Popping The Bubble Week 5- (Not So) Fun Run

By Sinead Hunt

subway-map-manhattanb.jpg             manhattan-real-estate-market

(Image courtesy of NewYorkSubway.org/fortunebuilders.com)

Situated prominently as number one on my list of all the lofty goals I hope to achieve this year is a half-marathon. More specifically, a half-marathon that takes place on November 26th. After months of pensive deliberation, vacillation and general procrastination, I finally decided to force myself to take action.

First, I paid the $50 race fee for a half-marathon. I knew in my heart of hearts that once I paid the sign-up fee, my fear of wasting money would propel me throughout the arduous training process. Thus, August 28th marked the date of not only my arrival to Barnard College, but also the beginning of my training.

When I was fifteen, I made the uncharacteristically impulsive decision to sign up for a half-marathon without the consent of my mother, who I knew would be wary of the decision. You see, at the time, my whole family lived in Shanghai, China, where the pollution index was notoriously bad. On certain days, I wasn’t able to run outside because the pollution level was considered “hazardous.” Much to my chagrin, I was forced to wear a mask to school everyday. In my fifteen year old logic, this mask was the bane of my existence, as its gaudy pattern detracted from pretty much every outfit I wore. But, nonetheless, I digress. Anyway, upon informing my mother of this rash decision, she and I proceeded to engage in all-out verbal warfare, with her threatening to not allow me to run if the pollution index exceeded 150 (the cut-off point for the air quality to be considered “unhealthy).

Despite my mother’s disapproval, I trained for the race. My training strategy, however, was rather thrown together last minute. I knew pretty much nothing about long-distance running, and I really didn’t have a lot of adults in my life who shared this particular interest with me. My school didn’t have a cross country team, or a track team. I had no clue how to go about training for a half-marathon. I ran 10 kilometers everyday, with no rest days. I ran these 10 kilometers in circles around my school, because our campus didn’t have a track. My workout jam was the Freakonomics podcast and “Stuff You Missed in History Class.” It never occurred to me once to hydrate or stretch before a run.

The day of my first half-marathon, I fueled up an hour before the race with a grande latte and a ham sandwich. My mother looked at me rather hesitantly, and asked, “Are you sure you should be eating that before running 13 miles?” I replied that it was fine, feigning confidence so as to not arouse her suspicion. I really didn’t want her to realize how utterly oblivious I was.

In retrospect, everything about my approach to my first half-marathon was utterly and completely flawed. I was simply clueless, and yet, I still managed to finish. This, of course, sets the bar rather high for my second half-marathon. At this point, I have been distance running for three years. I know so much more about training and proper nutrition. So, if I fail to finish the race this time, it will be especially humiliating.

However, after nearly two months of running the same route through Riverside Park, only to occasionally interrupt the monotony of scenery with a run through Central Park, I found myself completely bored. This is why I decided to change up my workout and see more of the city by running from Barnard to the One World Trade Center in the Financial District. Thus, on Friday morning, I awoke at the ungodly hour of 6 am to commence my adventure.

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(Image courtesy of evilcorps.com)

I really enjoyed this run because it allowed me to continuously experience a wealth of New York neighborhoods. My run took me through Morningside Heights (duh), the Upper West Side, Midtown, the Garment District, Chelsea, Greenwich Village, Tribeca and finally, the Financial District. This experience afforded me access to a number of classic NY landmarks, such as Times Square and the Museum of Natural History.  For those of you interested in experiencing NY but unsure of where to begin, running and walking are great ways to get some exercise while experiencing New York firsthand.

Even though Manhattan can seem daunting, it is possible to traverse the whole island on foot (trust me, I’ve done it!). Traveling by foot affords you insight into NY neighborhoods that other modes of transportation simply do not. Running or walking through an area is an incredibly intimate mode of travel, as it allows you to truly ascertain the character of a neighborhood.

Sinead Hunt is  a first-year at Barnard and Liaison for Barnard Bite.

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