15 July 2006

Special Saturday Anxiety Edition

It's Saturday again, so I'm resting up. But the time off this morning has given me the chance to think about this whole running thing, allowing me plenty of opportunity to do what I do best – worry about stuff. Here are the "Brooklyn Runs"-related things I'm fretting about most today:

1. I'm running way too much. No, seriously. Over the last few years, in a typical week I'd probably run 25 miles, 30 tops. But last week I ran over 42, and assuming I get my long run in tomorrow I'll have close to 44 this week. Now, that'd be okay, I guess, if I was actively training for a marathon or something, but I'm not. I've just been caught up in the excitement of starting this project and wanting to see as many different neighborhoods as I can. But I'm afraid I'll burn out, or – worse yet – injure myself, which would then lay me up for a while and lead to depression and guilt and all that. My legs (hamstrings and hip joints especially) have been hurting lately, so I've really got to try to temper my enthusiasm and keep my mileage totals reasonable before I get hurt for real.

2. I want to expand my photographic repertoire. It's true, I've received some very encouraging comments and emails from people out there who have had nice things to say about my pictures. But I feel like my pictures are all alike – I seem particularly drawn to straight-ahead shots of storefronts and buildings with colorful signs and anything with graffiti on it. I especially wish I could take pictures with people in them, but I'm not quite sure how to go about doing that. Is it acceptable to snap pictures of passers-by on the sidewalk? People waiting for the bus? Folks who work outside? I mean, I know it's technically legal and everything (no expectation of privacy in a public space and all that), but I don't want to offend anyone or – worse – initiate a confrontation with someone who'd rather not be photographed. I'd love to hear from anyone with advice or suggestions about this.

3. The weather's taking its toll. I am not a good warm weather runner at all (give me a nice 40-degree day anytime), and the 10-day forecast calls for nothing but heat and humidity. I've been managing okay so far, but would it be so awful to have a day or two with nice, dry air and a low around 60? I have this recurring mental image of me just collapsing in a stinking, sweaty heap on a sidewalk in some unfamiliar neighborhood miles from home, the locals gingerly stepping over or around my rapidly-expiring body as they head off to work.

4. I'm going to bore people (including myself) to death. Again, I've received some great feedback so far, but how long can people stay engaged? After all, there are only so many ways to write "I had a good run today" or "I saw some interesting things on this run" or "damn, it was really muggy this morning" or whatever. I'm going to have to work on being more creative with these posts, but in the meantime I'll at least look for my thesaurus.

Alright, I suppose that's enough worrying for now. And I don't want to sound like I'm complaining, because I'm not – I really am having a blast with this whole thing so far. Sometimes, I guess, I just think too much. I'm sure I'll be fine tomorrow, when I'm running...

In keeping with tradition, here's an additional picture from this week:

Obligatory Coney Island shot of the Cyclone

14 July 2006

Coney Island (finally!)

Friday 7/14: Coney Island, Brighton Beach, Gravesend, Bensonhurst, Dyker Heights, Sunset Park

Distance: 8.86 miles
Time: 1:10
Pace: 7:54
Temp: 74
Dewpoint: 66
Weather: sunny and breezy

Unique Miles Today: 8.77
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: I started just south of the Neptune Avenue stop on the F train, then headed east on Neptune to Brighton 3rd Street, south to Brighton Beach Ave, west to 5th St, south to Surf Avenue, west to W. 20th, then back up to Neptune, north on Cropsey over the creek (with a little loop by the Pathmark on Canal and the dead end section of Bay 52nd St) and up to Bay Parkway. Then up Bay Parkway to 86th, west to 19th Ave, north to Bay Ridge Parkway, then down to 10th Avenue. I followed 10th Ave up to where it ends at the subway tracks, then went west on 62nd to 8th Ave, up to 59th, over to 4th, then around the block (58th to 3rd Ave to 59th and back to 4th Ave).

Notes: I was still half-asleep early this morning, watching the cat lick herself and waiting for the water to boil for my customary pre-run cup of tea, when I realized that I hadn't yet run in Brighton Beach or Coney Island. After checking the weather (and verifying that it was indeed a bit clearer and drier today), I decided to correct this oversight, and quickly plotted a route that would zigzag from Coney Island up to the 59th St stop of the R train in Sunset Park. And a great route it turned out to be. Although I decided to save the boardwalk for another day, it was still cool to run through Coney Island early in the morning when it was still mostly devoid of people (though there was plenty of trash blowing around).

In other news, the folks over at Curbed included a very nice writeup of this blog yesterday afternoon (which resulted in twice as many hits as the Daily News article did a week ago, BTW). And across the East River, a self-described "fat lazy idiot" has just embarked on a quest to walk every street of Manhattan, taking photos along the way. Could it be that he and I are on the vanguard of some new trend set to sweep the city? Will other enterprising citizens step up and decide to take on Queens or the Bronx? Is it only a matter of time before we're featured in the New Yorker's "Talk of the Town?" Stay tuned. In the meantime, however, check out his new blog, which he's calling "Walking New York," appropriately enough.

In still other, completely unrelated news, I saw Elliot Goldenthal's new opera "Grendel" at the State Theater last night and enjoyed it very much, despite the decidedly mixed review in yesterday's Times.

Okay, enough. Today's photos:

Brighton Beach Avenue

10th Avenue

Surf Avenue

Statue of Pee Wee Reese and Jackie Robinson outside Keyspan Park

13 July 2006

Today, the Jerry Building

Thursday 7/13: East Flatbush, Canarsie, Flatlands

Distance: 7.45 miles
Time: 1:00
Pace: 8:03
Temp: 75
Dewpoint: 73
Weather: muggy with showers

Click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 7.20
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: I started at Nostrand and Newkirk, heading east on Newkirk to New York, south to Foster, east to Utica, south to Glenwood, then east again. I followed Glenwood as it turned into Farragut, then took Farragut down to Rockaway Parkway, before making a right on Rockaway and heading down to Avenue J. I headed back west on Avenue J, which turned into Paerdegat 1st St, then turned right on Paerdegat Avenue up to Flatlands. I went west on Flatlands to Avenue M, then over on Avenue M to 32 St, and lastly north to Avenue I and west across Nostrand to 29th St. There were two dead end streets: Rose and 29th.

Notes: Well, today I hit a milestone of sorts: I surpassed the 100 unique mile mark, for whatever that's worth. Which probably isn't much, since one glance at my map (the one where I draw my routes with a highlighter so I can easily see where I've run without the computer -- low-tech, I know, but quite effective) reveals how much I have left to do. Otherwise, I'm getting pretty tired of this humidity. What's worse, I feel awfully self-conscious riding home on the train, stinking and soaking wet while most of the folks are clean and dry and heading off to work. The forecast calls for warmer temps but decreased humidity for tomorrow, and I suppose that's a tradeoff I'd be willing to take. Anyway, today's run was a typical mix of residential and commercial areas, some a bit more run down than others. Of course, there was plenty to take pictures of, so here's today's sampling:

The Jerry Building on Rockaway Parkway in Canarsie

A dance studio on Flatlands Avenue

Garage on Avenue J

On Nostrand Avenue

12 July 2006

Hills and Humidity

Wednesday 7/12: Borough Park, Sunset Park

Distance: 7.36 miles
Time: 1:00
Pace: 8:09
Temp: 79
Dewpoint: 72
Weather: overcast

Click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 7.18
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: Start at McDonald and Avenue I, then over on Dahill one block to 50th St. West on 50th all the way to 1st Avenue, then up to 49th St, and back to 18th Avenue, then up to Marlborough and ending at Marlborough and Dorchester. Along the way there were two dead ends: the little part of 49th that ends by the subway tracks, and a very small part of 19th Ave.

Notes: So humid this morning! But a cool route nonetheless, with that big hill heading into Sunset Park (and back down going back into Borough Park. I'm beginning to really like the parts of Sunset Park I've seen, too, though I'd be hard-pressed to give any specific reasons why.
While I think about it, here are a few photos from today's run:

Grocery Store on McDonald

On 49th Street

On 50th Street

Borough Park

11 July 2006

Do Not Sit on the Cow

Tuesday 7/11: Midwood, Gravesend, Homecrest

Distance: 8.12 miles
Time: 1:05
Pace: 8:01
Temp: 77
Dewpoint: 71
Weather: muggy and hazy

Click on image for interactive Google Map

Unique Miles Today: 8.12
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: Start on Avenue J and E. 15th. Then west to E. 12th, south to Avenue P, west to Bay Parkway, then around that little triangle to Stillwell and south on Stillwell to Avenue T. East on Avenue T to E. 29th St, then back up to Avenue J, west to E. 21st, south to Avenue K, and back up E. 19th to Avenue J.

Notes: Large tracts of Midwood are very suburban, with single-family homes set back beyond lush, shaded lawns. So I apologize for the dearth of photos from areas like this, since there are fewer things that seem to jump out and demand to be documented. Like many other amateur photographers (judging by sites like flickr, at least), I'm drawn to typically urban tableaux like graffiti-strewn walls, brightly colored storefronts, peeling paint, industrial equipment, odd or ironic signage, and so on. I suppose one of the skills I'll have to work on as I progress with this whole thing is developing a better eye for the less obvious photo opportunity.

That said, once again there was plenty to see on today's run -- I especially liked the dozens of art deco apartment buildings along Avenue P. It was the humidity that was a real drag, though, with not much relief in sight for the next week or so. Maybe I'll get up even earlier tomorrow, and try to get the miles in before the sun's too high. Herewith, today's photos:

Off Avenue P

In front of I.S. 96 on Avenue P

On Avenue T

Mosaic on the front of the Yeshiva of Flatbush on Avenue J

10 July 2006

Huzzah (Monday is Off Day)

Yep, I'm taking Monday off again, as is my habit. I supposed I've earned a little down time, too -- last week I ran over 40 miles, which is pretty good considering I'm not actively training for a race or anything. The truth is that I've been pretty excited about this whole thing, and I've got to be careful not to overdo it. Next week I'm driving down to Augusta, Georgia for a few days to visit family, and I haven't decided whether I'll run while I'm down there. I might want to save up my strength for Brooklyn and crank up the miles when I get back. BTW, I saw a lot of Italian flags while I was out yesterday, so congratulations to the Italian team (and its fans) for its World Cup victory.

And continuing what looks like it might be shaping up to be a regular feature of my off day posts, here's another photo from yesterday's run. This one's a view of the construction on the Gowanus Expressway from underneath, on 3rd Avenue.

09 July 2006

Twelve Miles, Seven Neighborhoods

Sunday 7/9: Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Borough Park, Kensington, Sunset Park, Gowanus, Park Slope

Distance: 12.04 miles
Time: 1:40
Pace: 8:18
Temp: 75
Weather: sunny

Unique Miles Today: 11.34
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: I started heading south from 86th St. and 4th Ave, then over on 92nd St around the Dyker Beach golf course back up to 86th. Then I went west to 11th Ave, and then followed 11th up to 44th St, turning right and going on to Dahill. Then left on Dahill to Minna, left on Minna to 38th, left on 38th to 13th Ave, south to 43rd, then right to the intersection with Fort Hamilton Parkway. Across the street, I picked up 44th again and headed west to 3rd Ave, then north to 3rd Street, then right to 7th Ave.

Notes: I got to move through a lot of neighborhoods on today's long run, taking advantage of the relative lack of traffic at 8:00 on a Sunday morning. I started by taking the R train down to 86th St. (also my starting point on July 4), but took a pretty basic route back to Park Slope. I'll admit, though, that I deliberately ran the triangular detour through Borough Park and the Dahill section of Kensington mostly because I had erroneously drawn it on my big Brooklyn map a few days ago -- I figured if I didn't actually run it soon I'd forget about it and not know where I'd been and where I hadn't. As usual, there was plenty to see, though I was impressed by the hills leading up to Sunset Park (the actual park, from which the surrounding area takes its name). Maybe they should've called the neighborhood Sunset Heights or something. Anyway, the leg's continuing to get better, the weather certainly wasn't too bad for July, and the route was enjoyable. I'm still taking tomorrow off, though. Some pictures:

Along 11th Avenue in Dyker Heights

Porch in Kensington

44th Street, Sunset Park

On Dahill Road