Bloggers Note: Today’s blizzard got me thinking of Siberia, so I exiled myself to my computer and resized a few photos, which don’t quite do the terrain justice. I wrote this piece in 1997 not too long after I got home and hoped to sell it to the Newark Star-Ledger or the NY Times. No such luck, but here it is. – Ted
Let’s play word association. I say Siberia. You say the first five words that pop into your head.
"Snow, Dr. Zhivago, Snow, Bears, Snow, and Exiles."
No points for repeats–I’ll give you one for bears, and allow Dr.
Zhivago, but you won’t find any snow in Siberia in the summertime, and
the exiles living in Siberia now are there of their own free will, so
are no longer exiles at all. So what does happen in Siberia these days?
I did my first race in Central Park with the New York Road Runners–the NYRR Fred Lebow Classic 5 mile run. The night before the race, Deb (my partner) asked why I’d want to take the train into Central Park to run 5 miles when I could just as easily run that distance in Brooklyn. I just said "it’s different"–not a great answer. What makes it different? Normally running is a solitary activity. It’s me, my iPod, stopwatch, some days, a heart rate monitor, other days, our dog, Hazel. Yesterday it was me and 2,700 like-minded runners. I felt like a member of the tribe. (Eons ago, I reckon fleeing predators was not fun–now we do it to exercise the parts of our body that atrophy from knowledge work.) It’s motivating to see so many people who share in the passion for running and sport. It was a perfect day for a race, sunny, 36 degrees. Unlike a morning run, for which I have estimates for distances these scored races are provide an accurate fitness snapshot. Knowing that I have a race on the calendar is a great reason to get out and train. The race is the reward for the work I put in on training days. Oh, and most important of all, it’s great fun.
New York Road Runners is an amazing organization–they organize races, classes and even have a community foundation to get kids in the city to start running. To learn more or join, visit their website.