. . . and Stephane and Jim and Sebastian and Robbie and Charlie.

It’s been a while since I’ve gone into the City on a Saturday morning for a run with the Club. With a not-too-bad weather forecast — high of 38 — and presumably a clear Park Drive, though, I headed in this morning. My left knee’s been acting up a tad, but I figured I could stop if it became and issue.

I was a little later than I wanted to be so I couldn’t chance missing Paul coming off the train. Instead I headed directly from Marcus Garvey Park to Central Park and after I did a little out-and-back, Paul appeared and we took off. I was immediately in distress. His easy, relaxed pace is quite faster than mine and I feared I would be left for dead quickly. In the event, though, I was able to hold on, even getting in a word or two, until we picked up Stephane on the East Side and then several more at East 90th and one or two later. There were seven of us at our peak, and we wound our way in and out of traffic. I was not at a level of being able to converse, but I could keep up.

Until about an hour in. By then I was struggling to hang on. The pace was getting faster. I thought I was dropped a couple of times, but only as we approached East 72nd Street the last time on our counterclockwise loop was the connection lost. I could still see the others not so far ahead, but I concentrated on doing own run and keeping my own pace. So I did not blow up. I just couldn’t speed up. On the plus side, I was struggling but still going at a solid pace, keeping myself relaxed. By the end, my cap and my gloves were in my waistband.

The knee ached on-and-off during the run until I felt it too much just as I approached 110th Street. So instead of continuing running on the streets to my car, I stopped. By then, though, I’d gotten as far and as long as I wanted.

I can’t do this as frequently as I did last year. The pace is just too quick. But I do want to get in there every month or so. So, 14 (Garmin said 13.97) in 1:37:10, 7:49, 7:33, 7:01, 6:49, 6:52, 7:13, 7:16, 6:54, 7:08, 6:38, 6:32, 6:37, 6:31, 6:30 (those slow ones involved several turn-arounds as we waited to pick up people). Strangest bit of conversation: “Joe do you lift weights?” “No.” “Your thighs are so big.”

I love running in Central Park. There were several large groups, especially Team-in-Training, but they are generally courteous and respect other Park users. And it doesn’t take long to get used to navigating around runners. Paradoxically perhaps, the rolling terrain — as I say we went counterclockwise — and the hills make it easier than were it flat because the changes allow slight adjustments and recovery.