The other day I was doing laps at the Syosset high school track and I recalled “my running career” back in the late 70’s, when I was living in lower Manhattan. I had gotten into running to relieve stress. I was working on Wall Street and when I’d get home at night, I’d be so wired I could literally snap. So I started running and it really took the edge off!!
Back then I was living on Chambers Street in the heart of TriBeCa, before it turned into the mega tourist attraction it is today, and would dash out for a run up to “the village” for a jog around Washington Square Park. Those were days when you just threw on a pair of shorts and a tee and out you went. There were no Garmin GPS’s or iTunes, although Sony had the Walkman – It wasn’t like the “Beats” scene of today.
On my regular runs to “the village,” I’d connect with Ronnie, an independent art dealer who lived on 14th Street. We met at the park. After seeing one another a few times, we began to run together, chit chatting about whatever was on our minds. Running Washington Square Park was great – it was like doing laps at the track – not having to cross streets and deal with traffic, made the experience so much more carefree.
We’d run effortlessly for what seemed like hours. Ten to fifteen miles at a pop was a piece of cake and three or four times a week was very common. When you’d got home after a run, your body didn’t scream at you and the next day, you felt nothing from the previous night’s run. Stretching before and after runs? What was that?
Like many NYC relationships, over time you drift and lose track of friends like Ronnie (sure would have been nice to have had Facebook). But running has stayed with me in spite of a hiatus here and there. I remember those glorious days of effortless running and run today, not just for weight control and stress reduction, but with the secret wish of recapturing those distant running memories.
Ira Bellach is an avid recreational runner, living on Long Island for the past 25 years. He is a member of the Greater Long Island Runners Club, where he is an active volunteer to support local running events.