I never run at night.
I’m a morning girl.
I’ll gladly wake up at 5 am to bang out a few miles while the sun comes up. But ask me to lace up my Brooks past 10 am and I’ll probably throw an adorable little temper tantrum and list the reasons I don’t like evening running.
- I’m tired after a long work day.
- I have to bring my running stuff to the office and then leave my work stuff somewhere while I run and I am not prepared to die of inconvenience.
- My stomach is full of food because I eat all day long. Like, I eat a lot. That doesn’t bode well for the ol’ belly when I’m trying to run.
- Central Park gets dark and there are tons of murderers lurking in bushes, ready to jump out at me and knife me as soon as my pace slows.
But on this week’s training plan, Coach Cane simply wrote, “Meet me at JackRabbit UWS at 7 pm ready to run.”
He didn’t tell me what we’d be doing. He didn’t give me a mileage plan. He didn’t say how many runners we’d be jaunting around with.
In other words, I had no idea what to expect.
I arrived super early, of course, and left my giant work bag and even bigger gym bag in the lockers downstairs at JackRabbit. (For 50 cents you can leave your stuff there while you run. It’s a pretty sweet deal, I say.)
Runners started to trickle in, and they looked badass.
You know the look: lean, lithe, ridiculously long, toned legs. I made a point to let everyone know it was the first time I was running with Coach Cane’s group, and that I was in the midst of training for my first marathon.
Everyone was super nice (Mrs. Coach Cane was there, too! Six months pregnant and she’s looking amazing and still running!) and I loved the workout we did, which was a horseshoe-loop in the park plus a warm-up and cool-down. We covered 8 miles total.
Coach Cane had the majority of the group run the first half of the horseshoe at their marathon goal pace, then negative splitting the second half running at their half marathon goal pace.
He told me to do a slightly shorter course while maintaining my marathon goal pace.
Otherwise everyone would be waiting for me for a very long time at the end! And he didn’t want me being speedy since I’m running a race on Sunday. (Battle of Brooklyn 10 miler — anyone else?)
Yes, I was the slowest person in the group last night. But I had a blast and learned a lot.
Do you want to know what I learned? OK. I will tell you.
- Even hardcore runners do a slower warm-up. You may think that because your regular running pace is, let’s say, an 8:30 pace, so that means your warm-up should be just a bit slower. OK fine. I don’t really know the rules of running. But I was surprised that we all stuck together during both the warm-up and cool-down miles. We maintained a 9:30ish pace before we picked it up for the horseshoe laps.
- Running groups are different than running friends. When I run with my fantastic Sweat Squad in the morning, we’re running, chatting, stopping for water, and generally keeping things pretty casual. With last night’s group, everyone set out on their own competitive personal pace, but because of the course we passed each other a few times. (And, well, everyone passed me at some point.) I thought it was super cool that whenever one of the group members ran by me — and keep in mind I had never met any of them before — they would speed by but offer up a motivating and reassuring “Great job” as they flew. I liked that. People were nice.
- If your legs are dead but you’re told to run with your Coach’s runners who win races and stuff, you will convince yourself that your legs are not actually dead. Going into last night’s run, I was feeling incredibly sluggish. Like, couldn’t get out of bed yesterday morning and resisted using the bathroom all day at work because I didn’t have the energy to get out of my chair and walk there. But when I was told to “stick with two people whose names I forget,” I pushed all the “my legs suck” thoughts out of my head and kept up. I stayed right around 8:20-8:30 the whole time. (No, that’s not my marathon goal pace. It’s way faster. But I didn’t want to get left in the dust and leave the group waiting.)
- I can run without music. I didn’t even bring my phone with me last night, and I kind of enjoyed the quietness (and occasional sound of a biker falling or a skateboarder flinging his board dangerously close to my ankles) of the park.
- Mrs. Coach Cane is the nicest person ever. She’s also good for my ego and tells me kind things.
- If you simply show up and do your best, your coach will be proud. Was I the fastest person in the group? Not by a long shot. Did I have the coolest sneakers? Nope. Someone had hot pink ones. But I was there and I was eager and I pushed hard. And then Coach Cane said I did a good job.
By the end of the run, I was pretty shot.
So I had 16 Handles for dinner. Solid.
This morning I couldn’t drag myself out of bed. I think marathon training is really getting to me this week. I’m more tired and my body feels more exhausted than it has in a long time.
I love it.
I’m looking forward to catching up on sleep this weekend and taking the mileage down a notch. As much as I love the big runs, last weekend’s 20-miler did a number on me.
Also, remember that sailor dress I mentioned yesterday?
And I love it.
For my next trick, I will attempt to take a nap under my desk and see if anyone notices/cares.
TELL ME: What running lessons/tips/tricks have you learned lately? I think one of the best things about training for my first marathon is that I’m constantly learning more about this odd sport I seem to adore.