20 December 2006

One for the Road

Wednesday 12/20, Run #101: East New York

Distance: 10.19 miles
Time: 1:15
Pace: 7:22
Temp: 36
Wind Chill: 34
Weather: sunny

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 7.38
Total Unique Miles: 790.26
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 45.36

For the complete route, click here

Notes: Though I'll be taking a much-needed Christmas break starting tomorrow, I thought I'd squeeze in one more run first. And while it was certainly nice enough to color in some new streets on the "big map," today's outing was probably more therapeutic than anything, a good way to sweat out some of the stress and anxiety that invariably accompanies holiday time (and, more to the point, holiday travel).

Continuing with my implementation of "Phase 2" (which, I can assure you, is less sinister than it sounds), I headed back out to the far southeastern corner of the borough, and have now completed all of East New York south of Linden Boulevard and east of Euclid Avenue. These parts include some of the more "irregular" portions from a street-layout perspective, but most of the rest of the neighborhood streets conform to a very tidy grid. This ought to make it a lot easier to get in more unique miles per run on my subsequent visits -- no small consideration since I'll be out there during the coldest times of the year (unless, of course, our abnormally warm weather trends continue throughout the winter).

The area itself -- bounded by the major east-west thoroughfare Linden Boulevard to the north and the Starrett City complex to the south -- is a place I've mostly been through before, a mix of light industry, some large public housing projects (the Linden and Boulevard houses), and a commercial district along Pennsylvania Avenue. Not much to report, really, as it was a more or less uneventful run on a pleasant (if more seasonably chilly) morning.

Starting tomorrow I'm taking a full ten days off from running. I'm sure I'll continue to post from time to time (and maybe drag some old pictures out of the vault), but I'm hoping the rest will do me good and leave me in great shape for starting off the new year. Until then, best holiday wishes to everyone (except, maybe, Bill O'Reilly).

In an area dominated by nondescript warehouses, factories, and featureless brick public housing towers there weren't that many things demanding to be photographed. Here's a few pictures I took anyway:

panama, east new york
A man, a plan, a haircut? (Hegeman Avenue)

boulevard homes, east new york
Boulevard Homes, between Stanley Avenue and Linden Boulevard

barron office, east new york
Representing the 42nd District (Pennsylvania Avenue)

17 December 2006

On the Waterfront

Sunday 12/17, Run #100: Sunset Park

Distance: 11.32 miles
Time: 1:25
Pace: 7:31
Temp: 44
Wind Chill: 38
Weather: partly cloudy

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 8.58
Total Unique Miles: 782.88
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 44.93

For the complete route, click here

Notes: One hundred is a pretty useful number, you've got to admit. In fact, when you look around, the number one hundred is almost everywhere: It represents a perfect score on an exam or homework assignment, for instance, but also the boiling point of water on the Celsius scale. It's the number of yards in the playing surface of an American football field, the very definition of an average IQ score, and the basis for our monetary system. It's the number of senators in Washington, the basis for countless end-of-the-year "best-of" lists, and central to the title of a certain novel by Gabriel García Márquez. Bicyclists revere the 100-mile ride, or "century" as a two-wheeled feat of endurance, while academics like the number so much they break much of human history into 100-year chunks and assign them names like "the Nineteenth Century."

I'm sure most readers have figured out where I'm going with this. Simply put, today marked the 100th run I've completed since embarking on this whole thing, and I suppose I was hoping that a sort of transitive property of cultural numeracy would somehow elevate my accomplishment by comparing it favorably with all those previous examples. In other words, if the number 100 is particularly significant, and I've done 100 runs, well, then my running must be pretty significant too. Or something like that.

Regardless of its larger ramifications (or the lack thereof), I went out and ran today anyway. Looking to do something a little different, I decided to go fill in some of the streets down by the Sunset Park waterfront, once one of the major shipping centers in the northeast. I've gotten close enough on past runs to know to avoid the area during the week, when trucks line the streets and forklifts dart in and out of the many warehouses. But since today was Sunday, and another unseasonably warm Sunday at that, I figured it was time to check things out down there.

The streetscape was interesting enough -- and a refreshing change from the mostly residential areas I've run of late -- but it was pretty weird having so much of the place to myself. I'd often go several blocks without seeing another person, which, as one might imagine, is a relatively uncommon occurrence in a borough with 2.8 million residents. But that was also an advantage, I suppose, since I got to poke around some of the streets without anyone giving me strange looks or telling me to get lost.

Several dead-end streets extend northwest from 1st Avenue down toward the water, and some of them look like they hadn't changed significantly in years. This was particularly the case on 42nd Street, which led down to some older warehouses situated around multiple train tracks which criss-crossed the paving stones comprising the uneven road surface. Also interesting was the stretch of 58th Street that headed down toward Pier 4, where the New York Water Taxi makes stops and which has public access all the way to the end, offering great views of both the Manhattan skyline ahead and the Sunset Park waterfront behind. I also got to run through the streets in and around the Brooklyn Army Terminal, the huge complex that served as the major point of departure for American troops and supplies during World War II (and which is now an industrial park run by the city). It's also where Elvis, in his Army days, caught the U.S.S. Randall and sailed for Germany back in 1958.

Overall it was a great (if somewhat atypical) outing, and a perfect way to spend run one hundred. Even if I did probably overdo it a bit with the 11+ miles.

A few pictures:

factory, sunset park
Just east of 2nd Avenue

no passengers, sunset park
53rd Street

armless santa, sunset park
52nd Street

tie king, sunset park
As in neckties (44th Street)

brooklyn army terminal
Brooklyn Army Terminal

van, sunset park
50th Street