A few weeks ago I bought a 3-pack of yoga classes at the local studio, and last week I realized I still needed to use two of them. So I took two yoga classes this weekend – a “Vinyasa Level 2” on Saturday and an “All Levels Yoga” on Sunday – and I’m glad I did. Not only did I get a good upper body workout in both (I can tell because my upper arms and shoulders are a good kind of sore this morning), but yesterday’s afternoon class was a great way to stretch after my morning long run, which was my longest yet: 11 miles. Eleven! ELEVEN!
No, not that Eleven.
No, I don’t mean–
Okay, stop it.
(I just finished the second season of Stranger Things yesterday. HOW GOOD IS IT???)
Ever since hitting my long run goal of 10 miles a few months ago I’ve kind of been stuck there. For a long time 6 or 7 miles was all I could handle. Then I started actively plotting out courses beforehand using this great site, and once I started doing that, it was easy to lengthen the distance of my runs.
I’m at the point where I’m ready to move beyond 10 miles. I also have a race this weekend and want to feel prepared. A few weeks ago, in a spontaneous burst of ambition and bravado, I signed up for a 15K and a half marathon – my first of each. The 15K is this weekend, the half in January. Both in Central Park.
(A 15K is 9.32 miles. Maybe you knew that, but I hadn’t and had to look it up so if you are like I was, there you go.)
So on Saturday night, I decided to plot out an 11-mile course. I could have just taken my usual 10-mile route and found an extra mile in there somewhere, but I was in the mood to try something new.
My usual route literally goes around Northport – almost a big circle (actually the map of the route looks more like a chicken) that runs through mostly quiet streets. There are a couple of busier roads with double yellow lines, but it’s all residential. With the exception of starting and ending in East Northport, I stay in Northport.
For Sunday, I decided to run to the next town over, Kings Park. It’s not too far – about 4 miles to reach Main Street – but maybe because it’s one whole stop away on the Long Island Rail Road, it just feels farther.
This route would mostly take me down two major roads: Pulaski and 25A. So I knew it wouldn’t be the quiet, picturesque run I normally experience. But that was okay. I was in the mood for something different, even if it would somehow be worse. Kinda like with boyfriends am I right ladies??? No? Just me?
Pulaski was actually great – it always had either a side street (the kind separated from the main road by a median) or sidewalks. And good sidewalks, not the crappy kind of sidewalks that force you to run on the shoulder. A nice steady downhill led to a nice steady uphill that was just enough of a challenge – not impossible but definitely a hill.
The road out was for the most part sparsely dotted with homes and buildings. A very “in between towns” feel. Houses began popping up again as I got into Kings Park. At one point I had to cross a few entrances to the Sunken Meadow State Parkway but traffic was light so it wasn’t a problem.
Once in Kings Park, I passed a man hanging Christmas decorations outside a storefront next to the sidewalk. He said “Morning” to me and then the unexpected “How are you?” and I said “I’m good!” Because I really did feel good. My pace was in the 9s, it was cold but sunny, and I also knew that when I was done with my run I was going to eat a lot.
Coming back along 25A wasn’t bad. Mostly wide shoulders. Some good long hills, both up and down. There were cars whizzing by constantly, and some stretches actually felt like I was running along a parkway. I was also the only runner I saw on that entire stretch until I reached Northport.
I’d surveyed the route in Google Maps the night before to check out the sidewalk/shoulder situation, and knew the only precarious spot was a short section of 25A with a narrow shoulder. That part was also annoying because it was uphill AND around an inner curve, and I was trying to go fast to get back into wide shoulder territory. But I survived. Drivers, for the most part, are good about giving you space. I am blessed that none of them, so far, have touched my body with their cars.
I also got to play two games of “Pumpkin or Basketball?” which is a brand new game I made up on the spot. It’s when you see a round orange object on the side of the road way up ahead of you and you have to decide whether it’s a pumpkin or a basketball. (I got one pumpkin and one basketball.) Feel free to play “Pumpkin or Basketball?” whenever the opportunity arises. It really helps pass the time.
At 8.5 miles, I picked up the road my usual long run takes me, and from there on out it was a quieter, more residential run back home. I did start to feel winded at about 9 miles. I hadn’t done a long run since November 11th, and I probably hadn’t eaten enough. Trust me, I made sure to make up for that when I got home.
I took a post-run pic that showed my watch up close, because I was proud of that eleven.
NO, NOT THAT ONE.