Happy January 2022! Yes, we’re running.

New Year wishes and prayers and hopes and dreams my friends! We made it! 2021 was another year for the books and I prefer not to rehash too much but to thank God for the positives and move on. On to my one official running intention this year, which is the Chicago marathon. In 2020 we saw that plan go belly up as with everything else back then. Thank God for another year and another running chance.

After taking December off, I entered the new year in a full on sprint only to taper off to a jog as the days, already short, seem only to be getting shorter and my plate heavier.  Wisdom speaks and I had better listen, so from next month I’ve decided on officially scaling back my posts to bi- weekly to better manage my time. The latter part of last year saw me so pressed for time that I was in danger of running off the rails for a while there. But God. Therefore I needed to establish some parameters for this year to ensure that I finish the year in good stead..not burnt out and having accomplished little. That said, it’s been a pretty decent January in these parts. New York has not seen any snow to speak of – not like what we’re accustomed to. But this last weekend of January, a nor’easter of sorts passed by and dumped a few inches to remind us it’s winter – as if we needed reminding. It’s been cold! No complaints though because we’re about to run into February and, well, everything happens in February.

I now live within running distance to Prospect Park in Brooklyn, another one of the more popular parks in the city next to Central Park, though not as famous of course. I expect to be spending equal time in both later on in the year as it warms up. These days, I try to steal away for early morning and weekend runs as much as I can but this January will probably record the least milage I’ve ever run. I guess I have to be ok with that. I’m content to uncover new running routes in these parts as the weather improves. Staying real local, last weekend I went out on a 10 mile run to downtown Brooklyn in which my hands were the only casualties. I had to seek refuge a couple of times to thaw them out; crazily they’re the only part of me that is always cold in the winter even when I’m wearing gloves. The run turned out to be a decent and interesting diversion from any winter blues that day and was marred only by the cold temperature as I wasn’t able to enjoy the sights and sounds that was Brooklyn. When I wasn’t thawing out, I kept a decent pace and felt pretty strong sans pain. I hope this bodes well for successive runs. I don’t treat with pain very well and tend to ignore it as much as possible so I run the risk of literally running into an injury. Hopefully this streak keeps up as I’m hoping for a good year of running and getting back to the gym and some lifting. God be in the details.

Everyone knows that moving is crazy work, I hadn’t anticipated its effects stretching out this much. Now I know! I moved across the city, from one borough to the next on Jan 1. It was a whirlwind operation and life’s been pretty constant in its whirlwind state since. Aside from fighting with boxes, I’ve been fighting to get some running in, and fighting to stay on top of my PT exercises for lower back pain/sciatica which I’ve been experiencing for the past few months. The struggle is real. What is really exciting, but not that enjoyable yet, is that I have some new backyard digs to run/discover. While not much has happened yet, I have hopes for post February and the advent of Spring and possibly a new run club. I’m looking into it as my former run group is not yet back officially and well, a girl’s gotta train! For now, my runs may remain somewhat sporadic but with intent. Lol.

Since I only have one major run planned this year and it’s all the way in October, I’m open to running a 2023 Boston qualifier if possible when the weather improves. There are a lot of shifting pieces right now, in the world as well as in my life and likely yours. This requires flexibility, adaptation and grace – grace for others and for ourselves. We can only control what we can, the rest is in God’s hands. Ironically, it’s all in His hands ultimately. And it would behoove us to get comfortable with them there. A happy and blessed New Year friends. 🎊

Winter Brr Miles

Randall’s Island

It’s been 2021 for a minute already if you can believe it and I’m still trying to figure out my winter running plans. That’s right, it’s also Winter in these parts. And though we haven’t gotten much snow yet, it’s pretty chilly. Yours truly is not so motivated to go freeze on my own, because yes, we’re still living in a Covid world where social distancing is the new normal. Arrgh. Man was not made to live alone no matter what they tell you, we need active, life-giving relationships and steady interaction, which is necessary for thriving I’m told. So I wanna thrive! Survival happens to be overrated anyway. Enter 2021 and a new year of possibilities and hopefully more opportunities than the last.

Just us 3

Thriving in mind, I’ve decided to mix up my running with some small group runs at least once a month for the next few months while it’s cold. That, or I might just go into hibernation and we can’t have that. So Sunday gone, I headed out for a run to Randall’s Island in Manhattan. Darn it was cold! And I can promise you I would’t have left home if I didn’t have me some running company – the best kind. We decided we would try for 10 miles and add on more depending on how it felt. It didn’t. Feel good. 10 miles was enough to witness the gorgeous but chilling sunshine and the gusty views of the city once we got over the 102nd Street bridge via the East River running path. No surprise that there were other humans braving the temps. NYC is like that – people tend to the outdoors since apartment coop-up is not really a thing around here. Thankfully, we weren’t in the park so there were less of us. Still, it’s good to know you’re not the last crazy runner left. We started out at 65th and 3rd Ave and ran across the bridge on 61st to get to the East River running path and ran all the way up to 102nd Street and across the bridge to Randall’s Island. We then did an almost full loop with one bathroom stop before heading back over the bridge. Pretty simple and on the average day a very easy run.

102nd Street Bridge in the distance

It felt amazing to be out in the elements being a bit of a badass runner except it required mass effort to breathe in chilly air, talk, and face cover all at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I was happy for a face covering as it kept my face warm but I did have some gasping-for-air moments that was as a result of the cold air. We followed the same path back to our starting point and of course that went by much faster. Can’t say I wasn’t happy when it was over, though for an insane moment I contemplated running over the Queensboro bridge with another runners. Good sense prevailed however, and I ditched that idea as I felt it would be too windy going over the water at that height. We split separate ways and let’s just say I didn’t revert to normal body temperature until some 4 hours later.

In the train station

Since last Sunday, I’ve had a few runs in freezing temps but I’ve been careful to keep them brief, at the peak of the day, and to remain in motion for the duration of the run. The key to not hating running in the cold so much is to dress warmly. While you can’t really wear a lot of clothes and run comfortably, you can dress smartly with proper wicking and insulated gear to stave off the cold from penetrating your body. I usually wear triple layers on my top half, double layers for my bottom half and double up on socks, shoot for insulated gloves – weirdly enough I run with my hands in my jacket pockets, don’t ask –  and a balaclava or neck gaiter with a hat works in addition to a hoodie to keep my face protected. Even with all that most times you may still be cold, especially if it’s windy. At that point you may want to throw on a windbreaker on top of all that. The trick is to keep moving, keep it to the point, and run with the wind at your back if possible. For winter running, you really just want to get out there and back in as soon as possible. For me, the accomplishment is all in layering up and getting out the door, even if it’s just for a couple miles; distance is of minor consequence and speed even less so. My badassery, LOL, (my word) comes in knowing that I didn’t succumb to the temptations of warm duvet covers and quilts..Lord knows I wanted to..but I dug deep and found that fit chick that is often very willing to do all that’s crazy in the name of exercise.

January Miles: Off to a Running Start

Prior to coming to this great country, I’ve always been a big fan of the beginning of the new year. New Year, new opportunities, a fresh start, another chance to try again, and so on. Being from the Caribbean, the weather was never something I dreaded or even concerned myself with too much, as except for the threat of hurricanes, which thank God has always escaped my beautiful island home of Trinidad, we were pretty much a fair-weather people. So much so that we’ve coined the term “God is a Trini” and readily bandy it about at the drop of a hat. Of course that all changed when I lost my mind and moved to The Big A. I’m kidding of course, about the losing my mind bit anyway, though many people have suggested just that when wondering what on earth possessed me to move here, and well.. you almost have me there. However, in spite of the brutish cold weather when winter rolls around, this city holds a strange allure for me. Maybe it’s the big-city-bright-lights appeal, or, maybe it’s simply its endearing ability to make me feel right at home as part of the Caribbean diaspora within an eclectic mix of people from just about every major country on earth. I can belong here – in this melting pot of diversity – I can be angry, laugh, love, breathe, complain and have my voice heard. More important though, I can run and make a difference. And that, makes all the difference in the world to the place or places I call home.

So despite the wintry conditions we’ve experienced thus far, my running has managed to prevail. In fact, January may go on record as my most accomplished month of running, minus racing, all things remaining constant by the month’s end. To be fair, belonging to a running community has added tremendous motivation, inspiration and accountability to my already fastidious ways. Though I rather doubt, if left to my own devices, I wouldn’t be braving chilly night runs or escaping to other boroughs in minus temps for a weekend long run. Nor would I be running through snow and ice to rack up mileage. It is the rare combination of like-minded individuals, marathon training, January challenges, and new year goals that have all collaborated to make me into an almost super athlete this month, and, I can only hope, this year. Maybe this is the best reason of all for staying here, I’m part of an amazing runner-friendly community and it would be tough to give that up.

As it is, I’ve managed to get out there sun, snow, or rain for all but four days since January 1. As part of a group, I’ve participated in tempo runs, interval training, long runs and shorter runs. Running alone, I’ve focused more on building mileage and hill work. But hold on, we’re only three weeks into the year and have a long way to go yet. Looking ahead, this path is only sustainable if I remain committed to my group work and the shared values of my running community. For sure it is a helluva lot easier having others in your corner to bitch with about weather issues and the like, especially when they are as affected by said issues. May the bitching and running continue! 😉

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