Monday, August 31, 2009

The Three Sisters

One of my favorite aspects of Central Park is its use of place-names. As the medievalists out there know, place-names are par for the course in that period's literature; various chronicles, poems, and letters note "Godstow" or "God's place" for the large meadow north of Oxford, "Lund" or "grove" for the Swedish city, and "Mykines" (or "Muc-innis") meaning "pig island" in the Faroe Islands, among others. I find the nicknames by which cyclists and runners have dubbed various landmarks in Central Park, therefore, to be pleasantly familiar--"Cat's Paw" for the hill (topped by a perpetually crouching panther statue) where the Central Park Series races commence, "The Ramble" for the thickly wooded hill marked by twisty trails, and as I've noted previously, "Cedar Hill" for the line of red cedars that march above Fifth Avenue.

The name that continuously demands my attention, however, is that of "The Three Sisters", which graces a set of three rollers that extend from roughly 100th to 80th Streets on the West Side. Whether I'm running or cycling the big Central Park loop, I always find The Three Sisters to possess the toughest uphills, in particular the first sister. Why this remains the case is a bit of a mystery; the Great Hill, which is steeper and longer, does not challenge me in the same way, although I concede that having just sprinted up that hill I'm not as strong when I confront the Sisters a quarter of a mile later.

I did a nice six mile run after work today--i.e. the loop--and as I reached the first sister around 7:15, the sunset over the Hudson bathed the Park in gorgeous late summer light. My breath quickened and my legs started to feel a bit heavy; I was tired. But I was also excited. This was the first six mile run I had completed since my return to running in May, and I felt strong and even (relatively) swift after my recent backpacking trip. The Three Sisters were hard but they were also tangible, finite challenges--my favorite kind. They did not possess the nebulous timeline and even diagnosis of injury, and after "summiting" them, by which point I was almost home, I felt like my old running self. It's good to be back.


  1. So happy that you're running six milers now! I hope that we can do it together sometime soon.

  2. You're running again :) I bet you appreciate it in an entirely different way. I did after my injury. Running will forever be a privilege and not a right.