For the next several days, I find myself in strange and wonderful living arrangements–I am staying with my 93-year old Nana while my mom (who has been living with Nana for about a month now) is off visiting her grandchildren in Colorado. I like the symmetry of that–grandmothers and granddaughters united, here and there.
My Nana lives in the western suburbs of Long Island, which means this city girl must forsake her Sunnyside Loop and her Queensboro Bridge, and instead skirt around this neighborhood of small houses for her workouts here in Hicksville.
Apart from taking the Long Island Rail Road back and forth to work, and leaving the office at 2:45 to get the 3:07 Express, my routine is pretty much the same. Up at 5 AM for my run, in bed around 9:30 PM. I love waking up early in my Nana’s house–it’s how we’ve always done it. When I was a girl, I would stay with her in the summer and every day we’d get up at 4 AM or earlier to drive to Jones Beach and get there before the sun rose. We’d go to sleep in our bathing suits, and I remember my grandfather carrying me in his arms out to the car. My Nana was an active woman and an early riser most of her life, and she would often get up and go jogging or walking in the hour before dawn. So, it’s only right that I would, too.
On Thursday, my first morning waking up at Nan’s, I almost bagged the run, though. I was scared! It was so dark out there, and there was no traffic and no people. In Sunnyside, there are cars and people out even at 5:20 AM, and the street lights illuminate nearly every inch of my route. Here off Jerusalem Avenue in Hicksville, there was nothing. But I threw myself out the door and slipped into what remained of the night. I clicked on Little G, and ran out of the court onto Winding Road, a squiggly pig’s tail of a street. My heart was pounding as I plunged into the night, irrationally imagining strange animals running at me from the hedges.
But soon Winding turned into Division, and I realized that no malice crouched behind the azaleas. Relaxing, I began to really take in my surroundings. It was still and quiet, the only sound was the soft spray of a sprinkler every several blocks. The air was cool and a light breeze blew (just for me, since there was no one else out to enjoy it). Maple trees spread their branches across the street, obscuring the sky and making it darker going for me. There was the occasional yellow-bulbed street lamp, but the stars were providing a bit of illumination too. I liked looking up when the trees parted, to see gray shredded clouds striping the navy sky.
Hicksville is a pretty flat town (it was perfect for a pace run this Winter), so I enjoyed a quicker pace than usual for a morning run. I ran 3.72 miles in 34:33, and my splits were 9:36, 9:13, 9:13, 6:05 (9:05 pace for .72 of a mile). When I was done, I was a little sad to leave the calming, cosseting darkness. I would have preferred to have kept running, my footsteps keeping me just outside of the wan pools of light cast by the streetlights.