On paper, I may not be an introvert, but I find it ridiculously easy to spend far too much time in my head. In fact, I would never have described myself as being “introverted,’ at least according to socially accepted standards; everything I’ve heard, read, seen or been told screams “you’re an extrovert, mofo.” But that doesn’t mean it’s possible for me to fully play that role either – just because a person is skilled at speaking to others and engaging a room doesn’t mean that a) it’s his or her preferred choice of social situation, or b) mean that said individual is not slightly terrified on the inside.
I have a secret: get people talking about something they love or themselves, and everything else flows with the minimum of effort. And when all else fails, playing into the most mundane of conversational topics works wonders.
Throughout this whole running lark, I have been in my head far more than ever. While this has afforded the opportunity to finally find some peace, it also is now a way to reduce the day’s noise to a bare minimum. Yes, that’s right folks: miss AM runner has gone PM. There’s something a little bit…deranged…about getting up to run at 6 am when the puddles are still frozen and its so cold that you can’t remember you’re physically out of bed and on the move. Does that mean I will never run in the morning as soon as November hits? Not necessarily; especially with this crazy-ass marathon coming up, I need to get the miles in somehow. It does mean, however, that I have learned to go to a good place, mentally, in the evenings right after work.
It’s wonderful to breathe in the cold air, listen to the quickened footsteps of thousands of commuters rushing, rushing home while pausing in an oasis of calm to just breathe and run. I went up the West side Wednesday; the traffic pulsed and blared, somehow lacking the acrid reek one draws into one’s lungs during the steamy summer months. Six miles flew by, a little bit dangerous, a little bit isolated and a little more peaceful than normal as most of the fair-weather runners had retreated to their treadmills and winter spin classes. I like running in the cold. Fortunately for me, the lower temperatures means more space on the paths, more room to sway about and a more unobstructed view across the water. The open park spaces are fenced off, piles of refuse and fallen trees still wait to be picked up or covered by snow; Sandy’s effects are everywhere, even right near the more ritzy Financial District.
Running after work has afforded me time to think and space to breathe which can be a blessing in New York; it hardly feels like there’s blue, full sky up there some days and others, it seems as if I rarely break above ground and rise from the subway’s depths. That hardly feels like a good balance. So these evening runs help me remember that my days are not merely concrete and metal boxes, stairs and rushing trains. And that will have to do, for now.