Just this time last week I was en route to the US, full of nervous excitement having never before set foot on American soil.
It seems like a lifetime ago now and I can’t actually believe that only seven days have passed.
I arrived at midday US time (5pm UK time) and made my way through a busy JFK, jumped into a yellow cab and headed to what would be my home for the next three weeks, a beautiful apartment overlooking the Hudson on the Upper West Side.
I came to the US for work, which meant time spent at MoMA, the Frick and the Met was a given, but to this incredible opportunity I added a personal agenda of engaging in all things that a tourist should stereotypically do in New York.
I began my trip with a walk along the Hudson and through Central Park, getting my bearings and plotting some potential running routes.
Waking up at 5am each morning (which must have something to do with jet lag I’m sure) has meant that I’ve been able to jam pack my days, before and after work.
I’ve taken a ride on the Staten Island ferry to see the Statue of Liberty, a walk along Wall Street and through the financial district and spent time gazing into the 9/11 memorial.
I’ve visited Grand Central Station, walked 5th Avenue and ascended the Empire State Building.
New friends encountered on my trip have taken me see the Mets beat Miami at baseball, the lights of Time Square, the kitsch of Coney Island and the sunset over Manhattan.
I’ve eaten New York bagels with tofutti cream cheese, browsed the treasures of Chelsea Market and walked along the High Line.
I’ve driven golf balls (very badly) off the Chelsea Pier, scaled the walls of the new Queen’s climbing wall, run through Riverside Park and dined at a real American diner.
All of this, plus work, is my excuse for why I’ve not written much lately, and I have to admit I’m totally exhausted!
However, amongst all of this my foot has been making good progress and for the last few days I’ve not needed any pain relief, despite the fact that I’ve been doing a lot of walking. There is a treadmill in my apartment and I have been building up my running slowly until today when I finally ventured outside for the first time.
I didn’t go far or fast, the humidity and the heat put paid to that, but I was also focusing on not pushing myself too hard and not trying to prove anything.
This decision to hold back was motivated by a conversation with a fellow British climber at the wall last night. She told me about a book she was reading about the acceptance of adversity and the power to rise above the expectations that others may place on you.
This is something that strikes a chord with me. So often do I put pressure on myself, generated by the perceived expectations of others. In doing so I often miss out on the pleasure of the activity itself, or feel the pleasure of my own achievements diminish under another’s gaze.
So today I ran for me. I ran to see how my foot would hold, to get away from my desk and my inbox, and to make the most of my beautiful (if not slightly damp) surroundings. And without the weight of any expectation I found such great enjoyment in the run (added to by the fact that it was my first successful run back since my injury).
I’m trying to take this ethos forward, not only for my running but also my climbing. I’m taking value in being humble, in learning and enjoying each activity for its own sake and for how it makes me feel, regardless of the perceptions of others.
If only I’d had this insight before my appalling attempts at the driving range…oh well!
More American adventures to follow.
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