NYRR Marathon Tune-Up recap, fueled by cactus and meatballs

September 25th, 2011 | Posted by Lindsay Runs in Blog Posts | Race Recaps

Sometimes, like this weekend, I question my sanity. I’m pretty sure running has turned me into a crazy person.

All the endorphins have gone to my head, blocking any sense of rationality, making me think I enjoy things that sound absurd and a weird form of torture to most. Like signing up for the Boston 2 Big Sur Challenge…yep, 2 marathons within 2 weeks of each other. Next April is going to be a blast.

Also like willingly paying $18 to run not one, not two, but three counter-clockwise loops of Central Park at 7 a.m. this morning.

It's 6 a.m. I'm ready to go.

18 miles of fun

Most days, you can’t even get me to do one full outer loop. I like variety, the soft bridle path, new scenery…and despise Harlem Hill. I can run 18 miles (for free) any day I want to, at whatever time I want to, on whatever course I want to. So why, despite an awful, awful experience at last year’s NYRR Marathon Tune-Up Training Run, did I still eagerly sign up again?

Sometimes I have a weird way of rationalizing how doing difficult, inconvenient things are actually a good thing for me. Like how I used to trek from the UWS to USQ (yep, 2 subways) just go to to Trader Joe’s. I like that about myself. Keeps me challenged. I could have slept in this weekend and ran an easy long run alone, but decided this race run would be a nice challenge for just one long run.

  • I had to get in 20 miles this weekend, regardless. Signing up reduced the chances I’d skip out or cut it short.
  • 3 loops is boring, yes, but great to build mental toughness for the marathon
  • My friend Alex was running it too. We both ran 3:04 in NYC last year and are both gunning to break 3:00 this year. I wouldn’t have to run it alone!
  • Central Park is hilly. Hills are good to build strength for training.
  • Water stations, Gus, and crowd support. Hooray!

See? Not so bad. Okay, maybe a little crazy. I ran 2 miles over to and around the park before the 18 started to ensure I hit 20 for the day. My first 20 of this training cycle.

It was a bit humid, especially earlier on, though it could have been worse. I was still a sweaty mess at the end! The first mile started out pretty slow with the crowds, but once we got into a groove it was great! The first two loops felt pretty effortless as we chatted the miles away. The third loop was a bit of a struggle mostly due to the fact we were lapping people and had to either weave through the thick crowds or keep to the outer edge of the road. Apparently not so great for tangents, as the total distance was 18.21. I am especially happy we were able to drop the pace on the last few miles, going sub-7.

Weird form of torture? Maybe. But I would not have hit those splits alone so I’m glad I did it. Doing hard, unpleasant things are often the best things. My confidence is boosted a bit from this solid effort, though I’m still very unsure how I’ll feel trying to hit sub-3:00 pace (6:50/mile) on race day. Bring it on!


This weekend was also full of good eats and good friends! Despite the rain, I trekked over to the UES to MXCO to meet Susan, Shannon and Christine for dinner. I have a hard time saying ‘no’ to margaritas.

Susan, Shannon, and Gatsby

Christine, Me and Gatsby

And, we ate cactus. Just had to try it since it was on the menu! It was surprisingly tasty, though the delicious sauce on the top helped.


On Saturday, I watched the 5th Avenue Mile, a premiere event in road racing. I ran to NYRR to pick up my bib for the tune-up and met Terence and Erin to watch the elite and pro races. My friend and old Villanova teammate, Nicole, won the NYRR Local Elite Championship race in 4:38. Woohoo!

Thanks for the pic, NYRR

Later that evening, I got to see Susan and Shannon again, joined by Kelly and Shannon’s sister at the Meatball Shop! I had been dying to try the spot and eagerly suggested we check it out. Luckily, these ladies <3 balls just as much as I.

I couldn’t decide on just one type of meatball, so I opted for the sliders to sample a few varieties. I chose the classic beef with tomato sauce, veggie with mushroom sauce, and the special ball of the day: buffalo chicken with blue cheese sauce. The side of special carrots with walnut, mint and prunes. It was hard to pick a favorite!

However, it was not hard to pick dessert. Mint ice cream sandwiched in between gingersnap and brownie cookies.

Well worth the hour wait, and certainly served as fuel for this morning’s run. Can’t wait for more balls! (That’s what she said?)

What was the best part of your weekend? Favorite type of meatball? Ever do inconvenient or difficult things because you rationalize that they’re good ideas? Once I decided it was a great idea to purchase a large floor rug at Ikea and lug it on the ferry and subway all by myself, because I really wanted it and didn’t want to wait another few weeks until going to Ikea with a car. Thankfully today’s 18 miler turned out to be a much better idea, though perhaps equally as tiring.

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20 Responses

  • ellen says:

    nice weekend! i also ran today’s 18 tune-up. i knew 3 loops in the park would suck, but i also rationalized mental toughness. i had a perfectly lovely solo 17 last weekend, but found myself up at 5 and in the park by 7. glad i did it though. you’re right, great morale booster.
    i recently went to meatball shop! my favorite was the classic/classic. i guess i’m a purist. chicken/pesto was a pretty good combo too.

  • you are a rockstar. THREE loops!!!

    i attempted the craziness in the park for about 10 minutes and then got out and went to the west side highway lol. major fail.

    Mmm i could use more of those meatballs. So yummy! Glad I got to hang out with you so much this weekend :)

  • Christine says:

    wowowow – congrats on the successful tune-up!

    it was so good to see you friday night!!!

    sounds like you had a wonderful weekend! i know exactly what you mean about people thinking these kinds of weekends (aka all about the racing and eating) are weird or torture. but i think they are obviously missin’ out. :-)

  • Trekking to Trader Joe’s is always worth it. Before the Chelsea one opened up (close proximity to my old job), my Astoria roommate and I would trek seven stops further east in Queens to transfer to a BUS to the Rego Park TJ’s! During my last few weeks there, I used to also run to and around CP, and end at the UWS TJs to shop before subwaying it home. (Yeah, I used to sweat a lot less in NYC. That would never fly here.)

    Nice job on the Tune-Up! I wish there was a race that long down here.

    Best part of my weekend was finishing my 13-mile run in 1:50 and change. I’m shooting for a 1:47 half one month from today, so I’m feeling pumped so far! The run was later followed by a beer tasting put on by my running club, which also included pizza and my (well, originally Megan’s) pumpkin white chocolate chip cookies. :)

  • Kelly says:

    Nice running! I knew you’d have a great race after the top notch ball/ice cream sandwich consumption. And you are tougher than I – I couldn’t bring myself to sign up for the Tune Up after hating it last year. But I agree it’s definitely a huge confidence booster! I have no doubt you will crush your sub 3:00. So glad we got to hang together!

    Usually I like regular meatballs best, but that Buffalo chicken ball was amaze. Also, I do things that “sounded good at the time” far too often…

  • nyflygirl says:

    I actually like the 18-mile Tune-up…it’s great when you don’t race it (last year I did the first loop easy, 2nd loop a tiny bit faster, and last loop at marathon pace.) That said, I was sorta glad today to play spectator-well done to you and everyone else who ran today, the humidity was killer!!

    And when I used to live on the UWS I always did the 2-subway thang to the Union Square TJ’s :) I love the 72nd street one-just one express stop away from me now!

  • Meggie says:

    If I had that kind of long run, I would definitely put a lot of confidence up arrows in my training log! WAY TO GO!!!

    Best part of my weekend – seeing one of my best friends gets married and catching up with tons of people at the wedding!

    I had no idea meatballs could get so versatile…

  • Celia says:

    Great job on the Tune-Up! It was humid! I can’t wait for fall to come back! Nice that you have a partner shooting for the same goal. Makes time go so much faster (athough I guess sometimes I also enjoying running alone too)! Looks like a fun weekend :)

    I have never done the Tune-Up as it hasn’t ever really seemed to fit my schedule for whatever reason, or maybe that is just an excuse! haha. Well, this year at least being two weekends out from my marathon, it was not the time to do 18 miles. I opted to race the mile for the first time…which was interesting.

  • Aron says:

    I did Boston 2 Big Sur this year!! :) The jacket is great ;)

    NICE JOB on the tune up!

  • Page says:

    Can I just say that I am still totally floored by the fact that you ran a 3:04?!?! AMAZING! Buuut, if you can get through that three loop tune-up race, I’m pretty sure you can get through anything! You’re going to kill it!

  • Nice job on the 18 miler! It was humid and 3 loops = lotsa hills. you are going to run wicked fast on November 6th, I just know it!!

    your meatball shop adventure looks delicious – and it’s proof that runners don’t have to eat plain pasta in order to run well :)

  • I must have just missed you when I headed over to CP yesterday! I only did one loop and that was enough for me…three loops can get kinda tedious, that’s for sure. Great run, especially for the humidity and being fueled by balls! I definitely think you’ll run amazing once the weather cooperates again.

    Definitely good to see you this weekend! We need to run soon!

  • sofia says:

    2 marathons back to back?? you’re crrrazy, girl! anyway, love the meatball shop action. those balls are to die for. seriously.

  • Nancy says:

    Wow! Congrats on the successful tune up run! That is awesome, and I will definately be routing for you to break sub 3 come November :)

  • Lauren says:

    Congratulations!! You ran some great splits! I did my first 20-mile run this past weekend too, and it was so humid in New England that I felt like I was swimming through the air. It was gross, but it does feel good to get the run under my belt.

    I definitely choose races (even tedious/boring ones) over runs alone sometimes just because they can be great confidence boosters. And having a supported long run in a race environment definitely helps you run faster than you would otherwise. Earlier this year I did a 20 mile race on a course that was just the same 10 mile out and back twice. It was pretty boring to cover the same stretch of road 4 times, but I was happy I did it, and would run it again next year too.

    And congrats on the B2B sign up! It’s really exciting (in a torturous kind of way ;))

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