I was due for some speed work so I went to Senator Michael J. Tully Park. This used to be North Hempstead Town Park. There is an indoor pool where my friend's mother used to take us swimming when we were little. She would also use the track while my friends and I went off doing whatever nine year olds did in a park at night.
I ran CYO track as a child in elementary school and one year in high school. I was pretty fast as a young kid, even though it would not be unusual for me to stop and wait for friends to catch up during races (What?!?). I retired in fifth grade after a "mishap" during a meet when I dropped the baton. I joined cross-country track my freshman year of high school. I guess that one season was enough for me. I also thought the coach was kind of a jerk. Back then, I could think of a million other things I would have preferred to do after school rather than run (Top of the to-do list: Smoke cigarettes).
Fast forward to the summer before junior year of college. I was dating a Naval Academy grad who was pretty fit coming back from the Persian Gulf (Apparently, there was a lot of down time on a ship in the middle of the Persian Gulf...). I figured I should start doing some sort of exercise myself. I guess bar hopping didn't count (whatever...). I'll try running. Didn't Madonna lose a ton of weight running with her bodyguards in Central Park in the late 80s? Why yes, she did! I remembered the track at North Hempstead where my friend's mother would take us. I decided to start there. I was too insecure to start running on the streets in my neighborhood. The track would usually be empty, maybe two or three other runners. It is surrounded by an industrial area. No witnesses. I dragged whomever was around (Usually my "sisters" and the boys I used to babysit) to accompany me. If they weren't available, I'd go on my own. I started out running 4 laps, cigarette break, run another 4, smoke, etc. (Yep, I know. I was so cool back then...not) I discovered the runner's high and was hooked.
Fast forward to today. I am cigarette free; Naval Academy grad free (Thankfully...); I could care less who sees me out on the streets; I'm now a mother of four and still running! Being at the park was like running down Memory Lane, literally. The construction companies are still surrounding the field. The track itself has been resurfaced, nice and bouncy. My bones were jumping with joy. There was one other person there, a female walker (Who, by the way, was taking pictures of the nearby construction companies with her phone. Odd.). It was an overcast, humid afternoon. I did my 4 X 800s (Two laps at a 5-10k pace four times with an easy lap in between each). I left feeling twenty years younger (Or maybe that was the endorphin blitz).