Running in the US of A

I’m back everyone! Did you miss me? Two whole weeks without an update. Don’t worry, I hadn’t gone for a reallllllllly long run, but have been on holiday. SB and I went to the States to visit family in Chicago, and then spent a few days in NYC.

The weekend we were in Chicago was  the crescendo of my marathon programme, and during the holiday I was supposed to do a 20 mile run, a 21 mile run, and many smaller runs in between. As it turns out, having two city breaks with jet lag on top doesn’t make for good marathon training, but does make for excellent drinks-in-rooftop-bar situations.

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So I chilled the frick out, and made sure I got some running when I could. Here is what I did:

  • Saturday: 10 miles in Chicago, easy pace (1:24)
  • Monday: 8 miles of 1m jog/stride, 5x 1m fast, with 200m recoveries, 1 m cool down (1:04)
  • Friday: 6 easy miles around Central Park, with some time to take photos (59:27)

 

My family lives in a street in a suburb about 25 minutes from the centre of Chicago. There’s a path that runs right through it, and across loads of other suburbs, called the Prairie Path, which goes on for miles and miles. It was fab to run on.

 

Running in Chicago was very different to running anywhere else that I’d run. For starters, almost everyone said hello or good morning to other runners. That was an adjustment after the polite restrain of the UK, where a nod or even just eye contact will suffice. The town are State Cross Country champions, so there were tons of runners around. Another major difference was that cars tended to give pedestrians the right of way: at every junction, cars slowed down well in advance to let the runners cross. With the friendly runners and the polite drivers, running in Chicago was awesome!

 

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Plus I saw snippets of ‘real America’: a community clear up of some shared gardens, a tree on the road that was decorated with easter eggs just because, and kids training with their sports teams. It proved that everything I saw in Full House, Saved by the Bell and Home Alone as a youngster was true. Except for the weird, creepy robbers who fixate on children.

 

New York running was a whole other situation. It’s not really a city designed for running, so people had to travel before they could even start their exercise. Both London and Sydney are good running cities, but New York’s grid system means that you’ll always have to stop at lights. Plus, there are wayyyy too many pedestrians to run properly. Even in London – a hectic city – there are places in the inner city where you can run for a long time without needing to stop.

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However: then there’s Central Park.

 

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Central Park is an oasis in the city, and when you’re in the middle, it’s hard to believe you’re in the middle of Manhattan. I did 6 miles on various paths, and there were loads more to choose from, so I’m guessing you can go on new runs for quite a while before you have to repeat. But training for a marathon there wouldn’t be the most interesting.

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We ran on a Friday, when it was nice and clear, and you could choose any route without it being overcrowded. Another guest at our hotel ran on Saturday morning, and said it was like a race: there were so many people, and it was tricky to find your pace among them all.

 

I think it’s a shame that people in Manhattan don’t have the luxury of being able to leave their apartment and go running from their front door, and I’d definitely get tired of jostling for space on a Saturday morning. It’s a unique place to run.

 

After I finished the 6 miles, and eaten an ice cream, I was lucky enough to hang out with an icon:

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Beyond running, we spent a lot of time walking, eating, having cocktails, taking photos of our food and cocktails, and checking out the different neighbourhoods.  We also went to some awesome sports events. Who knew I was a basketball fan?! Go Bulls!

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And now back to reality: the taper for Edinburgh has begun. Although I still need to fit in two 20 mile plus runs to make sure my head is in the right space. Let the good times roll!

 

Ellie B