Saturday, October 31, 2009

5 miles

Over the summer I started tracking how many miles I biked a week. I was surprised to find out I was biking 60-70 miles a week. As long as it’s not raining when it’s time to head out, I bike to work and back. With 4-5 days a week, once you add up it amounts to that many miles.

In New York City it’s very easy to get distances confused. Neighborhoods that might be a few blocks apart can feel like they’re a continent away, and though Brooklyn is just a hop over the bridge, for some Manhattanites it might as well be New Jersey.

Last night, as I was brushing my teeth, trying to figure out how to fit a run, a trip to Chinatown for costume supplies, and Halloween costume crafting in one day I realized that Canal street is about five miles away.

Five miles is the distance I most often run. Could I do it?

Though the map confirmed it, I kept staring at it wondering how that would work. I understand that if you unfurl the loops I run around the park it gives me the same distance, but the idea of running to the city seemed impossible – at least for me.

I know I can run five miles. I’ve been doing it for almost a year. And yet, every time I lace up my shoes I wonder if I’ll make it. I'm not trying to talk myself into doing something I don’t feel like doing. I'm talking myself into doing something I don’t think I can do.

This morning the sky over Manhattan had ominous looking clouds. Maybe I’d better not try this today. And what would I do without water? I’m used to running in the park where I’m never too far from a water fountain, or help, or home – easy to cut the run short if needed. And I’d be crossing a bridge. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea.

After listening to the whining as I was getting ready, I reminded myself I could always stop and buy water if needed. And if something went wrong, I could always cut it short and take the subway or a cab back. This calmed me down somewhat and I headed out.

When I hit mile 2 at Atlantic Avenue and Flatbush, I was feeling strong. I kept going along Flatbush and soon I could see the bridge – all thoughts of turning back forgotten. The bridge was easier than I thought and it seemed less work than on the bike. By the time I got to Canal and Broadway I could not understand what all the fuss was about. The run seemed too short. I could have used an extra mile or two of that happy peace that fills me as I run.

Tomorrow thousands of runners will be battling their own demons to make it to the finish line in Central Park. Maybe even Paula Radcliffe will be struggling with herself wondering how it will go. I’ll be on 4th Ave in Brooklyn, cheering the runners.

But next year, there’s a spot saved for me among them and I hope to be on the other side of the party.

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