Studying for the orals test is a solitary endeavor, one that requires a lot of sitting in one place and digest knowledge. My work in general is already like a desk job that doesn’t my moving around too much. This is bad for my well being. In order to combat my inactivity, and sluggishness, I run for at least 3 times a week, and one hour each time. This turns out to be a brilliant idea because I now can monitor how much I can run for one hour. In What I Talk about When I Talk about Running, Haruki Murakami also does the same: running one hour each time, for at least 6 days a week. Living in New York City, and having a busy graduate student life, I dont think I can run 6 days a week. So I try my really best to wake up early 3 days a week and run. Murakami said that he could run up to 6 miles in an hour. I timed myself, and I could only run up to 5.2 miles an hour. One reason for my slow speed in comparison to him is that I run in Central Park, whose hills really slow down my speed. If I persistent enough, I think I might be able to increase my speed up to 5.5 or 5.7 miles an hour.
Running in Central Park early in the morning is such a joy. One sees the entire city wakes up, and heads to work. The sun is rising from behind the Upper East Side. The city starts to run faster, and louder. Dogs and babies also run with their custodians and parents. This is a refreshing scene that is different from a normal New York scene that one encounters on a daily basis. In this blog post, I will talk about the perks on running in Central Park that I am obsessed with.
The air is fresh: Central Park is a rarity. It is a huge greenery located in one of the most crowded, and hectic plot of lands in the world: Manhattan. Living in Manhattan is both a blessing and a curse. One has countless possibilities to enjoy various cultural activities that the city has to offer. Yet, one is constantly surrounded by noise, and people. Finding some quiet moments for oneself is such a challenge. However, it is not impossible. I find my quiet time, my meditation in Central Park. Running has become a meditative experience for me. When I run in Central Park, I think of myself being transported to a big space where my eyes can really screen the landscape, and stare out to a distance. The air is fresh, and the trees are kind. I could take a deep breath in Central Park, and enjoy my early morning moments without any interruption from police siren.
The view is amazing: If I have time during the weekend I would run the entire inner circle of Central Park. That route is 6 miles, and it would take me almost 1.5 hours to finish. Then I would encounter the most breath-taking views of Manhattan that I never thought existed before. Early in the morning, coming down from Central Harlem, I could see park workers start their days. They drive pickup trucks with equipment inside to clean the park, and trim the trees. Then I turn westward to the Upper West Side route. Running along this side, I see a few landmark buildings such as the Museum of Natural History, and a few other buildings that I dont know their names. After passing the Museum of Natural History, I start to see signs of Midtown. Office buildings, and hotels in Midtown are very different from those on the Upper West Side. There are more modern-looking buildings that are completely covered with glass. While the Upper West Side is the residential area, Midtown is mostly commercial. Therefore, one can feel the corporate-style architecture. Yet, it’s also a commercial center, so there are a lot of interesting LCD lights covering those buildings. Heading toward this direction at sunset is the most fulfilling experience ever. One sees the lights to start glowing in the dark.
After passing the Midtown area, I run alongside of 5 Avenue, or the Museum mile. I can see from afar Guggenheim Museum, the Copper Hewitt Museum, the Frick Collection. They make me feel so much more cultured just by being able to recognize the buildings. There are significant more tourists on this side. If I run in the afternoon, sometimes I run alongside with horse carts. My favorite section of this part is running behind the MET, and then seeing the fresh water at Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. I love water. If I could I would buy a house next to the water front. Water calms me down. After seeing all the man-made wonders such as the MET, the Guggenheim Museum, and various other skyscrapers, I only want nature. Water is that nature for me. I want a piece of mother nature back in my run. My run ends with seeing golfers in Central Park practicing early in the morning or late in the afternoon. And the final touch is seeing a group of teenagers practicing ice-hockey at Lasker Rink near 110th street. Whenever I see the boys, I feel that my run is complete.
Brilliant encounters: Nobody knows whom you would encounter in New York. Central Park makes these encounters even more interesting. A couple of weeks ago, I saw a women running in her hijab. I was not awed by the fact that a running Muslim woman. What I was delighted to see about the scene was that her running hijab was so beautiful, and practical especially in the winter. I myself wanted one of those. She was proudly running alongside with all the hipsters of New York, whose armed themselves from head to toe with Nike shoes, Fitbit, Ipod, and $200 running pants. Running is also a show of branding. It’s not cheap to buy a pair of New Balance shoes that cost $150. The winter running gears are even more expensive. When this woman ran in her simple white running hijab, without any brand on it, I felt so much better about myself, and about the sport that I was engaging in. Running does not require lots of resources. Everyone can run, and everyone should claim their right to run in Central Park.
In a nutshell, I have found myself a hobby that calms my mind, and boosts my energy. It such a great exercise for the mind and the body. I thank my friends who have encouraged me to keep it up.