Loving Fall Running In New York City

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       Fall foliage @ The Mall, Central Park

If ever there was a time it’s now, if ever a place it’s here, and if ever a reason it’s Fall. Maybe I’m biased as I live here, but there is something essentially beautiful about this city amidst the bloom of Autumn; It’s in the smell of the air – the musky yet sharp scent of the foliage, the kalidescope of colors dotting the trees and sweeping the ground, the gentle brush of the wind the almost-there kisses of sunshine and of course the abrupt arrival of early sundown and the subsequent coolness. I liken early Fall in New York City (NYC) to one of the most stimulating assault on your senses you will ever experience. The setting is ideallic and brings out the runner in just about all of us.

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           TCS NYC Marathon, Finish Line

The true NYC Fall experience calls us to embrace Fall fashion and trends, its colors, its shopping – fall fashion meets running wear, its fitness, exercise and the marathon fever that permeates the air leading up to the NYC marathon in early November. There is an expectation in the atmosphere that fills the parks and spills out into the streets; running is everywhere.

15126805808_a582f5e3f6_mRunners welcome, should be our tag line because truly the city embraces runners like it does tourists. It is what New York does. And so it’s easy to fall in love with running here; you have a community of runners that is easy to become a part of and the access to many different courses and routes from bridges to parks and trails and beyond. Be a part of the city running community, the outer boroughs, or, head to the outskirts and get closer to the mountains and more hilly terrain; there it gets even more scenic and if you’re a nature-lover like myself, you’re sold. NYC boasts views, sunsets and snapshots and photos to run for.

808c919cef9194c11828e1701181e186Just a small disclaimer, don’t be surprised to see yourself starring in a famous shot. Central Park is just about the most popular park and boasts many fabulous photo and movie spots. But better than that, it is a beautiful green oasis in the midst of the concrete jungle of New York City, and, my running home. It embodies the beauty of Fall for six miles all the way around and among its many hills, trails fields, playgrounds and various other scenic spots.

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       Bridge over the Lake in Central Park

It’s easy to see why running is easy here in marathon city. We have all the trappings to make a great runner out of you. Your only responsibility is to bring your enthusiasm and willingness to give it a go. Despite what the corporate people may say, of which many are runners, it is us..runners who run this city. I promise.

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African Greatness: Berlin, Records, Runners

Dennis Kimetto, 2014 Marathon World Record Holder, Berlin, Germany

Dennis Kimetto, 2014 Marathon World Record Holder, Berlin, Germany

The Berlin Marathon, one of six in the World Marathon Major series, wrapped up on Sunday with a spectacular win by Kenya’s Dennis Kimetto on the fastest course in the world. Turns out being a champion requires a little more than your best, it requires your all. I think that’s what Kimetto delivered on Sunday as he ran his way to breaking a world record and now owing the title of the only one to ever run a marathon under 2:03. I’m still all WOW..I mean 2:02:57 is a super big deal! Hats and cloaks and everything off to Kimetto; a well deserved and superbly executed run. I couldn’t do it better myself..lol..not even close. Emmanuel Mutai’s second place of 2:03:13 hardly seemed to matter in the wake of Kimetto’s victory but was a valiant effort nonetheless, though he will hardly get the props for it. Ethiopia’s Abera Kuma came in third with 2:05:56. On the women’s end, we had Ethiopians: Tirfi Tsegaye running first place with 2:20:18 and Fayse Tadese taking second with 2:20:27. USA’s own Shalange Flanagan followed with 2:21:14. Good for her. In a field dominated by African greatness, she held her own and was able to come in the top three women..way to go..an amazing feat in and of itself.

There’s something here for us, if we take the time to sift through the stats, when we get past the buzz of records and rightful pride and glory of the runners; there’s something there. For those of us who care to look past the fame and fortune of the élite runner, we will find passion, diligence, humility, sacrifice and belief. How many of us dedicate ourselves to running, or any field of choice for that matter, with those qualities? Yet how many of us want the pride and the glory and the medal. If we learn anything at all, it is that when we see runners like Kimetto up there on the world stage, it wasn’t just running that got him there. It took all the qualities we described before and a lot of heart and then some to live his dream. Compare Kimetto before 2010 with Kimetto today, that of a subsistence farmer in Kapngetuny, Kenya; a relative unknown, fast forward today; marathon world record holder. There is a story there, one that inspires not just us but I’m sure the country of Kenya and the nation of Africa. A seed of hope has been planted in the heart of every Kenyan boy and girl..they can dream, have a right to dream. Because if Dennis Kimetto can do it, so can they.

The difference, as I see it, is not so much in the opportunity as in character. Growing up, I would often hear ” you have to want it badly enough.” I think so, in fact I believe so. Some children have it made and live the life of the idealistic – dream it and it will happen, that’s the life of the privileged. Then there are those who are faced with reality from early on – you want it, you have to work hard for it. Yet there are others still, who will hardly have even that as a choice – so depraved are their circumstances. Life is most often not an equal opportunity employer, we are often called to play the hand we’re dealt and a lot of the times it is far from easy but I still say – you have to want it enough. For me, I do not think of myself too much of a dedicated runner. I think I like to run most times and if I have a goal..say, a marathon..I’ll train for it; run 5 times a week, try to eat well, do cross training, long runs, some group training for speed and pace etc. But at the end of it, I am no where close to the training and dedication put out by the likes of Kimetto or Flanagan or Kara or any of those élite runners who run daily, hundreds of miles per week. Me, I’m doing awesome if I have a 60/70 mile week. Sure I understand it’s their job and so that has a lot to do with it but still.. If you didn’t like or care about your job, chances are you wouldn’t have it right.

Make no mistake, I’m a runner. I’m no Flanagan but I appreciate the sport, I advocate its benefits and I enjoy it most times. I am not a committed, 365-days-a-year runner, but I run over two-thirds of that so I think I qualify for runner status. I may never know the sacrifice of Kimetto but I know the sacrifices I live with to achieve my running dreams; the hard work, the aches and pains, the financial cost, the level of belief  in myself and my dream, the passion to achieve.. I know what those things mean to me and I believe it is a story that each runner can tell. For my part, I hope to be telling it, one day soon, from Berlin.

Summer’s Running Away

 

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Consider that Winter seems like it was just a few months ago..when we were talking crazy-cold-how-do-I-get-my-run-on weather and now we’re running through August, no stop signs in sight. To use my, of late, favorite expression – “What the hell!” Whatever happened to slow down, take time to smell the roses and all that cute stuff? Maybe, I’m just complaining cause I’m preempting what follows summer (to which I will not give a name so as to delay it as long as possible) but really the wisest course to follow would be to abstain from such thinking and do as much running damage as possible, which brings me to the matter at hand.. Summer runs rock!

I don’t know when was the last time we’ve had or even if we’ve ever had such amazing running weather in the summer in New York City! I mean this is the time to run and if you happen to be lucky and you’re in NY, then this is the place to run, and you totally lucked in cause we also have the company to get you out and about in this summer city. Some may complain of the crazy-weather-days where the highest we’ve seen so far is just about 89 and that we have lows in the 50s but this right here is runner’s paradise. It just doesn’t get better than this. And so you want to take advantage of it cause..well..hell, you never know.

Here are some ways to get running in the city that never sleeps for the visitor and New Yorker alike:

Run Central Park. You’ll never find a place more likely to make you into a runner. Running enthusiasts, visitors, sightseers, any and everyone active can be found here..Central Park is New York in action and home to everyone.

Run City Streets. Every summer for about one month, the city opens up some of the busiest  and most popular streets so that runners, joggers, cyclists, walkers, skateboarders and rollerbladers can do their thing. Yep..that’s right. No cars. The road is yours. Where else in the world can you stop traffic at your fancy?

Run with company. The Running Company is just one of the running stores that hosts free runs for running enthusiasts throughout the city. Nike, Paragon Sports, Lululemon and North Brooklyn Runners are some others to name a few. With just a click, join them and you’re in. These groups usually pace out into sub groups so everyone fits in never mind your level. It’s on to keep you fit and fab.

Run official. Do what I did; join a running club or organization that provides days, times and run workouts. Whether it is to train, to get you to your goal or to assume competitive level, such organizations exists with your purpose in mind. These clubs have an annual membership fee upon registration and acceptance; Central Park Track Club, Brooklyn Road Runners, Jack Rabbit and Dashing Whippets are among a host of others that provide the “athlete” runner with the impetus for racing.

Run with Meetup NYC. Throughout the city there are meetup groups happening for runners of all persuasions. For those who don’t know, Meetup.com exists with the sole purpose of bringing like-minded people together so that they can be passionate about whatever they care about. So of course running. And of course in NYC. Get online, join a group, reserve a spot for a suggested meetup run and voliá. You get to run all over this beautiful, crazy city for free.

Run with NYRR (New York Road Runners). Here is the mastermind behind the New York City Marathon, which is run by thousands from all over the world each year. NYRR is a running community that hosts races throughout the year in the five boroughs of New York. Most races can help with your eligibility for the ” big” race but ideally all runners are invited to belong to a community of runners that run and share the New York we know and love. Races are priced for members at a lower rate while non-members can run for a fee, though not all the races. Why not be a New York Road Runner?

Run for fun, for charity, for personal satisfaction. Whatever you decide, you have to take it to the next level. There are so many fun and charity races all over the five boroughs and beyond you couldn’t hide..but why would you want to? Summer in New York, especially this summer, is a time to make a difference in your and someone else’s life. You just wouldn’t be able to wrap it up come September and call it a great summer if you didn’t. There are color runs, mud runs, obstacle races, 5ks for Cancer research, Diabetes, Alzheimer’s, Kidney research and so much more. Whichever you decide, in any and all of them you can make a donation and make a difference. You’re running anyway right?

Do you doubt that we, runners, have it made? To not only live in the greatest city in the world, but to run the show. New York is not only about The Arts and Broadway and Wall Street and the Stock Market and Fashion and Times Square and Sightseeing and Tall Buildings. New York is about Running. Runners RUN this Empire State.

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