Sure it was 7.30am, but the streets were uncharacteristically quiet and coated in a white layer of frosting that was growing thicker by the minute. Yesterday was the first time that J-Train had actually seen snow and so while he's not predisposed to vocal outpourings of emotion, I got the sense that he was pretty keen to get out amongst it.
And so we did exactly that. We got ourselves together into our running training gear, and set off for Central Park. Leaving my hot-house apartment, the freezing air of my building's lobby was a brief shock. But that was nothing compared to the relentless snow that fell on us the minute we stepped outside. Snowflakes here and there are just fine - pretty, even - but when they fall non-stop, and occasionally blow sideways into your eyes, it can be a bit crazy.
So I squinted down 1st Ave to see if any cabs were coming, and nearly got bowled over by one as it slushed to a stop infront of us. Piling in, I blabbed to the driver about why we were out and about so early. He howled with laughter about our Central Park training run and didn't hesitate to tell us how crazy we were, but then I played the "we're raising money for cancer research" card, and he was proud of us. But still laughing.
NY cabs drive like crazy people in all weather conditions, so we were at Central Park before we knew it. I'm not sure what J-Train thought, but I was quite enjoying the warmth of the taxi and didn't really fancy being outdoors in all that cold whiteness. But we did it - we got out, we started walking, and it was actually quite okay.
Despite the weather conditions, Central Park was busy yesterday morning with the New York Road Runners Manhattan Half-Marathon. We got word that for safety reasons, the Central Park people had closed the top part of the race route, way up in the north of the Park (where we were also supposed to be training), so we had to restrict ourselves to jogging circuits of the 1.7-mile lower loops. Me and J-Train rugged up, left our bags at the supervised spot, and set off to run-walk a couple of loops. I even used my new interval timer device to track our progress. One of the coaches programmed it for me - I have yet to read the instruction booklet.
We had to dodge a couple of runners to get to our starting spot, but we got started. It's weird but running on the snow is a lot like running on wet sand at the beach - it has that sort of consistency, and it is about as hard on your legs. You don't get very good traction at all (sneaker treads being what they are) so it was pretty slow going out there. And it was slippery too, so you had to be doubly careful. Our coaches are always telling us that we never know what the weather will be like for our race, so it's a good idea to run in every condition that you can, snow included.
And not just because of the weather, I got a good taste of what it will be like on race day too. There were heaps of volunteers and a handful of hardy spectators to cheer us on as we shuffled around the track. Bells ringing, wolf-whistling, motivational cheers and congratulations just kept us moving and congratulated us for what we were doing. I couldn't help but think that these guys were just as admirable - coming out to the Park on a freezing Saturday morning just to be encouraging. That is quite an achievement too!
My training didn't last very long. My left knee gave up again (why is it doing that?!) and then I got a very painful stitch right under my ribs, and it hurt to breathe for a long time. We ended up running/walking/shuffling for 4 miles (or about 6km) yesterday, which is no mean feat really. But still, I gave myself a hard time for being a sissy for much of the morning, until we got to Brooklyn Diner, that is. Up by Carnegie Hall, we called in there to defrost after training and all I could think about was a breakfast of bacon, scrambled eggs, and warm and sweet challah toast on the side. Freshly squeezed orange juice and strong diner coffee helped us feel much more human, as we watched the sky fall outside.