This week’s long run was 9 miles, and because I’ve grown oh-so-weary of plodding along the same roads for mile after mile, I decided to move my buns in a new location: Asbury Park.
Seeing as how I’ll be racing there in about 18 days, I figured why not? It’s a nice, long, flat stretch of land right on the boardwalk, there’s free parking, clean public restrooms – what more could a runner ask for? Plus, I’d get to cover the final miles of the race in a controlled practice environment. The last time I raced there, I fell apart around mile 10 because the boardwalk seemed to stretched on FOREVER. This way I could prove to myself that I could go even farther if I had to, and make the course on race day seem even shorter!
So I layered up for the 16 degree “real feel” temperature (WTF?!) and headed down to the seaside bright and early, thankful that the sky was so clear. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen, which was a far cry from the last long run I did by the beach! I staked out my free parking, stopped in a restaurant to use their restroom (with their total permission!), stretched out, and headed south on the boardwalk towards Bradley Beach.
These shells were strewn all over the boardwalk, every quarter mile or so. “Smile, God is Watching”, “Have a Blessed Day”… they all had little motivational phrases written on them and made me smile every time I spotted one. This one was my favorite.
It was chilly at first, but I quickly warmed up and realized that I was over-layered (as usual). Plus my tights were a little loose around the waist and kept sliding, causing me to stop every few feet to tug them up. I was starting to get frustrated when I finally slipped into the groove and powered through miles 1 and 2 at an easy 11:30-12 min pace per mile.
I passed where I fell apart on race day last year, near the turnaround point at mile 10-ish, and kept going through Avon and all the way to the bridge that would take me into Belmar. But seeing as how I was scheduled to meet my friend Kevin back near where I parked at my half-way point, where he would join me for the last 4-5 miles of my run (and brunch on the boardwalk afterwards!), I turned and made my way back to our meeting point and hit 4 miles.
Running buddies are the best!
It was *super* windy going north, and my time slowed considerably here because of it – almost to 13 minute miles! – but I kept going because I had a friend to meet! Once we met up in front of Langosta Lounge, I stopped at my car to take a gel and get some water – it was really WARM once I got going! – and we set off north for a half mile or so.
We skirted Deal Lake and jumped back onto the boards going south once again, cutting through Boardwalk Hall (and stopping for runfies, because duh), and easing into the next 4.5 miles.
We motored on, chatting about life and the usual stuff – it had been so long since our last workout date! As a girl who used to say I would never run with other people, I have solidly recanted my statements and will publicly state that I love it. Sharing the miles with someone else just makes them go by so much easier. Miles 5-7.5 were filled with chatting, dream-house hunting, and laughing when I pocket-dialed my mom and caused her to panic because, as she put it, “I just heard gasping and snippets of conversation and a man’s voice, I was so worried!” Hehe – sorry mom, that was me and my guy friend trying to have a conversation while running, not imminent danger to your daughter!
Before I knew it, we were already at the 7.5 mile point near the Belmar bridge once again, ready to turn around for the final few miles – but that’s when the miles took their toll. The week before, I got my mileage in as per the plan but skimped on cross and strength training because of 12+ hour work days. Bad idea. Heed my warning, kids: do NOT skimp on cross & strength training. That last mile or so, I felt it badly in my hips and quads, and vowed to hit the squat rack a tiny bit harder this week to make up for it.
I was amazed though, to see that we were already at 9 miles, and still had about a half mile to go! So I stopped the Garmin, stretched a bit, and we walk/jogged back to our cars for a successful run.
After some action shots, of course 😉
I grabbed my bag from my car, we drove around for a bit to find a brunch place, and finally decided on the Langosta Lounge right on the water – where I changed out of my sweaty running gear and proceeded to sing to my cinnamon bun.
It was either Aretha Franklin’s “Natural Woman” or “Blank Space” by Taylor Swift.
Seriously, people – if you ever have the chance to get brunch in Asbury Park, GO to the Langosta Lounge. You will not be disappointed. I had Eggs Marion: poached eggs on top of a bed of asparagus and smothered in a basil cream sauce with a side of shrimp, lobster, and veggie-fried potatoes. I die.
It was a fantastic way to start my Sunday, and added to my excitement over this upcoming race for sure. I’ve still got a few weeks to go, but I’m already feeling more confident at longer distances than I was this time last year. Even runs of 8 miles used to make me nervous, but I’ve managed to clock those miles without any issues lately, and that’s huge for me.
This training cycle I’ve learned that it’s important to take a step back and appreciate how far I’ve come sometimes. When I stop and look back at where I was a year, or even 6 months ago, I realize that I’m in a much better place both physically and mentally when it comes to running. I’ve found a great balance in my training, I’m having fun, and I look forward to what the future holds. If you ask me, that’s cause for celebration right there!