On Friday night, I passed up an opportunity to go the annual New York “braggers’ rights”  pre season football game, the Jets against the Giants.
The offer came from my brother, Damian, who’s a Giants season ticket holder. Most of you probably know I’m a long suffering Jets fan, which has led to a number of interesting family gatherings and “discussions” over the years. We happened to be travelling to New Jersey to visit my brother and mother, who live only about 20 minutes apart. But with my schedule the way it is, I just knew I wouldn’t be able to go home, get in a nap (I wake up at 3:15am for work), pack, load the car, etc. to leave early enough on Friday afternoon to be able to get to the game for the 7:30 kickoff. So, when I declined the offer, my brother texted me back “Too bad. Let me know if u want to drive over in am for a run.” I agreed to drive over from my mother’s house to meet him at 8am, and it was time to achieve the next milestone on my goal of running a half-marathon: 12 miles (So this is another blog about running, instead of football. I’ll cut to the chase: I think both the Jets and Giants are non-playoff teams, so why waste my time?).
Damian lives in High Bridge, a picturesque little town north of historic Clinton, in the western half of New Jersey. A half-mile from his house is the trail head for the Columbia Trail, one of those “rail trails” that’s being developed in Voorheesville and Delmar in Albany County. In High Bridge, everyone just calls it “The Trail.”

Columbia Trail Sign.JPG
"Columbia Trail Sign" by Original uploader was Rock nj at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Liftarn using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Locally, I’ve become fond of the Mohawk hiking and biking trail between I-890 and S.C.C.C. Problem is, it’s right next to the highway so you get all of that noise with your mother nature. You get the real nature trail experience with Columbia, as it’s far away from highways or major development (yes, I’m talking Jersey here).  Most of it goes through to top of a gorge, so all that you hear are birds, rushing water, and other runners and bicyclists.
My brother is training for a marathon that’s a Boston Qualifier on 9/7, so while he can run much farther than I can, he’s now “tapering,” so he was running “only” 6 miles on Saturday. That meant he would run the first half with me, and I was on my own for the second half.
I can’t recall ever going on a run with Damian, so this was something new for the both of us, at ages 51 and 45, respectively. We started out with the warm up portion from his house, then hit the trail. In the short time I’ve taken up the sport, I only run alone, I don’t have a running partner, so I’m not used to conversing when running (friends and family will tell you that must be the only time I shut up). Naturally, when we started out we talked about the game, without arguing, which the Giants won, but the Jets were ahead when the starters for both teams were in, 10-7 at the half. Oh yeah, this is a blog about running, not football.  This must have also been a training day for both the local high school girls and boys cross country team, as members of both breezed by us with apparent ease. Ode to be young again.  Turns out my brother knows a few of them, since High Bridge is a small town, and I guess some are friends with his daughter, who’s going into her junior year.  Then, it’s more talk about yes, running: different training methods, how to achieve your goals, dietary advice, etc. My bro says you should eat something an up to an hour before a long run. Other runners would swear that off, but since Damian is a doctor, I’ll follow his advice. I now know when I wake up for the Saratoga Palio Half Marathon on 9/21, I’ll have to have a fruit smoothie, with perhaps some toast.
One positive aspect to running with someone is the talking can be a distraction to how hard you’re working. In this case, while there is no steep section, the trail mostly follows an incline for the first half. When you return, you get to run “downhill” a little bit. Early on I feel great, and it’s cloudy with the occasional  shower to keep us cool. There are a couple of bridges…one over a road, the other over the creek that runs through the gorge. In general, with vistas are really nice, which can be another welcome “distraction.” So we proceed to the turnaround point for Damian’s mileage, and run back down to the trail head together. He goes home and I have to run the trail…again. I actually felt good most of the time on the way back up, and even ran a sub 9 minute mile without pushing it too hard…but I probably should have slowed myself down, instead of going with the flow. I started feeling tired around mile 8. At  mile 9, it’s to time turnaround for the final 3 miles. I haven’t gotten “heavy legs” too often on my runs, but I definitely felt it in the final two miles. I just kept going….and by the time I got back the trail head, I was feeling exhausted…and sore. I had to walk a half-mile back to my brother’s house, and I made it a SLOW walk. He happens to live up a steep hill. Great. Tired as I was, I jogged the last part, just to get a little “hill training” in.
My reward: breakfast at Damian’s….a couple of bowls of Apple Jacks and  a Jersey bagel. And, at that point, my niece was awake (what is it with high schoolers sleeping in?), so I had a nice visit with her before heading back to my mom’s with a pair of sore legs. My body felt better after a good night’s sleep, and now I think I’m ready for more training runs.
This Saturday: the 14 miler, after which it’ll be time for me to taper off. Wish me luck—and to my brother for his marathon on the 7th
- Tom