Took All the Trees, Put ‘Em in a Tree Museum

As the Counting Crows once crooned to many a nostalgic listener: “Don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone.”

For some people, it’s love. For others, it’s health. For all of us, it’s classic Joni Mitchell songs not actually in need of a 2003 facelift feat. Vanessa Carlton.

For me, it’s the Central Park bridle path. I’d always known it was core to my daily routine, but it was only when it was brutally snatched from under my Asics that I realized just how much it meant to me.

Let’s just all pretend this photo is in season.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with New York’s Central Park, the bridle path is a 1.66-mile dirt running route that circles just outside the reservoir loop, a slightly smaller and more elevated 1.58-mile route. In my mind, the bridle path is superior to the reservoir loop for many reasons: it’s wider, it’s less congested, it has water fountains, it doesn’t flood as badly after storms, it’s near bathrooms, you can take the extension to 103rd St. and push your workout to 2.5 miles, and horses legally have the right of way. Anywhere where furry beasts reign supreme is a A-OK in my book.

Literally the only downside of the bridle path vs. the reservoir is you don’t get the same breathtaking views of the city skyline, since it sits slightly further downhill.

I mean, I guess it's not too ugly or anything.
I mean, I guess the reservoir isn’t too ugly or anything.

Don’t get me wrong. I like the reservoir loop, too, and considering its view is my blog’s permanent header, I can’t really knock it too hard. But for all its beauty, the reservoir comes hand in hand with something far less desirable: tourists.

Unless you’re running at 6 a.m., the reservoir is without fail full of camera-wielding, stop-and-go tourists walking against traffic and three abreast. I love that people visit our city and keep our service industry employed and patron our landmarks and share the good news of our delicious pizza abroad, but for the love of God, when you step onto a running path where hundreds of strangers are all moving counterclockwise, why oh why would you choose to do the opposite? Be warned, fair funner: Travel the reservoir and know you’ll be darting and weaving more than a loom.

So it was with great dismay that I arrived at the park earlier this month to find that a segment of the reservoir had been temporarily closed to allow for path maintenance.


Shadows? Chain-link? I’m a regular Ansel Adams, I tell ‘ya.

With the reservoir closed off from 90th St. to the north end of the loop, there was only one place to divert them. You guessed it.

Oh cruel world.
Oh cruel world.

Fortunately, the bridle path is wide enough that even with the new influx of traffic, you can still make your way around without too much fancy footwork. But for a loop that used to feel exclusively mine, it’s now jam-packed with bodies kicking up my dust, sharing my water fountains and disrupting my oh-so-coveted solitude. I’m a middle child. I’ve never been good at sharing.

At least they’re going in the right direction.

Of course, I understand why the reservoir repair is taking place and pushing athletes and tourists alike onto my beloved bridle path. According to the park’s website, the reservoir running track was last repaired in 1999, helping explain the erosion, flooding and damage that I’ve witnessed on it after many-a-storm. The reservoir path is crucial to the park’s history — Madonna ran here, Jackie O ran here, Bill Clinton ran here — and even more importantly, some say jogging as a U.S. past time was pretty much initiated here. I can’t attest to that, but I can verify that at least one runner’s first steps — mine — took place around that 1.58-mile loop.

So while it’s no bridle path, the reservoir loop has it’s place in both the park’s history and mine, which is why I’m going to be donating today to it’s continued repair and maintenance. I want to ensure it stops flooding after thunderstorms. I want to keep it well lit. I want to fund more signs reminding people to follow the flow of traffic.

But let’s be honest. Most of all, I want the reservoir reopened so I can reclaim my beloved bridle path. I’m coming for you, old girl.

Has your favorite running route ever been taken from you?


Better Half

By most accounts, my weekend was a pretty uneventful one. Friday, I was in bed by 10 p.m. Saturday, I cooked a low-key dinner for my boyfriend. Today, I did a long run, hobbled to the loveseat and vowed never to stand up again. Speaking of which, hey, Ben, can you toss me a seltzer water? Great, thanks. If only we owned a chamber pot.

To the untrained eye, my weekend might appear unremarkable, prosaic or downright tame. But in fact, it was actually quite momentous.

Why, you ask? Let my friend Jon lay it out for you.

Tommy used to work on the docks. Union’s been on strike. He’s down on his luck. It’s tough, so tough.

Are you with me yet? No? Let’s continue then.

Gina works the diner all day. Working for her man, she brings home her pay for love, for love. She says, “We’ve got to hold on to what we’ve got. ‘Cause it doesn’t make a difference if we make it or not. We’ve got each other and that’s a lot for love; we’ll give it a shot.”

Oh good. Now we’re all on the same page. All together now:

Oohhhh, we’re halfway there! (Oh, oh, living on a prayer.)

That’s right, folks. Today’s long run wasn’t just any long run — it was the official halfway point of my 20-week marathon training cycle. In other words, ooooh, I’m halfway there! (Oh, oh, living on a prayer. Seriously, you try saying the first line without the second. It’s downright impossible. Damn you, Jon Bon Jovi, and your catchy show tunes.)

I’ve been marathon training since July 7, and in some ways, I’m kind of sad the first half is over. The first 10 weeks of training, your midweek workouts aren’t too arduous to tackle before work. Your weekend long runs aren’t so long you can’t recover in a day. Your friends aren’t yet tired of hearing: “Sorry, no wine for me tonight. I’m running in the morning.” You still have toenails.

The second half of a marathon training cycle is in many ways a lot tougher. The novelty will have worn off. I’ll be upping my mileage to 50 miles a week. I’ll be logging most of my miles in the pitch black. I’ll be celebrating my 29th birthday five whopping days before the big race. Hey everybody! O’Douls all around!

Of course, the second half of marathon training also brings some perks, like the satisfaction of completing a 20-mile training run and the promise of a taper and all the glory that is court-ordered carbo loading. And let’s not forget the most important part of the second half of marathon training: it culminates in the marathon itself.

That’s right — if the second half of training goes as well as the first, at this time in 10 short weeks, I’ll will be stuffing cheesesteak after cheesesteak down my throat having just finished the Philadelphia Marathon. After 20 weeks of dedication, that’s what I call a victory lap.


How is your training progressing? In the illustrious words of JBJ: Take my hand, we’ll make it, I swear. (Oh, oh, living on a prayer.)

Running Training

Slim Chance

I recently mentioned to my boyfriend that I was aiming to lose a few pounds to get down to racing weight before the Philadelphia Marathon on November 23.

“Well, that’s pretty inevitable, isn’t it?” he said. “How can you train for a marathon and not lose weight?

Oh Ben, you beautiful, naïve, sophisticated newborn baby.

Weight loss during marathon training is about as likely as getting your niece to return your phone calls after forcing her to complete the #icebucketchallenge against her will.

dog goggles
Hashbrown: plotting revenge.

But how’s that possible? Weight loss during marathon training is supposed to be easy. Like taking candy from babies. And interviewing central bank governors.

Spoiler alert: I did one of those things today. Next goal: Taking candy from a central bank governor.

It may seem unlikely that upping your mileage so dramatically in the months leading up to a marathon doesn’t give you free reign to snack with abandon or always have dessert or order the porterhouse for two for one.

Who’s to blame for this sad reality? Math. Blame math.

Let’s break it down. Running upwards of 40 miles a week burns about 4,000 calories every seven days, which averages out to about 571.4 extra calories you can consume a day — but that’s only if you’re trying to maintain your current weight.

Since it takes cutting out 3,500 calories a week to lose a pound, that means you can only eat an additional 500 calories a week during marathon training if you’re trying to slim down before race day. Five hundred calories a week divided by seven days, and that’s 71 extra calories a day – or the equivalent a smallish apple NOT dipped in peanut butter. (Gross.) Or half a Bud Light. Or one solitary lick of this New England lobster roll.

photo 1 (53)
I still can’t believe they asked if we wanted butter.

Trying not to overeat is always hard, but curbing your calorie intake after running seven miles before work? Downright impossible. Which is why, despite my best intentions, I had a chocolate croissant for breakfast today and why, despite valuing my intestinal health, ate at a $9 all-you-can-eat Indian buffet for lunch. Good thing Ben’s out of town.

I know I wanted to shed a few pounds between now and November, but marathon training is hard enough as it is — physically, socially, emotionally — that I just don’t have it in me to also count calories so closely. Sure, I’ll try during the next 11 weeks of training to maintain my regular healthy eating habits (five fruits/veggies a day, cooking at home, only putting ice cream on my cereal on the weekends), but if I go over my daily count, I’m not going to beat myself up.

I’m going to have my 71-calorie apple every day — and I’m going to dip it in peanut butter.

Have you ever lost weight during training?