Back in the Saddle – “On the Road Again”

Happy Monday everyone! I hope you had a great weekend of running and/or relaxing 🙂  I’m Becky, Claire’s twin sister, and I’m back with another guest post as part of my “Back in the Saddle” series, which highlights my experiences as I return to running from a lengthy hiatus and train for the Alexandria Half Marathon on May 27. You can read more about me and my running background by visiting my first post.

Whew, it’s been such a long, crazy & busy week here in NYC.  Despite of all the work I had to do, I persevered with my running and made sure to squeeze in the necessary training (yah!) It didn’t hurt that the weather this week in NYC was unbeatable – thanks Mother Nature!

Today’s post focuses on how to get back on the road again – literally! Finding the right running routes are crucial to any training program. Good routes make getting out there and checking off the miles easy … err, easier.  Unless you’re one of the rare few who can run forever on a treadmill without getting bored (like my sister 😉 ), finding challenging, interesting, and safe outdoor routes is an absolute must. The challenge I have faced has been finding the best paths in my new city, the glorious Big Apple.

Running in Detroit in the dead of winter? Not my ideal running route/conditions 😉

Rewind 5 years in my life: living in Chicago as a devout runner was easy-peasy. Getting out onto the Lakeshore Path along Lake Michigan had me on cloud 9. With perfect paths, flat terrain, clear mileage markers, and water fountains every half mile (YES!) – Chicago was indeed a runner’s dream. I trained for 3 marathons out there, and countless halfs and other runs. Through the rain, snow/wind, and beautiful summer sunshine I was pounding the (seemingly ever so soft and made for runners) pavement that hugged the beaches along the lake.

Do I miss Chicago? You bet. But was I excited about running in NYC? ABSOLUTELY! I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little intimidated by the city however. It’s that one-of-a-kind place that makes you love it and hate it at the same time. For runners, a few of the obstacles are the traffic, the trash, and safety issues. Despite these challenges though, I have found some absolutely beautiful and interesting courses for my ever-growing mileage demands.

First favorite is the West Side Highway path that takes you up and down the west side of Manhattan and hugs the Hudson River. Lake Michigan it is surely not, but the Hudson provides beautiful views onto the water and out over into Hoboken in New Jersey. You can also see spectacular views of the Statue of Liberty as you make your way south! I run from my neighborhood in Chelsea headed downtown through West Village, the Hudson River Park, TriBeCa, and into Battery Park. The path is flat (great news for my Midwestern running self!) and there are some water fountains as well.

(source)

Another spectacular place to run in NYC is of course Central Park. Running through beautiful grand old trees, flower patches, and numerous ponds filled with lily pads and remote controlled sailboats—you’d think you’re out in true nature, not in the middle of an urban jungle. Central Park also has spectacular people watching while you’re running – you can see everything under the sun!

Strolling with my bf through Central Park

However, Central Park has been hard on me; it’s quite hilly which poses a challenge. It’s some of these hills that are famous killers during the NYC Marathon. I must admit, the hills keep me at bay and I tend to head to the flat West Side Highway, but I’ve  got my sights set on becoming an accomplished hill runner before too long. If my sister can adjust to running in the Blue Ridge Mountains, then I can too! 🙂

So it’s been a bit challenging to find a running route where I feel comfortable and I’m hoping that while I train for the Alexandria Half Marathon I’ll be able to get into the running groove in NYC. My long run this past Saturday called for 9 miles. I finished the distance, no problem, but could tell my legs were heavy by the end. I know things will be more challenging as I near the double digits for my long runs, but I’ve run that far many times before (just not recently), and I’m hoping that deep down my body remembers that.

Where do you like to do your long runs? What kind of terrain is it (urban, rural, flat, hilly)?

Do you like to run consistently on the same routes or change it up and explore new areas? 

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21 Responses to Back in the Saddle – “On the Road Again”

  1. Idlehide says:

    great post. I used to live in New York (Long Island) and just love the city. I ran there this past summer when we were visiting and it is a great running city. I ran down the West Side Highway too:) Everytime I see pictures of people running in Chicago I always think it looks like a spectacular running city.

    • Becky says:

      Chicago is great for running (and the marathon is one of the best…so much fun)! I have a feeling NYC is going to grow on me in the same way 🙂

  2. runningfarce says:

    Really cool post. I visit NYC pretty regularly, but honestly have never thought about running there. I figured instead of timing a run, I would more accurately be counting the time until I got run over!

    • Becky says:

      hahaha – you definitely have to be careful out there! for that reason I try not to get into my run fully until I hit the West Side path – otherwise I’m stopping and starting every block at lights! Definitely try a run next time you’re here though…it’s a great way to see new parts of the city 🙂

  3. I can’t wait to drive up to go running with you this summer! Although I love to run out near Shenandoah Nat’l Park, there’s something about running in a city….makes me miss Boston 🙂

  4. Christina says:

    I tend to stick to the same few running routes near my house. I’m comfortable with them and know that other people will be in those areas when I’m out so I feel a little safer running alone.
    I’m really enjoying reading this every week 🙂 I am working on getting back into 1/2 marathon shape right now too. Can’t wait to see how you ladies do in the race!

    • Becky says:

      Thank you!!! It’s so great to know that there are others out there that are working on getting back into running as well. There are certainly challenges, aren’t there? I have good weeks and bad ones. And I’m the same way, I get into routines where I run the same route

  5. coffeeniki says:

    I live in Chicago, and the Lakefront Path is absolutely wonderful!I love being so close to the water. Every once in a while, I try to get out to the suburbs to run on different paths (the Illinois Prairie Path is great).

    • Becky says:

      Oh, I miss it so, even though I’m enjoying NYC!!! I will live vicariously through you 🙂 I’ve never run the Illinois Prarie Path but when I go back that is something I should definitely check out! Thanks!!

  6. For long runs, I like to get away from the city, or at the very least further out where there are fewer people/cars. Sometimes its nice running by the DC monuments, but most times, I just want uninterrupted time on the roads to run. My favorite has become the Mt Vernon Trail. I do like running in NYC though, bc it’s so different from DC. But the last time I was there, I got lost in Central Park, and ended up doing 3 more miles than I had planned!

    • Becky says:

      I’ve gotten lost in Central Park too! There are SO many different paths – think there’s 4 or 5 different loops and even smaller loops within them. Think i need to start utlizing Map My Run or studying the map closer before i go. Claire should definitely try your runs in the DC area now that she’s there for the summer!

  7. When I was training for the NYC Half I ran up and down the West Side highway to get in my long runs. I started up at 125th street and ran down to lower Manhattan and around to the seaport. Such a nice run! They did alot of work on the upper end of the pathway and is goergous up there. There’s even a part where you run on a sort of bridge over the water. I love it!

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