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A Moment in Running: Manhattan Edition Pt. 1

Posted Jan 29 2012 8:35pm

I’ve run in some amazing places in my life. The quiet rivers of Ann Arbor; the cobblestone streets of Prague; the swampy parks of New Orleans; the famous Georgetown canal. I even took to jogging (albeit short, non-speedy jogging) while vacationing in Jamaica this past Christmas. 

But what I’ve realized in the last two years is that there is no backdrop I’ve loved more for running – at least, not on a consistent basis – than the pathways of New York City, congested as they may be.

That said, I present my favorite Manhattan moments, in no particular order. If you’re a NYC-based runner, then perhaps some will look quite familiar. And if you’re not, then I hope this serves as inspiration to lace up your sneakers and get out there. If it’s not too bothersome, I definitely recommend having a camera in tow.

Have you ever seen something so eerily beautiful? Central Park – before the true masses awake – is one of the most magical places on earth. (Disney world, watch your back.) In fall, the scenery looks as though it’s been pulled straight out of a Tim Burton film. I don’t typically run down this pathway, as it somewhat cuts straight across the loop I usually complete. But every now and then, when I’m short for time, I’ll veer south sooner than anticipated. For the view alone, I’d say it’s worth it.

When I do have the time to complete the southern loop, there’s nothing I love more than to descend the stairs that lead to the Bethesda Fountain. Have you ever seen the HBO version of Tony Kushner’s Angel’s in America? If you haven’t, please do. It’s amazing. But regardless, head on over to this special locale. Not only is it a great place to run past, but it’s also the perfect spot to stop, stretch, do a few push-ups, sit-ups or tricep dips, and gather your thoughts.

This is just another Central Park moment. It’s where I spend the majority of my mornings, before heading off to work, so I’ve grown kind of accustomed to it. Moving on now, I promise.

Ah, the East River. I’m always so torn between the east and west sides of New York City because, on the one hand, Hudson River Park is decidedly gorgeous while, on the other hand, there are about five-billion less people on the East River. OK, so at times, the East River can be a bit rough around the edges – you know, with fisherman throwing wads of bloody bait into the water with no regard for flying guts and whatnot. But that’s cool. Because then you get moments like this.

Most days, I only get about as far as the Manhattan Bridge, which is a five to six mile run (total, there and back) from my apartment. Most days, I don’t have much more time to commit to personal penchants than that. On rare occasions though, I’m afforded enough free time to head on past both the Manhattan and Williamsburg bridges, and when I do, I end up here. The majestic Brooklyn Bridge. Really, the picture says it all.

Less regal than the former, nothing looks more quintessentially NYC than the Queensborough Bridge. On another note, nothing looks more like it was taken directly out of the set of Batman. Anyway, this bridge plays two important roles in my running. Firstly: I find running across it and stepping foot into Queens, and to be in two major boroughs on one run, just awesome. Plus it’s a pretty quiet path, save for the honking hordes of cars. The other time I encounter this behemoth of a gateway into Manhattan is when running to the pseudo-parks that line Sutton Place. I cross-train there, all while staring at this massive steel structure. It’s dwarfing, but I like it. And it’s also a great contrast to more open areas of the city, where the buildings aren’t as daunting. Like this next place.

They say that The High Line brought commerce back to The Meatpacking District and the (far) west side of Manhattan. That’s great and all; I’m a fan of The Brass Monkey for booze and Scoop’s extra-40-off-already-on-sale-items sales. My favorite part about this ultra-chic area of the city isn’t for the luxe fashion (DVF, swoon), celebrity sightings and overpriced eggs benedict though. It’s The High Line: a fabulous space when you can get there early enough. Spanning the length of 14th street to somewhere near 30th (vague, sorry), The High Line is the ultimate Zen in Manhattan, even in the winter when the lush greenery is replaced with brownish, dried out sticks.

In all fairness, it’s not a very long path. But it does offer a nice way to cut your run into segments. And when spring does come back around, you’re bound to find funky flora like this…

Good advice like this…

Refreshing imagery like this…

Or telling signs like this.

And if that fails, just look for the glitter in your stride.

(Photo taken in Hudson River Park near the tennis courts)

So I know I’m not the guru on running; please share your favorite places to run in Manhattan! West side? East side? North side? No side? Ideas are always welcomed and very much appreciated. Thanks!

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