One Last Run Home from the Bronx

I think there needs to be a separate holiday: Single Mother’s Day.  Because after a week home with the kids, I would estimate that the thought “I have no idea how single moms do this!” has drifted through my head about a dozen times a day.  Its hard enough being home with a toddler and a newborn by myself during the day: starting around 4 in the afternoon every day I start looking at the clock every 15 minutes and praying for M to get home for work.  I can’t imagine what it would be like knowing that there was no back-up coming, that it was just you and the kids for nap-time, post-nap-time chaos, dinner, bath, bedtime . . . then morning, breakfast, repeat, repeat, repeat.

Anyway, this is all to say that blogging: really not my top priority these days.  (Mommy bloggers – how do they do it?  If it involves nannies and a solo trip to a wi-fi coffee shop, that makes sense, but otherwise . . .)  Not that I’ve had much to blog about, as my running has taken a huge hit while being home.  Besides the time, there’s the energy: being a full-time parent is so much more exhausting than having a full-time job.  Last week, I only ran twice: thirteen and a half miles Saturday, and one mile on Sunday.  This week, I ran twice already, but that was only because I had to go back to school Monday and Tuesday and the kids were home with a babysitter.  Monday I got of the subway at 125th street and ran the last 4 miles to work, and Tuesday I ran home.


Monday’s run was pretty great – it was right in the middle of the afternoon, in the high eighties and humid, so miserable running weather.  However, I really wanted to run, and I was also leaving my school for the last time (I’m transferring to a closer school here in Brooklyn next year), and after 6 years and a lot of running in the neighborhood, I wanted to say goodbye to the route home.  Ever since I started running five years ago, the South Bronx and upper Manhattan have been where I have done a lot of my running, but now that I’m both living and working in Brooklyn, that won’t be true any more.

I started out over the McComb’s-Dam bridge one last time, then weaved my way down through Harlem to Central Park.  I paused at the 110th street entrance to take a picture and saw goodbye to Harlem, then ducked into the woods.  Although there are lots of manicured and paved roads and paths through every section of the park, there are also lots of rough and wild trails, unofficial wanderings through the dense underbrush, and I followed them at whim, keeping to a southerly direction but other than that paying no heed to where my feet were headed.  The resulting juxtapositions were particularly pleasing: gravel trail, berry-runners and thick undergrowth, suddenly opening to neatly shorn grass and a field of tourists (perhaps a softball game) then across the lawn before diving back into the woods and leaving civilization behind.

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Eventually the wilds are replaced by meadows, fields, and more pathways than trails, and I suddenly realized I had no desire to make my way through the upper East-Side and over the Queensborough Bridge.  Instead, I made for 59th street, grabbed a cold Gatorade, and hopped on a D train.

Six miles.  I wanted to run longer than that, head and humidity be damned, so at Grand street I got back off the subway and ascended to China Town.  From here, it was five miles home – five slow, hot, and humid miles, but I kept thinking of Jason Robillard and everyone else who finished Western States last weekend and told myself to stop being a pussy and run.  (Pardon the language, but that’s how my inner-boot camp instructor talks.  And having obsessed over Western States all week, he had lots of material to use as motivation against me, and he still has a foul mouth).

This is where the fine line between running happy and forcing yourself to suck it up and suffer becomes blurred, because while I was miserable, I also loved every minute of it.  The heat and the sweat made the patches of shade even cooler, and when I stopped to douse my head and refill my water-bottle in an open hydrant, the frigid water was a shock of pure joy, a sensation I could not have felt without the miles already run in the hot, mid-day sun.  I loved the running, I loved the fact that I was running, and I loved the moment that I finally stopped running: the action, contemplating the action, and ending the action were all pleasurable, but each was dependant on the other, and all was dependent on some degree of suffering.

I also did all 11 miles with my Mobex backpack full of stuff, and that evening my shoulders were really sore.  The Mobex is a fantastic running pack (I’ll have to write up a review sometime), but 11 miles with 7 pounds on your back in the sun (did I mention it was hot?) is not something I suggest doing on a regular basis.  One of the reasons I’m so excited about changing schools: 3.8 miles each way.

Okay, Angelica is telling me she’s bored watching me type, and Nat just sat up in the stroller to let me know he’s awake:  we’ve been sitting out in the front-yard of our apartment, enjoying this beautiful weather while they both napped after a long walk, but apparently that brief hiatus is over.  I’ve got more to write about: my Western States fantasies, my new Inov8 X-155 shoes to review, but that will have to wait.  It’s time to leave the aide station of life and get back to the ultramarathon that is parenting . . .


About Chris Van Dyke

I am a 33 year-old high school English teacher and long-distance runner. I live in Brooklyn with my partner, our 3 year-old son and 1 year-old daughter and a growing collection of muppets and trains. Besides running and teaching I like to draw, read, write, cook, and play the harmonica. While I didn't get to run my first ultra-marathon on my birthday, I've got a few more I've set my sights on. You can follow my (seldom updated) twitter feed @aboutrunning. I also blog as part of the Run Smiley Collective.
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