Normally I go “along”. I go along the East River, on my beloved East River Trail, always on its west side. I go along, and sometimes under, the 59th street bridge: on the East river trail, and on 1st and 2nd avenues. I go along the western shore of Roosevelt Island, as I run along Manhattan’s east side. These places are like a backdrop, in the background of so many facets of my life: as I work, walk home, go to the grocery store, from the roof of my gym.
Today I entered the picture.
Up I went, onto the 59th street bridge, and across I ran. The climb up went quickly, since most of the elevation was gained before I seemed to be on the bridge itself. Before I knew it, the bridge opened up above me and there I was over my home, then my East River Trail, then Roosevelt Island.
Then, with the beauty that is running, I was suddenly out of the familiar and into a whole new world, deposited there by my own two feet alone: Queens. Across I went, down to the west side of the Roosevelt Island shore now, passing first a beautiful park, then a power plant, then garages and industrial buildings, till I came to the next bridge– the one to Roosevelt island’s shore.
Across this bridge I ran, looking to my left at the much larger bridge that I had traversed, only a few minutes ago. Then, for the second time only, I was on the island. Unlike the last time the island wasn’t bitterly cold, frozen, deserted, and dead. This time it was sunny and green, with cherry trees groaning under the weight of exploding blossoms, and families picnicking under their boughs. Around the island I went. First running to the northern tip, by the lighthouse. There I spied the flock of ducks that I had been so excited to encounter in a previous post, and had mistakenly called grebes. I am still unsure of their identity, if you know, please let me know (they are my photo of the day).
Across the river the irony of the Carl Shurz park was plain to see. From here it was clearly visible that Manhattanites were luxuriating in their superiority, in a beautiful park, placed on top of two lanes of a major highway. Roosevelt island, however, had parks of grass instead of concrete, and even art installations along the water-front path. This time I was running along my old stomping ground from the opposite side, watching it from afar without a hint of loss.
I circled the entire island, then circled again back to the F line, 7.5 miles from home (as the runner runs- as the crow flies, probably less than one full mile). Now I went down. Deep down below the island I caught the train that would take me below the river, the East River Trail, my home, and my work, depositing me onto another, larger, island.
It would be repetitive and unnecessary to go on about how an exploration run like this is what I love most about running– my own two feet carrying me away from the usual, into new worlds and experiences. So I will leave it at the sentence above. At work tomorrow I will look out my window at my usual back-drop, the bridge and the island, and know that for a little while the day before, I was part of the scenery.