Trail Running in Manhattan and General Grants Memorial
Yesterday (Saturday, May 12, 2012), I decided to run north along the Hudson to clear my head and take in some new sites around the city. I set out running north from 97th Street through Riverside Park.
I ran along the wide asphalt path passing tons of people walking their dogs or taking a stroll through the park.
When I hit the Bird Sanctuary portion of the park I decided to go off the asphalt trail and hit the dirt and gravel that cut through the grass and woods. This was a bit less traveled so I was able to get into my own zone.
The main area was wide and full of people since the sun was blasting out strongly for the first time in over a week. I was cruising at about an 8 minute and 5 second per mile pace. After just a few minutes I approached the tennis courts at 116th Street. From there the trails (the wide asphalt trail to my left and the little dirt trail I was all) met at a large stair case that would take me up
and around the tennis courts.
With no other choice, I rejoined the asphalt path and followed the stairs until I saw a dirt path cutting through the woods. There was a couple walking a dog down the path so I figured it would be a fun trail to try to run.
After about 2 minutes I lost sight of the main path and all other people. It was that odd moment when you realize you are still in New York City but you can’t see a single building or person even though there a millions of people in the city. This “alone time” kept me trucking forward as it was oddly calming. After another minute the path ended as I approached 5 trees that had fallen down over the path. I propped myself up on my tip-toes to see if the path was runable on the far side of the five fallen trees and it was.
I backed up a few yards, turned the music on my iPod up and set off at a full clip until I reached the first tree. My left foot planted on the fallen tree trunk and I leapt through the air to clear the second one landing solidly between the second and third tree trunks. From there I jumped over the third tree as if it was a hurdle and landed abruptly between the third and fourth trees. The next two trees were tangled together and were too high to leap over so I started to climb over them. Halfway across the trees I felt a bit liberated. For the first time in years I was in the middle of nature running trails like I use to do when I was in my teens.
You may not know it by looking at me, but I love nature. My favorite runs involve a light spring rain falling on me, surrounded by trees and very few (to no) people within sight.
Anyways, after a few more minutes I reached a trail that was too overgrown to continue going forward so I started heading up a hill through the trees. I figured that the main asphalt path was up to my right some where and the trees weren’t too dense to run through. After climbing for a bit and making my way through the trees I arrived at an iron gate. On the other side was the path I was looking for and Riverside Drive.
As if I was on a run with the Hash House Harriers (a running group I ran with in California with my mother and in London once with other family members. It is a group that does trail running and beer drinking hand in hand on runs.). Looking left and right I realized the only option I had to was climb the gate as if I was a kid again.
Once I plopped on the far side of the gate I saw a huge church. I still have no clue what church it was, but it was stunning. Next to that I saw a building that was reminiscent of all the monuments I use to see living in Richmond, Virginia. Let me just say, Richmond is an interesting place. It is the only place in the World (as far as I am aware) that has a mile of monuments to people who lost a war (Monument avenue dedicated to different confederate soldiers fromt he Civil War).
It turns out that the structure was General Grants Tomb and Memorial. A monument dedicated to a man from the Civil War who fought to make rights for all Americans a reality. It was refreshing to be standing in front of this memorial. The sun shined around it and it was decked out in American Flags.
Riverside Park is a great place to visit if you are vacationing in New York City or if you are a resident looking for an escape from the buildings and traffic. For those that don’t know, it is the waterfront park along the Hudson. It runs from 72nd Street to 158th Street. You can take a virtual tour by visiting www.nycgovparks.org/park-features/riverside-park/virtual-tour.
If you are in Midtown or lower Manhattan the park system along the Hudson there is also beautiful. I hope to run along that part of the Hudson River in the coming week or two and take pictures as I trot along.