Sunday, January 29, 2012

Spanish Harlem: Another barrio

I've been super-busy since I arrived back in New York mid-month. Straight back into proper running training with the 5.30 am crew: Maria, Sung, Sarah, Lissy, John, Heather, Joe, Sun... I'm staying up on E 118th Street and 1st Avenue, in Spanish Harlem, so it takes a little longer to get to our meeting place at Engineers' Gate on 5th Avenue and 90th Street. This area is rather depressed, though I haven't felt unsafe. There are lots of Mexican restaurants, and no Starbucks. We're very near the East River. I miss my usual "barrio" around W 96/97th Street, between Central Park West and Broadway, and have even taken Jack the Mac over to Whole Foods on Columbus to work there for a few hours. My first Saturday back, after just four morning runs, was the Manhattan half marathon. Overnight snow saw the event downscaled to a non-scored race, but it was still worth a credit towards gaining guaranteed entry to next year's New York City marathon. I met Maria at the Metropolitan Museum in the dark before the race, and it was quite beautiful with about two to three inches of snow on the ground. But as the conditions worsened during the race, so did my effort. I just didn't have the base to run a difficult half in those conditions and took the option of pulling out at seven miles when it was announced it was only going to get worse. Maria completed the race, as did Joe, I heard later. Heather did what I did. Pint-size Marie was out there for fun (!) and ran the second loop with Maria. This coming weekend we have a four-mile race, the Gridiron Classic, again in Central Park. I think it has something to do with the Superbowl Finals. Drinks for Lissy's 40th birthday on Friday night at a wine bar on Second Avenue. It's odd to see everyone in proper clothes. Great to see Joanne, who came down from Westchester County for the night. It was also Maria's and Marie's birthdays in the past fortnight. The team I run for, the Hudson Dusters, had an "end-of-year" party a couple of weeks ago over on the west side, where I caught up with Tim, Lauren and Bill (who tied the knot at City Hall a day or so later), Jeremy and Lilit... I won the prize for top age percentage score in a race, for a four-mile event I ran in October. The other night I visited Fran and Renee at the apartment where I usually stay on Central Park West. I also met Mishka, their very well-travelled cat. I had met Fran only once before, in April 2010, when I was in New York for just a week to catch up with Kathy W and stayed at the Chelsea Hotel. Their home is my home here, though, and I stayed in their apartment in Lausanne for a month early last year, so we have quite a long history now. I'll be having dinner with them – fondue! – on Saturday. Films, films, films. There are so many films and documentaries I want to see, but I have very little free time because of my huge workload at the moment. I've managed to see "Domain" (French/Austrian) and "Declaration of War" (French) with a new friend, writer Lisa, and "The Iron Lady" with my very old friend CY. Meryl Streep is amazing as Margaret Thatcher! Today Maria and I are seeing "How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr Foster?" (about the architect Norman Foster). I could easily just sink into a film binge...! Other pals I've caught up with are John and Jaymeson, and architect Kate. My alarm is set for 4 am most days, trying to get the biggest bang for the 24 bucks each day provides.

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