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Oh The Places You’ll Go: My 11 Favorite Running Destinations of 2012

Posted Dec 21 2012 8:43am
“And when things start to happen, don’t worry. Don’t stew.
Just go right along. You’ll start happening too.

Oh! The places you’ll go!” – Dr. Seuss

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Running hasn’t taken me everywhere, but everywhere I go, there it is — that sense of consistency, groundedness, balance and calm. And while I can’t exactly say that 2012 was my favorite year ever, I can say that, in terms of where I was — and am — physically and mentally, I suppose it wasn’t all that bad. I also suppose that I have running to thank for that.

Sifting through the year in photos, the following represents some of my favorite running destinations of 2012, both in New York and outside of the city limits. My hope is that you can draw inspiration from some of my personal experiences, and infuse a little sweat, work and determination into your 2013, wherever it takes you.

Central Park: Lower Loop Lover

Otherwise known as “home,” the lower loop of Central Park has become my go-to destination in the last year, offering me an easy — and delightful — way to squeeze just about five miles into my morning most days of the week. Whether sunshine or rain, intense heat or snow, Central Park is a constant (unlike the rest of the city, where you’re bound to encounter the unknown).

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(Spotted: A badass garbage truck on the run from Central Park home. Is that Stretch Armstrong?)

When running is a constant in your life, it’s nice to have an environment that you can rely on even when you can’t control how your body will feel. And this week was no different. Each three to five miler, while slow, steady, and totally unimpressive, has felt consistent.

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Philadelphia: Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon

I had to talk my cousin — my weekend running buddy — into signing up for this half marathon, positing that it would be a great 24-hour trip where we could check out the city, stuff our faces, and say we ran 13.1 miles to boot. While my body didn’t totally cooperate during training, like, at all, the race itself was a tremendous amount of fun . We ate…

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…we ran…

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…and we wore ridiculous matching accessories.

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Hilton Head: Sandy Beaches

Noah’s family always said that Hilton Head was one of their favorite places in the world to run, but I never really got it. Really? Beaches? That sounds like hard work. I like easy runs, thanks.

Last year was my first Thanksgiving with his family, and I have to say they were right. Hilton Head’s beaches are packed with sand so tight you might as well be running on asphalt. Not only is it good for the knees, but the views are unbeatable too. Needless to say, I couldn’t wait to return this Thanksgiving, and yes, I ran every single day (and then paid for it with achy shins, but that’s neither here nor there).

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San Francisco: Golden Gate Park

This summer marked my first time in California, and I had this epic run planned in my head long before Noah and I arrived. Maybe it was my need to log large numbers of miles at the time (we completed nine through Golden Gate Park on that day).

IMG_1469 Maybe it was the fact that I’d be guzzling mass amounts of wine in Sonoma and practically eating my way through California.

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Regardless, this turned out to be one of my favorite runs of the year — and one of the best ways to explore the city of San Francisco on foot.

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The best part? Midway through the run, we discovered the Pacific Ocean — the first time I’d seen this majestic body of water in my life.

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Chicago: Not the Marathon, Just a Run

I felt a bit like a fraud when, the day before the Chicago Marathon , I went out with Noah for his three mile shakeout run. But I wanted to run, like I always do! I just had (and still kind of have) no interest in doing it for 26.2 miles.

We set off for a quickie on a freezing morning in October, our pace quickly escalating to crazy speeds in order to warm up — fast! During out short time out there, we were even able to squeeze in a few pictures at this iconic sculpture.

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Chinatown, NYC: I Run for Dumplings

I love destination runs. Moreover, I love destination runs when there is food involved. Case in point, the dumpling run .

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Noah and I set off to find Prosperity Dumpling on a sunny Sunday morning when I wasn’t really feeling like lacing up my sneakers. The antidote for laziness, of course, was dumplings (and donuts, but these were far less impressive than stop number one).

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Prosperity Dumpling is a tiny hole-in-the-wall in downtown Manhattan. All you need is $1, and you get six fried (or steamed for an extra $1; the price of health) delicious dumplings.

Trails: Testing New Waters

I had been wanting to check out trail running for quite some time, and this summer, I finally had the opportunity. First, Noah and I located a decent trail in Long Island — the Greenbelt Trail — which completely kicked my tush.

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(Noah is all, why are you so far behind, Stacy? Stop being out of breath.)

Round two came when I traveled to upstate New York to go fishing. At the recommendation of several very helpful fellow bloggers, I was advised to go really, really slow — even uncomfortably slow – to avoid the dreaded feeling of breathlessness. Of course, this worked well, and while I felt like a speed walker, I was able to enjoy the quiet trails of the Berkshires .

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Washington D.C.: Get Lost and Like It

I still haven’t quite figured out why, but I hate running in D.C. I always find myself winded and bored — ready to just go back to Central Park despite how quiet and peaceful and pretty it is on the Canal.

But then there was that one time that Noah and I ran, and it was awesome. I forced him to start out really, really slow; I didn’t want to risk running out of breath and energy before hitting the one mile mark. While hilly, the run turned out to be pretty darn fun, resulting in Noah and I getting lost and having to find our way home by basically running on a highway. That part, I was not happy about. Funny? Yes. Safe? Hell no.

Middle of Nowhere, PA: Country Running

I loved this day . After a night spent embracing the wine bottle and a day spent eating far too many things that come from the supermarket shelf (including a Carvel ice cream cake that I may or may not have had an integral part in the purchasing of), I obviously wanted to run.

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We were in the middle of absolutely nowhere, and so for safety and comfort, I forced Noah to come along with me. Although the run started off with a massive, evil hill (a solid mile up a mountain, no less), the plateau and downhill portion of the run was phenomenal. Quiet, deserted, and an abundance of cows. That about describes it.

West Side Highway: Valentine’s Day Tradition

For our second Valentine’s Day in New York City (but our fourth total, if you’re really keeping count), Noah and I once again eschewed the notion of price fixe menus and expensive bottles of wine. Instead, we planned an evening run — again. And, again, it was phenomenal and one of my favorite nights of the year. IMG_0405

This year’s run took us down the West Side Highway, one of my favorite places in the world. After running along the Hudson, we veered back into Manhattan toward the Meatpacking District, where we made an impromptu stop at The Standard for beers .

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Then, we grabbed pasta, cheese and more wine, and headed back to the apartment for a post-run home-cooked feel-good meal.

Fire Island: Where Hardly Anyone Else Runs

Tan? Yes. Drink? Far too much. But run? Not exactly what you see most people who venture out to Fire Island — a small escape not far from New York City — doing.

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Fire Island was a ton of fun, but when I woke up on Sunday morning — my last day there — I felt like total crap for how I’d treated my body in the days before (which, unless you count dancing my face off, means not really doing much good). That morning was hot, but I had a friend — Chelsea — come along for the ride. The boardwalks were lovely, and the beaches were challenging but fun.

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Overall we didn’t cover more than three miles, but it was certainly enough to simply get back on track for the week that was to come.


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