In all the years that I’ve been online and interacting with strangers, I’ve gotten into cars with them (not counting Uber or Lyft), invited them to stay with me, met them in random locations in the middle of nowhere, went to their homes, and probably did other things that my parents told me not to do with strangers when I was a child. I have done this dozens and dozens of times.
Some weeks ago, I invited Ari of My Body is a Machine to go on a random long run. I’m not sure who found whom first, but regardless, Ari is a cool runner, so if you don’t follow her, you should. Ari needed a 12-mile run last week and I was game to go out of my usual hood in Brooklyn to run with her. I asked her if she wanted to go to The Little Red Lighthouse, which if you’re a New York runner, it’s a rite of passage to do at least one of your long runs to The Little Red Lighthouse, or to High Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that re-opened a few years ago. Ari said she was fine with either, so I created a route that would take us to both locations because heaven forbid, I pick one when I can pick BOTH. We had never met before, but we were committed to doing a long run together.
The original route had us meeting at a Starbucks near Morningside Park. We did that. So far so good. Then we had to run north’ish connecting through a series of parks until we reach Highbridge Park. We ran north’ish, running through, or next to parks. Still, so far so good.
We went off-rail when we reached Highbridge Park, or around that area. Instead of being west of the park, so we could hit a trail that would take us to the bridge, we somehow ended up east of the park, right on the river pathway, right next to the Harlem River. It was a really nice pathway with very few people, so Ari and I enjoyed a quiet respite away from crowds, but it was all very confusing because we had no idea how we ended up where we were. All we could do was stare up at High Bridge above us as we ran beneath it. Because of the highway, Harlem River Drive, there was no way for us to get from the river pathway to the bridge.
I looked over at Ari and said, “Oh, well, I guess that’s for our next run together.” I was highly confident that despite I dragged Ari to the edge of nowhere and gotten us lost, I was still going to get another run with her!!!!!
The views from the pathway are really wonderful. Not too many runners go along this way, so we got a piece of Manhattan all to ourselves. We continued north until we popped out in Inwood. We continued to run north because at this point we were fully off the course and I recklessly decided that we should run the tip of Manhattan because we were already all the way up here, so why not? Ari gamely followed. She’s such a trooper. Seriously, I couldn’t have asked for a better running buddy on this spontaneous running adventure.
We continued north on 10th Ave until we reached W. 218th St. where we made a left and ran past Columbia’s football stadium. Who knew Columbia played football? Then we ran next to Inwood Hill Park because while there are several lovely trails there, we had to get back south and we didn’t need to lengthen our adventure.
I accidentally took Ari down the wrong path at Fort Tryon Park. If you want the path that goes all the way south, you need to take the path that goes UNDER the bridge, not the one next to it. That one is a dead end. A pretty dead end, but a dead end, nonetheless. Ari still doesn’t complain about my poor navigational skills.
It’s at this section of the pathway along the Henry Hudson Parkway that you’re able to reach Inspiration Point where you come to a set of columns called the Grecian Temple. I wish I could tell a cool story about this place, but it was created by the NYC Department of Parks to provide a shelter area for leisure drivers when the freeway had access to this area. I utterly love this architectural structure and look for it eagerly whenever I drive by. The views from this area are lovely, and across the river you see the trees of the Palisades in New Jersey.
We took a few photos and continued south. There was some detour because the path was close for maintenance, which meant that we missed the Little Red Lighthouse. We were now 0 for 2 on seeing the things that we had meant to see but 10 for 10 on fun. We continued running south to Riverside Park until we had to get out to end our run.
In the end we ended up running slightly more than 14 miles all over the perimeter of northern Manhattan. It was chilly, blustery day, but I had a great time running and exploring a new area with Ari. I love meeting bloggers with whom I’ve been interacting. It’s great to meet someone that you’ve been talking to and you feel that you do know because you’ve been reading them for so long. I make a point of following only people I find authentic. So far I think I’ve been doing a good job because I’ve never been disappointed or surprised in a bad way by the bloggers I’ve met. They’ve all been as wonderful (actually more so) as I thought they would be based on their writings.
Ari, I promise the next time we go running together, I won’t get us lost (fingers crossed while I said this because I have a horrible sense of direction, so of course, we’ll get lost again).