Saturday, May 8, 2010

Once around the park (literally)

Harlem Meer in north Central Park
Yesterday's run (Central Park): 6.15 miles at 9:20

It's always fun to break new ground in terms of running experience and that was the case for me yesterday. I've been getting to Central Park every Friday afternoon for a run and this extra mileage has helped me push closer to my weekly goal of 20 miles a week. I have stuck to the routes I'd learned through running with Adventure Girl last year but prior to Friday I had never braved the territory north of the reservoir. Classes have ended at Yale so AG is back in town for a few weeks. She'll be heading to the west coast to conduct a graduate research project over the summer. In the meantime we'll get a few runs in when we can.

We headed up to Central Park under sunny skies and 69 degree temperatures. When we reached the start along the lower loop we did some dynamic stretching before starting off. While that was happening I felt something hit my back but largely ignored it. I figured it was a big bug or something that fell off a tree. Once done we headed north at a sub-9 minute clip that we maintained for the first mile or so. About one mile later we came upon a waterfall tucked in beside the path. We took a brief break to look at it and saw goldfish swimming in the stream fed by the falls. AG said that it's common and unfortunate that people dump pets like fish, lizards and snakes in Central Park because it's not ecologically sound to do this with non-indigenous species.

We were soon on our way past the Meer and I got to experience the famous "Harlem hills" that weren't all that steep but they went on for a long while. Once we got past them it was a bit easier going although there were few noticeable hills just north of the reservoir as we headed south. By the time we reached the southern end of the reservoir I was back in familiar territory and the last few miles were more downhill than up. Despite that, I was pretty exhausted and when we finished I saw that we'd covered 6.15 miles. When we arrived back at work AG followed me into my office and saw that the thing that had hit my back before we started our run was a "gift" from a bird overhead. I was lucky it hit my back and not my head and very glad that I didn't know what happened at the time.

It was great to run again with AG in the city. It was the first time since last August that we'd run in NYC and longer still since we'd run in Central Park. I'm happy to have finally run the full loop and I plan to do it again this summer. Those hills are plenty tough but after yesterday's experience they just don't scare me anymore.

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