13 October 2006

The Bay Ridge Minotaur?

Friday 10/13, Run #65: Bay Ridge

Distance: 8.73 miles
Time: 1:05
Pace: 7:26
Temp: 44
Dewpoint: 24
Weather: sunny

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 7.09
Total Unique Miles: 515.95
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 29.61

Route: I began this morning at 82nd Street and 3rd Avenue. I then went east to 4th Ave, north to 81st, west to Narrows, south to 82nd, west to Harbor View Terrace, north up to Colonial Court (including the little dead-end Harbor Lane), then west on Colonial (which bends around a little), then doubling back to 80th, then east to Narrows Ave, south just a bit to 80th (they don't match up there), east on 80th to 4th Avenue, north to 79th, west to Shore Road, north to 77th, east to Narrows, south to 78th, east to 4th Ave, north to 77th, west to Narrows Ave, north to 76th, east back to 4th Ave, north to Bay Ridge Parkway, west to Shore Road, north to 74th, east back to 4th Ave, north to 73rd, west to Narrows Ave, north to 72nd, west to Shore Road (inlcuding the dead-end 72nd Court), north to 71st, east to Colonial Ave,south to 72nd, west to Narrows Ave but doubling back and continuing east to 6th Ave, then south to 73rd and west back to 5th Ave.

Notes: Today's run was designed to be a relatively "easy" one, with a straightforward back-and-forth route in a neighbohood that I've found very conducive to running. The temperature this morning was the lowest since I started this thing back in late June (it was only 42 when I got up, and 44 when I hit the road), and while this might be a bit chilly for runners who prefer the warmer weather, I find the 40s to be pretty much the optimal temperature for me (as long as it's not too windy, of course). I headed back to Bay Ridge, which has been one of my favorite neighborhoods for running, and it didn't let me down -- if anything, the tree-lined streets of tidy townhouses and apartment buildings and small businesses were as pleasant as ever, with the hills down toward the water providing some additional variation and a little extra challenge at times.

One of the more interesting things I encountered today was a shrine (for lack of a better word) on 79th Street dedicated to the island of Crete (opera-related coincidence: I just saw Mozart's Idomeneo -- the title character was one of ancient Crete's kings -- a little over a week ago). A little googling reveals that the owner of the adjacent house, George Korstolakas, has spent his retirement years building a detailed diorama of his homeland inside the structure, and decorated the exterior with postcards, photos, maps, and other images. I couldn't really see inside the diorama, but the structure was impressive from the outside, though I do have to confess to at least momentary disappointment at the lack of a big concrete Minotaur (given how much roadside "wildlife" I've encountered lately, from elephants to gorillas to squids, I was almost expecting something like that). It was still really cool, so if you want to see more, including photos of the inside, check out this story from the Channel 7 News website. And speaking of shrines and other such things, in a courtyard at Our Lady of Angels church on 4th Avenue there was a Semptember 11 memorial which included a large, twisted piece of rusting I-beam (from one of the WTC buildings?) along with flowers and tributes and notes. Rounding things out, I also got to climb the two sets of stairs I saw in August (when I was running the nearby perpendicular avenues). While on the subject of urban stairs, I'd be remiss if I didn't at least mention the terrific blog Walking Berkeley, in which an intrepid pedestrian (and fine writer) explores her own stair-laced city. Altogether, another great run in Bay Ridge.

The continued pain in my feet and heels has me worried, however, and I'm taking tomorrow off. But I'm still tentatively planning to run again on Sunday (this weather's too good to pass up), though if the pain continues I'm seriously considering taking a longer hiatus to see if it would help at all. We'll see, I guess. And go Mets! Anyway, pictures:

The outside of George Korstolakas' Crete tribute

Stairway connecting the upper and lower portions of 76th Street

Side of Our Lady of Angels Church on 4th Avenue

11 October 2006

An Uneventful Run on an Uneventful Morning

Wednesday 10/11, Run #64: Sheepshead Bay, Midwood

Distance: 9.95 miles
Time: 1:15
Pace: 7:32
Temp: 62
Dewpoint: 54
Weather: overcast

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 8.56
Total Unique Miles: 508.86
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 29.21

Route: I began at Coyle and Avenue Y, then south to Avenue Z, west to Ford, south to Voorhies Ave, west to Batchelder, north to Avenue X, west to Brown, south to Avenue U, west to Haring, north to Avenue X then doubling back and continuing to Avenue Z, east to Brown, south to Voorhies Ave, west to Haring, north to Avenue Z, west to Nostrand Ave, south to Voorhies Ave then doubling back and continuing north to Avenue X, west to E. 29th, south to Avenue Y then doubling back and continuing north to Avenue U, west to E. 28th, south to Voorhies Ave, west to E. 27th, north to Avenue U, west to E. 26th, south to Voorhies Ave, west to Bedford Ave, north up to Avenue P, west to Mansfield (E. 24th), south to Avenue R, west to E. 22nd, north to Avenue O, east to E. 24th, north to Olean, northwest to Avenue N, west to Bay, southeast to E. 23rd, south back to Avenue O, west to Ocean Avenue, south to Kings Highway, and west to E. 17th.

Notes: After a few unusually complex and confusing runs, today's was actually pretty straightforward, as I filled in a corner of Sheepshead Bay that I'd thus far ignored. Actually, I was originally planning to take today off and run tomorrow, but with rain in the forecast beginning tonight I figured I'd play it safe and head out this morning. I don't think I'll mind taking tomorrow off instead, especially if it's pouring out when I wake up.

Anyway, as the title of today's post would indicate, my outing was essentially uneventful, especially since I was in a mostly quiet residential area, with lots of brick row houses and a few apartment buildings. No animal sculptures (though two houses on Olean Street had decorative tiles on the front, one of which featured -- no joke -- an elephant), no mermaids, no signs of either extreme wealth or abject poverty. Just a lot of houses, and a lot of people out going to work or taking their kids to school. A typical day in southern Brooklyn, I'd have to imagine. So instead of racking my brain for ways to make it sound more interesting, I'll just leave it at that and move on to the photographic portion of today's post, though even the pictures are kind of boring, too:

Garages on Olean Street

Bionic bagels on Nostrand Avenue

Side of a store on Bedford Avenue

10 October 2006

Special Off-Day Literary Running Edition

I'll admit I'm a bit of a latecomer to the fiction of Haruki Murakami. But just last week I finished Kafka on the Shore, which I thought was a terrific book. The ending might have been just a bit weak, but otherwise, this novel had it all -- talking cats, leeches falling from the sky, mass psychosis among schoolchildren during World War II, transgendered librarians, mysterious older women, even Colonel Sanders. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I recently picked up The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which I hope to start reading soon (perhaps after I make some progress on my own next chapter draft).

Anyway, I'm breaking my new rule about refraining from posting on off days not to champion Murakami's formidable literary talents, but rather to relay the delight with which I learned that the writer is also an avid runner, who runs about 35 miles per week and has completed over 20 marathons. In an interview earlier this year with Runner's World magazine, Murakami discusses his affection for the Boston Marathon, how running relates to his writing, and his favorite place to run. I love it when you discover little connections between various aspects of your life or different things that you enjoy. If I could only figure out a way to run and read at the same time (and I don't mean on a treadmill), I'd have it made!

A bonus picture, from last week:

Coney Island

09 October 2006

Mill Basin: File Under "Completed"

Monday 10/9, Run #63: Flatlands, Mill Basin

Distance: 9.77
Time: 1:15
Pace: 7:41
Temp: 62
Dewpoint: 52
Weather: sunny

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 6.58
Total Unique Miles: 500.30
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 28.71

Route: This one began at Avenue K and E. 40th Street. Then I went east on Avenue K to E. 45th, south to Avenue N, east to Ralph Avenue, south to Mill Ave, continued southeast on Mill Ave to Strickland, east to E. 66th, south to Ohio Walk, west to Mill Ave, south to Mayfair, east to E. 66th, north to Whitman, around Whitman (which is semicircular) back to E. 66th, over a block to Mayfair, around Mayfair (also a semicircle, as are Barlow and Gaylord) back to E. 66th, over to Barlow and around to E. 66th again, and on to Gaylord. I then made the first right onto Indiana, went south to National, east to Kansas, north to Arkansas, west to Indiana and doubled back, continued on to Montana, south to National again, east around the curve to Arkansas, west to Montana then doubling back to Bassett, west to Gaylord, around to Utah Walk and doubling back to Gaylord, then on to E. 66th. Then it was south back to Bassett, east to Gaylord then doubling back and continuing on to Mill Ave, then north just a few yards to E. 60th, west to Strickland, south to E. 59th, south to Mayfair, west back to Strickland, south to E. 57th, east to Mill Ave, north a block to Mayfair again, southeast to E. 66th, west to E. 56th, south to National, west to Arkansas, east back to E. 56th, north to Whitman, west to National, north to E. 66th, east to Strickland, north back to Mill Ave (with a little diversion into the unfinished development on the north side of the street) and continuing up to Avenue U. (note: most of the streets in Mill Basin curve around, so cardinal directions here are used pretty loosely, though they'd be apparent in context to anyone looking at a map).

Notes: It was a beautiful morning, and a fine day to achieve two minor milestones. First, I (barely) crossed the 500 unique mile threshold, which I have to admit makes it seem like I've actually been making some progress. If that wasn't proof enough, however, I'm also now finished with Mill Basin, making it the third neighborhood I've completed, all of them in the last week and a half. Baby steps, as it were, but steps nonetheless.

Mill Basin is still Mill Basin -- long, curving, and pleasant tree-lined streets with some of the more lavish and ostentatious homes in Brooklyn, especially when you get close to the water. Once past the initial shock of architectural excess, though, it's a fine place to run (I even spied a fellow runner at one point). Much of the neighborhood I ran today is laid out as a semicircle, with concentric streets looping to and from E. 66th Street, with a few others serving as "spokes" that radiate from the inner loop (Gaylord) to the outer (Whitman). Of particular note, however, are several pedestrian walks (Utah, Indiana, and Bassett Walks) that cut through the neigborhood, features that never fail to excite me, perhaps due to my status as a pedestrian myself. Interestingly, these narrow paths lined by tall fences are about the only places in the neighborhood with any graffiti to speak of. There's none of the elaborate type you see in other places, mind you, but rather crude tags demonstrating that even wealthy kids need street cred (or at least something to do while sneaking furtive beers). In any event, I think they're wonderful (the walks, that is), and add significantly to the landscape there.

Okay. I'll be taking a day or two off (I know, I say that every time), but this time I mean it. Meanwhile, today's photographic offering:

One of the many tasteful homes on Bassett Avenue

Looking down Ohio Walk

Factory off of Strickland (and right near where I saw the chickens last week)