A year ago, just about, I turned 31, left London after 10 years and moved to NYC in early November 2013
It proved to be one of coldest winters here in many years and I – skillfully – avoided doing any running until April this year, when the sun finally came out and I began some short runs around my new neighbourhood of far west Chelsea, Manhattan.
Not a purposeful element to choosing that area, the Hudson River Park, which stretches from Battery Park, at the bottom of the city, right up to George Washington Bridge in Hudson Heights, became my stomping ground, much around the same time Pavement Bound began to spring in to action courtesy of Wayne and Chris.
Bite Size three and four mile runs at first, that were then matched by similar runs in Upstate New York, Napa Valley and Montauk, as I geared up for making the most of an entire country now at my disposal.
Tracking back through my Nike+ app now, those short runs logged from April onward, also chart the business trips and long weekend vacations taken in the US, trips I knew I would always take – but mean so much more when I got to experience them on the ground, on the path, or the tarmac. You feel you own the space just a little more if you’ve ran it, rather than simply driven through.
In the midst of this, my friend and I got serious on our plan to run in the 2014 NYC Marathon and from mid July onward, those little familiar runs turned in to 6,8, and 10 milers – which felt great as I continued my run further and further up Hudson River Park, in cool early mornings or slightly humid evenings – big plus of the Hudson alongside you is a slight breeze and the disarming longing to jump in the water below me to cool off. Huge distraction – all those NYC/Jersey at Sunset instagram opportunities you’ve all seen 1000 times or more.
Historically I travel a lot in September, for work – and adding in that it’s the busiest time of the year for many fashion brands (and their PR’s – me!) I was anxious as to where that would leave what had become pretty full on, full time, Hal Higdon style training, 4 days a week. The answer, I found was cutting out the socialising and boozing that fashion weeks are famous, and fun for. NY Fashion Week was a blast as I got to bed early, ran early, did my job, got on a plane and did the same in London and Paris all through September. Turning in two of my longest runs ever at that time in London, I got to see the city at it’s Autumnal best with a run through Holland Park, Hyde Park, Westminster, South Bank, City Hall, Tower Bridge and back, a week later, a run through my old stomping ground of the East London Canal water ways.
In between London and Paris, I finally got a chance to run with an awesome running crew, Orchard Street Runners, based on, err, Orchard Street in the LES. Pulled together by Joe DiNoto, this group of runners meet each Tuesday and hit the streets and bridges surrounding Manhattan – more on them next time. What I now know, is that finding a group of like minded runners has changed my singular, solitary perspective on running and taking it off and away from the long, straight, flat Hudson River Park was the best thing I could have done to change up my training and push a few hills. Those bridges are mean but I LOVE running up hill. Check out the film above that features OSR and a few other crews you might know.
Skip to Paris and I rallied the troops with some other fashiony type runners, all eager to do the same, and took in a jaw dropping sight seeing run, across Paris at 6AM, making it through at least seven historical buildings and bridges, underneath the Eiffel Tower at Dawn, Palais De Tokyo as the sun rose over the city and a sprint from the Arc De Triomphe down the Champs Elysees. I also dropped a six minute mile for the first time which kicked some ass.
The last month has opened my eyes to the joy of Central Park, watching the season change from Summer to Fall over the course of the last 30ish days has been incredible, despite a 16 mile run in a down pour, this only made the next two runs of 20, then 18, even better. It’s difficult not to fall in love with Central Park, with its hills and reservoir, ponds and vantage points of the city as the 6 miles loop around the park. My last weekend of Marathon training took in the best weather I’ve known yet in NY, running amongst hundreds if not 1000’s of people I just knew would be here again 7 days later when they too, complete the marathon.
So – one year of New York, three months (34 hours, 52 minutes, 28 seconds ) of solid training from August until now, some new running mates and some pretty cool memories.
Here’s to the Marathon, and another great story. More to come.