Sunday, August 16, 2015

I had such an epic adventure at Summer Streets Saturday that I even had a corporate sponsor for my day!

Ever see one of those apocalyptic movies or TV shows (Stephen King's "The Stand" comes to mind) in which New York City has been abandoned, and people are able to roam freely at will, committing all sorts of shenanigans and mayhem? That's what I felt like yesterday, as I ran and walked the entire length of Summer Streets -- and back! What a rush!

For three Saturdays in August, the city closes down close to seven miles of streets, from Park Avenue at East 72nd Street to Duane and Centre Streets, close to the Brooklyn Bridge. There are rest stops along the way featuring food, water, and entertainment. Oh, and the whole thing is free!

So I got up early Saturday morning so that I could frolic and cavort along the route. (And really, the fact that I would do so is a huge change for me, given that I spent most of my life as a couch potato!) Just goes to show one of my adages: never say never, whether it's A-Rod completely changing his reputation or me completely changing my fitness level.(Although there is no word yet as to whether   Squawker Jon will hold a special day for yours truly, the way Alex is getting!)

All of that is a very long intro (and I can hear Squawker Jon tapping his toe, imploring me to get to the point already!) about my adventure at Summer Streets yesterday. I have included pictures below. Sorry, I'm not exactly Margaret Bourke-White when it comes to photography (or even my running club cohort and fellow writer Josh, who does a much better job than I could ever hope to do when it comes to illustrating a story with pictures!)

Anyhow, I took the express bus into Manhattan and started traversing the route at Duane Street and Centre Street. I even had a corporate sponsor for my day! Earlier this summer, the sunscreen brand Bullfrog sent me a press release about something baseball-related with their product. I responded to the email. Long story short, they ended up sending me a bottle of Bullfrog Water Armor Sport Quik Gel Sunscreen, a tube of their Sport Quik Stik, and their lip balm, and they asked me to write about using their products. I used them for my day, and they all worked great. Even though I spent over four hours in the sun, the sunscreen worked well without having to reapply it! Good stuff!

Foley Square's beach scene

The first thing I saw was the Foley Square rest stop. It had a whole beach theme, with sand, beach chairs, and palm trees. Vita Coco sponsored the area and gave out tons of their coconut water drinks, which was very refreshing. There was also a massive slide at the rest area, but you had to make reservations ahead of time for that.

The Slide the City attraction.

I then started my run. The whole thing was a huge adrenaline rush. Sure, I have been on city streets before in road races, like Central Park West for the Oakley 10K and the streets of Harlem for the Percy Sutton Run. But running Lafayette Street and Park Avenue was way cooler! Not only did we get to see a variety of neighborhoods and sights, but you really feel like you're getting away with something by participating! Bicyclists hewed to the left on the streets, and runners to the right. Combine that with great music on my iPod Classic, from the Grateful Dead to N.W.A. to Katy Perry, and I felt on top of the world.

The Summer Streets scene in lower Manhattan

I ran much of the route, with some walk breaks, and I took a break about halfway through the route and visited the rest area at Park Avenue and 25th Street. They had more coconut drinks, Applegate Hot Dogs (long line, but they were no great shakes), and two cheese stands -- Cabot and Daiya. Cheese is one of my all-time favorite foods, so I had to indulge. Who'da thunk it: Cabot Cheese is world's better than the Daiya non-dairy cheese! Shocking, I know!

After this, we got to my very favorite part of City Streets -- Grand Central Terminal. We got to run where cars normally go, and we couldn't help but feel like we were conquering heroes or something! This photo doesn't really do the scene justice, but it was such a head rush!

Running around the upper level of Grand Central
 Terminal was awesome!

Last year, Squawker Jon and I walked Summer Streets last year from 14th to 46th Street, and Grand Central was one of our favorite things. The other fave thing was walking through the Park Avenue Tunnel, which seemed spooky and otherworldly. Unfortunately, the tunnel wasn't included this year as part of Summer Streets. I hope they bring it back next year!

After passing Grand Central, I ran fairly hard (for me, that is!) from there to 72nd Street.  Getting to run up Park Avenue and passing the many luxury apartment buildings was such a head rush, and pushed me past my limits. I am training for a half-marathon, and was supposed to do either a three-mile fun run or an easy five-mile run. on Saturday. Somehow, I ended up running much more than I should have (not sure of the exact number of miles, due to walk breaks, but it was a lot!)

I turned around at the end of the route and headed back. The big challenge was to see if I could complete traveling on it by 1 p.m., when the roads would again be open to traffic. So I really pushed myself to get through.

One thing I noticed was this: when I ran my first half-marathon this April, I was so tired after mile 9 that I basically walked/staggered for the last few miles. Yesterday, I was still tired for the last few miles, but I was able to run or jog it instead of walking. Progress!

On the way back, I stopped for water several times at stands the city set up for filling water bottles, but I otherwise kept on moving until I got back to Foley Square right at 1 p.m., grabbed a peach and mango Vita Coco, and lounged in one of the beach chairs set up. After relaxing a little, I headed back home to Staten Island and was very pleased with myself for traversing the entire length of City Streets -- and back!

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