Sunday, May 23, 2010

Jim, get in there and rustle out those lions

Tom says he loves running in Central park because it’s easy to sidewind around on the trails to customize the length and terrain of his morning constitutional.

And also because sometimes a guy rides by on his sit-down recumbent bike that is the Schwinn equivalent of a mutant with a second, albeit smallish, head. This bike is a triangularly double-decker affair. The guy puts his 8-year old shortie up top and the kid pedals away in full spandex. You know the duo is out doing their thing when half the people on the Outer Loop are running by with swiveled eyeballs.

I like running in Central Park because it is like going on Safari except I don’t have to wear a pith helmet (although some days safety gear might be a sensible choice). Regardless of whether I do, or do not, elect to rig myself out like Teddy Roosevelt, as soon as I step foot across 59th street and onto that weird sandy white gravel, I fade into the scenery and become part of the jungle.

I always run the same loop, but every week it’s a brand new box of chocolates. The pathway might be choked by packs of Asians in wide-brimmed head ornaments, family units pushing big-ass strollers, pedi-cabs, piles of horseshit, roller bladers, walkers with powerful hips, bandannas, guys on those cross-country skis with wheels and/or gaggles of helmeted people from Wisconsin and Prague on rented bikes wobbling up bigger hills than the bike rental guys let on.

Fierce battles of strength and speed are waged. Sometimes it's mutual. Sometimes only one party has any idea a war is afoot. Sometimes the contender is an obnoxious huffing walrus who kept sprinting to catch up with me in a wild sprawl of flailing arms and legs. As soon as my blue-suited velor nemesis got one foot in front of me, he flagellated to a standstill and started walking. Add enormous earphones and grunting along to Rock Me Like a Hurricane.

Repeat 7x.

Subtract three minutes from my time as I poured every ounce of stamina into kicking his ass down the rollers by the reservoir.