Today is my niece’s birthday. She’s 5! And she’s the greatest niece ever. She has a great sense of humor, she is very loving, she’s smart, and she’s adorable. She also spectates at my races! Who could ask for anything more? I wasn’t able to call her today to say happy birthday because I wasn’t really free to make a phone call until after (what I’m assuming is) bedtime. Hopefully she’ll forgive me for calling tomorrow, instead. In the meantime, I figured maybe the next best thing is to send a big virtual hug and a special birthday message! So, from me and Nat, straight to you, my awesome niece: “Happy Birthday!” I can’t wait to see you this weekend 🙂
It’s finally gotten to a point where I can go running after work and not be in total darkness the whole time. By the time I finish my run, of course, it’s pretty dark out, but it’s nice to have a little bit of daylight at the beginning. Today I took advantage of the slightly longer-than-usual day and went for a five mile run when I got home.
Living in New York, you are pretty much never entirely alone. This can be good when, for example, you’re running after the sun goes down. After all, you don’t want to be running through Central Park when there is no one else around…you never really know who’s lurking just beyond the trees. At the same time, though, it’s tough being surrounded by people all the time. The subway is packed in the morning when you’re on your way to work. It’s packed in the evening when you’re coming home. The sidewalks are crowded, and people walk all over the place and often at pretty slow speeds. In the park there are designated recreation lanes, and ideally you run/bike in a counter-clockwise direction. But this never really happens. Instead, navigating the sidewalks and recreation lanes adds a new dimension of work to your workout as you have to maintain constant vigilance in order to avoid running into someone or having someone on a bike plow you down.
Getting to the Park can be difficult because you have to deal with vehicle traffic. I’ve had some pretty close calls a couple times and nearly been hit by drivers who were not paying the slightest bit of attention to the road. But having to deal with pedestrians is almost worse. If people are walking their dogs, they’re often on one side of the sidewalk while their dog is on the other, with the leash extended between them; groups of people will walk four abreast so that there’s no room on either side of them to slip by; and people who are walking alone have a funny way of being able to predict where it is you’re going to go in order to try to run past them, and step into your path.
Once you’re in the Park, it’s a whole new set of challenges, even though you still have to contend with the ones I mentioned above. Running clubs or teams might be training while you’re running. In this case, you’d better get ready to either get out of their way (because they are usually running six abreast) or get trampled in a stampede. Walkers and smaller groups or pairs of runners are also guilty of taking up a pretty disproportionate amount of space–clearly, though, not having to interrupt their conversation is a lot more important than allowing you room to run by in the opposite direction. And when it comes to which part of the lane you should be using, it’s complete anarchy. I’ve always figured that the rules of driving (that is to say, you stay to the right) also apply to walking or running. But the fact that I am constantly weaving in between runners as they run toward and past me indicates that I may be alone in this belief.
Sometimes I wonder how much mileage I add to my run just trying to get around people and avoid getting run over.
Is this a problem in other areas of the country, or is New York particularly bad? Or (equally possible) am I just a curmudgeon? I’d love to hear about the unanticipated challenges you face when you lace up your running shoes and head outside!