The smells of running

I did a good chunk of yesterday's 18-miler in Central Park--about nine miles.  While I was running I noticed a smell all throughout the park.  It was vaguely of incense, and that could make sense if there was a street vendor selling incense nearby, but I was smelling this all over the park.   

The NYRR was having a Marathon training run, so maybe it had something to do with that?  Then I noticed some red powdery stuff on the cobblestones near Tavern on the Green where the smell was particularly strong--perhaps that was it?  It most definitely was not the horse poop smell that dominates the loop from the sixth avenue entrance to the grand army plaza exit.  I never figured it out, but I was relieved when I left the park and no longer had to smell it.

But this makes me think that smelling is a bigger part of running than you would initially imagine.  I mean the whole process of running really is an exercise in breathing right?  In through your nose, out through your mouth. So it makes sense that you end up smelling a lot while running.  And from all that, you start to identify certain smells with running.

There are two major smells that dominate my weekday runs in Astoria.  First, there is the stench from the power plant.  Or it might be a broken sewer pipe as someone posted on a photocopied flyer taped up throughout Astoria Park.  Either way, on a bad day the smell can invade the whole neighborhood and can be really upsetting to a run.  

The second smell, and forgive me for sounding creepy, is the smell of over-perfumed Astorians walking by in the morning.  I don't exactly know why, but my neighbors, both male and female, love perfume--or heavy scented soap.  Every time I pass someone I swear I can smell one of my dad's colognes or the smell of my first grade teacher.  It's eerie and comforting at the same time.

The are some random other smells I associate with running.  For about two weeks in June/July every year the Jasmine trees in Astoria park bloom and the smell pervades the track--this marks the beginning of fall Marathon training season.  There is the car exhaust smell from doing hill repeats on the Queensboro Bridge--absolutely choking if the wind is not in your favor.  There's also my own scent, the one that I swear sometimes smells like chardonnay and the reason I try to find a seat in the corner when I take the subway home after a long run.


Adam said...

Ugg, I can't stand the over purfumed. What is it with some people in the gym who feel that they have to leave a trail!?

I think there is a gym carnies post in there somewhere.

Laura said...

I always feel guilty when I work out after a big night of drinking... like there is alcohol seeping from my pores and everyone can smell it. However, the calories I drank are usually what is motivating me to go extra hard!

Anonymous said...

Running in NYC has it's good and bad. And bad smells for sure! Perfume is the worst, even worst than trash on a hot summer day.

Great blog! I love to read about other NY runners.