Urban Long Run

What better way to celebrate National Running Day than by recapping last night’s so called Urban Long Run?

Believe it or not, the marina is right next to the freeway in a large commercial district. I mean, it lacks the size, density and trail diversity of places like Central Park but it is what we have and I love it.

I am not a big fan of urban running.  The ups and downs of driveways, constant monitoring of traffic and having to wait at stoplights create too much distraction for me.  By distraction I really mean drama.  Mental drama:

My anxiety level begins to spike the instant I see kids racing their bikes down the sidewalk directly at me, hooting and hollering Tween defiance.  Which one of us is going to yield?  Which ONE?!

Really? Stopping in the middle of the trail to text? I bet they are texting each other.

While waiting at a cross walk for three light cycles may give me a good little break from the grind of pavement pounding, it also screws with my motivation and yes, gets my anxiety going because WHEN is my light going to come on?  I don’t want to miss it!

And let’s talk about the dogs, shall we?  I think it is safe to say I am a dog person.  I love dogs.  But what I don’t love is dogs that launch themselves snarling at the fence at me.  I have even less love for owners who try to tell me their dog “was just playing” when they jump two fences and push me off the sidewalk and into oncoming traffic.  Remember that?  I’ve done markedly LESS urban running since that incident because it actually scared me.

Yes, pets are welcome – well mannered pets like London here.  She is such a good girl!  Please don’t let your dogs/cats/iguanas jump two fences and push runners to the ground into oncoming traffic.

But there are times when the only way I am getting in any run is if I hit the road.  These runs are normally short (4 miles or less) and almost never fast.

Last night I was confronted with two things:  Unseasonably cool weather (which means fantastic long run weather for me) and lack of time (translation:  I couldn’t drive to a favorite trail and still get the miles in before dark.  I just can’t do more than 2.5 laps around the marina before losing my mind and motivation.).  So I did something I have never done:  mapped out what I hoped would be a relatively quiet and uneventful 8 miles, strapped on my hydration belt (so sexy!), leashed up London (a teammate’s borderjack who is visiting us for a couple weeks) and steeled myself for my first long urban run.  The plan?  Run 3 miles to the marina, run a 2 mile lap around the marina, then run 3 miles back.

Yes, London, I know you are used to running off lead on trails for 10-15 miles but we are in the city today and like responsible humans and canines, we wear leashes. Thank you for only getting wrapped around two poles and tripping me just the one time. You are so much better than your brother who I swear is trying to kill me.

While I am still a single track trail junkie, I have to say I loved, loved, LOVED this run.  Perhaps I was in the right mindset or perhaps it was sheer determination to get the miles in before the temps get back into the 90’s but this was a fantastic run.

Not a lot to see here, but it was really quiet which was nice!

The route I selected was actually quiet and with spring flowers in full bloom, there was surprisingly plenty to see!  In fact, I even got to see a little car get pulled over by the local PD for doing fancy shmancy road racing U-turn on a side street to chase down his uh, “friend.”  Exactly one block of this run was not so nice.  One block out of 8 miles in the city is pretty good though.

I can pick up beer, cigarettes and prescriptions along this route. I can also see the snow on Mt. Rose in the distance. It snowed overnight. It’s June and it was 90 degrees last week. Yay Nevada.

I passed a few other joggers and a few of those kids on bikes, but in every case, they hopped off the sidewalk into the bike lane as soon as they saw me.  I made a point of genuinely thanking them.

I did cross three major intersections and I did get a little antsy but also took advantage of them to stretch and drink – which ultimately reduced the need to do so at other points.  Dear favorite Starbucks barista who waved and honked at me in my lunge at the stop light, thanks for being so kind this morning while making that delicious non-fat caramel macchiato and telling me I looked like I was working hard out there.  You could have easily said:  Did you really think compression capris and that hydration belt were the right way to go in that position on a busy street corner?  Yeah, I know.

I actually found myself really motivated at the marina.  I didn’t get bored at all, even though I have run there a million times.

It was just such a nice and pleasant evening to be out and about:  light breeze, good cloud cover, perfect temp.

Did you know Venus was in front of the sun while I was at the marina? What? You can’t see it in this photo? Well I got to. A group of astronomers set up telescopes and such so we could see it. Pretty cool!

Plus, at the marina they have a dog park where London could cool down and of course catch a drink at the doggie water fountain.

Even better, there are nice clean restrooms and a snack bar – just in case you need an ice cream or something.

You know what sounded good around mile 5? Cotton candy and a snow cone. Oh look! They conveniently are selling cotton candy! I was good and just picked up a bottle of water to refill my belt. But that cotton candy sounded so delicious.

London and I cruised back into the driveway 1:38 later, pacing 12:15.  We were both feeling really good, albeit very hungry.  I celebrated the  success of the Urban Long Run (and resulting 1,200 calorie burn) with this:

Okay…I have to be honest. I only ended up eating about 1/4 cup of Ben & Jerry’s Raspberry Chocolate Chunk Frozen Greek Yogurt with added chocolate chips-but it was oh so good!

Of course, tragedy did strike.  I missed .75 miles of the run on my Garmin because I forgot to turn it back on at one of the big intersections.  I discovered this at the next intersection when I went to pause it (yes, I do that) at the next light.  Dammit.  So no fancy splits for you today, not that they were anything exciting except for the dreaded mile 5 where I randomly ran a 13:09.

But back to the good things:  Not only did I actually find myself looking forward to repeating this urban run (and it’s longer 10 and 12 mile versions), but I felt great.  This is actually the best long run I have had since the Black Death took hold in December.  I felt really strong, I’m not sore today and that enthusiasm and motivation I had been missing?  I’ve got loads of both today.  I am also hungry.  Very hungry.