I travel to New York City regularly to meet with Polo Ralph Lauren on Madison Avenue. I normally take the 6:40 a.m. Acela from Providence to Penn Station and walk the 30 blocks to the PRL office for a 10:30 a.m. meeting. I prefer to walk the 30 blocks rather than take a cab because I can walk faster than most cabs can travel through the congestion. But it also wakes me up to the uniqueness of NYC. I hear languages I cannot recognize and have encounters that are just so unique to New York. It’s the perfect beginning to a promising several days.
The PRL office is located at 5th and Madison is a great location to spend my time. It’s near Central Park, Niketown is there, and I have my selection of healthy restaurants. Polo travel normally reserves a room at the Helmsley Park Lane on Central Park South just across from Central Park.
I left my hotel at 6:00 a.m. and entered Central Park one minute later in complete darkness. I was astonished by the volume of runners and cyclists I immediately encountered. There was a group of at least 40 runners approaching from the opposite direction and they were clearly in the middle of an intense tempo run. I was so tempted to turn around as soon as the last runner passed and hop on the caboose. But I was less than a minute into my run and wasn’t nearly warmed up enough…I am also on the road to recovering from the Achilles tendonitis from my 12,000 mile motorcycle journey.
So I settled into a comfortable pace and immediately had two runners pass me. I couldn’t control my competitiveness and began to gain ground on them. While I know this wasn’t the best choice, my heart smiled because I was so thankful the competitive fire still burns within me. Once I overtook them, I tried to maintain a pace just fast enough to maintain that slight advantage. Like a pilot searching for the perfect altitude with no turbulence, I was doing the same with my pace.
The atmosphere was so exciting. Cyclists were whizzing by in groups of 20+, messenger bags bouncing off their backs, red lights flashing from beneath their seast, freewheels humming like quiet chain saws, all fully engaged in lively conversation. Although it was still quite dark, the street lights providing ample illumination to see others and a clear vision of the road.
Running in Central Park is something every runner should experience. The range of runners and cyclists is as wide as the park itself. While there are plenty of solo runners completely lost in their thoughts and struggle to climb the next hill, most runners are socializing with one another or part of a much larger group…the perfect start to the day.
As the end of my run was nearing, a helicopter was circling overhead. It reminded me of the 1982 NYC Marathon when Alberto Salazar was attempting to win his 3rd consecutive NYC Marathon. He was engaged in a fierce battle with Rodolfo Gomez from Mexico in the closing miles. As they entered Central Park a helicopter stirred up some dirt and dust, this afforded Alberto a cloud of cover to separate himself from Rodolfo and create a gap that Rodolfo wasn’t able to bridge. Alberto’s official winning time was 2:09:29. This was one of the greatest marathon finishes in history!