21 July 2006

Special Bonus Augusta Edition

So here I am in Augusta, Georgia (about two hours east of Atlanta), visiting with my parents for a mini-family reunion, when my sister Melanie asks if I want to go for a run. Now, I had previously committed to taking these four days off, a welcome (and probably physiologically advisable) respite from my Brooklyn explorations. But how could I resist the opportunity to run with my little sister? And so Mel and I headed downtown for a quick (30 minute) run through the muggy early morning air.

For many New Yorkers, Augusta probably registers mostly as the home of the Augusta National Golf Club and the Masters Tournament, but it's also the birthplace of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown (with whom, incidentally, I share a birthday), as well as Met favorite and famed soprano Jessye Norman. As a city, Augusta is kind of a weird place, with a diffuse outer ring of strip malls and suburban development surrounding an inner core of what used to be mostly abandoned storefronts and empty lots. It was kind of a miniature, southern-fried version of Detroit in terms of being a textbook example of white flight during the 1960s and 1970s, but in recent years the downtown seems to be making a modest comeback, with art galleries, coffee shops, and even a sushi place and a tapas bar (surely, a harbinger of gentrification if there ever was one) taking up residence along Broad Street.

Anyway, Mel and I had a fun (if, for me, quite short) run, and I'm looking forward to seeing the rest of my relatives this weekend. I'll be back in Brooklyn and running on Monday, so stay tuned for the resumption of that whole thing. In the meantime, here are a few photos from lovely downtown Augusta:

Holy Toledo -- it's Mel!

Broad Street

Reynolds Street

Jessye Norman was here

19 July 2006

цветы in Bath Beach

Bath Beach

Distance: 7.39 miles
Time: 1:00
Pace: 8:07
Temp: 77
Dewpoint: 67
Weather: mostly sunny

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 6.62
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: I started at 86th St. and 20th Avenue and ran south on 20th to Shore Parkway, turned right and went to 19th Ave, then basically went back and forth filling in all the streets within the area bordered by 86th, Bay Parkway, Cropsey Ave, and 19th Ave. I also ran all the shorter streets bordered by Cropsey, Shore Parkway, 19th Ave, and 21st Ave.

Notes: While looking at my "big map" I noticed that the only neighborhood in the southern portion of Brooklyn (the part of the borough on the bottom half of the map) I had yet to duck into for at least a few blocks was Bath Beach. Naturally, I decided to head down there for today's run. The area I covered (roughly the eastern half of the neighborhood) wasn't as homogeneous as some of the other places I've visited lately, with an interesting mix of apartment buildings, attached and unattached houses, and small businesses. The water of Gravesend Bay was tantalizing close but on the other side of the Belt Parkway, and there didn't seem to be any direct access from the relatively small area I was in. Otherwise, a perfectly fine run that was neither terribly exciting or achingly dull. Not much to write home about, in other words, but I'd imagine there are going to be quite a few days like this as I move forward.

In other news, I leave tomorrow morning for Augusta, Georgia to visit my folks for a few days. Given how much I've run in the last two and a half weeks I think I might take these four days off and give myself a little rest. I'm not sure if I'll post anything during that time, but as soon as I get back to Brooklyn and resume running, I'll be back here as well.

Here are a few pictures from this morning:

Flowers for sale

Doors on Bath Avenue

On 21st Avenue

In a residential window

18 July 2006

Too Cool for School

Tuesday 7/18:
Brighton Beach and Manhattan Beach

Distance: 7.47 miles
Time: 1:00
Pace: 8:02
Temp: 81
Dewpoint: 69
Weather: sunny

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

Route: I started at the intersection of Coney Island Ave and Brighton Beach Ave, then followed Brighton Beach Ave to Oriental, which I took east to the entrance to Kingsborough College. Then I basically worked my way up and down the various streets from east to west, before heading back into Brighton Beach on Hampton Avenue, which I took to Brighton 11th St and then headed south on Coney Island Ave to the beach.

Notes: In another blatant attempt at finding the coolest spot in Brooklyn, I took the B down to Brighton Beach with the intent of filling in a lot of streets in Manhattan Beach while being caressed by temperate breezes off the water. The truth was that it was pretty hot regardless, though not quite as oppressive as predicted (while it's supposed to top out near 100 today, I thought last week's stultifying humidity was worse for running). In any case, I was a little disappointed that I was shooed away from the Kingsborough Community College campus by a friendly security guard. It didn't bother me so much that he said I wasn't allowed to run there if I wasn't a student (he was, after all, just doing his job) -- it was the fact that dozens of other people were streaming right past us with no problem. I guess if I want to run around the campus, I just have to blend in by wearing a backpack (and walking past the gate). The views of Sheepshead Bay along Shore Boulevard were great, of course, but the neighborhood itself was very suburban. There were a lot of big, fairly new-looking houses on most streets, and it also seemed that every block had at least one lot fenced off with another new house under construction. Whenever I decide to head back in that direction, I'll give the KCC campus security folks a call and see if they'll actually let me run there.

In other Brooklyn-related news, yesterday I picked up a copy of Leonard Benardo and Jennifer Weiss' "Brooklyn by Name," a great little book that offers up the origins of hundreds of street and place names around the borough. Part trivia and part history, it's a lot of fun to thumb through, and I've already learned quite a bit about some of the streets and neighborhoods I've run.

Due to the mostly residential nature of Manhattan Beach, I didn't come up with a lot of pictures today. Here are the best of a weak bunch:

The forbidden campus!

At a market on Brighton Beach Avenue

Statue in a cage

On the side of a Brighton Beach pharmacy

17 July 2006

Special Monday "Runs Brooklyn Index" Edition

Total number of runs so far (since I started on June 25): 16
Total miles: 133.28
Total unique miles: 124.50
Approximate miles remaining: 1617.86
Approximate percentage of Brooklyn streets run: 7.15
Total time spent running, in hours, minutes: 18:25
Average run length, in miles: 8.29
Average run length, in minutes: 69:04
Average pace, in minutes per mile: 8:17
Minimum number of neighborhoods visited: 25
Number of different subway lines used to get to or from runs: 7
Number of different subway stops used: 14
Minutes spent waiting for the 2 train at the Flatbush Ave stop: 25
Cost (in $) of a pair of my favorite New Balance running shoes: 90
Number of miles I usually get out of a pair of these shoes: 400
Approximate prorated cost of shoes per run, in dollars: 1.87
Number of pairs my sister Mel gave me for Christmas last year: 2
Years Mel ran cross-country for an NCAA division I university: 4
Times it rained during a run: 3
Times it wasn't noticeably humid: 2
Average Brooklyn high temperature on July 17, in degrees: 85
Average high temperature on November 17: 53
Minimum number of times yesterday I wished it was November: 3
Number of days until November: 106
Perfect running temperature for me, in degrees: 45
Temperature at start of my fastest marathon (3:30): 47
Temperature at start of my slowest (4:08): 76
Coldest temperature I've ever run in (in Iowa City, Iowa): -14
Hottest temperature I've ever run in (in Pueblo, Colorado): 98
Relative humidity (in %) for that 98-degree run: 10
Probability (in %) the humidity will ever be that low in Brooklyn: 0
Number of emergency bathroom stops made on runs so far: 1
Percentage of these stops made at a McDonald's: 100
Number of times I've eaten McDonald's food in the past decade: 0
Dirty looks I got from a woman on the sidewalk in East Flatbush: 1
Number of water bottles I dropped on her foot: 1
Probability (in %) these two things are related: 100

As always on off days, here's a spare photograph from last week. Enjoy.

Beating swords into plowshares on the side of a Glenwood Road church

16 July 2006

Waterfront Breezes and the Sheepshead Bay Elephant

Sunday: East Flatbush, Flatlands, Bergen Beach, Mill Basin, Marine Park, Gerritsen Beach, Homecrest, Gravesend

Distance: 12.79 miles
Time: 1:45
Pace: 8:13
Temp: 80
Dewpoint: 69
Weather: sunny and breezy

Unique Miles Today: 12.75
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: I started at the intersection of Flatbush and Nostrand, up a block to Glenwood, then east to Utica, south to Avenue N, east again to E. 71st, down to Avenue Y, and over a block and back up E. 70th to Avenue U. Then west to E. 65th, down through Mill Basin to National Drive and back up to Avenue U on E. 64th. West on Avenue U to Burnett, then a loop through Gerritsen Beach on Avenue X, Allen, Aster, Florence, Bevy, Allen again, and Plumb 2nd Street, ending on Avenue W. Then down to Bragg, north to Avenue U, and west to Gravesend Neck Road, which I ran down to where it joined Avenue W, which I took to McDonald. I finished by running north on McDonald to Whitney. I took the F home.

Notes: Over the last few days there has been a noticeable buzz around town regarding an incipient heatwave, so I expected the worst this morning. Recalling that it was palpably cooler by the water when I ran through a bit of Coney Island the other day, I planned a route that would take me through some as-of-yet unvisited waterfront neighborhoods, partially to start filling in some of the gaps on my big map but mostly to try and outrun the heat. In reality, it wasn't as bad as I'd anticipated (the real high temps are supposed to hit us tomorow and Tuesday), and I got to see some new territory. The waterfront communities I saw today each had their own identities, too -- Gerritsen Beach is a warren of narrow streets with tidy little cottages, Mill Basin was as suburban as any place in New Jersey, with some pretty ostentatious new homes and a surfeit of SUVs, while Bergen Beach was somewhere in the middle, with a little industrial zone along the west.

By the way, two things I really like about running in Brooklyn, as opposed to other places I've been: First, there are sidewalks everywhere, so I'm not forced to run in the street like I am when I'm in, say Augusta, Georgia (where my folks live, and where I'll be for a couple of days later this week). Second, the no-right-turn-on-red law, which makes traffic at least somewhat more predicable at intersections.

As usual, there was plenty that caught my eye. Here's a sampling of things that also caught my camera's CCD:

Utica Avenue, Flatlands

Looking out over Mill Basin

On Gravesend Neck Road in Homecrest

Last week, the Midwood Cow. Today, the Sheepshead Bay Elephant