Winter was falling over Manhattan and we were planning our Christmas trip back to the UK to see family. It was belligerently mild. The characteristic cold snap hadn’t descended. We approached the end of our fourth year in New York and hadn’t yet seen in a new year in the Big Apple. We had wanted to, but the Times Square ball-drop really isn’t our idea of a good time. A midnight fun run in Central Park beneath a firework display on the other hand, well that had a real appeal. Bring on the NYRR Midnight Run!
Generally I find the new year difficult. It’s really not my favourite. The cosy romanticism of the lead into Christmas is past and, with the new year a doorway to a long winter ahead, I feel a sense of self-created pressure to do something. Often I end up a little morose, unable to shake the feeling I ought to be doing something more. I was excited for this one.
And so this December 31st we relaxed our way through the day, conserving energy, battling the jet lag of our return to NYC, trying to stay awake. Mentally we psyched ourselves for a cold night running in the NYRR Midnight Run. We met with our apartment neighbours for a pre-run warm up, games and catch up. (Becoming good friends with neighbours in NYC is seen as something peculiar). They’d run it a few times over the years and were coming back to it with us.
We had returned to a city at last in the grip of winter. A bomb cyclone was developing off the eastern seaboard, as yet unknown to us. The evening was unveiling true to forecast temperatures. -11 degC, (12 Fahrenheit). That level of cold necessitates a careful clothing strategy. Balancing the waiting in start corrals with running for the best part of an hour, whilst not wanting to use bag drop requires forethought.
We arrived with plenty of layers and fancy dress. I expected everyone else would be in costume but, awkwardly, the majority of folks had just wrapped up warm for a late night run. There were a sprinkling of Santa hats and headbands from the Jingle Bell Jog. We did receive a lot of compliments on our turn out though.
Everyone got cold fast standing in the corrals, but with good music pumping and everyone in celebratory mood nobody minded. I’m not one to dance, but it helped fight back the chill night air. Excitement mounted as the clock ticked down. We weren’t exactly clear on what was going to happen, other than a twenty minute firework display would erupt on the stroke of midnight. And boy did it! It felt like we were right underneath them.
Our run started a few minutes into the fireworks . I’ve been in a few start corrals now and am used to the slow acceleration of people funnelling across the start. It becomes a lot trickier when everyone is looking upwards and sideways at a firework display. Just saying. It adds another layer of race craft on a packed course.
The shortened four mile loop of Central Park was straightforward. I had way too many layers on, but it was easy to go slow and still stay warm. At the two mile mark they served cider in place of water, which surprisingly was not frozen solid, and runners stopped off at a dance tent for a mid-race party.
The Midnight Run was immense fun and a great night. I get a real kick from doing something new on occasions like this. Celebrating our first new year in New York with new friends is a highlight.
How did you spend your running new year?