Abra Goes

on theatre, running, writing, and looking up

Running 125th to 14th Street – Manhattan’s west side

with 2 comments

Saturday morning called for another city run; this one we planned. RC registered for his first 5k, which is May 3rd so that leaves 2 weeks to train. (I am considering running this, too. I haven’t registered yet because this would be my first 5k, and for me this is super intimidating, and I can’t tell yet if that excites me or fills me with paralyzing anxiety.) 

-This tempting 5k is organized by Asha: a non-profit to provide basic education for impoverished children in India. The Asha 5k begins on 83rd in Riverside park and goes North to 112th Street and back – the entire course is through a park along the Hudson river complete with rolling green hills. We didn’t run this course on Saturday, and I realize I need to do some serious uphill training before attempting to do so!

Saturday morning we took the 1 train to 125th street. By the time we got to Harlem from Brooklyn, the air was cool, sky blue and I realized I’d worn too many clothes. Note to self: dress to be 20 degrees warmer. Don’t wear two hoodies and a long sleeve tee over your running tank… We both downed a GU-gel, berry flavored, before taking off (more on gels in another post, the immediate energy boost from these is helpful, but the taste and consistency are tough to swallow).

The first mile from 125th, both a cyclist and running path, has a clear and safe separation from the traffic of the west side highway. You’re running on a well cared for, paved path only feet away from the river. Best of all, there is no formal pedestrian divider between island and water. You see the George Washington Bridge fading behind you and NJ framing the horizon, but it doesn’t feel like you’re in NYC. Most places along the water front are developed and planned. This first mile is natural with trees, rocks and grass, AND no marble benches and architectural accents that sometimes compliment and sometimes smother the majority of Manhattan’s waterfront. 125th to around 95th along the Hudson is to date my favorite mile of NYC.

The street numbers become a blur when you’re not actually running from block to block, but around mile 2 Riverside Park bursts with blossoming trees, baseball fields, gardens, rusty remains of piers that have out lived their use, and foot paths that rival Central Park’s. The running path detours through the promenade due to construction, and then returns to the river as a wider passage way lined on one side with benches and the other with fishermen who planted several poles in each, drowsing against the rail fence.

A multitude of Trump buildings along the 70s explain the sculpted parks and many opportunities to stretch on perfect grass or flat sunning stones. Around the 70s, we stopped to congratulate ourselves.  Not knowing the exact distance we’d covered, but we knew we’d done about 50 blocks and felt pretty good. The warm sun combined with the wind from the highway and the breeze from the bridge kept my body temperature down.

Around the 40s, Hells Kitchen, the course is less a continous sight to savor and more a test of both endurance and peripheral vision to spot cyclists, taxis, and limos pulling into the parking lot of the montstrous cruise ship parked on the pier. We were thirsty, but refused to pay the tourist-inflated $3 for a bottle of water. So we kept on, enjoying the view of the empire state building down 34th, and the gust of moist air from the liberty helicopters landing.

We knew water awaited just past fourteenth street at the first playground pier. The final mile was tough; we walk/ran – thirsty, hot and weighed down by layers of clothes. At 12th street we collapsed on a bench, chugged a cold bottle of water each, stretched and I felt a little sunburn on my shoulders. Note to self: wear sunscreen.

Here’s our course. Again, the map doesn’t do it justice, but I haven’t figured out how to run with a camera yet. 6.05 Miles, give or take a step (thanks to US Track and Field site mapper)

125th to 14th street running path in NYC

I’ll definitely run this course again. Next time, I’ll stretch more early on to keep myself loose. The flatness of this path, not to be confused with the course through Riverside Park, is deceptive. I didn’t feel the impact of the run as much because the scenery is so distracting early on. But because I’m not going for speed now, as soon as the scenery ended I wished I’d stopped, stretched, and taken in more of the view. So be it – I’ll run it again in a few days and probably won’t stop then either.

My decision to register for Asha is to be determined. Right now I’m about 70 / 30 in favor of going for it. If you’ve ever run a 5k, where was your first and what did you learn? Tips would be much appreciated and used.

Miles Update:

April Goal: 30 / 42 miles

2008 Goal: 163 / 500 miles


Written by abragoes

April 21, 2008 at 12:36 am

2 Responses

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  1. Have you tried Google’s Pedometer for your maps? http://www.gmap-pedometer.com/

    And do the 5k! I know it’s nerve wracking the first time, but if you go in there with the attitude of “I’m just happy to be here” instead of worrying about time, it takes the pressure off. And it gets easier every time!

    Jen A. Miller

    April 21, 2008 at 2:13 pm

  2. […] Manhattan Waterfront (My favorite paths so far include 125th down the west side, along the southern tip, and up to the Brooklyn Bridge) […]

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