On December 31, 2017, I found myself sitting in my apartment, looking out the window, debating whether to get up and go to the NYRR Midnight Run. I didn’t—largely because the race-time temperature was [checks NYRR results page]…10 degrees Fahrenheit—so instead, I sat in my room all night reading things on the internet. What a way to ring in the new year!
Not that your New Year’s Eve necessarily dictates how your year is going to go, but it certainly didn’t set a good tone to start 2018. Looking back, I feel like that sense of not trying, of holding back and not “going for it,” sort of stayed with me throughout the year.
Fast forward 365 days, and I was right back in that same spot—only this time, I was looking out at sheets of rain blowing across my window. It would be perfectly acceptable to bail on the race again this year, because why would anyone leave a warm, dry room to go out into the rain and run four miles at midnight?
But I needed something to get the momentum going in the other direction, and like my fellow Garden State native Bruce Springsteen wrote, “You can’t start a fire without a spark,” so I got myself up and got ready to go
dancing running in the dark.
Besides, did I have any other plans? No. Had I run that day? Also no.
(As it turned out, more than 3,700 people felt the same way and brought themselves to Central Park that night.)
I also felt like 2018 had prepared me for conditions like these. I was stationed on the Coney Island boardwalk on what you could call a “precipitous” Popular® Brooklyn Half in May, and then I raced and worked at another rainy run in September, the New Balance 5th Avenue Mile; it didn’t rain quite as hard that day, but the 22 heats made for a longer day out in the elements.
I’d also like to note that I also ran a certain Abbott World Marathon Majors race this past April 16, which, as you may have heard, was pretty cold, rainy, and windy.
I knew from those races that all I had to do was layer up properly and I’d be fine. Here’s what I went with for my #OOTD:
Short-sleeved tech shirt
Long-sleeved NYRR Midnight Run tech shirt
NYRR staff windbreaker
Gloves (with hand warmers)
Running cap (with a brim to block the rain)
Headband (to cover my ears)
So with all that on, I hopped on the PATH, and then the subway, and prepared for my first miles of 2019, recording my experience along the way. Here’s how it turned out:
I walked out of the subway station at 72nd Street, toward the pre-race party at Rumsey Playfield, to get some video footage for this post. I can’t tell you that I went all out dancing for two hours before the race began, but I walked around, saw the stilt walkers, watched a little of the show on stage (complete with a smoke-breathing dragon!), and I started to get more into it. I was by myself, and I wasn’t going to run anything record-breaking that night, but I could at least make the event as fun as possible.
So after the pre-race party, I headed to the corrals and waited for the countdown to midnight /the race start /the fireworks show. I had covered the NYRR Midnight Run before, but I had never run the race itself. As I learned on Monday night, it’s a much different experience actually being out there on the course than it is standing on the sidelines.
It’s different to actually cross that start line, set off on the 72nd Street Transverse, and turn toward East Drive to climb Cat Hill, all while there’s a fireworks show going on around you. And then, two miles later, you run past that sparkling cider aid station you’ve always read about and make a quick toast to what will hopefully be a good year. You’re doing something to make yourself a little bit better, at the earliest possible moment in the new year. (At least, that’s what I tried to tell myself as I was huffing it through miles 3 and 4.)
Of course, right after the sparkling cider toast, you’ve got a set of three hills waiting for you on West Drive, but what’s a year without challenges? I made it over the three, leaned forward into that delightful downhill that takes you from about 84th Street to 73rd Street, and soon made that final turn to the finish on the 72nd Street Transverse.
Anyway, with all this said, I feel like the NYRR Midnight Run set the right tone for me this time around. As cliché as it is to write at this point, I “pushed myself out of my comfort zone,” and now I have some positive energy going after a rough start and challenging 2018.
Here’s to doing better in 2019!
Pictured, top-left: Me at the start, courtesy of NYRR’s social media team.