It’s both startling and invigorating how quickly the world around us can change.
But don’t believe me. Just ask Central Park.
A lush and silent oasis at 7 a.m. Saturday morning, the Sheep’s Meadow was almost unrecognizable by the time I returned with picnic in tow seven short hours later.
The songbirds had been replaced with Corona peddlers eager to sell an illegal libation in a paper bag, but the skyline – and my unyielding affection for this particular sanctuary in the city – was the same. To quote the famous French proverb I totally can’t pronounce, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose (“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”) Also, voulez-vous coucher avec moi ce soir. Congratulations. You now know the extent of my French.
Waking up before 7 a.m. is usually a luxury I reserve for the working week, but a 10K in Central Park is not something I like to miss, especially when it’s 65 degrees out and there’s a $25,000 cash prize at stake. (Spoiler alert: it did not go to me.) The purse size did, however, attract a number of leading global competitors, including U.S. Men’s 2012 Olympic Marathon team Meb Keflezighi, Ryan Hall and Abdi Abdirahman, making for an exciting event all around.
I arrived at the starting line Saturday still riding my runner’s high from Broad Street, and while I wasn’t sure I’d be able to maintain the 7:47 pace I’d achieved in Philadelphia on Central Park’s cliff-like hills, I was optimistic I might be able to walk (hobble?) away with my first sub-50:00 10K. I squeezed into the orange-bib corral and – what do you know? – came face to face with Leigh-Ann, one of my favorite NYC runners ever. A speedster of an athlete with – you know, whatever – four Marine Corps Marathons under her belt, I knew I’d be infinitely more likely to reach my target race pace with her by my side.
And I did! I crossed the finish line at 48:53 for a 7:53 pace and a new PR. The UAE Healthy Kidney 10K’s 1st place winner Daniele Meucci only beat me by 20 minutes and half a year’s salary. No big deal.
Another great thing about this weekend? This surprise view from the West Side.
I know I tell you this all the time, but New York, I love you.
How did you milk every last second out of this beautiful weekend?