Ice is My New Best Friend

by Paul Thompson

For the past several days the needle has been above 90F (32C) here in New York. A heatwave has gripped the country. Combined with high humidity and poor air quality, running conditions have been brutal. There’s plenty of advice around on running in the heat but how do I cope?

Temperatures began rising last Wednesday. That evening I left the office at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue around 6:30pm and ran 10 miles, mostly on Central Park’s trails. The slow pace of around 7:15 minutes per mile (mpm) made it bearable. But Thursday would be different: I had a tempo run in mind.

Leaving my office around 6pm, I headed north towards the park on Park Avenue. It was in the low 90s and still: it felt like the heat was trapped at street level. I dropped off my bag with my wife, Shamala, at the base of the MetLife Building, as she was boarding a train home to Peekskill from Grand Central Terminal.

The cavernous main concourse in Grand Central Terminal.

I ran the 3 miles to Engineer’s Gate and met with Warren Street team mates Ryan Korby and Fabio Casadio. The park was quiet, the heat having deterred most. There was some comfort in knowing either the three of us were hard core or else I was not alone in my madness. We covered 3 laps of the trail around the Reservoir, some 5 miles, at an average of 6:oompm pace. I was done. Overdone.

A runner enjoying cooler temperatures around the Reservoir earlier this year.

I rehydrated at the drinking fountain at Engineer’s Gate before heading north up Fifth Avenue for 2 miles through South Harlem to the Harlem-125th Street station to catch the 7:32pm train. I stopped 200m short of the station at Marcus Garvey Park to hydrate again. Kids were playing in water jets, designed to stop them seeking relief by opening the street side fire hydrants. Once home I sought comfort in my ice massage cup.

On Friday I did an easy, early morning 5 mile run  around Buchanan. Then came the weekend. Saturday is the last day of my training week. I was determined, come hell or high water, to log the 22 miles needed to get my weekly total to 70 miles.

Getting off the train at Harlem-125th Street at 8:10am, I ran down Fifth Avenue, and entered Central Park at Harlem Meer which was already looking sultry. I took my first drink of many at a water fountain. I was already uncomfortably hot but at least the park offered shade from trees.

Halfway through the run with two team mates I joined the part of the Manhattan Waterfront Greenway that runs down the Hudson River. Running by the river, carrying colder water from upstate New York, was less humid. We drank at every water fountain and kept in the shade as far as possible. My running top had come off a while ago.

At 10:35am, after almost 2.5 hours of running, I made a final water stop at my regular watering hole – Marcus Garvey Park. It was 94F. And by noon I was home clutching my new best friend – my ice massage cup. It not only speeds recovery for damaged muscles but also lowers your core body temperature. Once cooler I might even get to clutch my all time best friend. My wife.

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