05 August 2006

Saturday "Glad this Week is Over" Edition

I'm taking today off, and for once I'm not second-guessing my decision or secretly fearing that I'm slacking off. I didn't run a whole lot this past week, but I managed four consecutive runs totaling three hours and covering over 20 miles. And this following a completely draining, drawn-out four-day move to the new apartment and what will probably end up being the hottest week of the summer. I say none of this to complain -- instead, I'm feeling kind of energized. If I could keep on track this past week, in other words, the rest of this whole thing should be cake. The real challenge, I'm thinking, might be to resist the temptation to run 50 miles a week when autumn arrives.

Anyway, I'm planning on a long run tomorrow, though I'm still trying to figure out the route. The weather forecast is looking good (at least relative to the last week), and I'm pretty eager to take advantage. See you on the road.

I took the photo at the top this morning (from my front window), but here are two extra shots from the past week's runs:

Menahan and Knickerbocker, Bushwick

Kosciusko Street, Bed-Stuy

04 August 2006

From Queens to Stuyvesant Heights

Friday 8/04: Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Williamsburg, Greenpoint

Distance: 7.02 miles
Time: 0:55
Pace: 7:50
Temp: 80
Dewpoint: 70
Weather: warm & humid

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 6.63
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: I started at the Halsey Street subway station and headed south on Wycoff to Covert (it wasn't that hard to find), west to Irving, south to Moffat, west to Central, down to the cemetery and back up to Chauncey. Then west to Evergreen, south to Pilling, over to Broadway, up Broadway to MacDonough, and west to Marcy. I finished by heading up Marcy, which turned into Union, then running east on Driggs to Newell, north to Nassau and west one block to McGuiness.

Notes: A fantastic run. After yesterday's accidental foray into Queens I wanted to head back to start things off in the same neighborhood, and I even managed to cover another block of Ridgewood when part of Eldert Street ended up being a dead end. Anyway, despite all the promises of a "break in the heat" from the local media, it was almost as warm and humid as it was the last few mornings, but the route more than made up for the steamy air. The part of Bushwick where I started today was mostly industrial, with quite a few trucks and forklifts moving around, and as I moved into a more residential area it was clear the neighborhood was a little rough around the edges. But MacDonough Street in Bed-Stuy is one of the most beautiful streets I've run so far -- block after block of well-kept houses and brownstones, impressive churches, a mansion or two, and big, leafy trees. I had to resist the constant urge to stop every few yards to take pictures of the houses. Marcy Avenue, too, had some impressive architecture, with the highlight being the Boys High School between Putnam and Madison.

Having made it through the "heat wave" (and the attendant media hype), recovered from the move, and returned to my normal running schedule, I'm taking tomorrow off and planning a long (11-13 mile) run for Sunday.

As always, some pictures from today's run:

Looking down Pilling Street

Houses on MacDonough

Corner of MacDonough and Marcus Garvey Blvd

Boys High School on Marcy Avenue

03 August 2006

Crossing Borders

Thursday 8/03: Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, East Williamsburg, Greenpoint (and Ridgewood, Queens)

Distance: 7.08 miles
Time: 0:55
Pace: 7:46
Temp: 85
Dewpoint: 74
Weather: warm & humid

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 6.49
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: I took the L to the Jefferson Street stop, went east to Scott, around Johnson to Cypress, down Cypress to Myrtle, a block west to St. Nicholas, up to Menahan, west to Bushwick Avenue, up to Kosciusko, and then west to Tompkins. Then I ran north on Tompkins (which turned into Harrison), made a right on Hooper, another right on Grand, then east to Humbolt and onto McGuinness up to Calyer.

Notes: Everyone knows how miserably hot it's been here, so I won't dwell on that. Yesterday, in an attempt to stay cool I headed into Manhattan to see the movie "Little Miss Sunshine" (which I thought was mostly funny and sweet, despite a few lapses into self-indulgent wackiness), but today I really am going to sit next to the little air conditioner and just read.

Instead, I'll mention that I made my first (though admittedly inadvertent) inter-borough run, covering 10 or 11 blocks of the Ridgewood neighborhood in Queens when I wasn't fully paying attention to where I was. I have nothing against Queens, of course (nor the no doubt lovely people who live there), but naturally, I meant to stay in Brooklyn. Anyway, today's run was visually a particularly gratifying excursion -- Bushwick seems to have a great number of handsome or interesting buildings, and the portion of Bed-Stuy I ran through today was also filled with a lot to see.

While it's been great to make some headway in the more northern reaches of the borough, my "big map" reveals a sizeable swath that I've yet to visit, from Red Hook and Downtown over through Fort Greene and Clinton Hill on through southern Bed-Stuy and east through the northern parts of Brownsville and East New York. So I guess I'll try to plan some runs in these neighborhoods over the next few weeks. Eventually, I'm hoping to fall into a schedule where I do two runs a week in the southern reaches, two in the middle parts, and one in the north. This is, of course, completely subject to change, based on my whims, compulsions, or other inclinations.

Blogger's been giving me fits again, but I finally managed to upload these pictures from this morning:

St. Brigid's Church on St. Nicholas Avenue

Mural on Tompkins Avenue

Window on a former school on Menahan Street

Leapfrog (off Harrison Avenue)

02 August 2006

Of Dewpoints and Milestones

Wednesday 8/02: Greenpoint and East Williamsburg

Distance: 5.05 miles
Time: 0:40
Pace: 7:55
Temp: 86
Dewpoint: 74
Weather: absurdly warm & humid

click on image for interactive map

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

Route: I started at the corner of Eckford and Meserole Ave, then took Meserole east to N. Henry, then south to Nassau, east to Varick, south under the BQE to Cherry, west to Porter, south to Division, and west to Vandervoort. I continued south on Vandervoort to Grand (with a short detour down the dead-end Rewe and Ivy Hill Streets), then west to Morgan, south to Johnson, and west to Graham (plus the dead-end Bogart). I finished by running north on Graham to Driggs, over a block to Eckford, up to Norman, and then west to Leonard.

Notes: Just when I thought it couldn't get any hotter... Seriously, I got up at 6:00 this morning in order to be on the road before seven, and it was already 84 degrees out! I'd already decided that I'd do another relatively short run, due to the oppressive heat and my lingering moving-related exhaustion (I swear, Kate's old apartment was the residential equivalent of one of those circus clown cars -- we just kept pulling stuff out of there, and every time I thought we were done, there'd be more), so I planned a little five-miler that'd keep me pretty close to home.

It was a cool route (figuratively, of course -- it was 86 degrees out by the time I started), which took me through by far the most industrial landscape I've encountered. On the plus side, these kinds of areas usually have less traffic, and there's a lot to see. On the other hand, death by forklift is a distinct possibility (those things can move!), and at least in this kind of weather, a hazy malodorous miasma hung low over the crumbling sidewalk. But I made it back home safely, where I plan to spend the rest of the day about three feet in front of our wheezing little air conditioner, thumbing through Sunday's Times and a few weeks' worth of the New Yorker that were finally forwarded to the new address yesterday.

BTW, I hit a minor milestone this morning -- I'm into double digits now on my "percent of Brooklyn Run" calculation. Only 90% left! Now that's a pretty humbling thought...

Some photos from today's run:

Nassau Avenue

Outside a cleaning supply place (on Vandervoort)

Also on Vandervoort Avenue

When letters go bad (Johnson Avenue)

01 August 2006

It's a Small World...

Tuesday 8/01: Greenpoint and Williamsburg

Distance: 3.68 miles
Time: 0:30
Pace: 8:09
Temp: 85
Dewpoint: 73
Weather: very warm & humid

click on image for interactive map

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

Route: I started at Norman and Manhattan, ran west to Wythe, south to Clymer, east to Bedford around to Berry, and then North on Berry to Nassau to Manhattan, then back up to Norman and over to Guernsey.

Notes: I was prepared for the worst today. It was already 83 degrees when I got up at 7, with commensurately high humidity. And given my physical decrepitude after the move (which is now stretching into its fourth day), I was almost ready to just stay in bed.

But I figured a very short, 30-minute-or-so run might be mentally beneficial, so I plotted a simple route and hit the street for my first outing in the new neighborhood. And it ended up being a great one. The first good sign was the surprising number of fellow runners out and about in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. There were plenty of runners in Park Slope, to be sure, but I had always assumed most of them were heading to or returning from Prospect Park. And in other neighborhoods, it sometimes seemed like I was the only runner for miles.

But the real shot in the arm this morning came a few minutes in, as I found myself heading down Wythe Avenue alongside another runner. She apparently had seen me snapping a picture a moment before, so she asked if I often took pictures when I ran. Sheepishly, I fessed up to the whole running-all-of-Brooklyn thing, assuming she'd think I was nuts and speed off. Instead, to my great surprise (and minor embarrassment), she said something to the effect of, "oh, you're that guy!" It seems that she had seen my blog mentioned on Curbed and had checked it out. She told me her name was Stephanie, and that she's an architect in Manhattan who's heading to MIT this fall to pursue her doctorate (an endeavor with which I can relate, of course). I abandoned my planned route and ended up running with her for about 20 minutes, all the while engaging in a very pleasant (if somewhat labored, what with the running and all) conversation about the neighborhood, school, and, well, running. Sure, it was kind of cool that she'd seen this blog and everything, but but the whole experience was a real boost to my motivation and my attitude, at a time when I probably needed it the most. So thanks, Stephanie -- and good luck this fall!

Because of the short run and the good conversation, I took only a handful of pictures today. My apologies for the quality, but here are the best four:

Hipsterism 101: the ironic use of popular culture iconography

Absolute Wythe Avenue

I'm not sure what this is, but it's on Berry Street

They're gonna need a lot of water today (Manhattan Ave)

31 July 2006

One More Day Off...

Another day, another day of not running. But it's not because I don't want to -- it's just that I'm still pretty wiped out from the move (we spent yesterday back at the old apartment, which still had plenty of smaller things to pack up and take to the new place), and there are still some unfinished chores to attend to. In more positive news, I did manage to wedge the air conditioner into the window of the new apartment, and after running all night it did indeed drop the temperature down to the upper 70s.

Although I've only spent two nights in Greenpoint now, I've had a bit of time to ponder the differences between my new neighborhood and Park Slope, where I spent the last five weeks.

Park Slope, of course, is shady, pleasant, has block after block of handsome buildings and houses, and the Co-op was only a couple of blocks away. (For a couple of vegetarians on a tight budget, this was a significant advantage, and essentially negated the weirdly fascist vibe.) We were only a block from Prospect Park, which many people seem to also consider a real plus, though after reading this post in the always-excellent Gowanus Lounge, I'm not so sure. On the downside, the rent for a studio the size of a suitcase was absurdly high, and the sidewalks were constantly blocked by strollers and dogs.

Here in Greenpoint, the apartment is crummier but there's a lot more room (and the rent is substantially less). The subway's only a block away (alas, it's the G, but still), and McCarren Park is just down the road, with its free "pool parties" this summer featuring bands like Of Montreal, Deerhoof, and the Walkmen. And then there's the view from our new building (for those readers unfamiliar with the Manhattan skyline, that's the Empire State Building on the left and the Chrysler Building on the right). Not a bad perk, I guess -- and since we've only subletting for a year we don't have to worry about the view being hidden behind the wall of 30-story luxury condo buildings that will be going up along the waterfront over the next decade. You can also see the Williamsburg Bridge in all its brutish steel glory, as well as the Con Ed plant. And a little craning of the neck will reveal a narrow slice of the East River -- our own little water view.

I'll be back on the streets tomorrow, and I'll probably keep it local, checking out Greenpoint, Williamsburg, or Bushwick (despite the forecast for a high of 101 tomorrow and Wednesday!). Stay tuned for further developments. Despite the aches and soreness, I'm really itchy to hit the road again.

30 July 2006

Special "The Only Thing Worse Than Moving is Moving When It's Like 90 Degrees and the New Apartment is a Fifth-Floor Walkup (Without Air Conditioning)" Edition

OK, so I'm not running today. And I probably won't be running tomorrow. The move went smoothly, as far as these things go, largely thanks to the help of my brother Jeff, who provided both his strong cop's shoulders and his SUV (I knew it had to be good for something) to shuttle our stuff over to the new place. But the combination of climbing stairs and heat and advancing age have all left me feeling like I've been hit by a bus or something, so I'm taking a day or two off. I had written previously about "resetting" my running schedule, but I think I was overly optimistic about how I'd feel after moving day. If there was ever a time to learn to be a little more flexible about getting my miles in, this is probably it.

So... I'll try to start back on my regular schedule on Tuesday. Of course, the forecast calls for highs in the upper 90s Tuesday and Wednesday (and lows in the low 80s!), but I'll be out there just the same. Sometimes I can't help myself.

Here's a picture from one of last week's run to enjoy while I'm recuperating.

Sheepshead Bay