Monday, February 20, 2012

An Ode to Central Park

There are rare moments in New York City when you stop and think to yourself: Man! I really like living in this New York City! This moment might finding a new Food Truck parked directly in front of your office when it's raining (mad props to "Seoul Truck" and their Bibimbop). Or it might catch you when you discover a particularly entertaining subway performer that doesn't make you want to kill yourself and all the people around you. This moment happens to me most often, however, when I take run on a particularly lovely day in one of my favorite places on earth: Central Park.

I've been to a lot of cities. And -- with the exception of Vancouver -- New York City absolutely wins for having the best design of a park within a city. (Seriously, if you haven't been to Vancouver, you should. Their park is sweet). Think about it though: NYC without Central Park? Would be...horrendous. Truly awful. I guarantee we would all kill each other zombie apocalypse style.  The park's design in the middle of Manhattan gives New Yorkers a place to do their thing! To relax, to exercise, to play the sporting games, to enjoy a carousel ride or -- perhaps -- to enjoy a small musical number:

For me, Central Park is the preferred venue for MeriG's training runs. What makes the park so awesome, you say? A couple of things. 

First, it is located near my apartment. Actually, rather, my apartment is located near it. I made sure to live near the park when I decided to move back to the UES after business school because I am a calculating genius.

The park is also great to run in because of all the public amenities such as vendors and bathrooms. Both are key. The vendors are great because for certain length runs I just bring a few bucks and then can purchase a Gatorade inside. No water bottle necessary! Genius! Bathrooms are just always a good idea. Minimal explanation needed on this one.

But what really makes it a phenomenal running locale is the multiple options. To do a full loop on the main road of the park is 6.1 miles and is a great 10K option for anyone. But what's great is that there are cut-offs that can make your run either 4 or 5 miles if you take them. Here's a map so you can see what I'm talkin' about: 

By the way, I had this linked from The Plaza's website so that it reinforces how truly elegant I am.

This map shows that there are other options you can take which have become my personal favorites. One is the loops around the Reservoir, which is a bit over 1.5 miles. You may recognize this path as a favorite of Sex and the City's Charlotte York. Or you may recognize it from the photos I took on Saturday that I have posted here: could you not be obsessed with New York on a day like that? Ridiculous.

I also love to run on the Bridle Paths of Central Park. There are various interlocking paths of different distances (between 1.5 and 2.5 miles) that are on dirt, which can be much better for your knees. The only thing is that they're a bit rocky and have branches and stuff, so you really have to be careful. I took a nice little   fall a couple of weeks back which was -- I can assure you --both graceful and attractive.

Simply delightful.

The way I personally like to do long runs is to do combinations of the different loops. As an example, for my 10 miler on Saturday I did the full outside loop (6.1) plus almost a full loop of the Reservoir (~1.5) plus a Bridle Path loop (2.5). I think this makes the run a lot easier because you're not repeating the same thing multiple times. Plus the different terrain mixes things up. I like the mixing up of things, you see.
This is a cool picture I took because it is from the rare point where all three loops run parallel. I'm standing on the Reservoir Path, next down is the Bridle Path, and below that is the Central Park road.
I think Central Park is -- in part -- what fosters so many people in this city's love of running. It really is a great communal place that you can be alone in your run, but also with people (I am so profound I really can't even stand it). Great for people-watching, great for options, and great for over-priced Gatorade, I feel very fortunate to live next to a park that attracts tourists from all over the world. 

Truly, if ever I was going to break out into an impromptu musical number, the Park would be my first choice in which to do so. You can quote me on that one. 

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Great English Muffin & Peanut Butter Debacle of 2012

Last weekend I went home again to Plymouth and was able to enjoy an 8 mile long (the farthest I've gone since injury!) The outdoor gear I bought was nice, but almost unnecessary in this unseasonably warm winter we've been having.

The night before I was to venture out to my now pretty established downtown Plymouth route, I started thinking about what I would eat the next morning. Runners often are thinking one or two steps ahead. And by steps I mean meals. And by runners, I mean me.

Every morning before I work out (3-4 days a week), I partake of Breakfast #1: An English Muffin, toasted, with either almond or peanut butter. This is not to be confused with Breakfast #2, which I have at work.

Breakfast #1 never varies, never faulters, and never disappoints. I have two butters, which is a lot more variety than one. I also really like English Muffins (nooks n' crannies, holla'!) Nutritionally, it's perfect. Carbs? Check. Protein and healthy fats in moderation? Check. Yumminess? Check plus!

So here I am, ready for bed at 9 pm on a Friday (I always get a delightfully full night sleep at home), and I mention casually, "Hey...y'all don't have english muffins and a nut butter of some sort, do you?" They did not.

Sidebar: If you also have a near unhealthy love of this breakfast bread, you are not alone. Someone has created this T-Shirt in Zazzle:

You're welcome.

Ok, back to the story. So, my casual remark set off a frenzy of action. My personal reaction was "OK, I'll like, eat something else. Or go to Dunkin Donuts. Whatevs. Night!"

My glorious mother, however, would have none of it. You see, Myra is very supportive of me and my running. Very. And because she can not literally pick me up and run me on her shoulders (which, if you know her, you know she would do in a freaking heartbeat if physically possible), she likes to support in other ways. Such as providing me with a specific choice breakfast.

Her reaction*:

Oh no. Oh no. Oh no. I don't have English Muffins. I only have whole wheat wraps. Will that be okay? No, no, of course not. It's a wrap, not a crumpet-like bready substance. I'm an idiot -- a complete moron and undeserving of your attention, love and/or praise. I hate myself. And sweet god in heaven, why is there no peanut butter!? I had almond butter but I ate it ALL. ALL OF IT. Why did your father and I eat the food in our cupboards! We are bad parents -- nay -- bad PEOPLE and should be publically humiliated and shamed. I will wear a Scarlet E of shame and that E will stand for ENGLISH muffin, of which I can not offer you now.

* Dramatic re-enactment a la the hit shows Rescue 911 or I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant.

Again, let me stress my reaction**:

Shrug. Whatevs.

** In this reenactment, the role of Meredith will be played by a brunette Emma Stone.

So my mother, riddled with guilt and anguish, gets out of her pajamas, puts on sneakers, goes out into the RAIN, and drives to my sister's house to obtain the said English Muffins and Peanut Butter. She then laid it out for me on the kitchen table nicely, as if a holiday platter, awaiting my consumption in the morning. Myra's a damn saint. Crazy as hell. But a saint nonetheless.

What was the point of this entry, you ask? Something about multiple wholesome breakfasts and my mom loving me too much, I think. And the ever-changing hair colors of one Emma Stone.

You want blog? This is what you get people!