Saturday, April 3, 2010

It'sa Mario!

I grew up in the suburbs of New York City. My dad worked near Times Square so every time my family and I would come visit him at work we would have to dodge through the tourists taking pictures, the people that were lost in the middle of the sidewalk looking at a map, and the dozens of people who were forced to stand outside their work, rain or shine, handing out pamphlets about a comedy club or a sightseeing tour that we just HAD to do. Not only was getting to my dad's work a hassle, but any time my family decided to spend the night in the city it was a very typical "let's go to dinner and then a broadway show and then home" night. Now I am not the kind of person that enjoys being in large crowds, and I especially don't like walking somewhere where I'm surrounded by people and I need to stay on my toes to figure out what the person in front of me is doing, where they are going to walk, and if they are going to stop dead in their tracks at any moment. As you can imagine, Times Square is not my favorite place in the world. But, because every time I went into the city I was basically in or around Times Square, I grew up thinking that all of NYC was exactly like that. That there were always people everywhere, and my job would be to dodge all of them. So when I started looking for where I was going to live after graduation, I said that living in the city was absolutely out of the question. I knew how I felt all of those nights when I was frantically trying to get somewhere, anywhere, where I could have my own personal space and a place to breathe, and I was not about to live my life the way I lived so many nights of my childhood. Low and behold, come September, I was moving into my new apartment in Midtown. And you know what I learned? Not all of New York City is like Times Square.
Even though I quickly realized that I could enjoy a nice stroll in my neighborhood without being attacked by someone dressed as Elmo (a huge fear of mine), I did tell myself that there was NO WAY I would go for a run on these streets. I see people do it every day, and I definitely thought it takes a certain type of concentration and attention span to be able to do it. Even though it's not Times Square, there are still people walking on the sidewalk, most likely not paying attention to anyone but themselves or who they are walking with, and there are lights everywhere! How can I possibly have a successful run when I need to constantly be paying attention to if a light tells me to walk or not? I am the queen of zoning out and thinking about whatever I feel like when I run, and using my concentration on whether or not I'm going to fall in a sewer or get hit by a car didn't sound appealing to me. However, something happened to me today, and I tried it out. I actually ran through midtown on a Saturday morning at 9am and I am here and alive to tell the tale.
Not only did I survive what I thought would be a stressful workout, but I now know what it's like to be in a video game. What I experienced this morning has to be exactly how Mario feels in the original Mario Bros. I got out to the sidewalk, put my headphones in, and just went. I had a plan of action, I was going to run a mile uptown, then turn around, run two miles downtown on another avenue, and then run a mile back uptown to my basically one large 4 mile square. Once I started going, I realized it was kind of fun to run with all of the distractions. I concentrated so hard on dodging the people, dogs, and strollers around me that I didn't even realize I had already run a mile until I almost ran past my first destination point. Not only did I have to beware of the people, but there was an extra challenge to my game. I had to see how many blocks I could run without having to stop to run in place to wait for the light to change, and let me tell you, it is not easy to do. I think I only made it three blocks before I had to wait, but it made it that much more fun to try to get to four. I had an overall great experience today. I also felt like I had a secret bond with the other people around me that were running. It took everything in my power to not stick my hand out and high-five everyone I saw, but I told myself I couldn't be that girl and I had to contain my excitement.
As a conclusion to my overly positive post about my experience running outside, I would like to leave the people of NYC a couple of words of wisdom regarding their life choices.

1. to the parent with the 50 pound kid still in the stroller: I think it's time to let him start walking.
2. to the 20 something man walking the little white poof ball dog: every once in a while make your girlfriend get out of bed to walk the dog. She was the one that made you buy that thing in the first place.
3. to the people on the sidewalk who feel the need to walk just far enough away from each other that they take up the whole sidewalk, but close enough that no one can get by: there are other people in the world besides yourselves.
4. to the overdressed girl walking in high heels: are you walking home from your one night stand's apartment, or do you really feel the need to get that dressed up for a Saturday morning? If it's the latter, trust me, wearing flats is acceptable.
5. to the girl wearing the white shorts and tank top: it's only the beginning of April. Stop trying to push for it to be Summer. It will come, I promise, just be patient.

Looks like I'll be running outside again tomorrow! My gym's closed anyway because it's Easter, and if the weather's nice, why not!

9 miles down/66 to go!

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