Six years ago when I moved to Atlanta from New Jersey, there were certain things I knew I would miss. After the bagels, pizza, diners, Jersey Shore, Rangers’ games and general excitement that surrounds you when living in the Tri-state area, New York City at Christmas time is right at the top of that list.
So, when given the chance to go up to New York on a quick business trip a few days after a major snow storm, I jumped at the opportunity.
I didn’t get much time to see the usual sights (which I have seen many times in the past anyways), but I made sure I did at least one thing that many people who live in New York take from granted — I went for a run through Central Park.
After getting to my hotel at about midnight, I laid out my running clothes –first layer: Nike winter running tights and Craft undershirt, second layer: Reebok compression shirt, third layer: Nike longsleeve running shirt, and fourth layer: Nike fleece pullover, final layer: winter hat and Asics NYC marathon gloves — and quickly hit the sack. The alarm went off at 6:10 and I was out the door at 6:30. My hotel at 56th St. and Lexington Ave. was just a few shorts blocks from the Southeast entrance to the park.
Running in the park at 6:30 a.m. with the temperature checking in at a balmy 22 degrees might sound crazy to most people, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Clearly, with dozens of runners and walkers filling the park at that time, I wasn’t the only nut case.
On my flight up, I had mapped out a 5-mile loop. It started at 59th St. and 5th Ave., went up the East Side, then crossed over on 97th St. and then back down the West Side and across Central Park South. A perfect run. The last section of it went backwards along the finishing mile of the NYC Marathon. That brought back some good memories.
Before I started out on “The Loop” I made sure to pop by Wollman Rink. I would love to build one of these in my backyard in Atlanta, but Mother Nature is working against me!
The run went pretty smoothly … once my eyes stopped watering from the cold air, that is. I didn’t focus on my pace or my stride or anything else. I simply wanted to enjoy the scenery.
It was the kind of run that makes me realize why I took up running, although I certainly didn’t know it at the time. For the lack of a better overused cliche, it’s runs like this that make me feel alive. I mean, seriously, what better way to start your day than running through Central Park — one of the truly iconic places in the world — before most of the residents of New York — one of the greatest cities in the world — are even awake?!
Sure, I could have been sitting at Dunkin Donuts having a coffee and a donut, but everybody does that. There would be plenty of time for that later.
As I ran past one bundled up runner after another, you get a true sense of community. After all, only another runner who has set his/her alarm to intentionally wake up before the sun rises for the sole purpose of running in sub-freezing temps, truly understands what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. There’s an unspoken badge of honor involved in at all, I guess.
For some reason, I also found myself thinking of some of the joggers who have been mugged, or worse, while running in the park. If that happened, and other runners saw it as it was happening, you just KNOW that they would come to that runner’s aid. Not sure why I thought of that, but I did.
It was a short trip but I tried to make the most of it. If you ever find yourself headed to NYC, make sure you pack your running gear and head over to Central Park! You won’t be disappointed.