Today was the first long run that actually felt long: nine whole miles. Until this point, the "long runs" have not been too far removed from pretty standard distances I might cover in an ambitious weekend. But nine miles -- nobody runs nine miles for fun. It's just too darn long. At nine miles, you're either taking a subway or staying home.
I had a good plan for the run: one full loop around Central Park, as well as two laps around the Reservoir. I made a conscious effort to go slow ("slow and steady" was my mantra), as my training programs instructs. The first several miles felt great: legs felt warm, easy breathing, heart was under control. When I got to the Reservoir, though, my body kind of wigged out. I had a weird time on the unpaved path, there were too many other people around, and it was unforgivingly hot. There was no nice breeze rippling over the water and cooling me off: it was just hot like hell, with many other people hustling beside me and behind me and ahead of me.
The final couple of miles, back on the smooth newly-laid asphalt, felt great. I finished pretty strong and ended up at exactly 9 minutes per mile, which I was very pleased with, considering: (1) I was trying to go slow, shooting for between 8:30 and 9:00, and (2) I had a couple walking breaks in the middle, around that stupid Reservoir, when I just sort of lost interest in running.
I am pleased with how today went. The long runs will be morphing into unpleasant runs as the weeks progress, but I feel good having nine under my belt, since anything over 6-7 gets me a little anxious. Two more notes from today: I passed this little old black lady twice, as she was lumbering up and down the great hill (I guess she had turned around at some point), and the second time, she called out to me, "I saw you on the way down, too! Whew!" And we both cracked up mid-stride. And finally, on the train back home, I looked like a contestant in a wet t-shirt contest because of the voluminous amount of sweat I produced and the gossamer-like cotton shirt I was wearing. Very little was left to the imagination, but I held my head up high, dammit, because I jut ran nine miles.
In sum, training is going well. I have a few weird aches and pains, and I am constantly tired and hungry, but morale is high. Only about 13 weeks left until my mission is fulfilled!