I woke up Sunday morning to heavy snowfall and sharp pain on the outside of my left knee. Around 8:15, I popped a few Tylenol and headed out for my scheduled 13-miler. Here’s the view from my living room window at 8:06 AM.
The snow didn’t bother me a bit, although it did slow me down a little (traction wasn’t perilous but still affected my strides). Rather, the snow was beautiful, big fat flakes floating lazily downward. As I headed over the Queensborough Bridge into the city for a loop of the park, I enjoyed the silence of a city buried under. The streets were cleared, but the plows were long gone. Building supers were still sleeping, so the sidewalks were just pretty sugared paths, and there were no scraping noises to make me frown.
As I crossed the bridge, I got my second wave of the year from a tram passenger. Then, going west on 60th Street, I made eye contact with a maintenance man bundled from head to toe in a bright blue snowsuit, leaning on his shovel. I gave him a grin and said, Oh come on, this is so much fun! He laughed–yes, we were playing in the snow like a bunch of 8-year olds.
I ran on, up Park Avenue to 72nd Street, passing perplexed doormen and hardly any auto traffic. Most blocks, my footprints were the first to blemish the snow. I relished that fact, as I ran through this city of millions.
I was aware of the pain in my knee–I conceded my pace–but wasn’t stalled by it. There were plenty of distractions, though, as I entered Central Park. It was a marvel, a stunner, languidly draped in white with a most unselfconscious air. Neither the loop nor the service roads had been plowed, so it truly looked like wall-to-wall carpeting of snow. I was so completely bowled over, I started murmuring to the park in Italian. Ci siamo solo noi due stamattina. Quanto sei bello; che regalo mi offri.
Up I went, past the Boathouse and behind the Met, where I saw a blue jay blur by, a child’s Crayola scribble, and settle on a tree branch blanched by a coating of snow. It was me and the speedsters in the park on Sunday morning–I must have been lapped by at least 20 runners in Central Park Track Club jackets. Us, and the dog owners. The dogs were mostly uncontrollable, so gleeful were they to bound, roll, and snuffle through the snow.
When I got to the top of the park, I took a brief break to watch ice hockey practice at the rink. One side was swarming in tykes all decked out in green scrimmage shirts, the other side was full of older kids skating drills as their parents watched from the side.
Winter! My knee hurt, my breathing was still compromised from my cold, but I was still enjoying that I was out in the thick of it, living the season like a good animal.
I completed the upper five of Central Park, exited at 72nd Street, and headed home. My knee really hurt–as delightful as it was to watch the little guys play hockey, stopping seemed to have made my knee worse. And, because all I could think about was my knee, I’d completely spaced on fluid and nutrition when I left home. I felt like JD and BO who, during our hours in the van at last year’s Green Mountain Relay, would say all tough, oh no, we don’t eat on our long runs. Except I wasn’t tough, I was pooped with three miles to go!
Luckily I met a light-as-a-feather zippy runner named Dovin at the corner of 60th and 1st, who took one look at me and said, I’ll run over the bridge with you. A welcome distraction, he talked a lot about his training and goals (sub-3 at Boston, oy!), for which I was grateful, and by the time he headed north and I kept moving east out of Queens Plaza, I’d forgotten about my knee, my tragic pace, and the miles still to go.
I quit once I got to my corner, having run 12.68 in 2:08:39, deciding that extra .32 wasn’t worth enduring the knee pain for another 3 minutes. Plus, I knew my fuzzy Matilda, a rug to stretch upon, a hot shower, and a brunch of eggs over easy and turkey sausage awaited me at home. I needed that, all of that.