My recent meditations on Spring and the evils of the treadmill must have had an effect on me, because today I spontaneously changed my lunch-hour run: I was in my shorts and tank-top, on my way down to the cardio-room, when I decided to head outside instead. I knew it was cold out; Monday’s early equinox had relapsed into winter, and today’s projections were for a high in the low thirties. Still, the sky was a brilliant, washed-out blue, and the Valentine’s Day warm spell had melted the remnants of ice and slush that had still been haunting the city’s sidewalks. Besides, what’s a little cold set against the tortures of the treadmill?
The run was short, but wonderful in its simplicity: no Garmin GPS watch; no water-bottle; no iPod or cell-phone; no backpack, running tights, jacket, hat, or gloves (the latter was actually a minor regret). All I had on was my shorts, a tank-top, ankle-socks and my shoes. I set off up the hill on 163rd towards Grand Concourse, cut through the park and then dipped down along 161st past Yankee Stadium, then across the Harlem River on the McComb’s Dam Bridge, just like Monday. Instead of turning left into Harlem, however, I climbed up the long incline into Washington Heights, rising past the roof-tops of the Polo Grounds Housing Project, crossing the messy intersection of 155th and Edgecomb, then skirting the southern tip of Highbridge Park for just a few blocks before turning back.
It was certainly still frigid out, even when I was in the direct sunlight, and there was a determined breeze blowing off the gray waters of the river. A few mounds of dirty snow clung to the ground here and there, and whenever I slipped into the long, late-morning shadows cast by apartment complexes and courthouses, it was bitterly cold. While my legs warmed up quickly, my face and ears felt the bite of winter quite sharply; my fingers did turn a bit red and would have been much happier had I brought my running gloves with me to work today. It wasn’t fast, it wasn’t far, but it was wonderful.
Twice, passerby’s shouted the same question: “Aren’t you cold?” and I answered: “Hell yes, but that gives me a reason to keep moving.”
Total Distance: 3 miles Time: not recorded.