“Running clears my mind, and gives me a reason to get out of bed in the morning.” ~ Ronnie O’Sullivan
Their is something about running that breathes life into the soul. It invigorates the body and sets the mind at ease. While the first couple miles are always the toughest, once my stride, breath, and heart become synced, I feel like I am flying. My body might be racing, but my thoughts are calm. I have clarity that lets me trouble shoot and actually think cohesively, soothing myself.
It is my therapy.
Yet, when I am struggling, I tend to avoid it. Much like medicine, while it will make us better, we still fight taking it, which is what I have been doing with running.
I admit I have been using every excuse in the book. The trail I usually run which is situated between the East River and FDR Drive, was just shut down for repairs, due to half of it falling into the East River back in the Spring. I knew it was coming, but I still wasn’t happy. Familiarity breeds comfort, and it was a place that I was all to comfortable with. It wasn’t as crowded as Central Park and was an up and back run, that I could extend the mileage if I so chose.
Having to find a new running routine until the Spring (when hopefully, it will be completed) had forced me to procrastinate for awhile. Once I got over my laziness, I decided to go back to a route I wound run when I first moved to the city. Back then, I would take the bus from First Ave to Central Park in order to run. ( New York City Newbie alert) Oh how much I have grown since those days!
Intimidated by the vastness of Central Park (Another New York City Newbie Alert…It isn’t that big!) I discovered the 1.6 trail which wraps around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. It was the perfect solution to putting my running sneaks to good use.
The Reservoir began construction in 1858, comprising of 106 acres and holding over a million gallons of water. Situated between 86th and 96th streets, it was designed to provide water to upper Manhattan. Due to advancing technology, it was decommissioned in 1993. Despite fears that it would be filled in like Central Park’s Lower Reservoir (which is now the great lawn) It has been preserved making it not just a popular running path for locals, but also a tourist destination.
Two ornately built pump houses sit at either end of the reservoir. The pathways are landscaped with cherry blossom trees creating the perfect spot to take pictures. It has been used in multiple movies and tv shows, most notably Gossip Girl and Sex and the City. In 1994 it was renamed the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir in honor of the former first lady who would frequently run the path.
As I walked up the stairs on the East Side it felt like an old friend was greeting me. The water glistened with afternoon shadows dancing on it’s surface and across the park the two towers standing tall and resolute was the famed San Remo welcoming me home.
I had forgotten how much I love this trail.
While it does get ridiculously crowded, and reminds me of a high school track with its circular route, the perfectly sculpted pathway with its shrubbery and trees gives me that dose of nature I so crave living in the city.
As I made the loop once, twice, three times, the views changed as the sun set, painting the sky with gorgeous golden hues that seemed to envelope me in a warm comforting hug.
Sometimes we need to be shaken out of our comfort zones in order to come home again. I had had been fighting not just the change (a change that was familiar with anyhow) but also a solace that I knew I should be embracing instead. Yet once I finally sought it amongst al the hecticness and my emotional struggles, I found that peace. I found beauty. I found relief.
We tend to fight ourselves. Even when we know something is for the best, whether it is letting go of toxic relationships, taking that metaphorical medicine we so need, switching careers paths or even just opening up and leaning on people. It is hard to open up and just accept but when we do is also when the beauty starts to happen.
Life is filled with dualities, it is filled with craziness and pain, but in those darkest moments we also have to remember it is filled with so much good. And so much beauty.
Do you run? Do you have a favorite trail to run?