On the way, we visited my cousins in Central Jersey and a good friend of mine from UofM visited us with her kids at the hotel for a dip in the pool and for dinner. Unfortunately, after all the excitement, my 7 year old did not sleep well in the hotel room (so Sherry and I also did not sleep well either).
We got up early this morning and left the Newark Airport hotel around 7am, parked in the city and I dropped Sherry and the kids off at a bagel place near the park. She was going to hang out with the kids in the park - however, it was a cloudy and overcast day with a bit of light rain in the morning. Oy! It ends up that they did do the park (nothing else was open at 8:30am when they finished breakfast) and the kids finally settled in at a playground.
I met up with the team at the Columbus Circle entrance to the park. I spotted one of the team coaches who was holding one of the team's purple shirts and introduced myself. By 8:15, there were five of us there for the run - the two coaches, BH and JL, team members EE and MM and myself. In a team of 50 I was expecting a few more people to show up for the team run...oh well, I'll just have to meet the other members in the next few months.
Luckily, the team members who were there ran around my pace so we all stuck together. Our coach took us on a gravel/dirt trail around Central Park - past Tavern On the Green, up to the Reservoir, past tennis courts and softball fields, under a bunch of overpasses (every time we went under one of these MM would check out the echo!) and finally back to Columbus Circle. We ran about 5.5 miles together in about an 11:30/mile pace.
MM left the group at that point and BH, EE and I went down 59th Street to the east part of the park where BH explained how the marathon ends - where the runners leave the park and re-enter, where the baggage pickup is after the finish line and where friends and family meet up with runners after the race. I hope he reviews all of this with me in a few months, as I'm not sure I'll remember all of it!
The three of us crossed the park at Terrace Drive and wandered over to Strawberry Fields (there's a nice hill going up that way...) before exiting the park and finishing our run down Central Park West. The complete run was 7.6 miles (according to Garmin - BH's Polar with footpod showed closer to 7.5 miles) in 1:26:47 - an 11:25/mile pace. Here's the map of our run.
The best thing for me was that my average HR was 146 over the entire 7 mile run. My splits were pretty consistent on average HR - only miles 4 and 5 had an average HR over 150.
Running with the group kept me going at a pace where I could keep up a conversation - and therefore I never got going too fast. It was a wonderful social experience as well - I really enjoyed my teammates company and I hope to run with them again soon. I totally get why many people run with groups or with running partners. I don't think I'll be trying to find a regular running partner or group yet, but perhaps I will try to do a few runs in the area with some of my running friends.