16 September 2006

Gameday Thoughts from an Expat Hawkeye

Today, the University of Iowa Hawkeyes take on their intrastate rivals, the Iowa State Cyclones, at historic (but recently "renovated") Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City. As I write this, thousands of folks are taking their seats, thousands more are getting in a last few minutes of tailgating, and dozens of my former students are probably stumbling toward the stadium in a drunken stupor (click here for a live view via the stadium webcam). Although it's only been a couple of months since I left Iowa for the big city, I'm finding that I really miss college town life sometimes, especially on game days. Despite the crowds, the rowdiness, the handful of alcohol-fueled troublemakers, and the city-wide lack of parking, there's also a certain energy in the air that I haven't seen replicated outside of places like Iowa City. For better or worse, most of the town (except for a few sour academics who for cultural or political reasons look askance at big-time collegiate sports) comes together in support of their team -- the radio broadcasts of the games, for instance, are played at the local supermarkets and stores -- and there's a palpable sense of black-and-gold solidarity.

Sure, there are a lot of advantages to living in Brooklyn, not the least of which is the incredible diversity of people, languages, and cultures. And I do appreciate that. But every once in a while it's heartening to see an entire city come together, especially for something as frivolous and entertaining as college football.

Anyway, I'll be running tomorrow. Probably not a real long run, but long enough to hit 25% and earn my little break.

Bonus picture from last week:

Somewhere in Sheepshead Bay

15 September 2006

Getting Wet in Bath Beach

Friday 9/15: Bath Beach, Dyker Heights

9.57 miles
Time: 1:15
Pace: 7:50
Temp: 66
Dewpoint: 64
Weather: rain

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 8.65
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: I began at New Utrecht Avenue and 18th Avenue and ran down to 85th, then east to 19th Avenue, south to 86th Street, west to Bay 20th, south to Cropsey, east back to 19th Avenue, south to Shore Road, west to Bay 20th, north up to Cropsey but doubling back to Shore, west to Bay 19th, north to 86th, east back to Bay 20th and then doubling back to Bay 18th, south to Shore Road, west to Bay 17th, north to 86th, west to Bay 16th, south down to Shore Road again and then doubling back to 17th Court, west to 17th Avenue, north back to 86th, west to Bay 14th, south to Shore again, west to Bay 13th (see a pattern here?), north to 86th, west to Bay 16th, south to Shore and doubling back to Independence, west to Bay 10th and doubling back east to Bay 11th, north to 86th, west to Bay 10th, south to Independence, west to Bay 15th, south to Shore Road once more and doubling back north all the way to 76th (with the little dead-end bit of Independence thrown in there too). Then it was east to 16th Avenue and north up to 70th Street.

Notes: I should've run yesterday. When I awoke this morning (at around 5:30) it was still damp out, and the radar map showed more rain making its way into the area. But since I took yesterday off due to a steady drizzle I was pretty much committed to heading out this morning, regardless of the conditions. So I wrapped my camera in a plastic sandwich bag before stuffing it into my running pouch and resigned myself to getting a little wet this morning. As I've written several times before (on rainy days, of course) I usually don't mind running in the rain, though it does complicate the picture taking, and the soggy ride home on the subway has also proven to be less than pleasant (especially if it's crowded). And rain it did, more than yesterday. I was soaked through after the first ten minutes or so, but things lightened up enough for 10 or 15 minutes that I was able to take six or eight pictures before it started coming down again. Eager to get home, I boarded the D train at 71st Street, but after a couple of stops the train stopped for about 20 or 25 minutes because of switching problems, but I finally made it home around 11:15 -- just in time to move the car. It's been one of those days.

Besides the dampness there's not much to report from today's run. I'm more or less exhausted (not just from the 45-50 mile weeks lately, but I also was up reading past 1:00 last night and thus got only a little over four hours of sleep, or about an hour less than usual), and all I'm thinking about is reaching that magical number of 435.5 unique miles so I can take a break (and I only need about 8.7 to get there now). The western half of Bath Beach that I explored today had a little more light industry than the eastern half (which I'd run earlier in the summer), and was a little seedier looking on some blocks. Still, down toward the Belt Parkway (and the water beyond) there were some pleasant, if mostly modest, residential areas.

I'll probably take it easy tomorrow and run Sunday. Here are this morning's waterlogged photos:

86th Street & 17th Avenue

Looking east on 86th Street

17th Avenue

Someone's got to do it, right? (Bath Avenue and Bay 16th)

I don't think this office is open any more (16th Avenue)

14 September 2006

A Not Completely Unexpected (But Not Wholly Unwelcome) Off Day

It doesn't happen all that often, but the meteorlogical prognosticators at the local and national weather services got this one right. It started raining late last night, and the initial light drizzle is indeed becoming heavier and more widespread, as predicted. So, despite the fact that I am presently very eager to reach that 25% mark and enjoy my week off, I've decided to sit this one out and try again tomorrow when all the moisture should be on its way to New Hampshire or Nova Scotia or wherever it goes after it vacates New York. I need exactly 17.42 unique miles to hit my self-imposed target, which means either three moderate runs or two longer ones should still get me there by Sunday, which was what I was hoping for anyway. I'll just run on Saturday instead of taking it off. What's really weird, though, is how guilty I feel, even as I gaze at the falling rain outside my front window. I feel like I'm slacking off or something. A ludicrous and potentially harmful attitude, I know (especially since I keep pushing myself even though I'm aware that I'm dealing with some injuries that would benefit from moderation and rest), but such are the perils of the obsessive personality. At least now I have no excuse to not to get some writing done today.

Weather permitting, I'll take the D down to Bath Beach tomorrow. In the meantime, a couple of photos from the archive:



13 September 2006

Again with the Canarsie?

Wednesday 9/13: Canarsie

8.46 miles
Time: 1:05
Pace: 7:41
Temp: 62
Dewpoint: 48
Weather: overcast

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 6.76
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: Today I started at Glenwood and E. 99th, went south to Conklin, east to E. 100th, south to Flatlands, west to E. 96th, south to Avenue J, east to Rockaway Parkway, south to Avenue K, west a block to E. 96th then doubling back east to E. 108th (with an out-and-back down to Avenue L on E. 104th), south to Flatlands 3rd, west to E. 105th, south to Flatlands 4th, east back to E. 108th, south to Avenue L, west to E. 105th, south to Flatlands 5th and east to E. 108th, south to Flatlands 6th then back to E. 105th again, south to Avenue N, west to Rockaway Parkway, south to Seaview, west to E. 96th, north up to Avenue N, west to E. 95th, south back to Seaview, west to Canarsie road (and then an out-and-back on that length of Canarsie) before heading north on E. 94th to Avenue N, east to E. 95th then doubling back west to E. 92nd then doubling back to E. 94th again, after which I headed north to Rost, did a loop around that little Rost/Kauffman block and continued north to Avenue M, east to E. 95th, south back to Avenue N then doubling back north up to Flatlands Avenue, then west to E. 94th, south to Avenue M, west to E. 93rd, north back to Flatlands, east to E. 94th, and then north to

Notes: Another beautiful morning, but I went back to Canarsie today. As mentioned before in these posts I'm kind of fond of this neighborhood for a lot of reasons, but when going over the route this morning I realized another one -- it's geographically self-contained and not terribly large, meaning that it's the kind of place where I feel like I'm making real, tangible progress, especially when I get home and color in all the streets on the "big map" with my orange highlighter. Speaking of, actually, I've been toying with the idea of buying a truly big map. You know, one of those huge, laminated things that are on the walls at the offices of limo services or restaurants that do a lot of deliveries. I could then hang it on the wall (where seeing my progress could have a more salutary psychological impact), and mark off each route with a sharpie or something. My "big map" now, though I'm quite fond of it and it has served me well thus far, is a standard $4.95 Hagstrom fold-out map of Brooklyn, and even now, as I'm inching toward completing a quarter of my planned runs, it's starting to distintegrate along the folds and I find myself handling it as if I was in the rare books room of the library and it was some incredibly fragile historical relic.

But that's merely one of the myriad running- and blogging-related items I'll take up on my much-vaunted week off next week. As for today, if I ignore the constantly-increasing pain in my heels and achilles tendons, the run was fine, if typically uneventful. I know I shouldn't be complaining or anything, but it'd be pretty cool to see something out of the ordinary once in a while -- a police chase, a demonstration, a sinkhole in the road, an escaped zoo animal, whatever. Then again, I've still got well over 1300 miles to go, so I suppose there's plenty of time.

A sampling from today's modest crop of photos:

E. 94th Street

Avenue J

Rockaway Parkway

Telephone pole on E. 94th

12 September 2006

Nice House

Tuesday 9/12: Sheepshead Bay

9.51 miles
Time: 1:10
Pace: 7:22
Temp: 58
Dewpoint: 38
Weather: mostly sunny

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 8.31
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: I started at McDonald and Avenue X, and headed north to Avenue W, west to Lake, south to 86th, west to Van Sicklen, north back to Avenue W, east a block back to Lake but then north up to Village Road South, west to Van Sicklen then doubling back to the dead-end Village Court, continuing east to E. 1st then north on Village Road East, east just a bit on Gravesend Neck Road then north on West, north up to Avenue T, west to Lake, south to Avenue U, east to McDonald, north to Sloan, east to West, south to Whitney, west back to McDonald, north to Avenue S, east to E. 1st, south to the dead end and then doubling back all the way back to Avenue S and east to E. 2nd. But wait, there's more: I took E. 2nd south to Avenue Z then up a half-block to Brighton Court, took that east to E. 6th, north to Manhattan Court and back west to East 2nd, then up to Avenue Y, east to E. 3rd, north to Parkway Court, east to Hubbard, north to Ocean Court, west back to E. 3rd, south back to Parkway then doubling back and heading north all the way to Avenue P, east to E. 4th, south to Avenue X, doubling back to Angela then heading east to E. 5th, north back to Avenue P, east to Ocean Parkway, and then south to King's Highway. Notice how complicated these things are getting lately?

Notes: On an absolutely beautiful morning (and one that was nearly perfect for running), I took the F down to Sheepshead Bay yet one more time to fill in some gaps down there. Today I explored some of the northern reaches, though, especially the Homecrest section of the neighborhood. The homes on the numbered streets east of McDonald in this area are sizeable, and most are lavish and often ostentatious in much the same way as some of the fancy houses I ran by on Sunday's run in Dyker Heights were. Without really trying, it seems that in the last week I've made my way through some of the more upscale neighborhoods in the southern parts of the borough (Mill Basin, Dyker Heights, Homecrest), but the thing that strikes me the most is the very different ways that people with a bit of money present these homes to public view. In Park Slope or Fort Greene, for instance, the "nicest home on the block" might be a brownstone impeccably restored to period detail; in Homecrest or Dyker Heights the same real estate-based status might derive from the number of red granite columns on the front of the house or the extensiveness of the landscaping. Either way, it's more of an academic thing for me -- I've never owned a home, and with the prices being what they are here, it's doubtful I will any time soon. But from what I've seen, thinking about real estate while engaged in other activities like running is certainly not unusual among my fellow New Yorkers, so maybe I'm acclimating to my new home just a bit.

Whatever. A handful of photos:

Memorial on a support for the elevated F tracks (McDonald Avenue)

Also on McDonald Avenue

Just off of E. 4th Street

E. 2nd Street

E. 3rd Street

11 September 2006

A Brief Post

Today being an off day, I'll take a break from running-related thoughts and leave you with but one quotation and two photos. First, the quote, which I believe speaks well to both the perpetrators of the events of five years ago and some of the ways in which our national government responded:

"Permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence."
- Mohandas Gandhi

And the pictures, which are self-explanatory:

From yesterday's run in Dyker Heights

and from a July run in Sheepshead Bay

10 September 2006

And a Couple of Milestones Along the Way

Sunday 9/10: Dyker Heights & Bensonhurst

12.98 miles
Time: 1:40
Pace: 7:42
Temp: 66
Dewpoint: 58
Weather: sunny

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 11.82
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: The starting point was New Utrecht Avenue and 61st, from which I headed east to 15th Avenue, south to 66th, east to Duryea Court, south to 67th, east to Ovington Court, north to 66th, east to Cameron Court, south back to 67th, east to Wallaston, north back to 66th, and east another block to 17th Avenue. Then it was south to 76th, east to Bay Parkway, south to 80th, east to Stillwell (with a little out-and-back up 23rd Avenue to 78th), south to 81st, then west all the way to the part that's past 7th Avenue then doubling back and heading down 7th Avenue a block to 82nd. Then back east to 17th Avenue, south a block to 83rd, west to Dyker Place (with a little loop around the one block north of there and going down Dyker to 85th but doubling back) to 84th, east back to 17th Avenue, south another block to 85th, west back to Dyker, south to 86th, east to 11th Avenue, north back to 85th, west a block to 10th Avenue, south to 86th then doubling back and north on to 74th, east to 12th Avenue, north to 67th, east to 13th Avenue and then north to 57th (with the half of Tabor Court that was accessible).

Notes: I was going to make my way into Gerritsen Beach today -- it's a neighborhood I need to work on, and has what seems like a thousand narrow little streets all packed into a peninusla that's a few miles from the nearest subway stop (the Nostrand/Flatbush stop on the 2). But planning the route quickly grew too complicated, so I opted for a (relatively) simple back-and-forth fill-in-the-streets approach over in Dyker Heights and Bensonhurst. Straight lines I can do. The route was easy enough (though it was complicated a bit by the fact that the D being rerouted below 36th Street, which necessitated some rearranging of starting and ending points), but it highlights something I'm a little afraid of, namely that the further along I get -- and the more complex each individual run becomes, in my attempts to fill in disconnected little streets here and there -- the more time-consuming (and thus more of a pain) it will become. I'll ponder this stuff more and write about it again next week, during my upcoming week off which should begin after next Sunday.

As for the actual run, it was fine (as usual -- I don't seem to have either really fantastic or really awful runs lately). It was a few degrees warmer than predicted, I think, but nothing too bad, and the breeze from the north and the bright late-summer sun made for mostly pleasant conditions. The streets I covered were almost all residential, with most of the housing looking pretty swank. Many of the homes up on the highest part of Dyker Heights (there were some serious hills leading up to 11th Avenue) are particularly grandiose, with a surfeit of polished granite, gold fixtures, immaculately landscaped lawns, and topiary.

Of some note (at least psychologically on my part) is the fact that I passed two milestones today: the 400 unique mile mark (I'd hit 400 total miles early last week), and today also marked my 50th run since I embarked on this whole thing. The most fundamental application of simple arithmetic reveals that my average run is thus around eight unique miles, which I know is too long. I'll address this matter as well in a week or so, during my break.

And now, as always, a brief photographic survey of today's excursion:

20th Avenue & 74th Street

Temple on 81st Street

Off of 81st Street

One of the luxe homes along 83rd Street up near 11th Avenue

12th Avenue