9.20.2009

Sense of place

One of my favorite things about running is the sense of place it gives you. I love using a long run to explore a part of town that I've never been to before. Or when I'm away from home, running gives me a chance to discover the local character and off-the-path places. By running around my neighborhood I'm up-to-date on new apartment buildings, closed restaurants, and the brand new doggie day care that opened. (Sigh. If only I had a dog.)

When we visit family in Philadelphia I love running around the city. I get to see all the historic sites, pass by the Art Museum (and the accompanying 13-foot Rocky statue), traverse UPenn, pass by the boat houses. I always try to run a slightly different route so that I get to experience a new part of town.

Running in my parents' neighborhood is always nostalgic. When we were there last I intentionally ran around my elementary school. Turns out it has been transformed into an "ele-middle," which is a school with grades K-8. The field where I ran my first mile ever and watched the SWAT team do demonstrations on Career Days was gone, replaced by a set of three-storey buildings most likely housing grades 6-8.

Here in New York I've explored all sorts of neighborhoods and seen all kinds of things while running: a turkey, llama, donkey, and emu; a head-on runner collision; and a man running shorts in single-digit weather. During yesterday's 13-mile run I had another unique New York sighting.

I had run uptown through Harlem from 125th Street to 207th Street and crossed over to the Hudson River to run down to Central Park. About a mile after crossing under the George Washington Bridge I saw two guys fishing. This was not unusual. During good weather you can usually find someone fishing this part of the Hudson--I don't know why you would fish here, but people do.

What was unusual about this pair was that they had caught a fish. I didn't get to see if it had a third eye, ala Blinky from the Simpsons:



However, it was a sizable fish, about 12-15 inches long; sizable enough to eat...which is what they were getting ready to do. That's right folks. I saw someone fish out a fish (doh! stupid verb and noun being the same word) on roughly 140th and the Hudson river and gut it for lunch. Delish.

But to understand the full grossness of this let's examine the geography of this area of Manhattan. Essentially there are three landmarks on the Hudson from the northern tip of Manhattan south to 59th Street. Toward the northern end is the George Washington Bridge. Toward the southern end is the 79th Street Boat Basin. Right smack in the middle is the third: Riverbank State Park.

What's so special about Riverbank State Park? Well, it just so happens to be built on top of the North River Water Treatment Plant, which processes 125+ million gallons of waste water--a day. How far were these guys from this plant? About 2,000 feet.

That's right. Ew.

6 comments:

Carlee said...

I love running in new places too. Is it wrong that "good running" is part of my honeymoon requirements as we start to search?

Kevin said...

Running is definitely a great way to explore new areas. That is just gross about the fish

The Laminator said...

Okay...I just had dinner so I'm going to pretend I didn't read this...

Ted said...

Terrific post! In a way, I see a lot of things that most people don't see in their lifetime. Like you, I love exploring. I have said this many times like "Oh, I never knew it was there!"

Ewww about the fish! Just lost my appetite this evening!

Adam said...

Wow, I don't know my NYC sludge, but eating those fish sounds ballsy. Stupid, but ballsy.

Irish Cream said...

Ew, ew, ew, ew, EW! What is wrong with people?! That is just gross! That third eye mutation is probably the least of their worries--yuck!

But at the same time, that's what I love about running in NYC . . . you never know WHAT you'll see!