Written on May 7, 2012 at 4:55 pm , by Jenna Autuori
Living in New York City, I don’t get that many opportunities to run on trails—the Bridle Path in Central Park is where I get my fix for dirt, rocks and maybe some mud after it rains. So when North Face asked me to join their Endurance Challenge Series at Bear Mountain State Park, I jumped at the chance. Not only was this my opportunity to run a new course (as an urban runner, I’m always looking for chances to keep my running routes fresh!), but in high school with my cross-country team Bear Mountain races were always my favorite. The park is gorgeous and the trails are ideal if you want that outdoor fix not far from the city.
Since my husband has recently picked up the sport of running (thanks to my reluctant nudging for him to do a triathlon with me—NYC Nautica 2012 here we come!), I signed him up as well. This would be his first race ever, unless we count the 10K he ran in elementary school he repeatedly pointed out. We made our way up to Bear Mountain from the city—a short trip by car or train—and I instantly got excited upon recognizing a place that looked basically the same as I last remembered it so long ago. We were set to do the 10K distance and knowing from the advice from trainers, this 10K would feel much longer and harder than a typical road race 10K would be. I knew from my April 2012 column on trail running (page 52) and the advice from Saucony coach Sharon Barbano that the tricks of the trail were to be followed: Take smaller strides for greater control on uneven terrain, pick up your feet more often than a typical stride and scan at least 10 feet ahead so I can see what’s coming up on the ground. I was pumped and ready to go.
Written on September 26, 2011 at 12:19 pm , by Jenna Autuori
Last weekend in Philadelphia, I ran my first Rock ‘N Roll Half-Marathon (my fourth half-marathon race!). It was a perfect day weather-wise and I was psyched to be running on a new course. With my marathon training, long runs do get a little l-o-n-g when I’m running multiple loops around Central Park. (See our tips for marathon training blues if you’re training is getting a little ho-hum.) Although Central Park is one of my favorite places to be, with it’s many different fields and gardens making it feel like you’re not in the middle of Manhattan, I’d prefer variety on my runs so I never know what hill or turn is coming next.
The race through Philadelphia started at the “Rocky” steps (aka the popular Art Museum) and looped through the city for a few miles, then wrapped around the Schuylkill River and back to Rocky’s famous steps. Before heading into this race, I had the attitude that this wasn’t a race for me but another long run I’d be checking off my calendar of marathon training. However, being a competitive person that I am, lining up in the corrals, I knew I had to put my game face on.
Before marathon training began, I had always considered myself a 10-minute miler, running along in a nice, steady pace, not exerting myself too much so I could log the most miles. But since training, I’ve realized I can get my butt in gear and take things up a notch after all. I used to think that I’d burn out if I ever tried to go much faster than the 9- or 10-minute pace. This race really proved me wrong! I started out with a quick pace of 8:30-minute miles and kept that up, give or take 10 or 15 seconds, throughout the first 10 miles. Around the 10-mile marker, things always seem to go wrong for me. My somewhat injured right hip started aching, then pain in my knees said hello. I took it easy for another mile then realized where I was: Way below two hours, and if I kept at it or picked up the pace, I would actually finish with a PR of under two hours! And I did it, finishing with 1:58, a lovely two whole minutes to spare and 12 minutes knocked off my previous race record.
The bad hip and bum knees have been addressed this week—doctor appointments for the hip, sessions with trainers at Equinox to strengthen my butt, and a lovely massage. I’m working my nutrition—Gus, Chomps, Gatorade—into my long run (18 miles!) this weekend to practice what I’ll do come race day.
Ten athletes qualified for the Olympic trials at this race, including New Zealand’s Kim Smith, who was the female champ and finished with a course and American-soil race record of 1:07:11; which is the fastest womens half-marathon time run in the USA…ever!
I interviewed Kim a few days after the race to find out what she wears, listens to, and what goal is next on her list!