Magic weekend long run (a day late)

I was really excited to hit the roads today. Besides finally being able to do long runs again, I had mapped out a route through the parks along northern Manhattan--which is the one part of the island I have yet to explore.

I woke up this morning and hopped on the bus into town. Twenty minutes later I got off at 125th and Amsterdam. Five seconds later I discovered that I didn't load any music onto Liam (my iPod Shuffle) and realized that I would have a silent run (which I tend to avoid).

This route took me along some of the back streets of West Harlem on approach to the Greenway. Thankfully, it was daytime--otherwise I would not want to be there. Some of the places I passed were straight out of CSI. I did happen to pass by the gold standard of NYC BBQ: Dinosaur BBQ. Now that I know where it is, I might go there...but not at night.

Eventually I got to the point where the Greenway starts up again at 135th Street and was happily surrounded by greenery...and the Amtrak, which runs parallel to the Hudson all along the westside. Fortunately there seemed to be no train service today, because I was within 20 feet of the tracks for the next two miles.

Fort Washington Park, it turns out, is a beautiful park. Lots of fields, baseball diamonds, tennis courts, basketball courts---but they were mostly empty. I probably saw a total of 30 people on this leg of the run, which was nice--I didn't have to worry about dodging people or bikes like I normally would in Central Park. And this park had amazing views of the George Washington Bridge and the New Jersey Palisades. I figure the only reason this park was empty was because of the difficulty of reaching it (and the gray overcast).

As I went further North along the Hudson the park changed and I could tell I was getting to the older parts of the park, the parts that aren't well tended to. I ran across a Greek loggia called "the Greek Temple" that I later found was originally "built in 1925 as a destination for pleasure drivers on the old Riverside Drive." It was quaint and out of place, setting up the next landmark around the bend.

The s-curve revealed a gigantic arched gallery built into the granite boulders that make up Manhattan. Honestly, with the weathering, over-grown ivy, and ironic location (along Riverside Drive in Manhattan) the masonry looked as if it were natural--as if the columns were part of Manhattan's skeleton. It was eerie and surreal, and the gray weather only helped the atmosphere. This is the best picture I could find of the thing, back when it was part of an estate in present day Ft. Tryon Park. You can only see one arch here (the south side of the gallery), but it has about five arches that run along the street to the left (present day Riverside Drive). Trust me, it is impressive in person--I promise. I also found this NYT article, and oddly enough this one too, dated 1913.

At the end of this park I went crosstown along Dyckman Ave (pronounced "dikeman," yeah, lots of jokes in there) and turned south along the Harlem River. The Bronx made for less beautiful views than the New Jersey Palisades. The coolest thing about this part of the run was the High Bridge Park to my right and the stacked view of the Washington, High, and Hamilton bridges straight ahead.

I wrapped up the run on 155th Street at the southernmost point of High Bridge Park, caught a subway to the bus and went home. It was the first time in a very long time that I didn't want the run to end. It was also the first time in long time that I could describe a run as magical.

Surprisingly when I logged my time at home I realized that I was cruising at an 8:30 pace--which is great considering that this is the longest distance I've done since December, I had no music, and I thought I was taking it slow. I guess it was magic after all.

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