This morning, several thousand people jammed into Central Park to run a Half Marathon in 18 degrees. When I first got up at 5 am today, my iPhone told me the temperature was 25, leading me to believe it was not a newsworthy event. How the temperature dropped between 5am and 6am I'm not sure, but somehow it did.
After removing my outer layer of clothes and leaving them at the Baggage Drop, I needed to keep myself warm. I found myself pathetically drawn to the men's room at Le Pain Quotidien not to take care of regulatory issues, but just to stay warm. The last time I'd seen a men's room that crowded was at the last Isles game I attended between periods. Maybe only two of the gentlemen in there actually needed to use the facilities, we just desperately needed some relief from what has now become known as the polar vortex.
Finally, we made our way to the speed-designated corrals. The waiting time before the start was now reduced to only 10 minutes, and I added my own bass harmonies to the National Anthem for luck. So I booked it, and the cold worked its magic. After the first mile, I no longer felt the chill -- this would change periodically when I encountered a headwind, but since I was able to feel my fingers and toes, this was a welcome sign. Even more welcome was the split times that seemed to have been accelerated by nothing more than the cold, making both Cat Hill and Harlem Hill less onerous than they otherwise could have been.
Crossing the finish line, I felt a variation on the runner's high. This was more like a runner's trip. While I was very coherent of my surroundings, and was again feeling the chill slowly return, I was smiling and cracking up laughing for no apparent reason. No need to question it, it was enough to simply enjoy it.
Later on, the Rangers and Devils faced off in Yankee Stadium, bringing the relatively new trend of outdoor stadium hockey games to the Big Apple. The players and coaches would add their voices to the accolades offered to the league to offer them the chance to play hockey the way they first learned how, on frozen ponds in Ontario, Saskatchewan, and various Slavic and Scandinavian provinces. This trend will continue this Wednesday night, when my beloved Islanders will join the outdoor game as well.
Yes, even this unprecedented cold snap that blasted New York with unexpected temperatures could not prevent some enjoyable athletic contests from taking place. In the place of running and hockey, it only enhanced the experience.
But when it comes to next week's Super Bowl, I have to say I'm not entirely looking forward to it. The two best teams in the NFL have already gone through intense competition and adverse weather conditions. They have earned the right to play for a championship in an easier climate. Also, I'm bored with two states arguing over whose game it really is. The playoffs and conference championships are where you get your winter-weather high-stakes contests, not the game to win it all.
Road races and hockey are meant for the cold. Football, to a point, also is. But the Super Bowl is not, and has never been. If this game goes forward, then so be it, but it's my hope that it not be repeated.