It was a weekend of firsts for me. For one, I went back to my old stomping ground to stick around and help my family for the pre-Valentine’s Day weekend. When your parents and brothers run a three-decade-plus year old chocolate store, that’s kind of a big deal. Fortunately, it wasn’t that torturous.
And then there was the fact that I didn’t run. As in I didn’t run all weekend. Give me a lie detector test, I’ll pass.
Saturday morning tempted me, as I lay in bed during the early hours staring out at the flurries from the guest room in my parent’s house. I wanted to lace up my sneakers and get out there, but instead, I picked up a book I’ve been wanting to read, and I started on page 1.
Which brings me to my third first of the weekend. I read. I read, and I read and I read, from page 1 to 249 in a single day. I sat in the chocolate store (on call for deliveries) and turned page after page of the most wonderful book, riveted by the courageous words of a story told by author, marathoner, Ironman and owner of my favorite neighborhood bar, Matt Long. (Who would have thought he was the man behind Third & Long?)
I never knew that this Matt character had written a memoir until a couple of weeks ago, when I was skimming a forum on the book Born to Run – another great read. That one, I had sped through over Thanksgiving vacation. I rarely get to read because, in truth, as a web editor, I spend up to 12 hours a day looking at words. By the time I get home, I can sometimes be a bit bitter toward the entire English alphabet. It’s only on vacations that I’ll commence my favorite pastime – an activity which inspired my professional path.
Born to Run was amazing. I highly recommend it to anyone who’s ever felt the slightest passion for running. And yet The Long Run, while less commercialized and perhaps popular since it wasn’t written by a high-profile journalist with publishing ties, was equally (albeit, in a totally different way) phenomenal. Born to Run was entrancing for the way it glorified the art of ultra-marathoning; The Long Run, with it’s central character of FDNY hero Matt Long, is much more relative. Within the first few pages, you’re charmed by Matt’s gregarious personality and that of his ginormous Brooklyn-bread family. And if you’re a New Yorker, then there is no question that you’ll become quickly enveloped in Matt’s all-too familiar descriptions of this city we call home and the outdoor treadmill we runners call Central Park.
You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy Matt’s story – something I think is untrue of Born to Run. Sure, it helps. But if you’ve ever been passionate about a sport – or anything, for that matter – and can imagine it being taken away from you, then I think you can find a way to relate to the author’s accomplishments.
Speaking of achievement, that brings me to my fourth first of the weekend. I’ve been practicing yoga on and off for about six years now, and while I know every Sanskrit pose, I’ve never been able to successfully complete a headstand. (Usually, that’s my cue in class to lay in “legs up the wall” pose while everyone else is inverted.)
For some reason on Sunday, I was feeling strong. I hadn’t run in two days, and practicing my push-ups for about a month now (up to 12!) was making my arms feel firm and steady. I envisioned it. I decided to try it. And then, right then and there, in the middle of my parent’s living room floor, I did it. Not very gracefully, might I add, but I did it.
A weekend on Long Island, away from excessive car horns, was exactly what I needed. I arrived back in the city feeling a greater sense of calm, and by Sunday night, I wasn’t just ready for my Monday morning run – I was excited for it.
Glorious, aside from the cabs and stuff. I’ve said this before, but there really is nothing like those first few steps after a couple days of rest. My legs felt all superhuman strong, and while I didn’t necessarily push my speed, I didn’t slack off either.
I steadily made my way through 5 miles to kick off my week, entering today at the bottom of the park on 59th and 5th where the horse and buggies usually hang out on the weekends. I did a short but great bottom loop, passing the Bethesda Fountain…
…and then back south to exit the park. I’d have liked to stop at the angelic statue to stretch and do a few plyometrics, but time and the below-freezing temperatures really weren’t making it happen this morning. So instead, I just waved adieu to my lush green surroundings and headed back home.
No, not a bad start to the week at all.
My goal for this week is to get a few more solid 5 mile runs in including, if I can be convincing enough, a Valentine’s Day run tomorrow night with Noah. I’m not really in to the whole price fix thing…I prefer frozen dark chocolate M&Ms to pre-made restaurant desserts that I usually don’t really like. The other is to keep working on my headstand. Hopefully by the next time I sign up for yoga, I can try to balance on my head in front of peers. But no promises. Those hard wood floors are treacherous.