I am not, in any way shape or form, a morning person. If I could wake up at 11 every morning and go to bed at 2 or 3 every night, I would be in heaven. Being on the Upper East Side, in running clothes, in 30 degree weather, on a SATURDAY, at 8am is therefore far from my idea of a pleasant way to start the weekend. But, I signed up for this thing, so I knew I would have to get used to it. On Friday night, to prepare for the first GTS in Central Park, I decided to take it easy, stay home, and go to bed early. Of course, a lot of it backfired. While attempting to dance to the Oscar-winning song “Jai Ho” (because this is what I do on Friday nights when I’m not out drinking, apparently) I somehow, in my klutzy way, jammed my kneecap into the edge of our glass table. Awesome. Way more than a bruise, my knee started to ache and stiffen as the night went on. To make matters worse, while I didn’t have anxiety that kept me up all night, my boyfriend, unusually, did and tossed and turned making my sleep far from restful. My expectations as I put on my running gear at 7 in the morning were not, therefore, very high.
Fortunately, I was wrong. I arrived at Engineer’s Gate (which is, apparently, the name for the pretty structure that gives you access to the running path around the reservoir in Central Park) to find a huge mass of people already gathered. After a brief explanation of the day’s workout, designed to be mostly social, we set off for our 10 minute running warm-up, an out-and-back (Fairly self explanatory, but basically a run where you go out for half the time, as far as your pace takes you, and then turn around and run back. You don’t think about running to a certain point, but just runing the time.) They suggested we find someone to run with so I turned to the girl next to me, who wasn’t clad in fancy synthetic running gear nor did she seem to have intimidating muscles under her sweats, and asked if she would want to run together. We set off and started chatting. I was enjoying her company but it was clear from the start that, despite my aching knee, I was a better runner. While I was disappointed that she had to stop and walk at some point, I was, selfishly, really proud that I had prepared well to start this challenge and wasn’t the worst one out there, as I had feared I would be.
The next half hour or so were running drills. We learned about where our feet should land, how our posture should be, and what we should do with our hands. Some of it was helpful, some pretty ovious. I mostly kept to myself during these. A lot of people seemed to be there with friends and significant others and, since these were pretty short, I felt silly butting into everyone’s conversations.
When we were sufficiently drileld, we moved onto the social run. I started out on my own, but quickly fell into a pace near a friendly looking girl. We started chatting and, quickly, I was worried if I could keep up with her. A triathlon veteran, she also runs marathons and clearly knows what she is doing. Fortunately, she was planning on running slowly and I was willing to try and keep up. It was a gorgeous, sparkling blue morning and we were running on the reservoir’s outer path, which I’ve never done. My running companion, who’s name I have of course forgotten, introduced me to the friend’s she convinced to train this year, and it was generally a pleasant 20 minutes.
The final section of the morning was the strength training. They had us run over to an open field in the park and, of course, lie down on the muddy grass. We did some squats and then focused on core (read: ab) exercises that will be part of our regular routines. I find it always so helpful to have someone explain how to correctly do an exercise. The horrible pain in my “gluteous maximus” since Saturday is proof that I was doing something right. The morning was capped off with some water and fruit at a nearby running store for a “gear clinic”, i.e. five seconds of explanation and then 15 minutes of the owner hawking his products and offering a discount.
Overall, I really enjoyed myself. The rest of the day I felt incredibly accomplished, despite having to close my eyes for 15 minutes at midday. I’m really glad that the first day went well. It is nice to start off on the right foot.