Saturday, April 4, 2009

Spring on the Upper West Side

Spring signifies the appearance of blooming flower bulbs and happy golden retrievers on the blocks between Central and Riverside Parks. For many years spring for me signified racing season--either on the water, or during my short stint as a very mediocre bike racer, on the road--and even now the lengthening days induce a general sense of race-related anticipation in me. Since I started coaching again a few weeks ago, I've been lucky enough to watch the same excitement grow in my girls. Their race is still more than two months away, and while they're having trouble running for more than a few minutes at a time--pacing is still a major theme for us--they are excellent at shrieking and laughing and cartwheeling and skipping through our two hour practices. We run on a pier that juts far out into the Hudson, and on sunny days when the water sparkles with whitecaps the girls look as though they are running on water. I'm so grateful for those mornings, both because of the memories they evoke of spring crew practices with my old teammates in California and England (practices I remember for laughing/crying/teasing/fighting/subverting our coaches as well as for rowing), and because right now I can't do anything on my feet other than stand and walk for short periods.  But for a little while the girls let me be a part of their running, which has been one of the great gifts of spring this year.

Until my left foot heals, I'm spending most of my time in the swimming pool, which hasn't been as bad as I'd feared. Unlike other gyms in Manhattan with their basement natatoriums--a term far too regal for those facilities--the JCC placed its pool at the top of its building and surrounded it with floor to ceiling windows, so that light spills in over the rooftops of 76th and Amsterdam. In the last few days I've finally reached a point in which swimming a mile doesn't end with me limping to the steam room in an oxygen-deprived haze, and I feel as though I've begun to achieve the swimming fitness I had when I was last on a swim team. Which was fifteen years ago. Should achieving the swimming fitness of my thirteen year-old self make me feel good or bad? I'm trying to lean towards the former. 

Aside from aiming to swim faster than a middle-schooler, I've been ruminating over the fact that it's been nearly a year since I moved to New York. Instead of thinking about the larger picture, as reaching that twelve-month milestone will surely require, I'm going to list five things I've learned in the ten months since I first landed at JFK:

1) The best place to wait for the Brooklyn-bound B at the 81st Street stop, when one wants to get off at the 47th street Rockefeller Center station exit, is between the two halves of the Xiphactinus Audax fossil cast.

2) If one has been waiting for the 75th Street Fairway elevator for more than five minutes, one should fight past the express checkout and get to the staircase, because the elevator will not be coming. Fairway also has the best house-made sourdough bread this side of San Francisco.

3) McCann's steel-cut oats can be found most cheaply at the following three stores, in descending order: Fairway, Whole Foods, Food Emporium.

4) The best independent bookstore on the West Side is Book Culture on 112th Street.

5) Despite lots of sunlight and proper amounts of watering, my olive plant is not doing well.

Who knows what the next ten months might bring?


  1. wow. you sound hot! wanna meet up?

  2. i tried to leave that comment anonymously but clearly that didn't happen.

  3. what's up with the pregnancy running site? are you not telling me something?

  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

  5. also, you seem to have omitted the essential mention of the olive barrels at fairway. did i introduce you to those, or did i refrain for fear of another person crushing into the swarm of people surrounding my version of heaven?

  6. I like the pregnancy running website because I've been following the author since she wrote for Adventure Sports magazine, and because she has wise words about staying sane while injured. As for the olive barrels, some things should be kept secret, especially the barrel of almond-stuffed green olives. Mmm.

    Looks like you and Laura had an exciting Saturday night.

  7. There are also some McCann's Steel Cut Oats on my desk, but they're roughly two (maybe three) years old. Feel free to roll the dice on em.