As a fashion editor at a daily newspaper, I’m always running somewhere: to photo shoots, to appointments, to work drinks, to fashion shows.
What I’m rarely ever doing is actual running. It’s not that I’m exercise-averse. Ask my mom — I captained a tennis team in high school and danced en pointe forever. During my NYU days, I danced until dawn, which sort of counts, right? But running to nowhere? Who has the time?
Despite myself, when a friend at Nike e-mailed me a few weeks ago inviting me to join the brand’s Go NYC 5K, I was unexpectedly intrigued. The race’s course would take me over the Manhattan Bridge! At sunset! Plus, there was a dance party at the finish line!
I decided to — as they say — just do it.
Reactions to my decision to partake went as expected:
My best friend: “Do you . . . know how long a 5K is?”
My colleague: “Wow. You . . . sweat?”
My mother: “You? Running?” (She did have some faith in me, at least. “You were an athlete once, you know. You can do this!”)
My 60-plus pairs of fashion sneakers didn’t include even one pair of running shoes.
This was rectified at my first training session with the Nike team, where I was handed a pair of leggings (not really my look, but when in Rome) and some fresh white running kicks. Despite the wave of WTF-am-I-doing-here coursing through my body, the two-mile jog was surprisingly painless, save for some high ponytail-related pain. (Long, heavy hair is not great for running. I was also going to have to rethink my usual no-bra policy.)
The next two weeks brought sidewalk sprints and few-mile runs with the Nike team, plus some runs on my own. I tried different ponytail configurations and dug an American Apparel bralette out of my sock drawer. I even braved a few runs in my apartment building’s gym, which I had never entered before. Though it probably didn’t impress my neighbors when I had to FaceTime my boyfriend for help turning on the treadmill.
At the end of the third week, I was actually looking forward to my workouts: I could run the full three miles without slogging, I had a functioning sports bra and I’d finally figured out what to do with my hair (down, it turns out, was the winning solution).
But during an evening sprint session, ankle pain flared up — not just a little twinge, but a shooting flare in my inner ankles that was too real to ignore. Back at Nike HQ, a coach walked me through some techniques that helped to alleviate the pain. I visited a doctor who cleared the run as long as I took it easy; I decided to keep the race on my calendar but skip training for a few days.
As I iced and elevated, I had a realization: I hadn’t put much thought into what I would actually wear on the day of the race. I decided a pastel jacket and headband were in order. So was a new pair of running shoes. Plus a vintage, sequined Nike fanny pack for sparkle.
On Sunday, April 22, I arrived at Commodore Barry Park with butterflies in my stomach. I met up with some friends; We stretched, snapped some photos and as soon as the race started, we scattered at our own paces. Going up the Manhattan Bridge wasn’t as difficult as I had anticipated, but that might have been because I was distracted by the sunset beaming against the skyline. After a week off, I wasn’t in top shape — at times, I could barely lift my legs. But hey, I was moving.
Toward the end of the bridge, I spied the Nike coaches cheering us on. Strangers on the street high-fived us as we made our way through Chinatown and headed towards the finish line at Basketball City. It was odd and beautiful. In my 18 years living in New York City, I had never seen it from this point of view.
My friends and I regrouped post-race over Fuku sandwiches. It was high-fives and hugs all around. An after-party with margaritas, ice pops and a performance by Diplo followed. (Do all races end with snacks and parties? If yes, sign me up.) When the music stopped and lights went on, I reluctantly headed home. (I am always the last one standing.) When I arrived at home, I packed a suitcase — my team had a photo shoot in LA the next day, and I had a 7 a.m. flight to catch. As I hopped into bed, I set the alarm for 4 a.m. — ready, once again, to hit the ground running.
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