I’m still trying to gather my thoughts on this, because while just 3 days ago I was complaining about how burnt out I was from running, working out, and all that jazz, I then went on to accidentally run 12 miles or so on Saturday. Oops?
Let me be clear that my intention was not to run too far on Saturday. With a 10-mile race coming up next weekend, I was aiming for somewhere around 7 miles – maybe 8. The initial plan was to take a leisurely jog with Noah north on the west side so that I could check out the views of the George Washington Bridge, something I had been wanted to do for a while. But come Saturday morning, both of us decided that we’d be better off splitting up for our runs, since my slow pace could end up being more tedious on his body.
Not in the mood to explore any new territory on my own, I headed up to Central Park to meet my cousin instead. I knew that Central Park would be comfortable for me since I don’t wear a watch, and I’d easily be able to estimate the distance.
Dori and I met at the 72nd Street entrance of Central Park and headed north from there. I expected my first stab at Cat Hill to be arduous, considering I had drank about a bottle of wine the night before, and so I requested a silent start to our run. Not surprisingly, about 4 seconds after that decision was made we started chatting away, confirming my recent realization that running is one of the best ways to catch up and socialize with family and friends, and that chatting with family and friends is one of the best ways to forget the fact that you’re running.
Central Park was electric on Saturday morning, with hordes of runners taking over every nook and cranny. At times, the pathways were so packed, it felt as though we were participating in some sort of race, though our slow and steady pace would have suggested otherwise.
Though we previously planned to do a lap around the reservoir, we decided on a whim to stay on the road and continue north for about a mile or so. Neither of us was particularly open to the idea of climbing Harlem Hill, so we cut across to the west side instead. As far as I could tell, we were both feeling strong, and the conversation was flowing as naturally as though we were sitting at a restaurant with a bottle of red and a plate of hummus in front of us.
The west side flew by, and before either of us knew it, we were approaching Central Park South – my original intended point of departure. “I’m feeling great,” I told Dori. “It’s like I could do this all day.”
After I opened my big mouth, Dori decided to hold me to my cocky commentary, suggesting that we continue back up north and complete another lap around the reservoir. Of course, my immediate reaction was absolutely not. For one, I had already completed the maximum number of miles I had set out to achieve (or I would have by the time I got back to my apartment from the bottom of Central Park). And of course, there’s the fact that I vowed to never run up Cat (or Harlem) Hill twice in one day ever again after I successfully did so (in heavy snow) during the Manhattan Half Marathon.
“Oh, I thought you could run all day,” Dori quipped, mocking my previous statement. So obviously, there was no turning back. “Fine,” I said. “Let’s do it.”
In all honesty, the entire run was phenomenal. We gossiped, we ran, we pushed ourselves. I knew I was entering PDR territory for a non-race day, and I was doing so unprepared (unless you count a handful of Cheerios and a swig of water as pre-run preparation). And yet despite the spontaneity of the entire ordeal, it all felt very natural. In fact, after a week of pushing myself to complete 7 or even just 5 miles at a time without pain or exhaustion, all of a sudden, I was unfazed by what we were setting out to do.
Then, it happened. The aha moment. As a general rule of thumb, I don’t place much pressure on my runs, and I’m mainly able to do so by avoiding any type of watch or device to calculate my distance or speed. Still, especially with a race on the horizon, the pressure found a way to seep into my consciousness. I think it’s just a natural part of my personality and some innate need to always outdo myself.
On Saturday though, there was absolutely zero pressure, and my reasoning for adding distance to the run was more deeply rooted in a desire to continue hanging out with my cousin than any need to tack on extra miles. Before I knew it, more than 12 miles had come and gone, and I was back home and ready to start my day. Best of all, I immediately felt so much more confident about next week’s 10 mile race in D.C.
Truth: My day didn’t start right then and there. Instead, I ended up flopping onto the couch for about two hours before I was able to mobilize. When I finally did, it was to consume a delicious brunch at Penelope’s, inclusive of an apple cider mimosa. Delicious? Yes. Warranted? Definitely.
I spent the rest of Saturday wandering around the east side of Manhattan, making my way up toward my brother’s apartment where I’d be spending the evening babysitting my obnoxiously cute nephew who, during our time together, discovered the flip mode of the iPhone camera – and loved it.
I’m not sure why I felt compelled to walk another two miles uptown, but I had an urge to roam Manhattan aimlessly. I went into a few department stores, where I got completely overwhelmed by the crowds and lack of fresh air, and decided that my distaste for public spaces is getting progressively stronger. Eventually, I wound up in Lululemon to check out the sale rack and ended up finding an awesome sweatshirt that I was under the impression was marked at a reasonable price. It was not. In fact, it was not on sale at all, and I almost had a heart attack when the cashier rang me up.
I’m not one to splurge on items like a Lululemon sweatshirt (that’s something old, college Stacy might have done), and I planned on returning it the following day. But as the hours went on, I started to think about how hard I’ve been working and how little I’ve been rewarding myself – in everyday life, at the office, and especially in regards to running. All this contemplation led me to one conclusion: Keep the sweatshirt Stacy. Treat yourself. For once, you might even deserve it. So with a ton of hesitation, I ripped the price tag off and wore my new overpriced purchase on Sunday. I didn’t run either. And I have to say, it felt really nice to do something for me.
This weekend was really restorative, and it got me thinking: What have you done for yourself lately? If you can’t think of something off the bat, maybe it’s time you did.