I got in a lot of running this summer. Several hundred miles in fact. I was already doing quite a bit of it but a friend of mine, Regina, gave me a gift out of the blue. She bought a raffle item of 8 running tours guided by a guy named Matt. The idea being that he would show me different running routes in and around the city. Paths that aren’t too obvious.

Matt’s an experienced runner, with a bunch of marathons under his belt. I’ve been an on-again, off-again runner for many years but never did much over 5 miles. He frequently runs from his place in the Upper West Side to where he teaches in Queens, which is something like 15 miles. So I was worried I’d get left behind.

He had me on a regimen of 3 to 4 miles a day, with a longer run on Fridays. And each week, we increased the long run by 10% or so. Matt showed me about an app for my phone to track my distance and time. This was the best thing to help me make goals and improve my running times.

We met at 86th and Central Park West and then go wherever we were headed that day, depending on our work schedules and the weather. We ran up to the little red lighthouse at the George Washington Bridge. We ran down the West Side Highway, around the tip of Manhattan, across the Brooklyn Bridge and back across the Manhattan Bridge. We ran up into the Bronx and around Yankees Stadium. We went across the Queensboro Bridge and around some places in the northwest corner of Queens, including the Socrates Sculpture Park.

My running guru, Matt, at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens.

My running guru, Matt, at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens.

This was supposed to culminate in running the Queens Half Marathon a couple weeks ago. I worked my way up to 15 miles in a single run, which is more than the half-marathon distance. But I started to feel some pain in my hip. I took a couple days off and ran the loop in Central Park. The pain moved into the socket. So I had to stop the running for now.

I’ve been doing some physical therapy, which included some of the most painful stretching of my IT band. I think both of my therapists are under 5 feet tall. One is pretty gentle. The other is tough. She likes to tell me the pain means I’m getting better. Turns out, my hip pain was a symptom of something messed up in my lower spine. I’ve also been getting some acupuncture. I can’t believe that’s covered by my insurance. So cool.

I tell you, though, you have to always ask the question, “is this in-network with my insurance?” and not simply “do you take XX insurance?” That the difference between just shelling out a co-pay and several hundred dollars out of pocket.

I really miss the running. Some people don’t like it but once I feel my legs and lungs are humming, I really get a lot out of it. Be warned: it does take over your life. Your schedule, your sleep, how much you drink (if you drink), and whether you’re going to do anything else that day. I also wrecked a toenail. It’s like there was bruise under the nail that will probably take months to grow out. But that’s just the little physical stuff.

It’s been a goal to run a marathon. Matt said I should run several halfs before doing that. I can’t wait to make this happen.