Finding My Stride

Finally back in New York after a long, tiring week in Philadelphia (my soon to be home), and of course, it rained. I had been longing for a morning in Central Park all week. As fate would have it though, on Friday, the wind was howling outside my 11th floor window, and so I decided to nix the run and instead exercise in front of my TV indoors. Some things just can’t be helped.

On most Saturdays, I wake up and meet my cousin for our weekly weekend run. Most Saturdays aren’t the third Saturday in May though. On the third Saturday in May, every year since I turned three, I’ve been going upstate to fish with my dad and brothers.

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And as I have for more than two decades now, that’s exactly what I did this weekend — this time, dragging Noah along for the ride.

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My weekends in upstate New York — we stay in dingy little cottages on a lake in Taconic State Park — are among my most cherished memories. For years, I was the only girl to make the journey; we spent the weekend fishing with a couple of other families, all the members made up of men.

Beer. Bacon. Dirty jokes. Camp fires. Fish. Fish. And more fish. Even as I turned into a “lady,” I could always count on the third weekend in May to go back to my tomboy roots.

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This year was extra special. It was the first year in which the next generation would join us, my brother bringing his son — my awesome nephew — along for his inaugural trip. So whereas last year, my focus while upstate was on trail running (I was enamored by the concept of running through trees and splashing in mud at the time), this year was a bit more laid back.

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(Who wore it best?! Shortly after this, we had to get my nephew his own sunglasses. He wouldn’t give back mine.)

That’s not to say that I didn’t run; Noah and I logged 3-5 miles both weekend mornings. On the first, we ran in an unfamiliar direction and wound up getting lost, ascending and descending a mountain while being blasted head on by the sun. It was actually a lot of fun — it felt like some real Born to Run stuff — and by the time it was all said and done, we were so beat — our legs so sore from pounding that upstate pavement — that we spent the rest of the day sitting on the beach, knocking back beers, and eating our faces off. We may or may not have also stopped to get a milkshake at the nearby diner. Emphasis on the may.

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(His and Hers boat shoes. #marriedlife)

Of course, the big cookout — one legendary among my family and the friends we travel with year after year — was heavy on the meat. As a self-proclaimed most-of-the-time vegetarian, I’ve learned to bring my own nutritious ingredients to throw on the grill. This year was no different, but unlike the others, I adopted an 80/20 rule.

80% vegetables…

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(Orange pepper, asparagus, portobello mushrooms, scallions and endives. Yes, in the bottom right order, that’s leftover bacon grease.)

and 20% meat. It seemed to satisfy my manly audience, and unlike years prior, by eating a few slices of skirt steak, I managed to ward off any conversations around the topic of health. Talk about buzz kill. When sitting around a camp fire with sizzling bacon and dogs, the last thing I really want to talk about is why I choose to eat the way I do.

By Monday morning in Manhattan, despite dead legs and a tired core, I was definitely ready to run.

I opened my eyes around 7:45 unsure of where my morning would take me. For this, I always find that social media is a valuable source of inspiration; while brushing my teeth, I thumbed my Instagram feed. It was flooded with snapshots Central Park. Yep, that’s where I want to be.

In just a few short minutes, I was dressed and ready to go. Since I’ve adopted a work-from-home schedule, I’ve found it increasingly difficult to motivate for an early morning run. More recently, I’ve learned the importance of getting out there without wasting any time. The longer I sit in front of my computer or watching The Today Show, the less likely I am to get my butt out the door. It’s been a slow learning process, but I’ve finally somewhat gotten into a routine of sorts.

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As expected, this morning’s run was hard. My legs were exhausted from climbing hills upstate, and my body was tired from a weekend of meat and sugar. (On Sunday, I went to my best friend’s bridal shower followed by my grandpa’s 90th birthday; at both, there were sweets galore.)

On the bright side, the streets of New York City were far less crowded than I expected them to be — especially given that it’s Monday morning. As a bonus, I managed to hit most of the lights, and so it was less jagged than usual as well.

By the time I got to Central Park, I was plugging along at a snail’s pace — but loving every second. The park this morning was stunning. The runners and bikers were out, but the lower loop wasn’t overcrowded as mornings approaching summer tend to be. The run home was equally pleasant, with 5th Avenue congested but manageable. Sometimes when running in Manhattan, you have to adopt the “could be worse” mentality. And if it could be, then you best be grateful for what you have.

The countdown has now officially begun. While driving back home yesterday morning, I finally checked my calendar (I’ve been in denial for a while now) and realized that Noah and I move in exactly two weeks to the date. My apartment is slowly being packed into boxes, my life slowly transitioning from one of chaos and honking horns to one of — well — I guess we’ll see. I don’t like to set expectations; I’m more of a “what will be will be” kind of gal.

Regardless, I know that, whether in New York, Philadelphia or any other city in the world, running will always be my rock. In advance, a big thanks from the bottom of my heart to the Philadelphia runners who have already left comments to let me know of the awesome paths I’ll be exploring in the weeks to come. Please, continue to do this — it’s been helpful, informative and above all, reassuring.

Like many of my runs, the next part of my life will be an adventure. It will be challenging at first. I may be apprehensive and find frustrations along the way. But in the end, once I am settled, I know I’ll find by Philly stride.

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