05 September 2006

Dirt Roads and McMansions

Tuesday 9/5: East Flatbush, Flatlands, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin

10.34 miles
Time: 1:15
Pace: 7:15
Temp: 67
Dewpoint: 56
Weather: overcast

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 9.39
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: Today's run began at Flatbush Avenue and Avenue I, from where I headed down to Avenue J, east to Ralph, south to E. 72nd, over to Avenue K, up to Bergen Avenue, down to Avenue L and then back to E. 72nd. I then went south to Avenue N, then east to the end and then doubling back to the not-quite-finished Royce Street, south to Avenue T, around the corner to Bergen, and then south to Avenue X (with an out-and-back on the dead-end Maxie Boulevard). After that it was west on Avenue X to Bergen, around to Avenue Y and west to E. 69th, north again to Avenue X, east to E. 70th, north to Avenue W, west back to E. 69th, north to Avenue U, west to E. 67th (including the block of E. 68th that dead-ends at the water), north to Avenue T, west a block to E. 66th, then south as it curves around to National Drive, north three blocks to E. 63rd and then back up to Avenue N, west to E. 59th, north to Avenue M, west to E. 43rd, north to Flatlands then east just a little to E. 40th, north to Alton, west back to Flatbush Avenue, north to Avenue K, west to E. 31st, north to where it dead-ends, back a block to Aurelia, east to Flatbush, and then north to Avenue H. Whew. I took the 2 to the G home.

Notes: Running is an often mysterious activity. Sure, many of us who engage in it like to pretend it's much more of a science than it really is, recording our paces down to a fraction of a second and planning each of our meals down to individual grams of protein and carbohydrate. But despite our best efforts, there's still a distinctly random element which dicates that we never know what's going to happen on any given run until we're actually out there running. In other words, despite plenty of rest and nourishment, sometimes we get out on the street and have really lousy runs where our legs feel like lead and each mile feels twice as long as it really is, while there are other days when, sleep-deprived and achy, we go out and feel -- for no discernable reason, mind you -- that we could run forever. I haven't had many of the latter so far this summer, but today was one of them.

Why? I have no idea. My 40-year-old body sometimes feels like it's nearing exhaustion from running over 180 miles during August, and I've had enough pain in my legs and heels that I've been popping a good amount of Advil over the last few weeks. I know I don't sleep enough, and I'm still mentally processing the changes in my day-to-day existence wrought by a move from Iowa to Brooklyn, while trying to get back into the rhythms of writing on a daily basis. Yet today I got up and busted out over 10 miles in an hour and fifteen minutes, for a pace of around 7:15 minutes/mile, easily my fastest run (except for shorter races) in a year or two. True, my pace overall has been speeding up as I've piled on the miles this summer (something that's not completely unexpected), and stopping for 20 or 30 seconds while snapping pictures here and there offers occasional breaks, but the bottom line is that I haven't run this fast in a long time. And moreover, it felt great -- I felt like I could've run another 10. But then again, tomorrow might be one of those off days, so I guess things average out.

Regardless of why it was that I felt so good, I headed back to Bergen Beach and Mill Basin, residential areas that I haven't visited in a while. And what I saw today confirmed my initial observations -- in Mill Basin, especially, there were a very good number of oversized, somewhat ostentatious homes crowded next to one another on smallish lots, and sometimes alternating with the more modest ranches and split-levels that I have to assume were the original houses in the neighborhood. There was some more unexpected stuff, too, with a mostly abandoned-looking industrial facility between the water of East Mill Basin and E. 69th Street in Bergen Beach (see the picture below), as well as several blocks of new construction in the Georgetown part of the neighborhood. Perhaps most interestingly, I also got to run on three separate dirt roads today -- an unpaved extension of Royce Avenue through a few blocks of new development, the secluded Maxie Boulevard, a dead end off of Bergen Street leading to a small yacht club on Paerdegat Basin, and a narrow alley/driveway that snaked behind some of the fancier houses on E. 66th Street, along the water. It's not too often I encounter unpaved roads here in Brooklyn, but three in one run seems particularly unusual. And fun, of course.

OK, that's about it for today. As always, some photos:

Some of the fancy newer homes in Mill Basin (looking across from Bergen Beach)

E. 59th Street

Some kind of industrial something, E. 69th Street

Yeah, I know, but it makes a nice picture (Avenue N)

Graveyard at the Flatlands Dutch Reformed Church (Kings Highway & E. 40th)


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