Archive for October 12, 2010

Back in 2005 when I decided that it was time to “do something” about my ever-increasing waist line and overall lack of physical activity as “40” was approaching, running was an easy choice as with my job I felt like I could do it “anywhere”.  I didn’t need a bike, a hoop or a racket.  Just my running shoes and I could “go”.  Anywhere, anytime.

Even though my travel has decreased quite a bit since 2005, I still make 18-20 trips each year from coast to coast throughout the US and Canada.  Packing for trips has become a bit more “complicated” as a traveling runner or running traveler – but the rewards of running in new locations far outweigh any of the “costs”.

I might occasionally have to check a bag on a trip I could normally carry on when an extra pair of running shoes, tights, jacket, gloves or hat push the limits of my smaller luggage – but there is nothing better than exploring new areas of a city or town at sunrise before most of the local inhabitants rise to greet the day.

In the past year we’ve taken on the streets of Los Angeles to Lubbock, Cancun Mexico to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Birmingham to Boston and Dallas to Denver.  We’ve seen the sunrise over Wrightsville Beach in the East and seen the early morning light dawn from atop the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Without “running” I more than likely would have missed out on all of those things – tucked away in another hotel bed somewhere wishing I was home with Dawn, Kayla and now little Landry.

"Landry-Gator" home in Austin

Now I am able to think about those “ladies” on my morning runs and how much I wish they were with me to see the things that I see in the pre-dawn hours.

Today’s run took me on one of my favorite “urban runs” from my hotel at 49th and Lexington in Midtown up to Central Park and back here in NYC.  Urban running for me is a great break from my usual routine of quiet neighborhood streets leading to a rural trail system where my interactions are limited to the handful of runners that I may pass, neighbors walking their dogs and of course the wildlife that dot the horizon on Brushy Creek Trail in Austin.

When in NY however I get to experience the city that while it may “never sleep”, is very groggy at 5 a.m.  Leaving the hotel on Tuesday morning I was greeted in the lobby by the smiling bellman and little else.

The constant honking of car horns, taxi cabs and busses was absent as I waited for my GPS to locate its satellite signal among the tall buildings of Midtown East.  I chose a particularly upbeat playlist on my iPod, kicked off by Steve Earl’s Hardcore Troubadour (You can take the man out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the man) – and I hit the street.

I zig-zagged my way up to 59th and 5th to the entrance of the park.  One of my favorite things about running in the city is strategically timing the traffic lights by making “rights, lefts and straights” on the way to Central Park to keep moving with traffic.  The same zig-zagging on the way back to the hotel on tired legs is always a bit more challenging as more and more New Yorkers are starting their day and there are more cars, taxis and busses to navigate.

Tuesday Morning's Run

There is great “energy” during the first and last mile of my runs in NY getting to and from the park.  While in the park, the run takes on a completely different feel.  Closed to traffic in the early morning hours, the roads inside central park are solely for runners, cyclists, walkers and some urban doggies.

The park has beautiful, wide running lanes with dozens of runners to see (and pass!) even as early as 5:00 a.m.  One thing very different from running in other places is that although I must have seen 50 runners this morning on my training run, not a single head-nod, good-morning, wave or acknowledgement.  It used to bother me a bit, now I just take it for what it is and keep on trucking.

This morning’s workout was my last day of “fast running” before our race on Sunday.  Traditionally “Tempo Tuesday” is a fast-paced workout.  Something in the 6:45 to 6:55 range.  Although I wanted to back off of that pace a bit today with IBM sitting 5 days off in the distance, I was a bit too “amped up” to keep my pace in check and brought the run in at 7 miles in 47:55 – 6:50 pace.

Aside from a few puddles from last night’s rain and one intersection where a passing car “sprayed” me a bit with some “not so clean” street water – it was a great run and a great way to start my day in New York.

Tomorrow morning we’ll head back up to the park for a marathon paced 8-9 miles, then hop a plane back to Austin to finish getting ready for the IBM Uptown Classic on Sunday.  Our Fall signature race where all signs point to us achieving our goal of that sub 40:00 minute 10K time.

Thank you New York for a great run this morning – another stop on the Run for Dom express.  Coming soon to a city or town near you.