5-Mile Runs, Transcendent Moments, and Mint Chip Ices

Wednesday morning’s run was apparently so great – so transcendent – that I ran right by Noah and all the other suit-wearing New Yorkers without even noticing on my way back home.

But I’m getting ahead of myself, and in truth, the run didn’t start off that way at all.

On Wednesday morning, I woke up with the itch. In only moments I knew that taking a non-run day on Tuesday was definitely the right thing to do, and after a little bit of early morning work, I was up and out the door in what I thought was a safe outfit: shorts and a tank.

As it turns out, 65 degrees in New York City feels more like a sweat box thanks to the unwavering humidity. It’s not like I didn’t know this; I grew up in this part of the world. After an incredibly beautiful winter and an even more lovely spring, with dry air and moderate temperatures, I was just hoping that the impending summer humidity would take a back seat for once.

Spoiler: it didn’t, and so within a mile of the run, my clothes were soaked, my hair was slicked back John Travolta circa Grease style, and I was wiping my sweaty forehead with my equally sweaty forearm every few blocks or so. (Note, these two sweat-laden body parts do not cancel each other out, and it was nearly impossible to reduce the amount of moisture on my body from start to finish.)

Besides an abundance of perspiration, I also couldn’t seem to loosen my calves for the first 2 miles as I ran north toward 72nd Street and 5th. I kept thinking that they would at any moment, but to no avail. Eventually, I just accepted the fact that they were working against me and decided to shift my focus to remaining fluid, happy, and, most importantly of all, grateful for the opportunity to be running in the finest city in the world.

Sometime between Midtown and the Central Park Mall, I became hyper-aware of what the pain reminded me of, and I was suddenly transported back to the Cherry Blossom 10-Miler in Washington, D.C. in April. Two things came out of that race: 1) I learned that I could maintain a 9-minute mile if I really set my mind to it (usually I’m a 10-minute mile type of girl). And 2) I’m capable of working through a lot more pain than I thought I was.

From the moment the Cherry Blossom run started, I noticed that my calf was cramping in a way that I had never quite experienced before. With more than 6 years of running know-how, it’s not that I’d never crossed paths with a cramp, twinge or pang; it’s that I’d never found myself dealing with one during a race and, on top of that, one that lingered the entire time. Seriously – it was essentially a 10 mile cramp.

The memory of that day, and how great I felt crossing the finish line with the knowledge of a surefire PR – cramp or no cramp – stuck with me on Wednesday morning. It’s what inspired me not to cut my run short (at certain points at the start of my 5-mile excursion I thought, do I really need to complete the entire length, or should I turn back and strength train for 20 minutes) and fueled me to go the full distance. It also fueled me to pick up the pace, to stop mentally whining, and to push on through to the point that, despite my calf, I was figuratively flying through the city streets.

So yea, by the time I had run uptown, around the lower loop of Central park, and back home, I was 5 miles stronger and totally in the zone – so much so that I totally missed Noah – someone I’ve been dating for 4 years and have known for 7 – walking directly toward me. I ran right past him, shoulder to shoulder, and would have never known had it not been for a phone call I received while only steps from my apartment.

The sense of happiness derived from those kind of runs – you know, where you’re completely mindless and mindful all at the same time – is indescribable. And yet what’s more amazing is that I was able to extract this sense of total contentment out of a partially awesome run.

Perhaps there’s something I can take home from this. Maybe – just maybe – even the best of situations have their darker moments, and it’s in focusing on the positive that the good becomes great or even awesome. And, well, that’s all I have to say about that.

Noah and I topped off Wednesday with a nice last-minute date night out at Casa Mono, where we shared small yet delicious portions of luxurious greens, scallops, artichokes and pork croquettes (the croquettes were Noahs, but I definitely took a forkful – they were fantastic). On the walk home, we stopped by Ralph’s and picked up rainbow, vanilla chip and mint chip ices.

Yep, Wednesday was nearly perfect, save for a couple of tight calves and a looming sense of urgency and stress. Then again, without the urgency and stress, and even my tight extremities, the amazing elements of the day, from run to repast, wouldn’t have been nearly as satisfying or memorable.

  • How do you motivate yourself to run through discomfort?
  • Have you ever gotten so completely in the zone that you missed someone – or something – important?
  • Have you ever been transported during one run to a past race?
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2 thoughts on “5-Mile Runs, Transcendent Moments, and Mint Chip Ices

  1. I’ve only experienced one run like that. Christmas Day 2010. It was snowy, quiet, wonderful and awesome.

    Re the forehead issue: check out bondi bands. Seriously. They are amazing. I even write a blog about them. They might help in the humidity!

  2. How do people get such gorgeous shots while exercising? I can’t seem to find any comfortable way to have my cell phone with me unless I’m at the gym — if in my pocket it bounces, in my hand I’m afraid I’ll drop it, can’t put in sports bra or it gets sweat on it — what’s the secret? I keep seeing such gorgeous ‘out running’ photos and want to take some of my own!

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