It has been difficult to say good bye to New York but the move to Hong Kong has already happened two weeks ago. Hope it is not too late to dedicate this blog post as a farewell to New York. I was excited about our move to Hong Kong but I couldn't stop my tears flowing as we were on our way to the airport. I guess I missed New York quite a lot. I realise it's because I was having such a blast in New York.
In 2015 my husband and I moved from London to New York for his work. I was happy to quit my banking job in London as I was confident that I could find similar work and explore a bit around the United States. Even though I am from Hong Kong and have lived and worked in London, Madrid, and Vancouver, I just could not pass up the opportunity to live in this mega cosmopolitan of New York.
Guess what, life turned out rather differently, I didn't find the kind of job or exciting life I originally envisaged. In many ways I was living a much happier "tai tai" life (housewife life) because I have found a passion in running. I've had the luxury to experience life in New York City without any of the stress associated with work and tax filing. I also started health coach training at nutrition school, met some amazing course mates and set off on a personal health journey.
Running and training for the New York City Marathon really changed my life. Beyond the improvement in physical strength, I can see how running brings about many benefits to my mental health, primarily in the form of endorphins, also a clearer mind and confidence boost. I would say running is probably the cheapest and the most legitimate way to get high and feel good. Come on, what are you waiting for?
As a farewell piece to New York, I would like to round off with a few of my favourite memories of running in the city.
New York Road Runners Group Training
NYRR GT has to be top of the list, it is the best group training that would be hard to match anywhere else. The training is consistently first-class, the coaches are inspiring and the runners are friendly. The strong sense of community and supportive network make running so much fun and even more addictive. Admittedly I haven't been consistent with my attendance until the last six months but GT just keeps getting better over time. There are some incredibly fast, dedicated and talented runners in GT, as well as beginner runners who are equally fun and very much part of the running family. It has been such a privilege just to watch how these jackrabbits run and how every runner develops as an individual. There is a private Facebook Group for the GT community, I am still following posts on running tips, race recaps and personal stories. The stories from the Boston Marathon this year have been inspiring and humbling given the exceptionally miserable conditions. I have so much respect for all the Boston finishers, PR-ers and even more for the DNFs as it must have been such a tough decision to drop out.
Staten Island Half Marathon 2017
This was probably the worst half marathon I have done but I experienced amazing kindness from two fellow runners. The first was a girl who literally stopped 500 meters before the finish line to jog with me and kept me going. I don’t know what made her stop but I would be forever grateful for her gesture. I felt bad for slowing her down so much that I insisted her to move on and I would get to the finish line. Then after the race, another amazing runner gave up her heat sheet as I struggled to find one - she was only wearing a skimpy top and shorts! I must have been in such a state that she was compelled to help me. It was a bad race but I got the best unconditional kindness from two strangers. New York runners are the warmest and the most kind hearted people you could find.
Running my Favourite Bridges with Hubby
I can never get bored of the view from Manhattan Bridge, no matter how cold, how rainy or how windy it gets. During our last week in New York, my husband and I went for a quick run through Brooklyn Bridge and back via Manhattan Bridge. Brooklyn Bridge was so packed with tourists that the place felt like an obstacle course without the mud. I wasn't sure if runners were more annoying to the tourists or the other way round. At one point I realised that I should just take it easy. Then I came up with the idea of photobombing a couple of tourists for a laugh, my husband said some of them were loving it. Why not. It was my last week in New York, if I can't run fast I may as well try to have some fun.
Running in the Snow
We had another unexpected snow day during our last week in New York. I had planned to do a 10 mile run before we flew to Hong Kong as I was not sure when I would be able to find a decent route for long runs. Of course I wouldn't let a little snowstorm to get into my 10 mile run. I turned out to be half wrong, I only made half the distance. My original plan was to go up the West Side Highway for 5 miles and then across to Central Park for a 5 mile loop. Then there was so much snow, and even more snow fell as I ran/ shuffled through the snow. I kept sinking into puddles of melted snow, got my feet wet and my toes numb. By the time I covered 5 miles, my shoes were completely soaked and heavy. I had to abandon the last 5 miles. But it was so much fun and I was double glad my mission was half-accomplished! I met a couple of runners along the way and we exchanged friendly glances, as if we were happy to see another silly soul running in this stupid weather condition.
The two and a half years in New York have been really quite interesting and challenging. Life didn't turn out the way I had hoped but I think all that running has made a difference to the quality of my life, my perception of the city and people. To me running is therapy as it makes me feel better and stronger, it makes a tough day easier, it makes a good day even better. To me, running is self-care, it is about paying attention and respect to the body and the mind. I am so happy to have discovered running, which hopefully will remain a life-long passion. I won't have NYRR GT anymore but I have all the tools needed to try out and enjoy new stuff in Hong Kong!