June 20, 2024
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June 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Running With the Night

Sometimes I don’t sleep.

I simply don’t get tired.

Take Tuesday, June 29, 2021. I was watching the Netflix series “Loki,” with my son Eric. I looked at my watch; it was two minutes to midnight.

Nice song reference.

Thank you.

You’re welcome.

Eric and I have “us time” every night, starting at 10 p.m., but the kid needs sleep, so I told Eric to go to bed. So now I’m sitting on my sofa, thinking…“I should go to bed.”

I have a 6 a.m. swim at Brighton Beach, I should go to bed.

So, you started to get ready for bed.

So, I started to get ready to go running.

Wait, what?

I was less than 30 days (about four-and-a-half weeks) from Ironman Lake Placid, and my training plan called for an 18-20-mile-long run. It was a perfect opportunity if my body didn’t want to “shut off.”

What does “get ready to run” mean exactly?

The air temp at midnight was 86 degrees and humid, so I started drinking water.

How much water?

By the time I started the actual run, I had consumed 30 ounces… but I am getting ahead of myself.

I figured that if I was going to run for three to four hours, it made sense to pack my swim gear for a post-run swim.

Wait. Did you say, “make sense”? Nothing here makes sense.

An Ironman Triathlon is a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike ride, followed by a 26.2-mile marathon. We are talking about a 16-hour day of perpetual motion.

OK, a long run followed by a swim now makes sense…but the lack of sleep?!

I wasn’t trying to stay up all night; my body just refused to shut down.

How often does that happen?

Oh, every three to four months.

What does your doctor say?

He thinks I’m nuts, but he likes that my blood pressure is 100/60 with my resting pulse at 45.

If I was going to be swimming in Brooklyn, it made sense to run in Brooklyn beforehand.

You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.

The question was where in Brooklyn? My friend Moshe Gershbaum keeps posting his Jamaica Bay Loop rides, so that’s what I decided on. The “Loop” involved crossing the Cross Bay Bridge that connects Howard Beach, Queens, to the Rockaways, and exiting the Rockaways on the Marine Park Bridge in Brooklyn.

I packed my running and swimming gear into the car, ignoring the obvious question.

Obviously…ummm, what was the question?

Where was I going to park?

Why was that an issue?

Parking my car, in Brooklyn, in the middle of the night was going to require a safe place to leave my vehicle for several hours.

Why not at the beach where you were going to swim at dawn?

That would have added an extra four miles to the run, and I didn’t have the time to run 22 miles.

Wait. Your biggest problem was that you didn’t have enough time to run 22 miles, in the middle of the night?

Pretty much.

The drive to Howard Beach didn’t take very long.

I imagine that you wouldn’t encounter much traffic at 1 a.m.

I had planned to park at the supermarket on Cross Bay Parkway, but I began to think, “Parking in a dark, abandoned parking lot might be an invitation to break into my car.” As I crossed the Whitestone Bridge, I realized that I had about 12 minutes to pick a better place to park my car.

If you had left your car in front of your house…

A-ha! Find a residential neighborhood. I turned off Cross Bay Parkway at 159th Street, and tucked the car into the pocket of suburban life. It was a tricky fit.

If you looked outside your window, saw a strange car, you would…

…call a tow truck.


Not so simple, was it?

I drove around the block, found a spot that was in front of a house, but not in front of the front door to the house. It was 1:34 a.m. when I locked the car, turned on my music and walked to the corner to start the run. Just me, my phone, and a 17-ounce bottle of water.

How was that going to be enough water for 18 miles, in 84-degree weather?

My friend Shlomo Rosensweig asks me that all the time. Remember my comment about “pre-gaming the run with 30 ounces of water”?

By 2 a.m. I was halfway across the Cross Bay Bridge. To my left was Jamaica Bay and JFK Airport. To my right were men with fishing poles. Everyone has a story. I wanted to stop and ask these men why they were fishing off the Cross Bay Bridge at 2 a.m., but I had a deadline to meet.

By 2:30 a.m. I reached the far side of the bridge in the Rockaways. Five miles westward was my ticket off the island, but I couldn’t see the Marine Park Bridge from where I stood. The Rockaways is a series of neighborhoods with houses and apartment buildings, which obscured my view. I had to trust that running along the water would keep me from getting lost.

By the time I could see the bridge in the distance, I had been running for almost 1.5 hours.

I was making pretty good time, or so I thought.

Once I was on the bridge I could feel the cool breeze coming off the water. I stepped off the bridge feeling really good about my run. It turns out that I was only 9 miles into the run.

Nine miles is a lot.

…of an 18-mile run. I had a ways to go.

I ran past Floyd Bennett Field, and turned right onto the path parallel to the Belt Parkway.

The Belt Parkway was built by Robert Moses in the 1930s and connects southern Brooklyn with Queens. That fact is about as exciting as running alongside the Parkway itself.

The Parkway is only 7 miles long, but you are constantly looking for a horizon that never arrives. This is the boring part of the run. “Now I remember why I hate doing this run.” You feel like it will never end. It was only 7 miles…


…but it was like “Groundhog Day.” It just kept going on and on and on. I was running along the water, which I’m sure is pretty to look at, but all I saw was vegetation. I needed to distract myself so I started writing this article in my head as I ran. I reached my car before I knew it.

This was my last long run before Ironman Lake Placid, and like most triathletes, I wanted to run it again to get a better pace time, until I remembered, “This is a boring run I never want to do again.”

But that’s triathletes; we choose to forget the parts we hate.

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