Friday, I was off from work — part of my company’s pre-Labor Day kindness, though I suppose nobody actually does work on the day before a holiday weekend anyway. Truth-be-told, I worked my tail off during the first half of the week to make sure I could relax for four days straight without guilt or paranoia.
It was tough too, because I was feeling slightly under the weather on both Wednesday and Thursday. My immune system has been pretty spotty lately, and I’m not sure whether it’s because Noah wasn’t feeling well (and we share an apartment and bed), because I sit in a petri dish of germs at work (a small office shared by, currently, 5 employees), or because of the wavering temperatures. One day in New York City it’s 88 and humid, and by the next morning, it’s down to 68 with a cool breeze. Whatever the culprit, I’m not all that surprised.
Thankfully, it was really just my throat that was bothering me, but along with that, I felt a bit fatigued as well. The first sign of sickness, for me, is always a lazy morning. On Wednesday, I literally couldn’t peel myself out of bed if you tried tempting me with the world’s best bacon (worth the exception from my primarily veggie tendencies) and kale (now, that’s more like it). Instead, I stayed wrapped tightly under the blanket until past 8:00, and it was the most amazing extra 1.5 hours of sleep I’ve ever gotten. At least I was able to squeeze in 4 miles in Soho the morning before.
I felt OK when I finally got out of bed, and after considering working from home, I figured — ehh, why not add to the petri dish of germs. Kidding. I actually felt really bad sitting in my office feeling not all that great, but I had a ton of stuff to accomplish with the holiday weekend approaching, and so I sucked it up and went to work.
I also brought a running backpack filled with sneakers, a sports bra, shorts and a tank top. I was supposed to meet my friend E for dinner at her apartment after work, and figured since I slept through my ritual morning run, I could at least jog slowly to her apartment after work. It’d be a great way to squeeze in a short workout and sweat out some of the germs. But as 3:00 rolled around — the deadline I set to make a decision — I realized that what I really needed was sweatpants, my couch and a big bowl of matzoh ball soup. And so that’s exactly what I did. Jewish penicillin a’called.
On Thursday morning, I woke up with the same sore throat. Still, I was feeling the slightest bit better, and so I rolled out the yoga mat and committed to a morning of light weights and stretching. I wanted to run, of course. I also felt as though my body was still trying to tell me something (mainly, rest), and so I turned on an episode of Gossip Girl (this time, I give you full permission to judge) and proceeded to kind of work out.
Since I had no intention of over-doing it — after all, I still had an entire work day to get through, and I was hoping to dine out at night — I stuck to what I knew. No videos. No YouTube. Rather, I performed a series of vinyasas and stretches, some work on my triceps and some bicep curls. I did this for the better part of 45 minutes, and then I threw in the metaphoric towel. It was enough.
Like I said, I was off from work on Friday, and while the sore throat was still lingering (a stubborn one, I tell ya!), I really, really, really needed to run.
Recruiting Noah, we decided on a basic but, based on my current state and recent running history, long-ish 7-mile run around the Central Park Reservoir and home. I figured, if worst came to worst, we could always stop after 5 miles and walk the remaining 2 back home from the park. Fortunately, it wouldn’t come to that.
It felt great to wake up slowly on Friday, not forcing myself to lace up and get out at the sound of my alarm. We left the apartment around 9:30 and headed north up a very crowded Lexington Avenue. Despite the holiday weekend, the city was crowded indeed.
To avoid foot traffic, even if only for a short 5 block period, we took a left on 42nd St. and a right shortly after onto Vanderbilt — that’s the weird little block next to Grand Central right between Park and Madison. It was a nice little reprieve from the New York City madness, but only 5 blocks later, and we were back in the thick of the morning commute.
On my typical morning runs, I’d be able to take Madison all the way up to the park, since it provides a change of scenery and, admittedly, I like browsing the windows of the posh stores. The sidewalks are pretty thin there, though, and on a crowded morning, the weave can become incredibly frustrating. For that reason, we hooked another left and took 5th Avenue up to the park instead.
Once we entered the park, the streets were far quieter, and the run became indescribably more pleasant. Still a bit early for tourists, we had no problem whatsoever navigating the pathways of Central Park.
Our route was slightly different than usual, since we were on a mission to stay on the pathways and off the lower loop (after 7:30AM, they allow cars in the park, and I prefer to stay away from them).
Noah and I started at the 59th St. entrance near the Central Park Zoo and took the pathway that runs parallel to 5th Avenue all the way up to the 72nd. St. transverse. Rather than hopping onto the road there, which is usually what I would do, we crossed the road and continued to run north on the eastern paths, looping around the pond with children feeding the ducks, the Alice in Wonderland statue, and countless adorable puppies. When we found an outlet back onto the road, we took it, and by the time we did, we were practically at the entrance to the reservoir.
While my body was definitely tired during a lot of the morning, from a running standpoint, I actually felt quite strong. Sure, I had my moments of — I’d be totally fine if we were to stop right now. But I also had those complementary moments of — I could do this forever. I could run and run and run.
The reservoir was as beautiful as when I’d seen her last, and I found myself transfixed on the water, the sky, the buildings that surround. Besides a couple of water stops at the beginning and end, we maintained a steady, uninterrupted pace. And by the time we looped around once, I knew I’d be able to make it back home.
I shouldn’t be surprised at how easy a 7-mile run can feel, not after having run 4 half marathons and plenty of “long” (for me) races along the way. But after nearly a year of 5-miles-only, I sometimes have difficulty recalling how easy 7 miles can feel, especially when I still have mornings when 5 is a push. Fortunately, Friday’s run was one of those feel-good ones. I know they won’t all be that easy, but as always, we’ll take them one run at a time.
To celebrate this little victory, I spent the rest of the day exploring the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook with my oldest childhood friend, R. On the agenda (besides figuring out how to get from Manhattan to Red Hook): the Red Hook Winery, Steve’s Key Lime Pie, and a really cool-looking distillery and chocolate factory. I’m not one for whiskey, but the over-priced bottles made a really nice gift.
Red Hook was SO much fun, but the additional 5 hours on my feet took everything I had left in me and sucked it right out. By the end, I was pretty much limping home — especially because, besides my post-run oatmeal and granola, all R and I remembered to eat during our outing was key lime pie and wine. We’re really lady-like and smart.
While the run was easier than expected, I definitely need to make a bigger effort to respect the distance and refuel my body properly — as in, with wine, but with water too. Luckily, there’s plenty of time for all that and more. Especially if I decide to pull the trigger and sign up for another half.
When was your last surprisingly easy long run?