I am never running another marathon.
After repeated attempts at running a sanctioned marathon – I had raised money for one of my best friend’s memorial fund – I finally ran my own 26.2 mile route. I had to honor the promise I made to those who donated. I wanted to honor my hard work. So after a hurricane, a bad cough and being broke, I recruited my friends, plotted out 26.2 miles around Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan, and then I ran that mofo, only stopping once when I had to wait for the light to change.
Honestly, it felt like a very long training run that hurt more when I was finished than any long run I had done before. Other than that, I felt nothing, except ravenously hungry for the next week.
Then, I wanted to run the Philadelphia marathon, and I kinda sorta never really stopped my long runs and training in between. I was still putting out 10 to 12 miles at the weekends, another 10 to 12 during the week. Then I broke my foot.
There is nothing like being in a boot and taking public transportation in New York City. And I don’t mean in a good way.
Then it took me a further 4 months to reach the point I am at now: running 20 to 25 miles a week and no massively long runs. I feel fit, happy and sane, occasionally sore, usually tired. This is my “new normal.” I have time for yoga, I have time for wine and I have time for whatever else I want to do, but I still feel “worked out.” I am eager to try the odd 10-mile run on a Saturday and perhaps train for a half marathon in September, but the extreme runs and long hours slamming the pavements of New York at the weekends will never happen again. I just don’t have it in me. Simple as that.
However, running around the city and maintaining shorter but more frequent distances comes with its challenges. Astoria can, on a humid morning, smell like sewage. It can then, just as quickly, smell like toast and bacon. Neither one is helpful to some of the earlier runs before work, being either vomit- or hunger-inducting. And seeing the grey panorama of the city streets, occasionally punctuated by a hopefully tree or a honeysuckle-scented bush comes with its own tedium.
This, friends, is Randall’s Island, home of the insane asylum and Icahn Stadium. Believe it or not, it’s quite pretty and homesick-inducing, being that there are copious fields on which soccer is played at the weekends. The only drawback is how to access the island. One must either go into Manhattan and cross a rapey and crack-addled bridge (no thank you) via Harlem, or run along the death-defying heights and low rails of the Triboro. Seriously. I’m not a big person, and I could easily leap over the side of the bridge. (No, ma, it’s not going to happen. Promise.)
Hitting Randall’s island provides the much needed respite from concrete; it even has a nice little dirt track with the occasional homeless person or crazy group hosting a barbecue – complete with illicit booze – before noon. More power to them. It certainly made for some colorful marathon training runs. But I’m being a tad snarky for my own good. There are horse stables and park areas and sculpture and pretty flowers that, if you angle your iPhone camera right, conjure up past visions of ye olde England, where I spent my formative years.
It ain’t the country of my youth, that’s for sure, but for one who has chosen and made her city home right now, it will have to do. And for clearing out my lungs and providing a trafficked yet modest route, should I not choose Central Park, I have more than a bit of love for Randall’s Island.
“I didn’t need these things. I didn’t need them.”