We’re going over the 10K course in a car because there’s no way I’m going to try to run this in 20+ mph winds.  Maybe I’m a wuss, but it’s Passover and matzah is NOT a low-glycemic food.  In less than three weeks the Riverdale Y (where I work) will host its 6th annual (and my first) Running Festival.  Lisa, the Race Director drives while I get to look out the window, surveying the course. The run opens with a nice downhill start, only to challenge runners with rolling hills as you turn onto Independence Avenue.  I’m distracted by the wide streets lined with blooming trees and immense houses that I miss the downhill shift on 247th St. This is where the 5K runners will break right onto the immense Spaulding hill, while the 10K and 13.1 mi runners will take the left – we turn left, too.

Cruising down Palisade Ave.’s light graded hills, the Hudson gleams on our right.  By May 4th those trees will shade the path and frame the views of the Hudson and Riverside Park.  2 miles down, we loop around Raoul Wallenberg Forest and Seton Park for the bonus hill the half-marathoners will climb before charging back down and returning to the course they share with the 10K. Half a mile later there’s Henry Hudson Park on the left and Spuyten Duyvil Shorefront Park on the right.  We go under the Spuyten Duyvil Bridge, and the scenery changes back to an urban environment.  The windows of the nearby residential buildings look down on us as we circle the neighborhood, returning to the river and greenway, and head North, back to the Y.  The rolling hills are all decline-oriented, affording a much-needed respite.  I take a look at the car’s fuel tank and wonder whether matza has a carbon footprint.  My mouth waters at the thought of Kind bars, one of the race sponsors, when I realize that the car has started to tilt.

We’re back at the point where the 5K runners turned away – the Spaulding incline.  Going up, we pass Wave Hill.  It’s so pretty, no wonder nannies and parents take their kids out there in warm weather.

1/3 of a mile to the Start/Finish line the car levels out, and my heart drops when I see us approaching another hill.  My trip to work at the Y takes me up a steep hill on 254th street heading East from my bus stop.  Somehow I had always assumed that the hill leveled out on the West end.  On a hill that is more like something you’d encounter in San Francisco, I realize how wrong I was.  Two lefts later, we’re back uphill at the Riverdale Y finish line.  On the 4th there will be runners from all over the world and the Y will have picnic tables with breakfast, a beer garden, awards and more.  But for right now all I can think is: The half marathon runners will do this twice?! What have I gotten myself into?

The Riverdale Y Running Festival with 5K Walk/Run, 10K, Half Marathon, Kids’ Run, Beer Garden, Breakfast and Health Fair will take place May 4th 2014 at the Riverdale Y at 5625 Arlington Avenue, Riverdale NY 10471.  Learn more and register at riverdaley.org/race2014