Saturday’s Central Park Quickie: Crowded, Cloudy & Cool

Disappointment is: going into the refrigerator for that last bit of delicious eggplant dip only to find it’s been eaten.

It’s also waking up at 8 am to run; making impromptu plans to meet a friend at the park; “fueling” or whatever with a bowl of cereal, almond milk and cinnamon, and two rice crackers with almond butter and wild blueberry jelly; and then taking a step outside only to realize that, despite scaling back aggressively this week, my leg was bothering me.


I really wasn’t in the mood for failure or disappointment on Saturday morning, however. And so after a slow, mile-long jog up to the bottom of Central Park with Noah (my comfortable speed is the equivalent of his warm-up pace; go figure)…

(There he goes — speedier than me!)

…I waited for my friend while mentally preparing myself for whatever was to come. I knew I wasn’t going to get 7 or 8 miles in like I had wanted, but even if I could log 5, I’d be satisfied. After all, they can’t all be long or good runs, but the fact that I was running at all on a beautiful and gray fall morning was enough to make me momentarily happy.

While waiting at the park’s entrance for my buddy, I used those spare 20 minutes to do push-ups and tricep dips on random benches off to the left of the path. I wandered along the pathways, listened to a nearby man on the saxophone, and climbed one of the big manmade rocks to check out a true NYC view that I’d otherwise never get to take in, you know, because I’m usually running.

When my partner finally got to the park, we made our way up the drive at 59th Street and officially entered the lower loop. Our plan was to run for approximately 50 minutes to an hour, no matter how far or how long that took us.

What ensued was a simple loop from the bottom of The Park around the reservoir and back down the west side to where we started. The weather was perfect and cool, and it felt absolutely wonderful to 1) soak in the scenic reservoir and 2) run on a softer surface. Really, I wish I could live closer to this track-like locale.

The only downside to Saturday’s quickie in Central Park was how insanely crowded it was. I don’t mean for this to sound obnoxious, because there are some days when this type of vision is so inspiring that I get chills. But, on Saturday, I couldn’t help feeling a bit of resentment toward the hordes of runners overtaking the pathways I know will become clear again once the NYC Marathon is over.

Instead of spacing out and meditating in my every step, I was instead forced to swerve in and out of fellow runners, bikers, walkers, and men carrying TV’s and large electronic equipment boxes (really? in Central Park? WTF?). I never quite lost myself in the moment, and more than anything missed my quiet space. Conclusion: I’ll probably have to frequent the East River — a popular but much less accessible path — on the weekends until November rolls around.

I met Noah back where I started at 11:30, after he finished his final 11-mile run in anticipation of the Chicago Marathon next week. Meeting him in the park would mean that I’d be forced to walk the rest of the way home, ultimately keeping me honest and healthy while preserving the nature of my leg. Sometimes, it really does help to have someone hold you accountable for your choices — even if, at times, those choices are meant to keep you from adding miles to your morning.

As for the leg, the pain was on and off. While it wasn’t as noticeable as during the mile-long run up to Central Park, I nevertheless felt it return every 10 minutes or so thereafter. Fortunately, having a friend to run with provided a really great distraction, and I was able to stop thinking about it for extended periods of time. Of course, the fact that we took a lap around the reservoir and Bridle Path helped too, as soft surfaces are naturally ideal for my body right now.

Less than 2 years ago, before falling in love with this whole idea of distance, I’d never dreamed of running more than 5 miles on any given day, whether weekday or weekend. I’m still not quite used to this feeling of ugh I only ran 5 miles.

Only 5 miles. Sometimes, I need to write that ridiculous statement out over and over again because, in the scheme of things, it sounds so silly to say.

After crossing the finish line at the Philadelphia Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon, I knew that I’d need to limit my mileage in order to really allow my leg to rehabilitate. Now, only 2 weeks later, it’s as though I’ve completely forgotten this promise that I made to myself.

Nevertheless, 5 miles is substantial. Maybe if I keep telling myself this, I’ll come around to believe it. Regardless, I don’t really have much of a choice, because whether or not I’ve accepted it, I have committed to shorter runs until I can genuinely say that my leg is fully healed and that I no longer feel strange sensations when I run. Hopefully, it won’t be too much longer.

  • How were your weekend runs? Any awesome races or routes?
  • What’s more disappointing: cutting a run short or finding an empty container of [whatever you’re madly craving] in the fridge?

7 thoughts on “Saturday’s Central Park Quickie: Crowded, Cloudy & Cool

  1. I know the feeling of being disappointed by a lesser distance. But you’re right–it’s still five miles, and that’s pretty incredible to most people in this world 🙂

    Your either-or question is tough… I one time chucked a container of yogurt on the floor when I realized we were out of the chocolate chips I was craving to top it with. Not my finest moment…

  2. We managed to make it out for a 10 miler on Saturday. I haven’t covered that type of distance since the marathon in June. It was good to go for a long run (and not get blisters from my shoes!)

    I’m glad to hear that you pushed through and got your mileage in, but didn’t over exert yourself. Congrats!

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