All of the long-term New Yorkers I know have admitted that they don’t do the touristy things because they live here and could hypothetically do them whenever they want to. Well, I’ve lived in New York just shy of one year and this is the second time I’ve been to Central Park. I guess that means I’m officially a New Yorker.
To break this curse, I did the unthinkable: Ran the perimeter loop of Central Park, and absolutely loved it.
Because of my adjusted training schedule, I need to do a 6-mile long run before my weekend trip, which fit perfectly with Central Park’s outer loop trail. I was not sure what to think of iconic running spot. Would everyone be marathon athletes? Parents with strollers? Would the park be empty at 6 am? (I was afraid of being on premises before 6, because I didn’t want a ticket.)
The park was filled with all of the above – not empty at all. There were hardcore Ironmen-in-training, triathlon athletes, marathon runners, power walkers with free weights, strollers, dogs, campers… just to name a few. I probably got passed by everyone but the campers. They were on a mission for Shakespeare in the Park tickets.
The first mile was rough, because I was too focused on not getting lost in the 58 miles that weaves through the Manhattan garden. Finally after an enthusiastic message of only “five more miles to go,” I looked up.
The Upper East Side (and, yes, Upper West Side as well) of Manhattan takes your breath away. The architecture is so royal and transports you into the heydays of the city on Fifth Avenue. I could not get over the buildings, one after the other, with crown molding, ornate wrought iron banisters and artisanal terraces.
I simply cannot run on a treadmill. What I love most about running outside is the landscape; seeing something in the distance and getting TO it, and then having it behind you. I started seriously running when I lived in North Carolina. There is a beautiful stretch of homes on Queens Boulevard (appropriately fitting) and I wanted to see them – so I ran by them. It’s become a nice sport. I had found my new Queens Boulevard on Central Park East.
Central Park, much like the rest of New York City, has something new every turn. I peddled my legs passed the Guggenheim (oh that is where it is), the reservoir, the bridge that’s in every Central Park scene in any and every movie, a pool (did you know there was a pool in Central Park? I did not), two restaurants and the American Museum of Natural History.
Between my starting point on the south side of the park and mile five, I encountered the west side of the park, which was all one 2.5 mile-uphill battle. I wish I had quit back at the pool and hoped in.
Since this was probably my last run of the week, I bribed myself with a GU if I made it to mile four and – at a very slow pace – I made it. I was still on target for my personal time, so I ripped open the GU and continued on. Two miles (at my fastest time EVER) would only be like 15 / 20 minutes, I tricked myself… and then a quarter of a miles later, I spotted a water fountain.
Water is not my best friend when running. I learned in Bikram yoga, that it’s more beneficial to take quick sips as replenishment and not to chug a water bottle. I wasn’t sure if the same rules applied to long-distance running, so I went ahead and drank way too much. A slow start to my final mile on top of sore and worn out calves. It wasn’t my strongest finish.
I recognized that aids, such as GU or shot blocks, are there for people like me. I’ll need to stick to them for now and ease water into my running schedule, especially because I know my body won’t be able to do 26.2 without H2O. For now though, I’ll need to test what works for me.
What are your preferences for water during your long runs? Do you have certain mile makers for water breaks? Do you come prepared with water bottles clip belts? I’d love to hear your experiences in the comments below.