08 July 2006

Some Much-Needed Rest

As usual, I'm taking Saturday off. And it's probably not a bad idea, since I've had a pretty good week (over 29 miles between Tuesday and Friday) and want to rest up for a longer run tomorrow. Moreover, the leg that I messed up last weekend while stretching is slowly feeling better, and after a day off it ought to be as good as new (or so I hope).

I've also made a few improvements to the blog, in response to a number of suggestions and questions I've received. First of all, there's a "frequently asked questions" section (the link's to the right), as well as a permanent link to the Daily News article from last week (underneath the FAQ link). Also, I've spent a few hours with some maps and the records of my runs thus far, and have calculated the total number of miles I've run, the number of unique miles (in other words, the miles I've run for the first time, without overlap), and the total time. I'll be including these numbers on each post from here on out, but to bring things up to speed, here are the totals since I started on June 25:

Total Miles: 76.66
Unique Miles: 69.14
% Complete: 3.97 (Based on the more conservative 1742 mile total)

Total Time: 10:45
Total Runs: 10
Ave. Miles/Run: 7.67
Ave. Time/Run: 1:04:30
Ave. Pace: 8:25/mile

And because I've thus far taken more photos than I can include on the individual posts, here's an extra one from yesterday's journey down to Canarsie Pier:

07 July 2006

And on to Canarsie...

Friday 7/7: Brownsville & Canarsie

Distance: 8.17 miles
Time: 1:05
Pace: 7:57
Temp: 70
Dewpoint: 54
Weather: sunny, dry, and breezy

Click on image for interactive Google Map

I started at the intersection of Junius and Livonia in Brownsville, right under the subway platform. I headed south on Junius to New Lots, then east to Sheffield, south to Hegeman, west to Williams, south to Flatlands Ave, west to 100th St, south to Seaview and over to Rockaway Parkway. Then I headed down toward the water, under the Belt Parkway and around the traffic circle before making a lap around Canarsie Pier. After that I doubled back up the other side of Rockaway Parkway before heading west on Seaview Ave to 93rd, which turned into 92nd after a couple of blocks. I continued on 92nd up to Ditmas, then over to Rockaway Parkway again before making a right on Lenox, a left on 98th, before heading east again on Livonia to Watkins.

Notes: The meteorological promise hinted at yesterday morning was fulfilled today, with dry air, a cool northwest breeze, and a bright blue sky. Given the conditions, I figured the time was ripe to head down toward the water for the first time, and after drowsily staring at the map for a few moments I decided to take the 3 train out to Brownsville and then head down to Canarsie Pier. The run itself was one of the most diverse in terms of what I saw -- a little of everything. The usual small businesses (tire places, beauty salons, bodegas, restaurants) along the busier streets, as well as churches, strip malls, old guys fishing off the pier and some very pleasant residential streets lined with well-kept single family homes. Up near Livonia street the neighborhood was rougher around the edges, with a good number of empty lots and boarded up houses, and there was some light industry around Ditmas Ave. But there was also clearly quite a bit of new development, mostly one- or two-family attached houses with neat little yards out front. Almost every time I turned a corner there was something new to see (most unexpected sight: an old car in a weed-strewn yard just off the sidewalk). That in of itself would've made a great run, but when you factor in the near-perfect weather and the fact that my leg is slowly feeling better, it was probably the best run yet. Some pictures:

Entrance to Canarsie Pier

In a yard on Canarsie Road

Doors on 92nd Street

Scrap metal place on Ditmas Ave.

06 July 2006

Wave Fences and Jimmibeetles

Thursday 7/6: Gravesend & Sheepshead Bay

Distance: 7.97 miles
Time: 1:05
Pace: 8:09
Temp: 68
Dewpoint: 58
Weather: overcast

Click on image for interactive Google Map

I started at Avenue X and McDonald Ave, then down 2nd St to Avenue Z, east to Coyle, then around the park and water pollution plant on Coyle, Voorhies, Knapp, and Avenue Y, then back north on Coyle and Bragg to Avenue W. Then west to 16th St, back down to Avenue Y and west on Y to 2nd and up to Avenue X, before heading east to 15th and then north to Avenue V. Last, I took Avenue V west to where it merges with Gravesend Neck Road, taking that back across McDonald to Van Sicklen, which I took south to Avenue W before ending at the corner of McDonald Ave.

Notes: It was raining when I woke up this morning, but since the forecast called for it to stop by mid-morning I took the F train down to Avenue X (sounds so mysterious!) and started running. By that time the rain had stopped as predicted, and the northwest breeze was bringing noticeably drier air that I'm sure most of us are welcoming after a couple of days of rain and stifling humidity. Anyways, the run included a nice mix of residential streets (with lots of larger apartment buildings) and small businesses. Still, the sight that struck me most was the fencing around the sewage treatment facility (officially the Coney Island Water Pollution Control Plant) over by Shell Bank Creek -- along part of Knapp the fence curled over above the sidewalk like a breaker, while down the street and around the corner the top was scalloped in an abstract representation of individual waves (see the picture below). It was a degree of design whimsy I suppose I'm not used to seeing on big municipal structures, and while it might not seem like a big deal I thought it was really cool. A post-run Google search indicates that the fencing was designed by artist Ned Smyth (more from the NY Department of Cultural Affairs website). Here are a few photos from today's run:

Mural on Avenue Y

Wave fence outside the sewage treatment plant on Knapp Street

Festive icon on Avenue X

On Coney Island Avenue

05 July 2006

Rain, Gravestones, and a Horse

Wednesday 7/5: Windsor Terrace, Kensington, Borough Park

Distance: 7.13 miles
Time: 1:00
Pace: 8:25
Temp: 75
Dewpoint: 72
Weather: muggy and light rain

Click on image for interactive Google Map

Route: Start at 8th Ave and 1st Street, over to 7th Ave then south to Windsor Place, east on Windsor Place to Prospect Park Southwest for a block then west on Seeley to McDonald. Left on McDonald for a block then over to 2nd St to Fort Hamilton Parkway. Down FHP to 44th St and then back up 12th Ave to Dahill and back to Caton Ave, then up E. 8th, Sherman, and Reeve to Prospect Ave and then over to 8th Ave. I ended at 8th Ave and 3rd St.

Notes: I was going to take a ride down toward the water (maybe Sheepshead Bay or Coney Island) this morning but with a light rain falling and heavier rain in the forecast I decided to stick close to home today. And while I covered some new ground in the corner of Borough Park just south of Greenwood Cemetery (small businesses along Fort Hamilton Parkway, more residential elsewhere), the most interesting thing I stumbled across today was Kensington Stables at the corner of E. 8th St. and Caton Place. That's where I met Teddy, a horse casually munching hay out on the sidewalk. I'm sure the presence of a working stable in Brooklyn isn't news to locals, but I have to admit it was a pleasant surprise for me.

Oh, and I'm not much into self-promotion, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the very nice piece Jotham Sederstrom wrote about me and my runs in the Daily News today. And Mr. Markowitz, if you're reading this, I'm ready any time you are!

It was more difficult taking pictures today in the rain, but I managed a few.

Tire place on Fort Hamilton Parkway

In a front yard in Borough Park

Teddy the horse

04 July 2006

Happy 4th!

Tuesday 7/4: Bay Ridge

Distance: 5.82 miles
Time: 0:50
Pace: 8:35
Temp: 81
Dewpoint: 70
Weather: warm, humid, and hazy

Click on image for interactive Google Map

Route: Start at 4th Ave and 86th St, then back and forth between 4th Ave and Shore Road down to 91st. Then up Shore Road to Mackay, then over to 4th Avenue and 73rd via 71st and 72nd. Along the way, I also ran a couple of dead end streets (Shore Ct. and the little western part of 78th St).

Convinced that somehow, as I slumbered last night, the almost magical ability of the human body to heal itself had transformed painful injury into mere nagging soreness, I decided to go out and do a quick five or six miles to see how the leg was doing. Any trepidation about my leg was tempered by anticipatory Independence Day excitement (I'm especially looking forward to the concert this afternoon, as well as watching the fireworks tonight from the roof of the new apartment in Greenpoint) and eagerness to try out the new camera.

So I took the R train down to 86th Street and started running, and... had another great run. Bay Ridge is certainly the most suburban setting I've seen so far, with sycamore-lined streets and lots of houses I'd be able to afford only if I won the lottery. And, in keeping with the holiday spirit, there were flags everywhere. Along Shore Road there were great views of the bay and the ship traffic, and off in the hazy distance I spotted the Statue of Liberty. I almost didn't want to stop, but figured I'd take it easy since my leg was still sore. And the new camera appeared to work fine, though it took some discipline to resist the urge to stop every time I saw something interesting. Still, I managed to take a few shots, so here's a sampling:

72nd Street

Looking down 3rd Ave toward the Verrazano-Narrows bridge

An ad on 4th Avenue

A container ship heading for the Narrows

03 July 2006

Another Off Day

I usually take Mondays off (to rest up a bit after my Sunday long run), but it was especially nice not to have to run today since my leg/hip is still hurting pretty bad. I might play it safe and take tomorrow off, too (besides, it's a holiday, and I've got to get to Battery Park for the Belle & Sebastian concert), but then again... I might feel the need to get in at least a few miles.

In other news, I just got back from a little shopping trip to the city, where I picked up a new digital camera (and an ugly little waistpack to carry it). Of course, I didn't spend a whole lot, since I'll probably drop it or sweat all over it or whatever. But whenever my next run is I'll be snapping a few pictures along the way, and I'm looking forward to putting some of them up here.

02 July 2006

Sunday 7/2: Flatlands, Marine Park, East Flatbush, Crown Heights

Distance: 11.15 miles
Time: 1:35
Pace: 8:31
Temp: 76
Dewpoint: 66
Weather: mostly sunny and breezy

Click on image for interactive Google Map

Route: I started at the intersection of Flatbush and Nostrand Avenues, then east on Avenue H to Ralph Ave, south to Avenue T, down to Marine Park, right on 33rd, up to Avenue R, then north on Schenectady to Avenue I and west on Avenue I to Nostrand. Then north on Nostrand up to Lincoln Place, then west on Lincoln to Underhill, up to Sterling, then back across Flatbush to 7th Ave and down to Union.

Notes: Things started this morning with one of the more frightening sounds a runner can hear -- a loud "pop" from my left leg as I was stretching my hamstring on the platform of the Grand Army Plaza station while waiting for the 2 train. I felt it, too, a sharp, painful snap at the back of my leg up near the hip socket. The noise was loud enough that the sleepy-looking guy sitting on the bench nearby looked over and grimaced, but I just kind of walked around for a while, thinking the pain might subside. And it did -- a little, at least -- and so, being (choose some combination of the following: a runner, male, stubborn, in complete denial that my 40 year-old body is indeed aging, just plain stupid) I decided to go ahead with my normal Sunday long run.

So I took the 2 to the end of the line (next to the Brooklyn College campus), and started running. And after a few blocks, it didn't seem so bad, so I kept going. Fortunately, the route was great, with lots of tree-lined residential streets and handsome brick houses sitting behind compact front yards and flower gardens in Flatlands and Marine Park. Heading back north, Nostrand Avenue in East Flatbush was bustling despite the early hour, with many small businesses and places to eat already open for the day. There was plenty to see (and a lot less traffic than on weekdays), and I probably could've gone a little longer if... my leg didn't begin feeling like it was going to fall off after about an hour and a half. By the time I'd hit the intersection of 7th Ave and Union I was clearly limping, so I just headed back to the apartment.

And now, a few hours later, my leg is killing me (which, of course, shouldn't come as a surprise at all). What is it with runners? Why do we (OK, admittedly it's not all of us, but I know I'm not alone) do things like run eleven miles when we know we're hurt? Is it our competitive spirit? Our work ethic? Are we just overly optimistic? Or are we suffering from some psychological disorder which compels us to punish ourselves? Being neither psychologist nor physiologist, I have no idea. But I'll probably stay off the leg for the rest of the day, and put off my camera shopping until tomorrow.

Oh, and the worst part is that I hurt myself while stretching. It's one thing to pull a muscle or strain something while competing in a race or something, but while stretching? I thought stretching was supposed to prevent injury!

Whatever. I'll take tomorrow off, but I know already that I'll probably be back on the road Tuesday, regardless of what happens.