Sure thing, my trip to the Big Apple makes me braver. Bravery it’s not to ignore or minimize the fears. Just the opposite, it’s face it and live with it, step after step. For my first Saturday in NYC, I wanted to join the NYC Front Runners, a runners group affiliated with my runners group in Montreal. This was the day before the NYC Marathon. Have I ever said I’m shy? Meeting a group, a new group, made me feel nervous.
I got out of the subway in Bryant Park, on the 42nd Street to change line. I saw hundreds runners in the streets around the park. I thought that I made a mistake. Wrong day for the Marathon, then wrong day for the run? I could forget my plans. Since I’m here, I realize thought that I’m pretty well organized. Then I decided to not change my plans. Who knows? Maybe there were some runners for the Park Run even it was the Marathon day. I was frustrated to didn’t bring my camera.
On the weekend, the subway is under construction. Many lines are closed, others work, but more slowly. On the red line, I caught an old train with stainless steel inner walls. Construction men worked in the tunnel each side of the train, lighted by electric torches. The train was very slow and it slowed and almost stopped a few time. The car was packed of people and an old black man, who looked a little crazy, shout at everybody, loudly, telling that we are all sinner. The dull noise, the heat, this feeling of oppression: if the hell exists, it might be like that. I was thinking about that when I noticed the man in front of me, near the doors: incredibly hot. He looked like a mix of Asian and something else, tall, strong and elegant. Usually I don’t like Asian guy, but this one…
I took a breath, thinking about the advice that Chris gave me before I left Montreal: Try something new. Do what you never did before. I hadn’t any idea what I could tell to this guy. You’re hot; it’s a little short. I didn’t understand what the old man repeat incessantly but everyone seem harassed. The hot man opened the door between the cars and disappeared in the other car.
Outside I found easily my way to the meeting point, a West Side Church surrounded by building with incredible architecture. On the sidewalk, I saw many runners walking in the same direction. Just before I entered, I saw the same hot man take the three steps stair and open the door just before me.
The NYC Frunt Runners have more than two hundred members registered. And they organized, for the day before the Marathon (finally, I wasn’t wrong), a big brunch for all the running visitors. After a few minutes some guys introduced him to me. One of them, Jim ran with me for the first part to show me the way but finally ran with me till the end. Roads of Central Park are closed for the cars on weekend. After the run he said I gave him the spirit he needed to finish. He runs usually a shorter distance. The run in the park was amazing: soft hills, little ponds and large reservoirs and the fall colours, illuminated by the sun.
Back at the church, I tried to find my bag to change my clothes. The only quiet spot I found was the entrance of the large sunny kitchen where a dozen of men and women prepared pancakes and sausages. I smelted the sweet perfume of pancake, heard the laughs of the cooks. I think I was on an endorphins buzz when I recognize the sounds of a well-known voice singing: « what do you say to taking chances, what do you say to jumping off the edge? » I think this wink of Quebec made this moment a perfect moment.
After I was changed, a guy showed me where was the beginning of the line-up for the brunch. I talked with the guy just behind me. He was Korean and came to NYC for the same reasons as me, learning English. He was in another school. With our plates of fruits salad, pancakes and sausages we tried to find free seats in the large room then I saw the only free places, just beside the hot guy from the subway.
So I finally talked to him and he was very nice. All the group put their hands together for those who will run their first marathon the next day and for others who ran many marathons in their life. (One guy ran 270 marathons during his life.) I will join the group again next Saturday. And I went back to my place, a smile coined in my face and my nose hooked at the sun on the building cornices.
Harlem, the Marathon Day