18 November 2006

I'm Back (and in Bay Ridge)

Saturday 11/18, Run #84: Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights

Distance: 9.42 miles
Time: 1:10
Pace: 7:26
Temp: 46
Dewpoint: 34
Weather: partly cloudy

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 7.72
Total Unique Miles: 658.27
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 37.78

For the complete route, click here

Notes: Yes, I'm back, and feeling okay after the two days off. Obviously, I'm not a dietician, physician, kinesiologist, or physical therapist and thus have no real idea why I was hurting for the last few days, but I nonetheless tried to address as many possibilities as I could. I went to bed earlier, for example, in case I was sleep-deprived. I ate everything in sight, in case I was malnourished, and drank gallons of water to allay any possible dehydration. And, of course, I tried to avoid anything that required using my legs a lot, in the event it was just a simple muscle strain. Mostly, I pretty much committed myself to 48 hours of what Dr. Nick Riviera once referred to as "assal horizontology," and simply took it easy. And while these things didn't add up to some kind of miracle cure, they all probably helped, at least judging by how I felt durning and after the run.

Anyway, I finshed up Bay Ridge today, which makes me both pretty excited (another neighborhood down!) and kind of wistful, since it's probably my favorite neighborhood for running in all of Brooklyn. Hold on a sec. Okay, now that I've shed a tear for the time I won't be spending down there any more, I'm clenching my jaw in a pose of steely resolve, gazing off into the distance, and thinking about all the places I've yet to explore. No time for sentimentality, right? After all, I've still got over 1000 miles to go...

I also hit one (kind of) big milestone today -- with the hour and ten minutes this morning I've now logged 6005 minutes of running on this project, or just over 100 hours. I'm not quite sure if that number sounds super-impressive or remarkably insignificant, but there it is, anyway.

As for completing the southern third of the borough (everything south of my oft-mentioned yet completely arbitrary 65th Street/Avenue P/Flatlands Avenue line), it looks like all I've got left is one run way out on the East New York/Queens border (by the big Post Office facility), a run in which I take the subway out to Rockaway and come back over the Marine Parkway Bridge and poke around Floyd Bennett Field a bit, and one in which I run Fort Hamilton (I'm still working on figuring that one out) and a little corner of Dyker Heights that's left near the fort. That's it! Of course, then I'll have to figure out the plan for the next few months, but I've been kind of working on that a bit behind the scenes here, and I'll post it all here when it's set. Oh, and speaking of maps, if you're wondering why the route up top is blue instead of the usual red, it represents neither a changing artistic vision nor a political statement. I simply saved the map on the gmap-pedometer website before the image itself, instead of the other way around (which is what I usually do). I think I like it better red, so it'll revert to that color tomorrow.

It was beautiful out this morning (at least for us fans of the cooler weather), and tomorrow's supposed to be more of the same. And if all's well physically tomorrow as well, I'll be out there running again. Meanwhile, photos:

kenruby, bay ridge
Kenruby apartment building on 90th Street

learning center, bay ridge
What's wrong with this picture? (Bay Ridge Avenue)

building, bay ridge
68th Street

doors, bay ridge
On an alley just north of Ovington Avenue

hello gorgeous, bay ridge
Hello Gorgeous! (Bay Ridge Avenue)

16 November 2006

The Thighs Have It

Okay, okay. I can already hear the multiple choruses of "I told you so" ringing out across the urban streetscape of Brooklyn and wafting in through my front window (or maybe it's just all the car alarms). Cowed and humbled after my defiant (though, in retrospect, conterproductive) tour of Canarsie yesterday, I'm taking at least another day off since, well, since my legs hurt an awful lot and I'm more or less teetering on the verge of physical exhaustion. I know, running 40 miles a week shouldn't leave an otherwise healthy person feeling like this. But I'm really coming to believe (and I've said this before) that I probably hurt myself a while back and just never let myself fully recover. It's not like I don't want to be healthy or pain-free (really, I'd love it!), but when I look at the "big map" and see how much of Brooklyn is left to do... well, I just feel like I ought to be out there making some headway instead of sitting at my desk complaining about how tired I am.

I may take tomorrow off, too -- it'll totally depend on how I feel when I get up. In the meantime, I'll take today to try to write some, and keep off the legs as much as I can. Quads (unlike heels or knees, say) tend to heal up pretty quickly, so I'm optimistic. And it looks like we might actually be receiving some more fall-like weather (after a week of rain, mugginess, and highs in the 60s), which will no doubt help as well. So stay tuned.

I really think I understand now why most pro athletes retire by the age of 40 (and why someone like the Mets' Julio Franco -- who turned 48 this past August -- is so remarkable). My weary frame is definitely feeling the effects of time, and in a way that it didn't even two or three years ago. What a drag it is getting old, indeed.

Oh, and in the "yikes" department, a bystander was fatally shot in the Rockaway Parkway L train station in Canarsie yesterday afternoon, only a few short hours after I had passed through on my way home from running there. More here.

A bonus photo from the Runs Brooklyn archives:

church, dyker heights
Church on 65th Street in Dyker Heights

15 November 2006

Showing My Quads Who's Boss

Wednesday 11/15, Run #83: Canarsie

Distance: 9.02 miles
Time: 1:10
Pace: 7:45
Temp: 58
Dewpoint: 52
Weather: overcast

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 6.07
Total Unique Miles: 650.55
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 37.34

For the complete route, click here

Notes: After all the concern and anxiety about my quadriceps that was in evidence here yesterday, how did I respond to my legs' continued pleas for rest this morning? I went out and pounded the concrete sidewalks for a good nine miles, as promised. Ha! That ought to shut 'em up. At least until I pass out from the pain.

Why do I abuse my body like this sometimes? Sure, all runners have a bit of a competitive streak -- we like to record out times and our paces and keep journals and logs, and it is with no small amount of joy that we celebrate a new personal record for a 10K or a marathon or whatever. But why does this desire to keep pushing sometimes end up being so obviously counterproductive and potentially injurious? I mean, I know on a very conscious and pragmatic level that it would be best if I took a few more days off, rested up the quads, and then hit the ground running (so to speak) some time next week. Instead, all I could think about last night was that I hadn't run in two days, and if I didn't run this morning (Wednesday) it'd be three and that was like completely beyond my ability to even consider. Totally out of the question! And so before turning in I dutifully drew my little map and cleared the memory in my camera and set out my running clothes, and this morning I rose at about six (staying home didn't even emerge as a possibility, despite the fact that I limped around the apartment for the first five minutes while making tea) and was on the road -- after the subway trip, of course -- by a little after eight. Go ahead, leave comments telling me how foolish I am! Tell me my long-term health is more important than the short-term accumulation of unique miles! Scold! Castigate! Admonish! Go on, let me have it! For you see, I know these things already, and the real mystery, the truly frustrating aspect, is that I can't seem to heed my own better judgment. And you want to know what else? I'm already thinking about where to go tomorrow!

Whatever. Blah blah quadriceps blah. Today I went out to Canarsie and ran around, systematically filling in all the previously un-run streets south of Flatlands Avenue (which, as you may remember, is the completely arbitrary line which I'm endeavoring to run everything south of before moving on to the next third of the borough. BTW, I'm getting real close -- maybe 4 or 5 more runs). As I've written here every previous time I've ventured down that way, Canarsie's a perfectly fine, primarily middle-class African-American neighborhood with most of its streets thoughtfully laid out on a grid and conveniently accessible via the L train. But because of its almost entirely residential nature (except for some small businesses along a couple of the main roads like Rockaway Parkway and Flatlands Avenue), there really isn't a whole lot of eye-catching photographic temptation. (Whoa -- I just got total déjà vu when I typed that. I must've written that exact same phrase on a previous post or something.) So I did my best to take pictures when things caught my eye, though not much did. And besides, I was too busy pretending my legs didn't hurt.

Alright, today's photos:

curb your dog, canarsie
Remsen Avenue

mural, canarsie
Also on Remsen Avenue

car, canarsie
I'm not much of a car guy, but even I know Lamborghinis are pretty rare

mural, canarsie
Part of an elaborate mural on E. 80th Street

14 November 2006

Doctor, My Thighs

Despite a regularly-scheduled break yesterday, I'm not running today, either. It seems that after dealing my quadriceps a devastating (if completely unintentional) one-two punch -- running too fast on Friday and too far on Sunday -- they've decided to essentially go on strike for a couple of days, refusing to function normally and making a big fuss about working conditions. And to be honest, running's just not the same without them. I've got no choice for now but to give in to their demands and let them rest up, at least for now. (The joke's on them, of course -- they'll be back to their usual grueling workload tomorrow. I already have the route mapped out!). But if you're wondering why you're reading this instead of a summary of my journey through some exciting neighborhood, well, now you know. But I'll be back tomorrow, I promise. Unless there's a pouring rain, of course. You know, my quads would just love that...

Since I'm here anyway, I'll take this opportunity to post a couple of recent pictures:

foam center, bay ridge
Talk about a niche market (Bay Ridge Avenue)

mosque, sunset park
Mosque on 6th Avenue

doors, bay ridge
Church doors on 67th Street

12 November 2006

Groceries, Garages, and Running into the Future

Sunday 11/12, Run #82: East Flatbush, Flatlands, Bergen Beach

Distance: 10.95 miles
Time: 1:25
Pace: 7:46
Temp: 60
Dewpoint: 58
Weather: cloudy & muggy

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 6.95
Total Unique Miles: 644.48
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 36.99

For the complete route, click here

Notes: As astute readers have no doubt already observed, my pace was markedly slower this morning than on my freakishly fleet-footed outing on Friday. Partially, of course, this was by design, since just about every muscle from my waist down was pretty sore (especially my quads, which are usually the stalwart troopers of my musculature) and I didn't want to inflict any additional damage on my balky and occasionally insolent body. But mostly, I suspect, it was an inevitable return to statistical normalcy, a retreat from the rough and tumble frontier of anomolous outliers back to the welcoming and reassuring central countours of the bell-shaped curve. And you know what? It's good to be home.

As for the run itself -- ignore what it says up top about Bergen Beach or Flatlands or whatever, for today I ran into the future! Okay, let me explain: It's true, I remain forever bound to the same time-space continuum we're all stuck in. But I did get to run on a couple of streets that don't quite yet exist. They were on neither the Hagstrom fold-out Brooklyn map (aka the "big map") nor the Google satellite map images (which typically are pretty recent). Anyway, a stretch of what I assume will be part of E. 73rd Street was still in an inchoate state of unpaved-ness, all puddly gravel-and-dirt topography punctuated occasionally by a big yellow bulldozer. Rows of houses -- most of which seemed to be just about complete -- lined the sides (though there were more than a few broken windows), while a short, similarly unformed (and presumably unnamed) cross street connected it to the almost-completed Royce Street (which I had run some time ago). It would seem that this particular part of Bergen Beach is one of the few areas in all of Brooklyn with enough undeveloped land to build whole new streets, and now I can say I was there first. Well, except for all the construction guys and whatever. But you know what I mean.

I also finished up all of Bergen Beach today, so the completion of yet another entire neighborhood is good news, indeed. Unfortunately, it's accompanied by some not-so-good news: Bergen Beach is so far from the closest subway that today's run was my least efficient yet, in terms of covering new ground -- almost four miles today were repeats. On top of that, my legs still hurt. Yes, yes, I know, I've brought this on myself.

So, on that note, it's onward to the cream of a scanty photographic crop, a pictorial harvest rendered withery and stunted by running in a mostly residential corner of the borough featuring block after block of pleasant enough but entirely nondescript houses:

grocery, flatlands
Avenue H

houses, bergen beach
Looking into the future on E. 73rd Street?

garage, bergen beach
Garage on E. 70th Street

garage, flatlands
Another garage! This one's on E. 46th

liquor store, flatlands
Avenue H (this is right next to the grocery, actually)