Running with Jared Leto

With the NYC Marathon 15 weeks away, I'm now officially one week into my structured marathon training. I'm lucky to be running for a charity team with a marathon running coach as the founder. Toby has been sending us weekly emails with training tips, updates from Kenya (he was hanging out with the Kenyan Olympic team last week), and our training schedule. He's been sending out two different schedules: one for those who just want to finish the Marathon (yep, over here!) and one for those who want to finish in 3:00-3:58. (That's between a 7 and 9 min/mile pace.) My 5k races are normally at a 10:00/mile pace, so I'll stick to the "just want to finish the marathon" training program. (Can't really fathom how one maintains a 7 min/mile pace over 26.2 miles, with bathroom breaks and water breaks and all of the uphills on the bridges - yikes!)

My training schedule the first week consisted of runs of 3, 4, 3, and 5 miles. Those runners who want to finish with the super speedy times were running 6, 8, 6, 6, and 10. Ten miles as the long run on the first week of training? Wow. Glad I'm sticking to the beginner schedule.

This evening, after a long day at work, the weather was nice (lower 70's) so I decided to go for an evening twilight run in the park. Today's three mile workout would be a quick little jog around the reservoir. The first song to pop up on my shuffled running playlist was The Kill by 30 Seconds to Mars. It's probably completely psychological and a learned Pavlovian response, but I've always felt that I run faster when that particular song plays. (Could it be some pent up angst burning inside of me that suddenly explodes in a burst of speed when Jared Leto screams in my ear? Perhaps.) Since I live near the Northwest corner of Central Park, every run begins with an uphill climb of the dreaded Harlem Hill (one of the steepest and I believe the longest hill in the park.) But tonight, I was suddenly inspired to sprint up and then sprint down it. I then decided that I was going to try to run my fastest 3-miler. After the first mile, my handy dandy app told me that I was running at a 7:47 pace. Wow! My previous fastest mile had been just under 9 minutes! I knew I couldn't keep up that pace over the next two miles, but I was pretty happy with my quick start (especially since that first mile included Harlem Hill.) Then I cut over to the Reservoir (flat! yay!). I told myself I couldn't waste time stopping for water and I'd only run to the fastest songs (which included lots of Muse and Green Day). My 2nd mile was considerably slower than the first (8:47/mile). I was getting tired, though it was still faster than what I normally do. I was feeling pretty good. Then about halfway into my second mile, a man (who had to be in his 50's) passed me. What the what? Dude, can't you let me have this moment? I'm running the fastest I've ever run before! Then about 20 seconds later, I passed him when he started to walk (must have been doing his last 1/2 mile in a sprint), or that is, at least, what I told myself.

Then I was at Engineer's Gate with 1 mile to go. I zipped down the last of the rolling hills and finished in my favorite part of the park (a downhill stretch near the upper center of the park where you can sometimes here a flowing stream.) This is the part of my loops where I know I'm almost done and it's mostly downhill. Then before I knew it, the three miles were over and I had done them in 26:42 (8:49/mile pace). Woohoo! As I stopped to catch my breath, I started coughing. This nice mid-aged lady stopped her speed walking and asked me if I was ok. Wanting to share my small little victory with someone, I said "Yes, thanks, I was just catching my breath after trying to run as fast I could for three miles!" "You WERE running fast, honey, you whizzed past me!" Thanks, I thought. I'm glad someone noticed :)