June 19, 2024
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June 19, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Running Manhattan. (Credit: David Roher)

Thirty Five Days Until Ironman UK

It was great that we might have solved the bike seat issue, not so great that it was five weeks to go.

(You can do a lot in five weeks.)

If the race was in five weeks, I only had three more weeks of heavy training. After that, I had 14 days to rest up. If we were wrong about the bike seat, my race was over. I was about to roll the dice on the object my tush rests on…

Twenty Eight Days Until Ironman UK

A week later my insomnia presented me with an opportunity to see if the new and improved bike seat would do the trick.

I normally sleep from 11:30 p.m. until 3 a.m..

(Until 6 a.m. on Shabbos.)

By 12:15 a.m. on June 8, it was clear that my body was too excited to sleep, so I filled my water bottles and set up my gels and a bag of chips to snack on … and I rode … for the next five hours and 15 minutes.

(HOW?!?!?!)

The bike is mounted on a “bike trainer” that provides road resistance while I pedal indoors.

(What did you think about for five and a quarter hours?)

  1. How stupid people on reality TV are.
  2. How stupid I was to binge watch five and a quarter hours of reality TV while pedaling inside my house.

(Did you take a sick day after you finished the ride?)

No, I went to work. Two to three times a year I have days where I get so excited that I do not sleep. I’m not sure how I am able to function without sleep, but I do NOT recommend you try to do this yourself.

(I’m sure the following day, you rested from training.)

Nope. I was on a seven-day workout schedule and the biggest workouts were about to begin…

Weaving in and out of shut down paths along the FDR. (Credit: David Roher)

Twenty Seven Days Until Ironman UK

With only 14 training days left, I made time for a 5K.

(Run, you did a 5K run, right?)

Swim.

(Swim?)

I swam a 5K.

(Who swims a 5K? That’s…)

About three miles; 3.1 to be exact.

(How long did that take you?)

One hour, 49 minutes.

(Isn’t the race 2.4 miles?)

True, but I wanted to be sure that I would not be exhausted when I exited from the water, so I swam farther. Six months of swimming 3,000 meters a week had given me the strength to, as Dori said, “Just keep swimming.”

(Now I understand why the gabbai likes to give you hagbah.)

I have been warned that I “shall not exceed the wingspan of the kid doing the galilah!”

(What did you think about when you are swimming for so long?)

Nothing, I just listened to music.

(On your phone?)

On a waterproof MP3 player that strapped onto the back of my goggles.

Twenty Five Days Until Ironman UK

(You were just over three weeks from your race. When were you going to rest?)

The act of winding down an Ironman training is called “tapering.”

If you begin the taper too soon, you lose the endurance that you built up. That will cause you to become fatigued sooner during your race.

If you begin the taper too late, you run the risk of arriving at a 140.6-mile race fatigued.

Now, the biggest workouts were about to begin…

First there was a 22-mile run around Manhattan Island.

(Didn’t you do a 23-mile run to your parents the 10 days before?)

Yes, but the temperature had come up 15 degrees in that week and a half.

I can run in 60 F for hours with only three, 16.9 Poland Spring water bottles.

When the temperature goes over 72 F, my hydration requirements double.

I decided to run the Island of Manhattan.

Riding through the night, at home. (Credit: David Roher)

(Excuse me?!?!?)

My friend Martin Bodek once posted on Facebook that he walked the 33-mile outline of the island. Since I enjoy the journey of running to a destination, I planned to just run 22 miles.

(Why not run a full marathon in practice?)

Running a full would sideline my training for days with recovery.

I started my morning by finding a legal parking spot in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Fortunately, I was planning to start running at 10 a.m. and spots open up between 7-10 a.m. when Manhattan residents take Sunday trips.

I have “run Manhattan” many times, but always at night. This was my first time doing it in daylight.

(Did you burst into flames like a vampire in sunlight?)

I started in Riverside Park on 96th Street and headed south. The first six miles took me past the luxury liners docked at the piers near the Intrepid Air and Sea Museum. As impressive as the size of these floating hotels may be, I am always impressed when I run past the mighty aircraft carrier that saw action in WWII. Jet fighters, a submarine and now the Concord are frozen in time for all to see.

From there the pedestrian running path goes past the 9/11 Memorial and the Freedom Tower to the bottom of the island where the path terminates.

At the bottom of Manhattan was a series of parks whose layout created an obstacle course for me to run through. It wasn’t until I attempted to run north along the east side that things got really tricky.

Mile 10

By 12 noon I stopped at a deli in the east 40s and bought two waters. One I drank, the other I carried with me as I ran north. The sun was beating down and I had to wipe the sweat from my eyes.

(It’s June in New York City; what were you expecting?)

Mile 12

I had been heading north on First Ave because the east side parks I had planned to run through had been blocked off to pedestrian traffic. Twice when I attempted to enter the pedestrian walkway that overlooked the FDR Drive, I had to turn around and run back to 1st Avenue. Whole sections of the walkway were fenced off for construction. This was going to add extra mileage for sure. At 81st street I turned right and followed the running path north until 125th Street. I used a park water fountain to refill my bottle. I had consumed 51 ounces of water, mostly from miles 6-12. I had enough gels to fuel the rest of the run. I just hoped I had enough water from that point on.

Mile 17

I ran across 125th street, occasionally stopping for red lights. Each time, taking the time to admire the historic Apollo Theater across the street.

Mile 19

I turn right into West Harlem Piers Park and another water bottle refill. Only 5k to go as I headed south and the breeze coming off the Hudson River to my right was a relief.

Mile 22

I exited the run path right into a birthday party in the park. Luckily, it was my cousin’s birthday party and I took in some much-needed refreshments.

(Now, were you ready for Ironman UK?)

No. There was one more “long workout” left to make me feel “ready.”


David Roher is a USAT certified triathlon and marathon coach. He is a multi-Ironman finisher and veteran special education teacher. He is on Instagram @David Roher140.6. He can be reached at [email protected].

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