Saturday, December 5, 2015

(Another) Run in Central Park!

As I mentioned the other day, I was heading to New York at the end of the week for a couple of days. As I type this we are on our way home (cruising at 36,000 feet and going 495 mph), I can say that it was a fabulous trip! I really like New York -- I doubt I'd ever want to live there, but visiting is fun!

I'll tell you what, NYC is crazy busy this time of year! I couldn't believe how many people were there compared to my other visits. We arrived Thursday night and had a great view of lower Manhattan on the ride in. Good thing we were running ahead of schedule because it got dark a few minutes after this shot!

The last two years we have stayed at the Club Quarter on 51st Street, and that is a great place to stay because it is within walking distance of so many things. It is right across from Radio City Music Hall and just a block away from Rockefeller Center.

We walked over there after dinner and it was a madhouse! Of course everyone was there to see the Christmas tree. We came in early November last
year and the tree had just been delivered, so I was excited to see what it looked like all decorated.

I wasn't disappointed! The tree was so beautiful. You can get a good idea of the scene there in the picture, and it was truly an international gathering as I heard many different accents and languages.

Friday night Darcy and I had a delicious dinner at Ruth's Chris steak house. I won't disclose the calorie count of what I ate/drank there, but hopefully the 12 or so miles I did walking and running worked it off!

After dinner we walked through Times Square -- which was a crazy madhouse -- to Madison Square Garden where the New York Knicks were playing the Brooklyn Nets.

I'm a big basketball fan and had always wanted to see a game in the Garden, so this was a real treat! It wasn't much of a game as the Knicks jumped out to a 20-point lead in the first quarter and won, 108-91, but that didn't take away anything from the experience.

If you look really closely on the right side of the photo you can see a guy seated in the front row wearing orange. Yeah, Spike Lee was in the house last night.

OK, travel blog part is over, now let's talk about running! Of course, one of the highlights to the trip was to be able to run in Central Park again. I ran there last year, and you can read about that here.

With Darcy doing work stuff on Friday, I had all day to myself, so I got up around 9 a.m. and walked over to the park. Last year I didn't get really far, I was pressed for time so I only got about to the New York City Marathon finish line before I had to head back, but this time I intended to run the entire park.

One thing about the park is that it is just so stunning in its beauty. Even with things lying dormant in December, you can understand why people enjoy being there so much. I can't wait for the opportunity to come a little earlier in the year and see it a little more greened up. Maybe for the NYC Marathon? You never know.

Speaking of the marathon, of course it finishes in the park, and you can still see some of the markings on the pavement. Here is the 26-mile marker...almost there!

I am disappointed that the finish line isn't left on the pavement. The place is pretty easy to find, but I wish races like New York and Chicago would take the lead of Boston and leave it there.

I just think it would be a cool nod to the finishers and the running community, and besides, how awesome would it be if you live there to cross the line again and again and be able to celebrate your accomplishment all year long?

I stayed on the main road for my run, and ran the park clockwise, which I guess kind of made me the oddball since most of the other people were going the other way!

I talk about it more in my podcast (which you can click on to listen to below), but I never knew the park was so hilly! I mean, I knew it had hills, but not the kind that I encountered on my run. At first, they were a lot of fun, and I absolutely powered down them, but as they started to add up it started to hurt a little.

Here is a photo of one of the long declines, but I don't think the photo really does justice to some of them. According to my Runtastic, some if the elevation changes were absolutely crazy. The last mile of the marathon course has a long climb to the finish, and one hill on the north side of the park had an incline of 73 feet in a mile. But wait, there is a bigger one later!

I went all they way to the north end of the park and checked out the resivoir, which had a soft surface path around it. There are a lot of grassy areas and soft paths to run on up that way. Really, the park has pretty much everything a runner would need for long runs, hill work speed work, etc. And it gets used by the running community A LOT, judging by the dozens of paint markings of various distances on the pavement.

Around mile five (or about where I took the above photo) on the east side of the park, I ran across the statue of NYC Marathon founder Fred Lebow. He started a humble little event in Central Park in 1970 that had just 55 finishers, and since then the race has turned into one of the biggest running events in the world.

Fred passed away from brain cancer in 1994, but his statue welcomes marathoners into the park and the final stretches of the race. I love the pose he has here, it's just so "runner" to me!

That also marks the start of the final stretches of the marathon, and I can tell you, it is quite a test! I'm kind of glad I ran the route that way because if I ever do get to run the marathon I will be prepared.

I can only imagine what this stretch is like after running 23-24 miles and crossing huge bridges. Once you get to the bottom of
the hill in the above photo, you have a mile stretch that includes an incline of 182 feet! Now, once at the top of the hill it drops off the edge of the earth and you go down 154 feet to about the 40K mark, there are a couple of good hills left to the finish line. That makes running up the Roosevelt Road hill at the end of the Chicago marathon seem like you are just jumping over a speed bump!

I exited the park on the southeast corner because I wanted to get a photo of the new building, 432 Park Ave. At just under 1,400 feet tall, it is one of the largest residential buildings in the world. I've been fascinated with tall buildings since I first saw the Sears Tower in Chicago when I was little, so I wanted a nice picture of it. It is the building in the middle, and the more I look at it the more I think it is a giant Pez dispenser. What do you think?

By that point I was at about 7 miles, but I didn't want to stop running! So I ended up running all the way back to
Rockefeller Center to get a photo in front of the tree! And of course I had to flash my Indy Mini Ambassador skills too!

A memorable run, but a good one for sure too. I ran 7.7 miles -- the longest I've gone since summer -- at a 9:37 pace! Granted, I did stop for photos, but the stops were brief and I went out all of those hills!

Next week's long run will be 8 miles of so on the Prairie Path, so we'll see if I can keep up that pace here at home.

I wasn't done with Central Park, though! After I got back to my hotel, showered and changed clothes, I went back to record my podcast at the NYCM finish line.

It was a lot of fun, I got a few strange looks from people as I was sitting on a park bench with my laptop, but I didn't care. It was a cool experience, and I can't wait to do it again on one of our next travel adventures.

Oh, you didn't know I had a podcast?!?! I've recorded three episodes of the Let's Run Forever Podcast, and they are available on iTunes, SoundCloud and Google Play. Here is this week's for your listening pleasure.




Below are some more photos. Enjoy!



1 comment:

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