September 26, 2017

Back to Central Park

Yesterday, I had a quick overnight in NYC for work – but that was enough time for me to sneak in dinner with a few friends, plus a run in Central Park. It’s always a treat to get to go visit New York, where I lived for so long!

I went to dinner with a few friends in the East Village, right by NYU. Hard to believe I was once a sports-hating theater major with dreams of starring on Broadway…

While Colorado was chilly this weekend, Manhattan was pretty hot yesterday – it was in the mid-80s when I headed out for a run after work. So sticky! But the lack of altitude helped offset the heat quite a bit. I’ve heard some runners say that they feel like they can’t get their breath at altitude or they breathe easier at sea level. For me, I never exactly notice the change in altitude in my body; it’s just that I magically find myself running a faster pace than what I’d expect.

I was staying at the Sheraton at 7th Ave / 53rd Street, so it was a quick quarter mile dash through traffic lights to get up to the park. From there, I headed counterclockwise to the 72nd Street Transverse on the East Side, then crossed over to the West Side and continued up clockwise from there. I thought it would be fun to do the 4 mile loop that’s repeated over and over for the NYRR Knickerbocker 60K (here’s my 2012 race report; unfortunately, I didn’t write one for 2013, though I was 20 seconds per mile faster). Oddly enough, when I lived in New York, I didn’t run in Central Park all that much… so this 4 mile loop that I ran 18 times across both 60Ks is probably my most familiar route through the park.

My perspective was definitely different coming back to New York now, though. On a silly note, I couldn’t get over how much pot smoke I smelled in the park (and in New York in general). I’m pretty sure I smelled more pot in six hours in New York than I have in three years of living in Colorado! Ironic when people are constantly asking if that’s why I moved to Colorado. (Nope, I’m way too straightlaced for that.) The summer smells are definitely one thing I don’t miss about NYC 🙂

But from a running perspective… I still just can’t get over how much faster Orangetheory is making me! As I posted yesterday, I did my long run of 10 miles on Saturday, and so I probably wasn’t fully recovered from that when I ran last night. And yet, when I went out at what felt like a comfortable and easy jogging pace… I was running 7:30 splits pretty much the whole time! Not bad given the heat and the hills.

Splits: 7:00, 7:30, 7:28, 7:24, 7:39, 7:30, and 8:44 for the last half mile (when I had to wait for traffic and didn’t stop my watch).

I was really happy with those splits, and especially, how easy it felt to run them. For contrast, when I lived in New York, my easy pace was ~10:00/mile in Central Park, or 9:00/mile if I was on totally flat ground. I’m now a full 2:30/mile faster – what an improvement! It felt strange to be passing people who looked like they were much faster than me, and I was pretty proud to have only one person pass me on the entire six mile run! That’s a far cry from when I used to chug along with everyone else whizzing past me.

Running through Central Park still felt familiar, in that I knew where to go and had a general idea of what would be coming up. I knew to use the streetlamp poles to figure out my approximate cross street, and I was definitely pretty eager for the downhill of Cat Hill around mile 5! But I was surprised how much I had forgotten – the turns and dips in the road that I used to know even before I got to them, and even the basic fact that the upper crossing is at 102nd Street (not 96th Street like I misremembered). It’s only been a few years, but I’ve forgotten a lot – and I’m not sure if it was due to the different feel of the pace or the simple passage of time.

It was amazing to see friends and catch up, but I think Manhattan has stopped feeling like home. Sure, there are some feelings of nostalgia whenever I go back, but now the trails and roads that are the most familiar are the ones in Colorado. And I’m thrilled with the new adventures they’re taking me on!


1 thought on “Back to Central Park”

  1. Amazing that OTF has helped you improve your speed so much! Also, I love that loop of CP and it’s been forever since I’ve run it. It has so many landmarks (cat hill, Cleopatra’s needle, the transverse) to keep you motivated. Welcome back to NYC.

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