Monday, February 04, 2008

How I Came into the Picture

I should have taken a picture too. I have been bad with taking pictures lately, after years of being the obnoxious person taking pictures of everything. I think it has something to do with camera phones and digital cameras--I was happier with my manual Canon AE1 and then my antiquated advantix Canon Elph. I am totally going to be one of those old ladies who complains about new fangled stuff (if I'm not already).

I flew to New York on Friday afternoon to visit my sister for the first time since she moved there from New Orleans just after the wedding. It was also the first time I have been back since I moved back to Cleveland from New York almost two years ago now. I wanted to go check out her place and lend a little moral support. Specifically, I wanted to hook her up with a couple of my close friends in New York to expand her network and to get out and do some things together that she might not do on her own. And of course, I had a few things I wanted to squeeze in here or there for my own personal amusement.

I got in late on Friday and by the time we made it across Prospect Park to my auntie's for take-out, it was almost 10 PM. After eating and talking a while we didn't get back to my sister's cute little apartment until 1:15 AM and being a very light sleeper I was screwed by one of her neighbors who thought nothing of hanging blinds using a hammer on brick at 2:00 AM and then her upstairs neighbor thinking nothing of playing R&B music at 6:00AM. So, needless to say, I did not get much sleep! But, I decided to get up as soon as it was light out and I brewed up some coffee. I drank a little, woke up and headed up a few blocks to Prospect Park.

It was a beautiful morning. The sun was shining there was a chilly breeze, but it was still warm enough, in the high 30's or so, for shorts. I was never a Brooklyn person. When I lived in NY the first time in my early 20's, I lived in Manhattan when I was in school and then in Astoria, Queens after I dropped out. I have never been to Prospect Park, let alone run in it. So, it was such a lovely surprise when I did two days ago. There is a 3+ mile road loop with rolling hills and lovely scenery: a lake, a meadow, a zoo, etc. As I crested the biggest hill and came around a bend I spotted my auntie walking her wippet. After a brief hug and chat I continued on. I started to feel stitchy as I headed down a hill, but I made every effort to forget about it. By the time I crested the big hill a second time, I had forgotten about it and honestly, I think it was one of the best runs I've had in a while. I felt really good and wished I could go for a third loop. But instead I called it a morning and headed back to my sister's apartment.

Then it was time for brunch with the only high school friend I've kept in touch with. We met at a place called Tom's Restaurant in Prospect Heights. If you're ever in the neighborhood, I highly recommend it. The banana walnut pancakes were divine! My high school friend and my sister actually have a lot in common so I think this might be a good connection for her. After brunch, my sister had to go to bellydancing class so I decided to wander around my old neighborhood in the Village. I walked by my old apartment and through Washington Square Park and then down to SOHO where I blew money on trendy clothes that I will probably hardly ever wear. Although I like a trip through memory lane every now and then, these little sojourns remind me how much I love my mrpy life in our house in the orchard.

It was early afternoon now, siesta time for me usually. You know, the part of the afternoon when if you don't have any coffee you catch yourself staring aimlessly into space and basically productivity is flushed down the toilet. Well, this was pretty much the case and I was dead tired and I'm sure my sister was too. Normally, I think we'd have bitten each others' heads off by now, but we weren't like that all. We headed uptown to get race packets for the 4 mile race we were planning to run on Sunday morning, grabbed a Jamba Juice and headed back to her Brooklyn nook.

We caught cat naps and recharged a bit and then headed out for a treck to Greenpoint to meet one of my bestest friends of all time. This is my fabulous friend. He's an interior designer and hangs out with other fabulous types. These days, I can fake it well enough from time to time to fit in but I am so not fabulous like that anymore. When we arrived two of his friends were there before heading off to pre-dinner cocktails at Bar 89 and then a fabulous dinner at the Mercer Kitchen. Needless to say I felt decidedly unfabulous, so sleep-deprived and wearing my normal everyday jeans and my dead Mizuno Elixers. I did have fabulous gold peep-toes in my purse, but honestly, unless someone put a gun to my head I was not putting them on. And my poor sister. My friend and his friends are super nice, but they care about things that I don't care about anymore and things my sister never really cared about. I'm not sure she'd be jumping on the fabulous bandwagon and calling them to hang out anytime soon. But that's ok. The fabulous friends of my friend left and the three of us went low key and headed for Enid's for a bite to eat. We had so much fun reminiscing about the good old days when he was a wanna-be fabulous person and I was too and we'd get dressed up in what we now know are ridiculous outfits and dance the night away. And he and my sister made plans to check out The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, so missions accomplished!

Then we schlepped through Brooklyn on the cross-town train and back again to the Brooklyn nook, where thankfully all neighbors behaved and I might have actually had a solid 6 hours of restful sleep. And this is what all you faithful bloggers are going to dig. We hit the subway and made our way to Central Park where I fumbled around looking for Chelle. I called her up and she told me she had just thrown a football in the football toss (I'll let her tell you how far) and to meet her over there. So we made it and there she was in her flourescent yellow red-headed glory. And as weird as I once thought meeting people on the internet was, it felt like we were old friends as we said goodbye to my sister and headed off for a warm-up around the park. It's funny. When you bond with someone over the internet there are a lot of holes in your notion of that person that are filled in when you meet.

We made our way to the start and I squeezed in with the other flourescent yellow people as an honorary member of the team. These New York races are insanely crowded. The gun went off and I felt like I was back in Boston walking to the starting line in a sea of people, even up in the 6:00 pace area! I couldn't get a good rhythm. I started to pick it up and then bam, behind some guy running 7:00 pace. Annoying! Finally, about a 1/2 mile into it just as we came to the one substantial uphill of the course things thinned out and I picked it up. My first mile was 6:26, which in retrospect was about as good as it was going to get. I felt compelled to pick up the pace. I felt really good actually. But the stitch started to form. I have never had one impact my performance in a short race.

Until yesterday. Within seconds it was a full on nasty stitch. The ouchiest of them all preventing me from keeping my back straight or from breathing properly and it killed! So, I stopped. What could I do? I pulled off to the side and Chelle passed me and I wasn't sad she passed me, I was sad I wasn't out there running with her. But at the same time. What could I do? I thought about just cutting through the park to the finish and then I thought about waiting for my sister but then I thought why not just get the miles in. So after some time pondering and kneading and stretching I jumped back in the race with the idea to just run it in, but the stitch started to ease up and I figured why not make it a tempo and I took back off passing mobs of people all the way (which was actually super fun!). I came to the three mile mark at 21:38 on the race clock and figured I would push myself to break 28:00, so I did running the last mile about 6:17.

The funniest thing is that although I was disappointed, I felt more like "eh, so what. On to the next one." That is weird for me, but it's actually so much nicer feeling than beating myself up about it. Imagine that! Sure, stitches are the most frustrating, even embarrassing problem I've had in my running life, but I have accepted them as such. I have a stitchiness problem! I can admit it! Now I can move on and deal with it. Yeah!

Anyway, I saw Chelle after the finish line. It would have been so nice to finish close together and high-five, but maybe it's good to have something to look forward to another day. But instead we got to exchange our different reports as we walked back to get our gear. We changed and headed off for a cool down and then met up with my sister and then the three of us headed for brunch. We talked and talked and annoyed our waiter who was more interested in table turn-over than our ex-boyfriend experiences. And finally we made our way back out to the winter sunshine, where my sister snapped the picture on Chelle's camera.


E-Speed said...

Glad you had fun in NY! Sorry to hear about the stitch, but I'm glad you rallied and came in strong!

DaisyDuc said...

Sounds like a busy weekend!

Way to finish strong despite the stitch. Those things sound almost as annoying as my issues!

Mindi said...

Damn stitch!!

You and Chelle are so cute! I am glad you got to meet up. Hopefully someday we will cross paths too.

I too am glad you had a nice trip. I thoroughly enjoyed your descriptions of it all - especially the "fabulous" part.