30 September 2006

Of Autumn, Opera, Football, and at Least One Elephant

Saturday 9/30, Run #57: Sheepshead Bay & Gravesend

8.32 miles
Time: 1:05
Pace: 7:49
Temp: 54
Dewpoint: 44
Weather: sunny

click on image for interactive map

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

Route: I began at Avenue W and E. 17th, continued north on E. 17th to Avenue S, went east to E. 18th, north to Avenue P, west to E. 16th, south to Avenue R (including an out-and-back on the block of Quentin between E. 16th and E. 17th), west to E. 15th, north back to Avenue P, west a blocl to E. 14th, south back to Avenue R, west another block to E. 13th, south all the way to Sheepshead Bay Road then northwest to the intersection of Gravesend Neck Road and Avenue W, at which point I headed north on Homecrest to Avenue S, east to E. 13th, north to Kings Highway, southwest to E. 10th, south back to Avenue R, east to Coney Island Avenue, south to 1st Court, west to E. 9th, south to Avenue S, east back to Coney Island Avenue, then south to the two short dead end streets Hutchinson and Homecrest Courts but then back to Avenue S and west again to E. 9th, then south to Avenue V, west to E. 8th, north to Avenue R, east to E. 9th, south to 1st Court but then doubling back and heading north to Avenue P, then west to E. 8th south to Avenue R again, west to E 7th, north up to Avenue P, west to Ocean Parkway, south to Quentin, and west to E. 4th.

Notes: At last, a fall morning that actually felt somewhat autumnal! When I woke up today (at around 6:30) it was only about 52 degrees, with a dewpoint of only 42(!). And once again, I headed south to fill in some spaces on the map down Sheepshead Bay way. It's kind of encouraging, actually -- the bottom third or so of the "big map" has a lot of orange on it these days, and based on a very rough estimate (basically just eyeballing the unrun streets on the map) I figure I can have everything south of that arbitrary 65th Street/Avenue P/Flatlands Avenue line wrapped up in maybe 30 runs (or 7-8 weeks, if I run that area exclusively). Given how much time I've spent looking out the windows of the F and the Q on the long excursions down there, this is good news, indeed.

Alas, no sightings of wildlife, domestic fowl on today's run, as I found myself on mostly pleasant enough if nondescript residential streets. I did, however -- and without planning it -- run right by the gold fiberglass Sheepshead Bay elephant at the intersection of Sheepshead Bay and Neck Roads. Weird. No problems, though -- it was still a fine run on a gorgeous morning. In fact, maybe my run-down feeling and sluggish runs this week were related to the weather, since this cool, dry, air left me feeling pretty energized today (though my heels, especially, are still killing me). A lot of people out early (mostly dog-walkers and families heading off to temple) but not a lot of vehicular traffic. I think I could get used to running on Saturday mornings.

In non-running news, I spent a fun-filled three hours yesterday at the DMV office, finally getting my NY driver's license (well, an interim license, at least -- the real once will come in the mail in a week or two) and registering to vote, hopefully enough in advance that it'll be processed by the October 13 deadline and I can vote in November. And at 1:30 this afternoon I'll be back at the NY City Opera (I was just there for Korngold's Die Tote Stadt on Wednesday night) to check out the new production of Handel's Semele. I'm not a super huge fan of Handel (or most baroque opera, to be honest), but why not? And then tonight, the football game of the year takes place back in Iowa City, as the Hawkeyes host top-ranked Ohio State. Last time I checked, oddsmakers had Iowa as 6 1/2 point underdogs (and their running game's been kind of feeble this year), but like all true fans, I'll keep believing until the game's over. Of course, I don't have cable, so I'll have to watch that low-tech gamecast thing on espn.com. At least that way I can get some reading done...

Without further ado, today's photos. And go Hawks!

On the side of a school on E. 17th Street

Kings Highway subway stop on E. 16th Street

the Dangerous Chrysler-Plymouth dealer down the block didn't stand a chance (E. 9th Street)

Call me vain, but I couldn't resist this self-portrait (E. 18th Street)

E. 8th Street

28 September 2006

Unexpected Ornithology (and Yet Another Elephant)

Thursday 9/28, Run #56: East Flatbush, Flatlands, Mill Basin

10.26 miles
Time: 1:20
Pace: 7:47
Temp: 65
Dewpoint: 60
Weather: mostly sunny

click on image for interactive map

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

Route: My run today began at the corner of Avenue J and Flatbush Avenue, from which I continued south to Avenue K, then went east to E. 40th, south to Kings Highway, over a block to E. 41st, south to Troy, north just a bit to Avenue L, east to E. 51st, south to Flatbush Avenue, continuing on to Avenue U, back north to E. 53rd, up to Avenue T, west those few yards to E. 52nd, and then a back-and-forth thing between Avenues T and U on 53rd Place, E. 54th, Pearson, E. 57th, E. 58th, E. 59th, E. 60th, and E. 61st. Then I headed east to Mill Avenue, south to Strickland (with the dead-end piece of Avenue V there), out to National, south a block back to Mill Avenue which curved around and continued up to Ralph Avenue, which I ran for a couple of yards before heading east on Mill Lane to E. 64th. Then I went north to Avenue N but doubled back and continued on to Avenue T, then east to E. 66th, north back to Avenue N (and the dead-end of piece of E. 66th), west back to E. 64th, over to Ralph Avenue, north to Avenue M, west to E. 57th, north to Avenue I, west to Schenectady, north to Glendale Court, west to E. 45th, north to the dead end and then back south to Avenue H, west to Troy, north to the dead end and back to Avenue H, west to E. 43rd, north to the dead end there, too, but back again to Avenue H, west to Albany, north to Farragut, west to E. 34th, then doubling back to E. 35th, heading north up to Brooklyn Road, west back to E. 34th, south down to Farragut again, and finally west to New York Avenue.

Notes: On a somewhat warmer and muggier morning, I went back to southeast portion of Brooklyn to color some more streets orange down there. Physically it was not one of my better runs, and like Tuesday's, this one was marked by a general sluggishness that left me feeling like I hadn't taken any time off last week at all. For now, the plan is to take tomorrow off, then run both Saturday and Sunday. Maybe I'll feel better then.

But enough about me. The good news is that today's run was great fun otherwise, with a few unexpected surprises. First of all, not long into the run as I was on Avenue L waiting to cross a street I heard an unusual squawking. A mild (if undeveloped) interest in birding (and an appreciation for some of Olivier Messiaen's compositions, which often included birdsongs) have left me fairly capable of identifing the more common birds by ear, but this one was out of the ordinary. I looked up and soon located the sound's source -- three bright green parrots building an impressive nest on the utility pole above me (it was hard to get a good picture, but the best one's below). Now, this isn't big news to many Brooklynites -- populations of wild Monk Parrots have been spotted all around the borough. But it was my first time actually getting a good look at them, and it was a fantastic way to start off the run. These birds are very well documented, too -- here are a few links:

Brooklyn Parrot Interactive Google Map
Brooklyn Parrots Revisited (Gowanus Lounge)

You can even take a Brooklyn parrots safari (run by Steve, the BrooklynParrots.com guy) on October 14 -- details are on the site -- or purchase a Brooklyn Parrots coffee mug. So now you know.

In other unexpected bird-related events, I came across a brood (is that the right word? "flock" doesn't sound right) of chickens in Mill Basin. There's a relatively short, mostly unpaved dead end road that angles off of Strickland by Mill Avenue and heads down toward the water. The roadway itself is cluttered with rusting industrial debris and old cranes, and at the end is an ironworks (see the picture below) and what look like a few old factories. Since most of Mill Basin is a very upscale suburban residential kind of place, I was naturally curious to see what was at the end of this somewhat incongruous road, and headed down (it wasn't on my Hagstrom map, but it was labled as an extension of Avenue V on Google Maps). Anyway, what was at the end of the road was chickens. They scattered and hid upon seeing me, so photographic opportunities were limited, though I did manage to get a pic of a straggler (that's down below, too). It's just this kind of thing that keeps these runs interesting -- chickens on a mostly unused industrial road, pecking away between old truck parts. Huh.

Oh, and I came across another elephant statue. I couldn't believe it, either. What's up with Brooklyn and elephants, anyway? This makes two in the course of my last two runs...

OK, on to the pictures.

At the end of Avenue V

Chicken on Avenue V, near the ironworks

An old memorial (plastic flowers stapled to plywood), maybe, also on Avenue V

Parrots nesting on Avenue L

Seriously, what are the odds? (Mill and Ralph Avenues)

25 September 2006

Another Elephant!

Monday 9/25: Bay Ridge

10.65 miles
Time: 1:25
Pace: 7:59
Temp: 64
Dewpoint: 51
Weather: sunny & breezy

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 8.01
Total Unique Miles:
Percent of Brooklyn Run:

Route: This one's awfully complicated, but here goes. I started at 5th Avenue and 95th Street, went north to 93rd, doubled back to 94th, headed west to 3rd Avenue (including the short dead-end alleys Hamilton Walk and Lafayette Walk) then north to 93rd, east to 4th Avenue, north to 91st, west to Colonial, south to 92nd, back east to 4th Avenue, south to 93rd again, west to Marine Avenue, north to 92nd, west to Shore Road, down to Oliver, then back and forth between Shore and Marine on Oliver, 93rd, 94th, Ridge, 95th, 96th, and 97th, then east on Marine back to 4th Avenue, south to 100th, east to Fort Hamilton Parkway, north to 99th, west to 4th Avenue, north to Marine, east back to FHP, north to 97th, west to 4th Avenue, north to 95th, east again to FHP, nort to 94th, west back to 4th Avenue again (with the dead-end Wogan Terrace along the way), north to 91st, east to 5th Avenue, north to 90th, then back and forth between 4th and 5th Avenues on 90th, 89th, 88th, 87th, 86th, and 85th. But wait, there's more. Then it was south on 5th Avenue to 86th, east to Gelston, south to 88th, east to FHP, south to 90th, west back to Gelston, north back to 88th, west to 5th Avenue, south to 90th, east again to Gelston, south to 94th, east to FHP, north to 90th, east to Gatling, north to 88th, west to FHP once again, north to 85th, west to 5th Avenue, north to 84th, west to 4th Avenue, south to 85th, west to Narrows then doubling back to Colonial, north to 84th, east to 4th Avenue, north to 83rd, west to Shore Road, south to Shore Road Lane (which I'd somehow missed earlier), out and back on Shore Road Lane, north on Shore Road up to 82nd, then east to 3rd Avenue.

Notes: This was certainly one of the more complicated routes I've attempted, but the rationale behind it was filling in some of the mess I'd left in the southern reaches of Bay Ridge. Poor planning (well, not so much poor planning as not really planning at all) on previous runs down there had left a number of short streets and blocks unrun yet surrounded by places I had already covered, so I figured today was as good a day as any to head down there and clean up the map a bit. And, I think, I fixed things pretty well -- if my extensive geographic calculations and orange-highlighter cartographic record-keeping are indeed correct, I've now run all of Bay Ridge south of 86th Street. Not a huge slab of the borough (or even the neighborhood, for that matter), but it's done.

Mentally, it felt great to be back on the road -- I was getting a little stir crazy hanging out at the apartment and writing pretty much for the last week (except for the open house at the Met Opera house on Friday, which was both a terrific experience and completely free, a not insignificant consideration). It was also a very pleasant morning, especially after the mugginess over the weekend. Now that it's officially fall, I really am ready for some autumnal weather. Back in Iowa City, the best running weather of the year (for me, at least) usually occurred between the middle of October and the end of November, and I'm imagining things won't be too different here in Brooklyn.

Physically, I felt... well, not horrible. The seven days away from running had left me pretty rested, and if I'd gained any weight or lost any aerobic fitness along the way I didn't feel it. The heels, though (especially the right one) were still giving me some trouble, which worries me a bit, since if they're still hurting after a week off I might have incurred an actual physical injury (as opposed to the run-of-the-mill aches and pains that come and go with . As always, time will tell. Furthermore, even though I deliberately kept to a slower pace today, I felt kind of sluggish and my legs hurt a bit. Maybe I overdid it today with the 10+ miles, and should've eased back into things. Oh well. I'll tomorrow off, and probably Wednesday too, and try again on Thursday.

Lastly, I've written in this space before how much I enjoy running in Bay Ridge, and today was no different. The residential streets are tidy and well-kept, some of the old apartment buildings are beautiful, and the sometimes hilly terrain is a welcome change of pace from the essential flatness of some of the other neighborhoods I've been spending time in lately. One other aspect of Bay Ridge I really like is the number of small walks, pedestrian alleys, and staircases I've come across -- those kinds of things are a pleasant respite from the noise and traffic on the busier streets.

Today's three photos, including one of the titular pachyderm (to see the other one I've spotted, which resides in Sheepshead Bay, click here and scroll down):

The end of the pedestrian alley Hamilton Walk

This one's on Gelston Avenue

Window off of Marine Avenue