New York City has become a popular place to spend New Year's Eve for many reasons. First and foremost, the famous "dropping of the ball" happens in Times Square, the heart of Manhattan. Secondly, the city that never sleeps literally does not sleep on New Year's Eve (and it makes sure you don't either, even if you have a flight at 8:00 am on New Year's Day). Thirdly, due to a television show that enjoyed widespread popularity in the 1990's, many people, women in particular, have acquired a warped idea of what New Year's in the big apple would be like.
I'm not trying to ruin dreams here, but let me offer some insight about what really goes down on December 31st in New York City. I think it's important to realize that with all of the LCD and flat screen technology that has emerged in the last few years, you will see the ball drop in a much more dramatic fashion in your own living room than you would if you were standing in Times Square. Unless you set up camp near the ball at least 12 hours before midnight, you will have to fight with over a million tourists just like you who want the best possible view and don't care if their 2012 top-hat with extended sparkling pinwheels is blocking your view. Without an aggressive attitude and stiletto elbows, chances are that you will end up so far away that watching the ball drop will be no more thrilling than depositing a quarter and watching a gumball drop a few inches into your hand.
I'm not going to pretend that I'm one of the women who are above watching Sex and the City, and I'm also not going to pretend that in college I was too mature to deal with break-ups, bad races and finals week with my own self-destructive combination of ice-cream, a snuggie and a Sex and the City marathon. To each their own. The point is, I always imagined that if I spent New Year's Eve in New York City, I would be riding down 5th avenue poking out of the top of a limo, bedazzled from head to toe and sipping champagne from a $600 pair of high heels. Although I did witness one young woman pouring a corona into her coat pocket, the glitz, glamour and poise of a Carrie Bradshaw New Year's somehow escaped me.
I can, however, suggest a perfect way to combine the excitement and energy of New Year's Eve with self-constructive fitness and fun in New York City. For years now, the New York Road Runners have hosted the Emerald Nuts Midnight Run that starts the new year off with a four mile tour of central park under the brilliant canopy of an unbelievable fireworks show and a costume contest that may be more competitive than the race itself (I watched a man dressed as a taco challenge a giant walking can of emerald nuts to a dance-off for the win), and although I personally did not partake of the champagne stop a few miles in, I'm sure many runners did and enjoyed themselves.
The race itself was a solid one for me (2nd place woman with a time of 21:17) and my teammate Landon (1st place with a time of 18:35) and it was very satisfying to race well in New York after two mediocre performances there in 2011. Third time's a charm, right?
Overall, The best part of the midnight run was the celebration I was privileged enough to share with 5,000 other head cases that would rather spend the last few seconds of 2011 on a starting line than anywhere else.