The subject line of his email read “Is it true?” and there were just three words in the body: “Is Pigtails back?” I grinned as I read my friend’s message, understanding he was happy to see me both blogging and running again. He’s right– in so many ways I’m back. Even that god awful short haircut I had has finally grown in enough so that my actual pigtails can now be tied up again in all their adorable glory, too.
I woke up this morning with a red wine hangover; I’d spent last night at a sceney fete for one of our New York City cookbook authors drinking entirely too much organic red wine. It was divine, though, to swan through the crowd with a glass of full-bodied red in my right hand, taking in the restaurant’s backyard garden under an evening sky that had so recently purged itself of late afternoon humidity.
Despite the hangover, I was excited to start my day because I knew my favorite running route awaited me once I made it through. Today I’d put my jiggity jig into the mix: 3.5 miles home from work, through Midtown East, over my Queensboro Bridge, and finally up Skillman and 43rd Avenues to sneak up on my apartment building from behind. Home again, home again. I haven’t run home from work since March 26th, the final workout before I had to surrender to my injured adductor brevis (my running journal from that day reads, “Rainy–left hamstring very sore”), so this evening’s run felt like a homecoming (if I may once again go for a double meaning).
I loved the whole process. Shutting down my computer, closing my office door, changing into my running gear and packing my waist belt with my four necessities (Blackberry, house keys, MetroCard and office pass), lacing up my sneaks, and finally tying up the ‘tails. My colleague and fellow runner JMK saw me as I headed out the door and said, “Aaah! Look at you!” I grinned once more.
And so I went, relishing every block between 53rd & Madison and 60th & First, noticing every familiar shopfront and apartment building. I waved at the dogs on their leashes and chuckled as I dashed through a smoke cloud of skunk weed, wondering where it was coming from. And then here it was: my bridge. The hill tuckered me out and required all my concentration to maintain an even effort, so I didn’t gaze out across the river the way I like. But, a few runners passed me heading back into the city, and I was glad to be sharing the pedestrian path with them again. Truly, I don’t think I’d ever been so grateful to be working so hard. It wasn’t a triumphant return to the bridge, for I certainly huffed and puffed and perhaps enjoyed the long slope into Queens a little too much, but it was a return, and I’ll take it.
The final hill up Skillman and 43rd Avenues was harder than I remembered, but then I reached even further back in the memory bank to before I was a marathoner, and I thought, Ah yes. Past the gas station, past the two bridges that cross the Sunnyside Railyards, past the taxi agency lots and factories until finally I pushed into the fringes of Sunnyside and the first apartment buildings. My neighborhood, my turf. Home again, this time in 31:55, at an average pace of 9:14 and a fastest mile of 8:43 (Mile 1–wow).