This morning I woke up in Manhattan. I had gotten in late last night and arrived midway through an engagement party that went well into the morning. Lame, but happier for it, I had bailed early and slept in the vacant bedroom at the end of the hall (roomie is conveniently away for six weeks). I was joined at some point by Esther who informed me that she would be accompanying me on my long run the next morning. Apparently, this wasn't a crazy dream, because when I woke up the next morning, Esther got out of bed and put on running clothes too.
I don't want you to get the wrong idea and think that I didn't want to run with Esther. Well, I guess that part is true. I don't want you to get the wrong idea and think that I didn't want to run with Esther because I don't like her. The real reason I didn't want to run with Esther is because this is the very same Esther who I had just watched come in 27th at the Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston exactly two weeks earlier. Esther ran a marathon two weeks ago in 2:37:21. I would be elated to run a marathon in 3:37:21. Elated. To complete the same distance an entire HOUR slower. So, the real reason I didn't want to run with Esther is because I didn't want to exert myself to the point where I may never walk again. I was pretty sure that even if Esther tried to hold herself back that I would still end up involuntarily altering my pace to keep up with her. For 16 miles.
My attempts to politely convey this concern to Esther were repeatedly rebuffed. I became increasingly alarmed as she continued to mirror the steps I was taking to get ready for my run. As we pulled on our tights and laced up our shoes, she assured me that she would be a half step behind me the whole time and let me set the pace and the route. I didn't appear to have a choice in the matter. So, off we went, into the streets of Harlem en route to Central Park.
The weather was absolutely beautiful for New York City in January. Neither of us wore hats and both of us wore one short sleeved and one long sleeved top. I was neither overly-sweaty nor chilled. I only thought to myself once "hey, Esther really is letting me set the pace!" Other than that, she did such a good job of letting me set the pace that the thought didn't even occur to me!
I can think of VERY few things that I love more in this world than going on runs with Case Cross-Country Alums. This probably sounds absurd, but I promise that I am not exaggerating. I don't know what makes it so special to me. It feels like home. It feels like I am absolutely my purest and realest self. It feels like a calm, gentle joy satiating a hunger that I didn't even realize I was feeling.
And so it was in Central Park with Esther Erb. We talked about everything. We talked about training with Ethiopians (well, I guess technically I just listened for that part) and sisters and Iceland and apartments and death and puppies and Boston. The run was my favorite part of my trip to New York City, and I am so glad that Esther didn't give me a choice in whether or not she joined me.