There’s nothing like a Me Day to shift my perspective on things, and what better excuse for a Me Day than a Birth-day? So I say: Happy Me Day, which is also my 36th birthday, and also a vacation day, a pancakes-for-breakfast day, a cookie-baking day, and a Nike Speed day. Suh-weet!
I front-loaded this week with mileage, hoping to microtaper starting on Thursday before my 15k on Sunday. So, last night I ran 10 miles after work. I left from my office, and dodged the tourists as I trotted up Fifth Avenue. In just shorts and a long-sleeved tee-shirt (yes, my legs were cold), I zipped past Fendi, Pucci, and Tiffany’s; I shuddered past the massive Abercrombie & Fitch on the west side of the avenue. Quickly the pedicabs were behind me and the glowing cube of the Apple store was on my right, and Central Park awaited me just across the street. Normally I’d have heard the brakes of the buses and horns of the taxis as they trundled down the avenue, but I had my iPod dialed up to the B’s in My Top Rated playlist and was ready to zone out and focus in.
Unlike many city runners who consider Central Park sacred ground, I am ambivalent about running in the park. While in many ways it is the quintessential New York City running experience, most nights I am bored by the same hills, the same curves, the same seemingly endless trek down the west side. Sometimes, though, the natural beauty of the park cannot be denied. The light hadn’t yet faded the first time I ran around the 4-mile loop last night, so I was able to see the daffodil clusters which had begun to push up their greenery, and much to my delight, I even spied a few patches of purple and white crocus. Growing up on Long Island, my dad would always point out to me the crocus that bloomed in the beds at the front of the house, noting that they arrived just in time for my birthday. I look for them, no matter where I am, each year. More often than not I still see them in front of the house where I grew up, out there for a visit. But this year, it had special meaning to see them humbly blooming closer to my own home, while I was doing the thing I love best. As if they were reminding me that no matter what, they would be there to quietly acknowledge me as I trained, and as I grew older.
Somewhere in the middle of the second loop (I ran the first one counterclockwise; the second clockwise) is when I felt it: a loosening, an untying, a dissolving or unhooking. It was the weight that had been pulling down my spirit, shedding itself along the side of the road like the tire treads off an 18-wheeler. It wasn’t until I finally pulled to a halt than I realized I’d been smiling, that my body had so completely taken over that the last few miles I’d been Flow running for the first time all year. If ever there was a birthday gift for me to give to myself, this was it. Lightness of heart and in-the-zone running: two things I needed and desired in equal measure.
Perhaps I was a bit harsh on Monday. I still don’t want my coworkers to ask me about my weekend, but my boss and my colleagues actually aren’t terrible. As I checked Little G (10.04 miles in 1:32:41), I thought that perhaps I could abide for a bit longer, that I had it in me to shake it off.
Today has been filled with emails and phone calls from friends and family. I cleaned my bedroom from top-to-bottom, in what one of my friends called a “good spiritual practice,” and in fact, it felt just like that. I’ve opened all my cards and lined them up on the table next to the just-high-enough pile of as-yet-unopened presents from Husband. In a half an hour I’ll head into the city for Nike Speed with some of my running buddies. Earlier, I made Sour Cream Fudge Cookies for everyone to eat afterwards. Happy Birthday to me, and Happy Wednesday to all of you!
Songs I ran to:“Ba Ba Ba” by Ivy, “Baby” by Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians, “Baby Love” by Joan Osborne, “Baby, Baby, Baby” by Joss Stone, “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse, “Bad Little Doggie” by Gov’t Mule, “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen, “Bagheera” by Blues Traveler, “Balanca Pema” by Marisa Monte, “Ball & Biscuit” by The White Stripes, “Bamboleo” by the Gipsy Kings, “Bananeira” by Bebel Gilberto, “Banditos” by The Refreshments, “Bandwagon” by R.E.M., “Barely Legal” by The Strokes, “Be My Yoko Ono” by Barenaked Ladies, “Beat the Time” by Edie Brickell & The New Bohemians, “Beautiful Liar” by Beyonce & Shakira, “Been It” by The Cardigans, “Beer in Mexico” by Kenny Chesney, “Before He Cheats” by Carrie Underwood, “Believe Me” by Blues Traveler, “Best of All Possible Worlds” by The Little Willies, “The Best of What’s Around” by Dave Matthews Band, “The Best Part” by Blues Traveler, “The Best Thing” by Ivy, “Better” by Regina Spektor, “Better Version of Me” by Fiona Apple (Could I have ended on a more positive note!? Songs about better and best? It was kismet, this letter B.)