Thursday, August 9, 2007

Running in New York City - a True Marathon

Running in New York City is truly like running a marathon except that you're the only person running. For those of you who have never run a marathon, imagine lining up with anywhere from 20,000-40,000 people at a start line and once the gun goes off weaving in and out of thousands of runners to claim your little bit of the road for the next 4 1/2 hours. Over the course of those 4 1/2 hours every now and again you have to readjust - you pass people, people pass you, you move left for a bit, you move right for a bit, you stay in the center for a bit to keep a little bit of the road for yourself until you cross that finish line and the marathon is over.

Now imagine running that marathon except instead of 20,000+ runners (and maybe not for 4 1/2 hours) you have thousands of pedestrians, yellow cabs, tourists, and traffic lights!

After a 6 week mandatory rest period due to a stress fracture I'm back out pounding the pavement and I have to say it feels good! I've been increasing my mileage slowly so as not to injure myself again and am back up to 4 mile runs. I really missed having my running time, my time to myself, my time to explore, my time to see what my body can do. However, now that I'm back at it I'm running in a totally foreign environment that I'm still struggling to get to know.

When you're running 4 miles or under it's not worth it to go to Central Park (unless you live right there) or to head over to the West Side Highway (again unless you live right there) because by the time you run there it's time to turn around and you didn't get to enjoy any of the perks about those great running places in NYC. So right now while I'm upping my mileage I'm running in my neighborhood.

The other night my DH and I went out for a 4 mile run, my longest to date during my recovery period. Running most places in NYC is chaotic - you're running on the sidewalk and you're battling pedestrians that are not paying attention to where they're going let alone other people on the sidewalk, you're battling traffic lights (when you're running the blocks the rule of thumb at my pace is that you can usually get 2, maybe 3 under your belt before you hit a red light), you're battling sidewalk closings because of the constant construction going on in the city. And when you see that the sidewalk is just to crowded and you decided to brave the street (while seriously hugging the sidewalk and running towards the traffic!) you're battling buses (you never know when they're going to stop or start up again and move out into traffic), cars and cabs that hate pedestrians (mainly because the pedestrians don't pay attention when crossing the road), you're weaving in and out of people and cars to just keep going and not have to stop too often (isn't a cardinal rule of conserving your energy not to weave?) and you're thinking to yourself this is crazy. This isn't the relaxing me time that I'm craving. At least that's what I was thinking.

But then I hit the turnaround point (having lost my DH at this point - it's funny if you miss a light and the other person makes it through you end up taking completely different routes home as you move with the lights) as I turned again down 5th Avenue I started looking around me. I passed St. Patrick's Cathedral, Rockefeller Center, the New York Public Library and as the hill crested and I started going downhill on 5th Avenue (oh yes, NYC is hillier that most would lead you to believe) I looked up and saw that I was running towards the Empire State Building. And it occurred to me this is pretty amazing - I'm running past history, past iconic places that most people in the world dream of seeing!

So while I prefer running the rolling hills of Vermont, running past the Victorian houses on Summit Avenue in St. Paul, MN, running through the vineyards of Napa and down the trail at Lands End in San Fran and believe it or not the hills of Newton, MA! Right now I'm running in NYC and it won't be forever so I'll embrace it and make the most of this experience, and as I increase my mileage I'll explore Central Park and the West Side Highway, and hopefully by the time I leave NYC I'll have loved running here as much as anywhere else. And during my time here I'll keep you up to date on the cool places I do run.

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