Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Walking on the mild side

The Palisades

I've spent a bit of time recently with new pal Louise, a writer and traveller whom I met through writer/playwright Julia. Amazingly, we have a mutual friend in Ubud, Bali, the writer Cat Wheeler. It's a very small world indeed. Lou has now moved on to the UK, so I wonder where we'll meet up again... Julia is also in the UK, packing up her life there in preparation for returning to NYC at the end of the month.

My training is going very well. I was put to the test this past weekend with my first races since the half marathon I ran in Thailand way back in February. In the Fitness Mind, Body and Spirit 4-mile race in Central Park I dug deep to maintain an average pace of 8:02-minute miles. This was an improvement on last year of a minute overall and two places. (I placed 4th out of 58 in my age group.) On Sunday I went to Yonkers (further up the Hudson River) and ran the 86th Yonkers Half Marathon with NY pals Joanne and Heather. Joanne has just moved out of the city to Pelham, so it was a good opportunity to see her. We three started together. After about mile 6 I took it up a notch and managed to come in at 1:59:45, which gave me a 1st place in my age group (out of 6). In places there were great views across to The Palisades, which line the western shore of the Hudson River for some distance north of the George Washington Bridge.

As there is no rest for the wicked, I joined Maria and Sung for a 4-miler yesterday morning and a 6-miler today (also with Tuesday regulars Sarah, Lissy, John and Sun). (Sung answered an ad I placed on the New York Road Runners website and has joined the 5.30 am group.) I'll resume my weekly massages with Marie when she returns from cycling in Sardinia.

There are two more events coming up this weekend: a 1-mile sprint down 5th Avenue on Saturday and an 18-mile marathon tune-up on Sunday. They will give me five of my required nine races for guaranteed entry to next year's New York Marathon.

My movie marathon is also continuing: "Love Crime" (French, with Kristin Scott Thomas), "Chasing Madoff" (about Bernie Madoff's Ponzi scheme and the attempts by four whistleblowers to get the Securities and Exchange Commission to investigate him), "The Future" (written and directed by, and featuring, the artist Miranda July), "Hedgehog" (a really enjoyable French film, which I saw with Chloe), and "We Were Here" (documentary about the AIDS epidemic in San Francisco).

I've also seen some 9/11-related exhibitions at the International Center of Photography, the New York Historical Society, and the Time Warner Center lobby (portraits taken in the weeks and months after 9/11 using the huge Polaroid camera that was used in Albury by Anne Zahalka and Petrina Hicks to photograph the Fruit Fly Circus kids in 2006).

I've met up with my friend CY, who is looking gorgeous and doing very well after a really difficult 18 months.

I'm now one month into my 10-week stay. It feels longer than that, as I've met so many people; but I know the remaining time will pass far too quickly.

Right on schedule, the weather changed a week after Labor Day. It's officially autumn this week and it's turned cool. A beautiful time of year to be in New York!

Monday, September 5, 2011

One step at a time

There is nowhere in the world I feel quite so much at home as in New York City.

I've settled into my training for the Niagara Falls Marathon and have been really lucky to be able to pick up where I left off with some runner friends I made in past visits. Heather and Joe, and Marie have, in turn, introduced me to Joanne, Maria and Lissy. I ran circuits of Central Park with them at 5.30 on three mornings last week, and then on Saturday morning I was able to complete a 20-mile (32K) run on not much of a base purely because of the company and support of Joanne and Maria. A full circuit of Central Park, and then a run down the Hudson River to near Ground Zero and back to 97th Street, is a very good way to start a long weekend.

I've caught up with my photographer friend Holly for breakfast and a film about NY photographer Bill Cunningham. Holly is creating a buzz as a drag photojournalist. I've also seen "Higher Ground", "Brighton Rock" and "Rebirth" (a 9/11 documentary).

During the week I went to a writers' group, where I met some very interesting people. Through that group I've become friends with Julia (a playwright/theatre director/writer) and Chloe (a painter/social worker). They are both in my neighbourhood, so it's been easy to catch up with them on most days.

This Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer, but to me it feels like a new beginning. I just need to take it one step at a time.