Weights & Running on Roosevelt Island

Oof, I woke up this morning with heavy and slightly sore legs. I did a serious workout yesterday. I woke up early so that I could go to the gym to lift weights. I hadn’t gone in almost two weeks because of the weeklong getaway to Cape Cod. I try to lift three times a week. Naturally there was some regression in the amount of weight I was able to lift; I could do two reps at 80 lbs on the bench press and a single rep of 110 lbs for the squat. Still these small and temporary backward trends don’t bother me much because 1) I’m so much stronger than I was originally when I started about a year ago and 2) as long as I keep going, I will continue to get so much stronger. There’s more I want to say about weightlifting, but I’ll put that for another post.

In the evening, I went out for a 6.1 mile run. I started with the idea that I would run pretty hard for 5 to 7 miles, depending upon how I feel. I’m pretty good about not quitting early simply because “I don’t feel like it” and I don’t believe in sucking up the pain to the point where I actually physically hurt myself. I wanted a bit of a change from my usual running route to the waterfront and Astoria Park, so I decided to run to and around Roosevelt Island.

Roosevelt Island is a narrow island, about 2 miles long, in the middle of the East River between Manhattan and Queens. The history of the island is a bit interesting as it has been used for a penitentiary, an insane asylum, and a hospital for chronic care. It wasn’t until the 70s, that Roosevelt Island was used for residential housing. It’s been called Blackwell’s Island, Welfare Island, before being named after Franklin Delanor Roosevelt in 1973.

The approximately 3.5 miles perimeter of the island (4 miles if the southern tip of the island is open) is a lovely area to run, particularly in the spring. Cherry trees are everywhere. Nothing is more wonderful than being bathed by a perfume of cherry blossoms under a warm and mild spring sun while you have gorgeous views of the Manhattan and Queens skyline to look at while running. But even in the non-spring months, Roosevelt Island is still a great place to run. I’m not the only one who thinks so, as the previous link gets you to a NY Times article about it. This is the map of the official running route and as I said before, if the southern tip is open. Occasionally I have seen Southpoint Park’s gates closed. The defunct blog, Runemployed, has a great description and photos of the route here. There are a few ways of getting to Roosevelt Island: 1) Take the tram (it’s something you should do at least once), 2) take the F train and get off at the Roosevelt Island stop, and 3) if you’re in Queens, use the Roosevelt Island Bridge at 36th Ave.

I chose to run to Roosevelt Island from home. It’s a fairly flat course with a few inclines. The incline going up the bridge was the steepest, but honestly it didn’t bother me. According to RunKeeper, I ran 6.1 miles in 57:58, for an average pace of 9:30. I think I actually ran closer to a 9:20 pace because I didn’t bother stopping RunKeeper whenever I was held up by a red light on my way to Roosevelt Island. My mile splits look like this:

  1. 9:41
  2. 9:29
  3. 9:15
  4. 9:27
  5. 9:42
  6. 9:42
  7. 6:58

The last split isn’t a full mile, but the .1 distance.

So as I was running, I knew I would do between 5 to 7 miles. I kept up a hard effort. It was a warm evening, around 82 degrees. I wanted to do a 9:00 pace, but I didn’t feel up to it. In retrospect I should have pushed myself more. When I started the island portion of my run, I thought I would only do 5 miles, but as I went around, I realized that I could keep up the pace and decided to do 6 miles. The extra .1 mile happened because when I pulled out my IPhone to press stop on RunKeeper, I realized that if I ran a bit longer I could get it to 6.1, rather than stopping at 6.03 or something arbitrary like that (I realized that 6.1 is also just as arbitrary, but it feels less so). The last half mile, I had enough energy for a kick, à la Leo Manzano. Normally I don’t have any energy for a kick, but yesterday, I was able to thunder down to the finish in a blistering pace.

While the apps are a bit buggy at times and not as accurate as Garmin, if you’re really serious about running to the point where you worry about each .01 mile and second, it’s a handy way to track my running without shelling out money for another piece of equipment. I like RunKeeper better than MapMyRun. RunKeeper is more user-friendly, has better GPS reliability, and I’ve experienced fewer problems. I decided to use MapMyRun to track my cool down (the walk home) to test its reliability. I find the interface harder to use and I was annoyed to find that at the end of my walk, it tracked my time, but not my distance. If I had used MapMyRun for the run portion, I would have been thoroughly pissed. So for now, I’m sticking with RunKeeper.


View of the City from Roosevelt Island

2 thoughts on “Weights & Running on Roosevelt Island

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