It was nice to be back in my “yard” if even for a few days. I returned to participate in the American Educational Research Association conference and was pleased that it was in my home city. However, balancing work and home at that scale is quite taxing and having a conference for over 15,000 people in the heart of Times Square magnifies the stress and ensuing exhaustion. As a New Yorker, I avoid Times Sq at all costs. I worked there when I was in college–summer job–it was cool then (yes, this is the beginning of a brief back-in-the-day New York story). There were still rated XXX theaters on 42nd St, peep shows and sex shops on 8th Ave and all kinds of activity in between. The glamorous Broadway shows were still there but the grit around it was what defined the area. I remember leaving the office one hazy, hot and humid summer evening and seeing a mounted police officer having a casual chat with a sex worker in a full-body fishnet leotard. Like old friends. She was doing her thing and he was doing his. Now with all kinds of LED lighted, pseudo vintage Broadway (cue jazz hands) decorated franchised establishments (i.e. Olive Garden, Hard Rock Cafe), Times Square is a glorified midwestern United States mall. Bleah!
But running. Ah running. For running, Prospect Park is my “yard” and it was great to be back there. I managed to get a couple of days of running in, including a long run down to Coney Island on the hotter day.
Cherry Blossoms in Prospect Park
According to my Hal Higdon training schedule (which I am loosely following), I was due for a 9 mile run. It was almost 70 degrees F when I started, I did a loop around the outside of Prospect Park and then headed down Ocean Parkway to Coney Island. It almost follows the route of the latter 2/3rd of the Brooklyn Half Marathon, which I am going to run later in May. Even though it was not yet summer, the heat and humidity reminded me of the summer of 2016 when I put in many miles on Ocean to train for the New York City Marathon. It appears relatively flat but is actually a slight decline to the ocean. I did not bring my water bottle (I left my training one in Calgary) so I had to stop at Ave P and head to the deli to get a bottle of water as I was parched by that time. There are water fountains in Prospect Park and nothing but delis until you get to the Coney Island boardwalk.
This made me think about the long runs that I will have to do in Calgary, as there is neither fountain nor deli to quench one’s thirst. In NY I run with the one hand bottle that I always find either a deli, hydrant or hose to refill it with. Although there is a large river in Calgary, I do not plan on running with water purification tablets so I am not yet sure what I will do. I might have to learn to run with a hydration pack.
Back to Brooklyn. So I made my way down to Coney Island. A pleasant run, I am also practicing increasing my cadence as per my physiotherapist, so there has been some challenge in my training. It seems like I am running faster than I really am (or used to running for longer distances). I have been running at a cadence closer to 165 and my physiotherapist says I should be closer to 173. When I was running track I had no idea about cadence, but I know we focused on long strides and quick turnovers, which is not efficient for longer road races. Thus I have been focused on increasing my cadence and hopefully my running efficiency.
Running on Ocean Ave is uneventful. You pass a bunch of people walking dogs, pushing giant SUV strollers, other runners, and other people just strolling along. The people watching is interesting as they range from Orthodox Jewish women in wigs to Eastern European-looking women wearing big designer sunglasses and active wear. It as a Saturday and it seems as if the synagogues just let out so there was a lot of dodging people in their Saturday worship bests interspersed with the Euro-glamorous women.
I reached Coney Island (different link), one of my favorite places in the world. At some point I will dedicate a blog post to why this is so, but for now we will leave it at being one of my favorite places.
As the day was warm, the boardwalk was teeming with activity. Not quite at the level of a summer afternoon, but close enough. My friends have been posting about new beach grass planted in front of the New York Aquarium; I was happy to see it and cannot wait to revisit the growing grass in the summer. The beach grass stabilizes the sand (dunes), preventing erosion. During Super Storm Sandy a lot of the beach sand ended up either back in the ocean or on the neighboring streets. I am not sure if the beach grass is experimental with plans on expanding but it will be interesting to watch given the amount of crowds that end up on Coney Island beach during the summer. I do love Coney Island but it tends to get a little dirty in the summer. Just a little bit (can I say hypoberle?)
Since Coney Island (different link) opened on weekends since Easter, some of the rides were going on and you heard distant screams from the bemused. I looked to the ocean to see if I saw some CIBBOWS, but I later saw on Facebook that they went swimming after I left.
After some boardwalk enjoyment and sea breeze refreshment, I headed to the Brighton Beach subway stop. At that stop there is a Russian woman who sells delicious fried bread stuffed with things (meat, eggs, cabbage, etc.) and pastries. Although I love the fried, oily bread, I opted for the poppyseed roll and cheese danish looking pastry. I hopped on the train and headed home to enjoy the afterglow of a decent long run and beach walk.