July has been an interesting month of running on a number of fronts. Overall, I’d have to admit that it has been the most challenging month of running I’ve had since beginning this journey last September. Now that it is nearly over, I can also say that I’ve made the most progress during July than any other month so far as well. Here’s why.
- Marathon training really kicked into gear. While my official training plan started at the end of May, I had already been running the types of weeks that the plan called for up until the end of June. That last week of June and then all of July has been pushing further than I had gone before, both in terms of absolute mileage as well as the other aspects of training. Towards the end of July, two of my long runs were personal records for me in distance since they both went further than the half marathon I ran in May.
- The weather. I’ll admit it: the weather kicked my butt for the first few weeks. Since I only really began running last September, I had never experienced a real summer training. So far I can say that I prefer the winter. I’m an educated man, yet it never occurred to me that running in the heat and humidity would be more difficult. I had a handful of runs that I just considered failures because I just couldn’t finish, and that really took a toll on my motivation and confidence. As I sit here today, with just a couple days left in the month, my confidence is back and I attribute that to figuring out how to overcome this new challenge. While I doubt I’ll ever love running in the oppressive Cincinnati summers, I now know how to handle it.
- Travel. I’ve had to deal with fitting my training schedule around more travel than usual, so I’ve had to juggle days and times for my runs. I do better when I’m on a more predictable schedule.
One cool thing that happened this month was a run through Central Park in New York City. Running in Central Park and Golden Gate Park are two that I had put on my mental running bucket list, so I was very happy to make one of them happen. I had to fit a long run (15 miles) into my travel schedule, so I figured, why not make it in Central Park? When I run early in the morning at home, I may see one or two other runners out there but not many. Running through Central Park was more like running in a race. I got to the park at about 6:00 AM and I was shocked to find hundreds of runners out on the paths and their were dozens of cyclists too. I had been worried about doing 15 miles all on my own without anyone for motivation/support/pacing, but with so many people out there, I always had someone to keep up with, or try to beat to the top of some of the long hills. The time and miles flew by like they have during races. Here’s my run:
Careful observers will note that the Garmin distance shows 14.82 miles, not the 15 I claim. If you watch very closely, you’ll see a bit of a jump during mile 11. I stopped to get a drink of water at the fountain, had to wait in a bit of a line, so I stopped my watch. When I started running again, I forgot to turn it back on for about 2 minutes, so I estimated that to be somewhere around a quarter of a mile. MapMyRun.com helped confirm it.
So, now I’m looking forward to slogging through the heat of August and really getting up to mileage numbers I’ve never done before: 17, 18 and 20 miles. I’m doing a half marathon in Columbus, OH on August 29th as well.