I Ran Downtown (for a day)

HeartlandPostRace

What a perfect day for a run!  Even at 7:35am, when close to 12,000 half-marathoners got ready to cross the starting line in Central Park, the sun was out and there was a great sense of excitement and nervous energy in the air. The first eight miles in the park went well and I felt great running up the notorious Harlem Hill. When I made the turn out of the Park and onto 7th Avenue, I heard the crowds of people and bands that lined the avenue all the way to Times Square. Mesmerized by the sea of runners ahead of me and the contagious cheers from the spectators, before I knew it I had blown through Times Square and was suddenly on mile 11, running along the West Side Highway with the Hudson River on my right.

At mile 12 my body hit the proverbial runner’s “wall” and it felt like forever as I ran in anticipation for the “200m left” sign.  To keep my thoughts distracted, as I stared at Lower Manhattan, I played a game in my head: how many skyscrapers could I name or identify.  Sadly, I think I was only able to name four of the bunch that I could see.  Just when I was starting to feel my body drag a bit, I saw the “200m left” sign.  For runners, that 200 meters sign (or for the hardcore runners, the “400m left” sign), is your queue to give everything you’ve got and sprint to the finish line.  This year with the finish line moved to north Battery Park, the victorious “smoke’em if you’ve got’em” sprint to the end was lined by the Downtown Alliance’s beautiful Re: Construction project.  I smiled as I saw it and remembered telling Whitney (who manages the program for the Alliance) about how that was my favorite of all of our sites. People cheered me on as I made a dash for the finish, and when I crossed it I felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment.

I stumbled through Battery Park City with thousands of my fellow finishers and grabbed water, my medal, more water, my things at baggage, some Gatorade and headed to the South Street Seaport to meet my friends for some serious food.  The Heartland Brewery at the Seaport was one of a handful of retailers offering special deals to half-marathoners and their friends and families. The post-race high followed me to the Heartland, where almost every table was packed with marathoners taking advantage of the beautiful day and the free beer for those who ran it.  The Heartland felt like a mini-post-race festival as table after table showed off their medals to their friends and family and soaked in the sun.

Not wanting to call it a day, my friends and I took time eating our delicious brunch (I highly recommend their pulled pork sandwich).  Afterward we went over to Front Street to one of my favorite stores, Provisions, which was also offering a deal to half-marathoners.  I received a yummy bottle of Persian Lime Olive Oil with my purchase of their delicious gourmet truffle salt.

All in all, just another perfect day for a run in the city.  And I couldn’t have thought of a better neighborhood to finish my race than Lower Manhattan.