The city lights warmed the runner. The slight breaths in and out guided her steps in tune with the slap slap slap slap of her running shoes against the splotched pavement. She weaved side to side around bundled up patrons. Scarves wrapped up once-exposed necks, gloves protected reddened fingers and hats topped off chilled heads of hair. Couples huddled in closely, hands clinging to biceps, arms slung around waists or hands thrust into shared pockets. Heads all bowed, intermittent gusts of cold wind blowing unwelcome into bare faces. Pinked cheeks and re-splashed noses greeted the cool black night.
The runner ran on, her own gloved hands balled up into determined fists; her legs, wrapped in winter tights, churned. Her knees drove them upward and outward again and again. She could feel her heart beating purposefully against her dampened chest, the fluorescent half-zip stuck against her dri-fit tee underneath.
The lights were all around the runner. The bus-lit path alongside the Hudson. The gleaming, far-off orb of Lady Liberty’s torch. The strung white lights donning the high masts of the ships docked at the Southport docks. The magnificent Brooklyn and Manhattan bridges, side by side, standing mightily over the East River. Joggers and walkers stopped to take pictures, leaning over the railing, angling their phones for the best photo to filter and share.
The runner ran on, past the beauty of the bridges.
Deep breath inward, her pace quickened. Beyond the perpetual light of the bridges, the bike and pedestrian path lay empty sans the dripping hello glow of street lamps, the sideways sputtering of headlights belonging to exiting cars, cabs and buses. Up ahead, the blue-and-white-lit top of the Empire State Building beckoned her, eagerly awaiting her finish.
Her watch ticked on. 9.8. 9.9. 10 miles completed. She slowed her pace, allowing her heart, her lungs to rejoice in the softened steps. The runner allowed her body to take in the remainder of the city night and slowly easing into a light jog to return the final mile home.
The night, she knew, was hers. She conquered the streets of New York. A smile flitted to her lips. She raised her head high and crossed the avenue toward home.
Thanks for the love. Run with your heart, xo Babs