Thursday, November 1, 2012

Running in Central Park

I figured out during my run this morning which candies kids most dislike (I probably could have figured this out regardless): Mounds bars.  No joke, I saw three fun sized Mounds bars on the ground at various times during my run.  And one fun sized whoppers, one fun sized taffy.  Next year I will remember not to bring fuel with me while running on November 1st so that instead I can eat discarded candy from the ground.  I was pretty tempted during the 90 minute mark to pick one of those Mounds bars up.

90 minutes? I’m back to running!? Well, yes.  

To quickly review, I took two weeks OFF running and cross-trained primarily with swimming, plus one spin session, lots of stretching, and a medium amount of strengthening.  I took the break because I am in the process of learning what it is that bothers me in my left upper hamstring/lower butt area when I run at faster speeds, and also to give the front of my right hip a break because it had been feeling testy.

Then I left for a 7-day vacation that turned into a 9-day vacation because I was caught in the most internet-ed hurricane of all time, Sandy.

During my vacation, I soaked in two beautiful runs through Manhattan, one glorious run around Washington D.C., and one hated treadmill run in the hotel. 

My legs felt a little wobbly and unfamiliar when I first made them run after the 2 weeks off, but I guess the most important news is that: 1) I undoubtedly lost major speed during those two weeks of rest, and 2) neither the butt crease nor the front of the right-hip pain disappeared.  Both feel….better.  A little better.  Just slightly better.  

Swimming and spinning did not bother the butt crease (at least nothing I could feel), so I am planning to keep both of those in my rotation as long as I can afford the fancy new gym with a swimming pool (which is probably through December).  I’ll also incorporate the elliptical maybe once a week, a strength training session once a week, stretching daily.  

I’ll possibly get back to my doctor and let her know the two week break wasn’t the cure, but I’m a little hesitant to waste any more time with her.  I do see some promise in continuing to stretch often and cross-training several days a week instead of running 80+ miles per week, so I just might try that first for a bit longer before dealing with a doctor again.

While I am running somewhat comfortably, I’m worried about the idea of running the CIM in exactly four weeks.  For one thing, I will definitely not be tapering—rather, I would spend every last bit of the next four weeks building up my stamina with long runs (so far my run this morning was my longest in a month, and it felt hard – 15 miles).  I lost stamina during my rest by sticking with workouts that were only 60-90 minutes, whether in the pool or on the bike.  No idea if my gains will be quick or not, but either way I’m not comfortable going into 26.2 miles without some desperate attempts at 20+ mile runs for the next 3 weekends.  No tapering.

The other option is to let the race entry die and not run the CIM.  I don’t really see any reason not to at least give it a try.  That’s my only thought on that option.

The NYC marathon was advertised like crazy everywhere. 

As for the NYC/DC vacation, I know no one is here to read my vacation recaps and luckily for you I’m going to try and keep that pretty short, and focus as much as possible on the running portion of my time on the East Coast.  On past vacations, I used the blog to record my memories, but this time I kept a private journal on my iPad.  The Gentleman and I also tried something new, which was to snap short, 1-minute or less videos once a day recapping where we were, what we were doing.  Most of the videos go something like, "what? is it on? are you filming? oh, ok."  I'll have to share one, they make me laugh.

Here is my 3.5 days in NYC in as short as I can make it:


So much pizza.  My goal was, literally, to grab a slice every time I saw a different pizza place.  The plan was even if I was full, I would buy a slice and just have one or two bites (I mean they’re cheap slices, no big deal).  We had one slice at 1:00 a.m. Wednesday morning right after arriving in the city, and then four more slices by the afternoon of the next day….at which point I tuckered out.  I didn’t crave pizza the rest of the week, so sadly, I ended the vacation with a measly five pieces (which believe it or not, does not match the number of pizza places I saw in NYC.  Rather, I saw approximately 8,000 pizza places).  

The slices were all outstanding, but the scary news is that my favorite slice of all was in times square.  Probably a tourist party foul to admit the food in times square is good, but the very specific way that like my pizza is the way that Ray’s in times square does it.

Spidermannnn….Spiderman! Listen to me Spiderman, I already asked you nicely three times.  Would you please, please turn off the dark.

This was kind of the inside-joke theme of the NYC portion of the vacation. We passed dozens of advertisements for the broadway play “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark” and decided the play must be about Spiderman’s mom getting really annoyed that Spiderman kept forgetting to turn off the dark. 

And um…now that there are thousands without electricity in NYC, I think Spiderman should especially get moving on this.


There are lots of these in Manhattan.  Incomprehensibly more crowded than San Francisco, which is itself suffocating.  

Here is what is fun: you are running late for your tickets to see The Lion King on Broadway, so you have to haul ass through the busy streets of downtown and Times Square at 7:00 p.m.  You literally have to start running, in your nice Broadway clothes, in order to get to the show (after paying an exorbitant amount for Broadway tickets, we were not going to pay for a cab), and it feels like you are Bruce Willis/Keanu Reeves/Matt Damon/your-action-actor-of-choice trying to chase or escape someone amidst a crazy crowd of people.  It was not easy! 

I now fully believe that crowded streets would be a legitimate obstacle for someone who is trying to chase someone else, and not just a movie gimmick.  

Walking the Brooklyn Bridge was a people dodge-athon

Comparisons to San Francisco.

I couldn’t help myself from making comparisons.  Manhattan notably did not smell like urine, and did not have an endless line of tweaking homeless people to introduce me (the tourist) to the downtown area, the broadway district, the park district, the subway system. 

San Francisco literally greets you as you exit the BART (subway) station to the shining streets of San Francisco with human excrement and 100 people who will curse at you for not giving them your change (true fact: if the BART escalator isn’t operating, it’s because of poop.  Human poop).  

How does NYC do it? Do they get the homeless people drug-free and employed? Hide them with Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Rafael in the sewers? Ship them off to San Francisco?  I don’t know if it makes me heartless, but I appreciate a big city that feels safe and clean in a way that central San Francisco doesn’t, largely due to the lack of a thriving homeless population.  That’s a huge win for NYC in my book.

The famous Central Park gate cage

Running in NYC

While running in Central Park, I would not have guessed it is smaller than Golden Gate Park—it seemed like an endless wonderland of trees and adorable couples and water…so much sparkling ponds and reservoirs of water.  


One thing I favor about Central Park to GG park (besides the whole safety/homeless people thing) is that you can get a hill workout within the park – it was rollers the whole time for me.  Of course, while GG Park doesn’t have the same rollers, you can turn in any direction and get the hills you crave in SF.

The other fun thing about running in Central Park was that I felt like I was running in a race for chunks of the Park!  I was out there around 7:00 a.m., and fell into step with a herd of other runners heading upstream.  The only other time I’ve been in such a herd is in a race; hence, it felt like a race.

with 12 of Central Parks most average trees

Two days later I went on my second NYC run which also included a chunk of Central Park and then headed out towards the riverside of the Hudson River (thanks to a reader recommendation!).  This was the calmest part of the city.  I really welcomed that escape.  It was a neverending path alongside the water with just a handful of other bicyclists and runners. I liked it so much that later that day, when we found ourselves with a few extra hours since we didn’t get into the Jimmy Fallon show, we headed back to walk along the water.

Other tourist stuff accomplished that would bore you: 

Brooklyn Bridge;
Wall Street/NYSE;
Rockefeller Center; 
diamond district;
battery park/statue of liberty;
9-11 memorial/reconstructed World Trade Center (beautiful. I somehow managed not to cry due to the influence of my heartless guy who never cries.  The security to get in to see the “in progress” memorial was intense, like the airport x5);
failed attempt to get into see Jimmy Fallon (we woke up early to nab standby tickets, then came back in the afternoon to cash them in, but no dice.  Jimmy Fallon hurts);
Metropolitan museum of art (got bored after the 3rd of 3,4982,389 paintings of Jesus);
union square;
central park walks;
Hudson river;
visiting with a friend I have known since elementary school;
UN center; 
Greenwich Village (the Gentleman loved this area);
East River; etc.

the place where Jimmy Fallon rejected me

the place in NYC that gave soap opera flattering lighting

the Beautiful Hudson River with a dilapidated dock

More thoughts and things to share about that past 10 days, including D.C, up next!


  1. Now I have the TMNT theme song running through my head....thanks a LOT. Welcome home :) I think you should do more elliptical, of course. And I think we should try to do a 3-hour elliptical workout together :)

    I am so glad you had a nice trip despite the storm-mandated extension. And I hope that didn't sound insensitive to those who were significantly adversely affected by same storm.

  2. Wow, it's already been two weeks? Glad to see your butt crease is a bit better. I didn't know you werein NYC-I only live a couple hours of there in upstate (ie bootleg NY). I always do a open water race in the LI sound starting from Greenwich and I love that area.

    Like I said, I'm glad you had a good time, survived the hurricane and can run again. I really hope CIM goes well for you!

  3. I love the vacation recaps!! I'm glad you still did one. I've never been to NYC so I loved living vicariously through your trip. And now I want pizza.

  4. Hope you are fully back to 100% running soon, bummer about missing CIM.

    lol on grabbing pizza all the time!

    Of all the big cities I've been to in the world, SF is my least favorite in terms of cleanliness, and homeless people. I'd rank Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, Boston, Portland, DC, Miami, London, Sydney, Dublin, Amsterdam, Edinburgh, Tokyo all above SF. Heck, I'd rank every city I've ever been to above SF. Why can't SF keep their streets clean and make the city look presentable? And there must be a reason why so many homeless people are in SF - I'm guessing the city has so many benefits that the homeless flock to it. Anyways, rank over about SF - and that's one of the main reasons why I don't head up to SF more often.

  5. I'm also on a 4 week CIM training plan after not running for a month and a half. I've already paid so I'm going to try my best to make it; I've just dropped any goals other than to finish. My knee issue isn't gone but I've learned what it is and that structurally my knee is sound so I can run on it as long as I can stand the pain.

    Two weeks off of running shouldn't have hurt you that much, perhaps some of it is psychosomatic?

    If you want to see a beautiful SF like city without the hobos and dirty streets, go to Vancouver, Canada. Canadians are pretty nice as well from my experience.

  6. OMG I loved/hated running through Central Park at the end of the NYCM last year, I thought the rolling hills were a bit evil at mile 23! :)
    San fran is sooooo bummy...and I swear it's the worst at the BART station!
    your trip with Gentleman looks like such a blast!
    I hope you're having a great weekend!

  7. I'm in a similar position. I am running CIM, too, and really only started running regularly in October, after 6 months of dealing with plantar fasciitis. I'm going into it with the mindset that it could be a PW, but to just enjoy the run and experience (and the mini wine tasting trip we're doing main motivation ; ). The butt crease thing is annoying. I've dealt with it, and I know at least three other people who have as well. I did a LOT of stretching. Like I would do the "four" stretch with ankle of my affected leg propped up on the thigh of my other leg. I also would sit on top of a medicine ball and roll out the affected area in my butt. Looked a little weird, but it seemed to help. There was also another stretch I did that really helped, but I'm not sure how to describe it in writing. During my long runs when this was bothering me, I would literally stop half way through and stretch for a few minutes.

  8. I eat pizza the night before every race, 5K to marathon. Although not officially added to the list of almonds, chia, blueberries, something I've never heard of, etc., it IS a super food.

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