Gridiron 4 Mile Run Race Recap

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Superbowl Sunday. While most people are just waking up and beginning to think about making wings or what commercials they want to watch out for, the crazy runners in New York are up running a four mile course of Central Park.

During the meeting of Peyton (Bud Light lover) Manning and Cam (I’m going to hide under a towel until everyone goes away) Newton at Super Bowl 50, I joined these crazies around the park. This was less by choice and mostly due to two factors. First, I had entered the Fred Lebow Half Marathon in January which was canceled due to a blizzard. Though that was a 13.1 mile run and cost $60 to enter, NYRR decided a worthy replacement for the cancelation would be this 4 mile, $18 race. Second, my wife suggested trying out Flex Mussels, a restaurant that had been on our list for some time. Ok, it was mostly the promise of everything donuts and mussels and frites that got me up and running so early.

The Swag & Pickup

On a fairly warm day for the beginning of February with the sun shining bright, I head into the park to pick up my bib and shirt. The shirt is available until after he race which makes pick up easier, and turns out to be a fairly nice if not a bit plain long sleeved white shirt with the race logo. Sadly it isn’t technical material, but for $18 it isn’t bad. The line is super fast considering the run starts in about 20 minutes. Since we are just hanging out in the city the rest of the day, Hershey joins us and opts to keep my feet warm. There is no medal, but for a 4 miler, I don’t expect one. Luckily I still got my medal from the Fred Lebow, which didn’t have one last year even though the race was canceled. Try to follow that logic.

The Start

I forget my sunglasses for the run as it is winter, though while I am running Staten Island Chuck, which is apparently a thing now, will not see his shadow for the first time in what feels like a decade, meaning spring is on its way. Corals are not well policed which results in lots of mixing in of running paces as people cram into those with more space as the race is about to start. I understand that it isn’t feasible to have staff for each entrance during a small run like this, but it makes such a huge difference. This is quickly becoming one of my main pet peeves about races.

The pre-race entertainment is not terrible and due to a nearby speaker, i can hear the announcers discussing the “Big Game” which can’t be called the Super Bowl for some bizarre legal reason. Once the “about to start race shuffle” begins and everyone edges up, I no longer can hear so I crank up the Ke$ha, I mean running music. 

The Race

The route is a four mile loop of Central Park, thankfully in the lower half rather than the biggest hill in the upper half. We loop down south from 104th Street to the lake and over on 72nd, then back up past the reservoir. At mile three or so, there are two chutes, one for the Broncos and one for the Panthers to “vote” on who is going to win. Most runners seem to either be Denver fans or rooting for an upset as hardly any head over to the Carolina side. 

I am still quite sore from a 14 mile treadmill run the day before where I watch the entirety of “Wild”. If Reese Witherspoon can hike the majority of California with those blisters, I can sure push to run 4 miles more today. I weave around the runners who are now walking or have slowed considerably (thanks again corals), and manage to set a good pace. I purposefully don’t check my fairly new Garmin GPS watch often and just focus on Ke$ha’s dulcet tones. Love is her drug and running is mine. As I cross the finish line, I glance down and find I have just managed to run a 7:59 / mi pace. Nice! 

I even grab a complimentary bagel on the way out, NYRR races are the best for this, though Hershey jumps up and manages to grab half of it before I can. He’s such a New Yorker. Don’t get between him and his bagels.

Brunch at Flex Mussels

Now for the real reason I even got out of bed this morning, brunch at Flex Mussels.

Flex Mussels, an import to NYC from PEI (that’s Prince Edward Island in Canada, where the good mussels are from), has some of the best mussels in the city. For dinner or Sunday brunch, a bucket of these bad boys will take care of that mussel craving. From traditional to more exotic flavors like Thai curry and Indian spice, there are plenty of flavors to suit any taste. 

For brunch, there are also the excellent everything donuts, essentially a donut stuffed with cream cheese and the stuff that goes on an everything bagel. It’s as good as it sounds. The toast with goat cheese is overflowing with tasty cheese, but at $9 ouch. The beer menu is not bad, but I was surprised that there were far more beers on tap than the menu listed. 

The Fra Diavolo mussels were impeccably good with a nice level of spice and garlic. It was so good, the fries (which are a must for soaking up sauce) weren’t enough so I drank it. You can’t find better mussels in NYC, though you’ll definitely pay for the quality here with $25 not uncommon for a bucket of mussels.

Walk it Off

After a heavy meal, of which the beer itself probably offset my run, we decide to take a leisurely stroll around the reservoir before the Big Game ™. 

First though, we pass by Bluestone Lane coffee, a small Australian style coffee shop near the edge of the park. I don’t know what Australian style coffee is, but Bluestone must be doing it well because the entire customer base sounds like a Fosters commercial is fighting with an Outback ad. I get a latte off the barbie which is strong and creamy, like Crocodile Dundee. It serves perfectly to keep warm around the reservoir.

The path is quite muddy due to recent ground thaw and some rain, so my kicks and tights (yes it’s perfectly acceptable for men to wear tights) get artistically spotty. My Brooks which saw me through the Belfast marathon last spring are on their last legs (or feet?) regardless, so they now become walking shoes. I nurse a similar foot pain for a few days to what I experienced much longer after Belfast, so I’m happy to retire these shoes.

We then head back East to our friend’s apartment for a Big Game party where Hershey enjoys plenty of finger foods.