with them for my last 13-14 miles. I woke up that Saturday morning…well…in the words of John Geutfriend (former CEO of the old Solomon Brothers) “ready to bite the ass off a bear”. (I think that term is another way of saying “I’m all fired up”…but I’ve been dying to use that quote – so there you go).

I grabbed a water bottle – I chose not to use my hydration pack because there are water fountains all over Central Park – dosed myself with Body Glide, grabbed my studly sunglasses and off and headed to the park.

I paced myself as I made my way along the outer loop of the Park.  As I’ve mentioned a few times before, Central Park is pretty hilly in spots, and I am VERY anti-incline.  So pacing conservatively early on allowed me to save energy for the second loop.  By the time I had completed my two loops, it was almost time to meet up with Team For Kids near the Columbus Circle entrance of the park.  13 miles down in 2 hours, 6 minutes.  I shocked myself – that was a personal best for the half marathon distance.

The team broke up into three groups: those that run sub 9 minute miles (I wish!), those that run approximately 9-10 minute miles (I can do that for a 10k – but it’s tough for 20 full miles, and I had 13 down already), and those running 10:30 minute per mile or greater.  I went with this last group, in order to maintain my momentum.

 As our group made its way along the park’s Bridal Path, the energy generated by running as a team kept the spring in my legs long after the point where I expected to be fried.  Early on I had one teammate that dealt with some nasty stomach issues (and boy do I have my MBA in THAT field!), so I slowed up and tried to coach her through it. I got her around one loop of the path, and then she made the decision to call it a day.  A wise move.  You can prepare as well as humanly possible for a long run…but you never know what your body has in store for you once you’re out there, doing your thing.  Some days are fantastic, and some days aren’t.  As a runner, you just have to be enjoy the good days, and learn from the bad ones.  We parted ways, and I kept slowly chugging along.

As I watched her walk toward our team’s meeting area to pick up her bag, I thought back to my golf game in Ann Arbor.  I hit a BUNCH of lousy shots.  Ones that made the pigeons giggle and the squirrels nervous.  But being with friendly people, on a perfect day, walking on a gorgeous course – my mistakes were forgotten almost instantly.  My head simply stayed in the present.  The 4-5 good shots that I did manage to slug – those are the only ones I can recall.  In my years of studying the game of golf, I read a few books written by Dr. Bob Rotella.  My favorite was “Golf is Not a Game of Perfect”.  Within it, Dr. Rotella talks about how the best players in the world develop a “shooter’s mentality” – the ability to forget the shots that went wayward, and focus on the successful ones.  He also mentions that the best players work really hard at the game – they practice every type of shot, every day.  They practice so much that, when it comes time to play a match, they trust their swing to do exactly what it normally does in practice.  They “train it and trust it”.  As I plodded along the path, attempting to catch the rest of my group, I decided that I needed to develop my own Shooter’s Mentality when it came to running.  In order to do that, I need to train it and trust it – train my legs and trust that they can go the distance I tell them to.

As miles 21-22 were being reeled in, I decided to transfer from the Bridal Path to the outer loop of the park.  I needed the last miles to be focused, and for that I needed to run solo.  In my head, I reviewed prior performances this year.  Some were good and others…not so much.  But I finished each one that I began.  There was my shooter’s mentality: I finish what I start.  I’ve trained enough to trust my legs to get me at least 26.2 miles.  Now all I need to do is improve.  Mile 22 rolled into mile 23…..and suddenly I realized I was 24 miles into my run.  I had begun to walk after talking water at each fountain along the loop, and it was becoming very hard to start running once I downshifted to walking.  My shooter’s mentality came back again – you can do this.  You can do this because you’ve done it many times before.  That was the positive kick in the ass that I required.

The final 3 miles were spent at a VERY slow pace, with a big smile on my face.  I looked at my watch as I neared the Boathouse on the east side of the park: 27.8 miles.  Time to shut this thing down.  I had never felt so good physically after a marathon.  I think it’s because my head was in the right place. 

Funny….one game of golf changed my mental chemistry.

______________________________________

If you’d like some information on The Dream Team Project or would like to make a donation to their amazing cause, please stop by the website:  www.wdwradio.com/the-dream-team-project  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I really believe in what The Dream Team Project stands for.  It raises money for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, helping to grant the wishes of children suffering from life-threatening illnesses.  Being s former wish-granter for the NYC Chapter of the Make-a-Wish Foundation, I can tell you first-hand just how much of an impact this organization makes in the lives of children.  Please consider donating to this worthy cause.  Thanks!

…and if you’d like a bit more information on the WDW Radio Running Team, please check out the Facebook page at: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/WDW-Radio-Running-Team/163606410344409

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