As part of the NY Flyers Marathon Training Program, a whole bunch of Flyers and I took the subway up to the Bronx to do a long run up in Van Cortlandt Park. Although I currently work just a few blocks away from this well-known running venue, I had never previously run there before. So when the opportunity came this morning to venture outside the confines of Manhattan for a relaxing group run on trails, I jumped at the opportunity (even if it meant having to get up at the crazy hour of 5:30AM on a Sunday morning!) The group gathered promptly at the signature Tortoise & Hare statue (where the weekly cross-country races starts and finishes) and after some pre-run instructions from our fierceless leader GW, we guided ourselves over the cinder tracks and into the park.
There were about twenty of us out there this morning, each hoping to hammer out about 11-13 miles on the trails. Since I wasn’t familiar with the area and didn’t want to get myself or others lost, I hung back for the first part of the run and was content to just follow the crowd. Although the first section was steep and hilly (or so I was told afterwards), I was moving so effortlessly slow (~9:00 pace) that the elevation gain hardly registered with me. All I knew was that everytime I reached the end of a hill, I found myself no longer involved in the conversation I was having just a few seconds ago. I would then introduce myself to the next person and inevitably the cycle would repeat again at the next uphill. By the end of the first out-and-back loop, which was about three miles, give-or-take, I was once again running with the leaders, exactly where I knew I’d be from the get-go.
I stayed with this first group through the rest of the run, never pushing the pace or falling behind by too much. Although the established pace was leisurely at the outset, our lead group of 4 was really booking it on the way back to the start, leading one girl to say “hey guys, we’re now running at my half-marathon pace.” By the time we returned from our second out-and-back loop through a different and much longer section of the trail which leads into Westchester, we had completed 13 miles. I left the group at the end and polished off one last loop around the park, finishing the day with 14.4 miles at 8:04 pace, and pushing the grand total to 48.6 miles for the week.
After the run, one of my partners in crime asked me whether I prefer doing long runs solo or with the group? It was an intriguing questions and one that I’ve wrestled with for a long time. On the one hand, I love running with the Flyer group because the miles seem to just melt away with the eclectic conversations. The group dynamics also help to keep my long runs at a slow and steady pace. On the other hand however, since my natural pace is faster than almost anyone else on the Flyers, I must run alone to practice my own pacing for the marathon. Also, when NOT running with the group, I can get up at my own convenience and design my own running course for the day. Eventually, the deciding factor to whether I will run with the group or not will be dictated by the training plan and convenience. If I had my choice, I’d prefer running the first half of the long run with a group and the rest by myself.
Week 1 Training Summary
Mon – 6.1M General Aerobic Run; Average Pace – 7:08
Tues – 10.2M with 4M Tempo Run; Average Pace – 7:13
Thurs – 12.8M Mid-Week Long Run; Average Pace – 7:29
Fri – 5.1M Recovery Run; Average Pace – 7:30
Sun – 14.4M Long Run; Average Pace – 8:05
Weekly Total – 48.6 Miles; Average Pace – 7:34