Greetings from NYC! We are back for another session of sports classes in the park and it feels great to be here. The air is crisp, there are leaves on the ground, and the sun is shining. After a flight cancellation yesterday morning I made it to New York just in time to join my husband for a pre-kindergarten flag football class. Fortunately this is just about where my skill set lies with football, at the pre-kindergarten level. But it was a great reminder of just how fun it is to work with children and sports.
After our class I rolled my luggage for 20 blocks to our new, miniature, pad for the next few weeks. Of course the first thing I did was throw on some running clothes and take off. I started out running up the East River and then took a turn west until I made it to the top of Central Park. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go for the run but I had 9 miles in mind. So I headed down the west side of the park.
If you have never run in Central Park before, let me tell you that it is hilly. And if you have ever run in Chicago, it isn’t hilly. Last time I was in New York was in the spring and I was injured. So it has been a long time since I ran any of these hills. I decided to take it easy but as I started running I felt great! In fact, I was beginning to feel like my old running self. As I approached my first major uphill portion of the park I fell into a nice pace and began to pass a guy. He was a strong runner but I felt like my pace was definitely stronger. I could have kept going but I felt good where I was and I was breathing at a nice even rate.
(Come to think of it, Piratebobcat should have a statue there for sure!)
As I passed him, he did that annoying thing that all drivers do in the passing lane and sped up. So I pushed it a bit and made it around him. About a half mile later he came flying by me and then settled in just in front of me. I looked at my watch and I was running a nice even 8:00min/mile on the hills and that was a great pace for me to finally be back to. So I relaxed and let him stay in front and tried to ignore him. But I could sense that he was occasionally checking to see where I was in his “rear view mirror.”
He wasn’t being a jerk, or trying to race. In fact, it was a silent acknowledgement from both of us that we were running strong and keeping each other at a good steady speed. I stayed behind and occasionally got closer and he would push a bit more to keep his lead.
Of course, for the first time in years one of my shoes (that I double knotted) came undone. I had to stop and a part of me was worried that he would gain a larger gap and perhaps he might turn to think that he had left me in his dust! But I darted ahead and ended up close to where I had been.
Somewhere on the Upper East Side of the city he slowed and came to a finish but as he did he turned and gave me a nod and a wave. I waved back and continued on my way back to where I had started. It was a really nice feeling. It was a pleasant reminder that as a whole most of us in the running community are really great people and despite the fact that we want to be in front come race day, we also have a great ability to cheer each other on and hope for the best.
I have no idea who that guy was and I am pretty sure he doesn’t read this blog. But his friendly nod, and helpful push on that run meant a lot to me. I finally ran at a pace near what I was doing last year at the peak of my marathon training. I felt like myself as my legs burned on those hills. I felt like a running badass! And honestly, we all should feel like running badasses at many points in our training.
It was a great reminder that we don’t have to always race to enjoy what running has to offer. Whether it is a group run, or speed work, or doing fartleks; it is important to find a way to get back to what it really is that we love about this sport. Find a way to do a run where you just enjoy the essence of the run.
On a side note, I have randomly signed up for my first race since a 15K I did last summer. I did it on a whim because my husband and his student Zach are running the Boston 13.1 for Team Momentum this weekend. Since I am going to be there to cheer them and everyone else from Team Momentum on, I thought it would be fun to go ahead and run the half myself. I am looking forward to joining a race again for myself and hopefully just running it for the love of running and not trying to kill myself.
This weekend I will desperately try to find the fun in just being on the course of a race and not racing! I hope you are finding the fun in your run too!