Saturday, 18 June 2016. 1:05p
Sitting on a large embedded granite rock structure on the Southwest side of Central Park, looking south towards the new thin stick of a skyscraper next to the Essex House. Today can only be described as a beautiful early summer day. Warm, sunny, clear blue skies and it seems as if everyone is outside soaking it all up. Bikers, walkers, runners. People riding in the horse carriages and bike taxis. Strangely there aren’t a lot of dogs though I am sure it is just a lull right now. And tons of babies and children. It seems everywhere I look there is another person pushing a baby carriage or walking with their children. Pictures cannot do the day justice (my pictures anyway, even if I am taking them on the iPhone 6s). And anyway, the pictures won’t capture the faint sweet odor of wisteria or the soft conversations taking place all over.
I cannot remember the last time I was in Central Park—at least a year, possibly even two! So today, sitting here on the rock people-watching and remembering all those runs and bike rides I did around the park, really feels like one luxurious nostalgia trip. I used to know every inch of the 6-mile road, having traversed it over and over and over again on foot and on bike. People often ask me what I think of when I am running for such a long time and it is amazing how mundane those thoughts can be: focusing on the next stretch of pavement and looking for the subtle gradations of the rocks, or the curves in the road, or the white traffic lines and etching those into memory.
It used to be that I could come out to the park and be reasonably assured that I would see someone I would know from the running, biking or triathlon community. I loved that aspect of the park because it made me feel as though I owned the park. Of course I didn’t, but it was as it was supposed to be: one big common back yard for New York City, and we were all out just out for a run, a bike ride, a walk, or a baseball game. Just little pieces of community strung together and suddenly we are all in each other’s back yard. Having fun.
Now I think about all those hours spent training in the park (that one 34-mile training run on a cold spring day in 2009 especially comes to mind) and I can’t help but wonder where I found all the time to do that back then. The corollary question also arises: what am I doing with all of that time now?
I’ve always heard that time seems to collapse with age. Not only does it seem like there are never enough hours in the day, but the years start to go by faster and faster. As I think about where those training hours have gone, that certainly has held true for me. If, at six years old, the summers stretched ahead of me like infinity, at 46-years old, the summers simply bring a changing of the weather, not a glorious euphoria of possibility. For me in the past few years as well, the summers have become my busiest time at work. So now if the summer days stretch out long in front of me, it’s only as a reminder that I have too many things to do and not enough time to get everything done.
But today, I force myself not to have any of that on this day, a day that is too beautiful for pictures. Possibly even too beautiful for words. And maybe even too beautiful for time itself, who must certainly also want to stop for just a minute and want to come over and sit down beside me on this hard grey rock and, even if just for a few minutes, let us both remember the good old days of summer stretching out ahead of us.