I’ve wanted to see how long of a run I can fit into my lunch hour, and today I decided to aim for 5 miles. Tuesdays and Thursdays are the only days I can really try to stretch my lunch hour to the breaking point. Fifth period is my lunch period, while sixth is my “professional period,” which means I am supposed to be in the building doing work; on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, my professional period is assigned to a department meeting, so I have somewhere to be shortly after my lunch period ends. On Tuesday’s and Thursday’s, however, I have sixth period to work on my own. So while I sadly can’t take the whole hour and forty-five minute block and turn it into a long run twice a week, it does mean that if I miscalculate how long a run might take and get back late, on those two days my time is more flexible. Showing up to a meeting 15 minutes late in running clothes and covered in sweat, on the other-hand, would not be a good thing.
Today was the third day in a row that I taught with running shorts under my slacks and a wicking shirt under my tie and vest, so I was on the sidewalk outside my school by 11:38. Each period is 48 minutes long, so I had 43 minutes to actually run, or just enough time for a moderately paced 5 miles. My first stop, however, was over at the office of the Bronx Defenders, where my friend Kate works. We’re borrowing her car for the weekend, and I needed to pick up the keys. After a quick hello and directions to where the car is parked, I headed back out to 161st and over the McComb’s Dam to Washington Heights. Instead of turning around at 158th, however, I continued follow Edgecomb Avenue as it traced the contour of High Bridge park. This used to be one of my regular running routes back when I first started running in 2006; since the sidewalk borders a park, it isn’t broken up by cross-streets and so you don’t have to stop for traffic. I have memories of panting along this sidewalk for the half mile to 175th and back for what was then an excruciatingly long mile.
Today’s forecast was for rain, and although the precipitation had held off for the most part, I still headed out with my shell jacket just in case. Rain is always somewhat annoying to run in – not because of the whole getting wet aspect, but because deciding what to wear is tricky. If it’s raining, it’s most likely not freezing, and so any jacket will get hot very-quickly, especially if it’s water-proof. If it isn’t raining at the time, you can tie the jacket around your waist, but then in bounces around and smacks your knees and the knot comes loose and is generally irritating; if it starts raining, the jacket at least is worn, but then it’s a constant conflict of temperature regulation, zipping and unzipping in an attempt to strike a perfect balance between being water-proof and not humid and sweaty. To be fair, today’s forecast was for so much rain that the mayor of New Jersey preemptively declared a weather-emergency in the face of the predicted flooding, so taking a rain shell was a pretty easy decision, but when the rain didn’t materialize for my run, it ended up around my waist, bothering me. I pulled it on for a few minutes, around mile three and a half, when the drizzle picked up a little, but it wasn’t really necessary.
Anyhow, my route followed High Bridge Park, and since I was running up from the Bronx it was a nice challenge, as the after the steep hill up from the river the sidewalk continues in a slow but steady incline for nearly another mile before leveling out. After crossing the entrances to the FDR Drive and I-95, I took a right and ran over the Washington Bridge back to the Bronx. Years ago, when I taught at Walton High School, I used to bike over the bridge on my way to work, turning left on University Avenue to continue up towards Lehman College. Today, however, I turned right at the same intersection, where the road becomes the long, curving slope of Edward L. Grant Highway. Turning left again, I followed Jerome Avenue for a few blocks before taking on the steep hill that leads back up to Grand Concourse, then forced myself to speed up for the last few blocks back to my school. I walked through the front door while kids were still in the hall between classes, so my timing was just about perfect — 5 miles, 43 minutes, and still some time to do some work.