New York, New York (Part One)

It’s hard to travel and stay on track with mindful eating and exercise. You don’t have your own kitchen full of healthy options, and it’s hard to work out when you’re in unfamiliar territory and not on your standard schedule. But with planning and thought, it can be done. I got back Sunday from four wonderful days in New York City, and I’m really proud of how I ate and how I moved. I’m also ridiculously proud of the ‘before’ and ‘current’ pictures I posted yesterday (click here if you missed it).

There’s lots to recap from my trip to New York, so I’m gonna divvy it up into two posts. I’m gonna focus today’s post on exercise, and, in my next post, I’ll share lots of food pictures.

There’s a lot to cover – are you ready?

I went to New York for two primary reasons: 1) I hadn’t visited my brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews since they moved to Manhattan almost two years ago, and 2) One of my best friends from high school was getting married.

I stayed with my family on the Upper East Side. The timing wasn’t ideal – after I booked my trip, my brother found out he had to go to a conference in Chicago, so he wasn’t there the first few days when I arrived. But I still got lots of quality time with Alexis, my sister-in-law, and my nephews Maren and Eddie, who are 7 and 5, respectively.

Because Alexis works and the boys are in school, I had Thursday and Friday days to spent with friends, and it was really easy to get a work out in on those two days. Both days, Alexis and I walked the boys to school, then Alexis headed down to her office, and I went on a run. Right near the school is a pedestrian overpass to the East River Esplanade, a beautiful path between FDR Drive and the river.

On Thursday, I headed north along the river, ultimately running from 78th Street to 116th Street and back. It was a beautiful morning – this picture is looking south:

I later figured out that I ran 4.3 miles in 47 minutes, which meant my average speed was 5.48 mph. It was my first run in a couple months, and it felt pretty good, which was great news, because I’m running a big 10K race in two weekends, and I’m feeling under-prepared.

On Friday, I ran south along the esplanade, but it didn’t take me far. I ran from 78th Street to 60th Street, and that’s where the esplanade ends, because of the Queensboro bridge. I intended to run over to Central Park, but then I saw a sign pointing to the pedestrian and bike path over the bridge, and I made an impulse decision to run it. I’m glad I did. The path was along the north side of the bridge, so I didn’t get great views of the midtown and downtown skylines, but I did see, in the distance, the Chrysler Building and 1 World Trade Center (aka Freedom Tower, which is still under construction). Can you pick them out?

OH! And I finally downloaded a running app to help me keep track of my runs. I chose RunKeeper, because I’ve heard good things about it, and this was my first run using it. It’s pretty great – it keeps track of every statistic that’s important to me. Here’s the report from my Queensboro bridge run (yep, I made it all the way over the bridge, to Long Island City, and back):

I didn’t burn 1,099 calories – I hadn’t yet figured out how to enter my weight, and I’m sure the default weight is significantly less than 239 (they always are). But still: 4.7 miles in 54 minutes = not too shabby! I’ll have to add both these runs to my Running Chart!

On Saturday and Sunday I didn’t have a dedicated workout, but that’s okay, because I did a ton of walking. In fact, I did a ton of walking all four days, which can be easily done in Manhattan, especially when the weather is as nice as it was. Here are some of my longer walks – I ended up walking past a lot of landmarks!

Thursday: Lincoln Center to 51st and Park to Times Square. Here I am in front of the Metropolitan Opera at Lincoln Center:

If you don’t know anyone that works at the Metropolitan Opera, than you are totally missing out. My buddy Paul (who came to LA a few months ago) is the Resident Associate Technical Director, and my buddy Aaron is the Resident Assistant Lighting Designer (I hope I got those titles right). I stopped by for a little while, and Aaron showed me around backstage, which is Mecca for a theater junkie like me. We watched dozens of carpenters move the set for that evening’s performance of Billy Budd into place. The opera takes place on an 18th-century battleship, and the set is a giant ship, complete with rigging and cannons, that’s divided into sections and placed on lifts so they can move up and down for scenes that take place in the cabin below. It’s even cooler than it sounds.

After leaving Lincoln Center, I walked over to meet Alexis at her office. Part of the walk took me through Central Park.

Alexis and I then headed towards Times Square on foot – on a route that took us through Rockefeller Center:

Look, it’s the news desk from the Today show!

We stopped and got a quick dinner (more on that in my next post), and ended up at the Schoenfield Theater on 44th Street, where we saw a performance of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man.

The Best Man is a play set behind the scenes at the 1960 Republican National Convention, and look at that banner – it had, quite literally, an all-star cast. It was a fantastic play – thoughtful, funny, and riveting.

Friday: Union Square to World Trade Center. I met Jonathan, one of my oldest and best friends, on Friday in Union Square. I’ve known Jonathan since 6th grade – over 20 years now!

We walked down Broadway into SoHo. The first order of business was some shopping. We went into three different stores and tried on a ton of clothes, and both of us walked away with new items for our wardrobe (I’ll share mine in a future post). From there we headed through TriBeCa and into the financial district, where we eventually made it to Ground Zero, and the base of 1 World Trade Center, which just recently became the tallest building in New York.

We walked through the World Financial Center and ended up in a lovely plaza along the Hudson River, a river that, despite my having been to New York a bunch of times in my life, I’ve never seen in person. I’ve never been photographed with the Statue of Liberty… until now! She’s there, right above my shoulder:

We didn’t see the 9/11 Memorial because we hadn’t made a reservation, but we hung out downtown for a little while, before I headed back up to Times Square (via subway), for the rehearsal dinner.

Friday: Times Square to 51st and Lexington. It was a beautiful night, so after the rehearsal dinner, I close a slightly farther subway station to get back to the Upper East Side. My route took me through Times Square…

…and St. Patrick’s Cathedral:

Saturday: The High Line to Union Square. It was another beautiful day, so Alexis and I took Maren and Eddie over to the High Line, which is one now one of my favorite places in New York. The High Line is an elevated park in the Meatpacking District. It used to be the train tracks that freight trains would use to bring meat, dairy, and eggs into the city, and after decades of decay, it was transformed into a city park that opened to the public a few years ago. The park is about 18 blocks long, and we walked the entire thing. The design of the park is stunning – they incorporate the tracks and rail ties wherever they could, and it uses all native plants in the landscaping.

There’s Alexis waving, with Eddie next to her:

Eddie and Maren looking down at one of the streets below:

It must be butterfly season, because we saw lots of them. They were all over the place. Eddie almost touched one:

After reaching the end of the High Line, we headed over to Chelsea Market for lunch. Alexis found the elevator that leads to the offices of one of my favorite cable channels:

After lunch, we walked over to Union Square to catch the subway.

Sunday: Manhattan to Brooklyn, via the Brooklyn Bridge. This was another family outing, and Steven was back from Chicago, so he came too. I’ve walked the Brooklyn Bridge before, and I love it. The pedestrian walkway is above the roadway, so you have great views of the city and the East River.

When we got to the Brooklyn side, we headed to Brooklyn Bridge Park, which is practically underneath the bridge. That’s where I recreated the ‘before’ picture that I posted the other day. Maren and Eddie were tired from the walk, so we opted for another mode of transportation back to Manhattan: water taxi! In this picture, I’m photographing Alexis, who’s photographing Steven and Maren:

There you have it, folks – summaries of all the major walks I did in New York!
Exhausting, huh? A busy four days – I’m glad I brought comfortable shoes!

Keep it up, David!


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