19 January 2007

I'll Worry About the Other Half Later

Friday 1/19, Run #112: Greenpoint

Distance: 6.63 miles
Time: 0:50
Pace: 7:33
Temp: 34
Wind Chill: 26
Weather: sunny & windy

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 5.88
Total Unique Miles: 872.02
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 50.05

For the complete route, click here

Notes: This morning I awoke just in time to watch the first snowfall of the season. And while it didn't amount to much (a barely measurable dusting which was just enough to make the streets and sidewalks a bit slippery) and the sun came out soon after, it was kind of reassuring to see the weather actually match up to the calendar, thus eliminating the cognitive dissonance I've been experiencing so far during much of this winter. As for the run itself, I kept things simple by choosing a route that kept me right here in Greenpoint, taking me through much of the northernmost third of the neighborhood (and which didn't require any time on the subway).

More to the point, though, today's run (finally!) brought me to the halfway point in all of this. I know, it's hard to believe, and I think the first order of business will be to take a little time off to rest up and bask in the pale glow of my semi-accomplishment. Sometime over the next few days, though, I'll post a more thorough assessment of the first 50 percent, including my thoughts on some of the high and low points, a statistical wrap-up of these 872 unique miles, and probably a few photos that I haven't yet posted. After that, I'll need to start thinking about how to approach the second half. For now, however, I'm going to take a hot shower, have some oatmeal, and maybe take a nap.

Pictures from this morning:

blocks, greenpoint
Manhattan Avenue

just packaging, greenpoint
Green Street

astral building, greenpoint
India Street

boat, greenpoint
Newtown Creek, from the foot of Manhattan Avenue

foundry, greenpoint
India Street

building, greenpoint
Franklin Street

18 January 2007

And Remember, Always Back Up Your Files

Thursday 1/18, Run #111: Bed-Stuy, Clinton Hill, Fort Greene, Prospect Heights

Distance: 9.25 miles
Time: 1:10
Pace: 7:34
Temp: 27
Wind Chill: 21
Weather: partly cloudy

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 9.02
Total Unique Miles: 866.14
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 49.71

For the complete route, click here

Notes: It's official -- with the completion of today's run I only need 5.04 unique miles to make it to the halfway point. I hope to be able to dash it off tomorrow (or, if the weather is uncooperative, Satuday), and then I'm going to feel pretty good about things. At least for a little while. Eventually, I suppose, I'll have to hit the road again for Part Two, but I'm really looking forward to a little break before that. As for the run itself, it was fine in terms of seeing interesting things and not getting run over, but it was certainly the coldest morning I've been out there so far. I was in the area where Clinton Hill, Bed-Stuy, and Prospect Heights come together, a region with a lot of people out and about, some attractive residential streets, and plenty of houses I'd never be able to afford. As you might suspect, I chose this destination today because of its proximity to the G train, meaning I didn't spend more than 10 or 15 minutes getting either to or from the run. And that was very nice, indeed.

On a less positive note, last night I inadvertently deleted the spreadsheet I'd been using to keep track of everything regarding my Brooklyn runs -- distances and times, of course, but also the weather, the URL of each individual route map, and weekly, monthly, and running totals of the various statistics. I guess that's why they always tell you to back up everything. It's true, of course, that most of this information is preserved right here on the blog and that I can probably recreate the thing nearly in its entirety by going through each of the 110 posts and copying the information into a new spreadsheet. But that's a lot of work. I think I need to hire an intern.

Finally, a quick note on my photos: I've finally organized the pictures from all my runs over at Flickr into eight sets that group the photos thematically. There's a substantial set, for instance, devoted to storefronts, as well as others featuring pictures related to residential buildings, transportation, and religion. Believe me, it's a lot easier to look at these groupings (each has between roughly 50 and 125 images) than it is to wade through all 600+ photos. You can take a look by either heading over to my Flickr page and then clicking on whichever set you want to see, or you can simply click on one of the links I've included here on the blog. They're over to the right, listed under the heading "Runs Brooklyn Photo Archive," and just beneath the "About this Blog" links. (For whatever reason it takes a few seconds for the pages to come up, so please be patient.)

Speaking of photos, here's today's installment:

building, prospect heights
Bergen Street

rocks, bed-stuy
Dean Street

church, bed-stuy
Prospect Place

paul robeson theater, fort greene
Paul Robeson Theater on Greene Avenue

building, park slope
Flatbush Avenue

mural, bed-stuy
Prospect Place

16 January 2007

Finally, Winter Shows Up

Tuesday 1/16, Run #110: Bedford-Stuyvesant & Crown Heights

Distance: 9.06 miles
Time: 1:10
Pace: 7:44
Temp: 40
Wind Chill: 32
Weather: cloudy & windy

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 8.61
Total Unique Miles: 857.12
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 49.19

For the complete route, click here

Notes: After holding off long enough that more than a few local trees and flowers were starting to bud already, winter is making a comeback today via dropping temperatures and some gusty northwesternly breezes. (And it's supposed to get even colder over the next fewe days.) But even though I was careless enough to plot a route that left me running the last three miles or so almost directly into the wind, I still finished up in good spirits -- due in good part, no doubt, to the knowledge that I've only got two modest runs left before reaching the halfway point. I don't mean to make such a big deal about this -- I do realize, of course, that after I take a short break I've essentially got to do everything I've done up to this point all over again -- but for whatever reason it's providing an somewhat unexpected and not entirely unwelcome psychological boost which I'm only too happy to embrace.

Looking last night at all the orange lines I've drawn the "big map" thus far, I couldn't help but notice that there was a sizeable gap in the middle of the borough where I hadn't run at all yet. It's hard to believe, but true -- there it was, a square roughly a mile and a half on a side, centered on the eastern half of Crown Heights and bounded by Stuyvesant Heights to the north, East Flatbush to the south, and Brownsville to the east. In an attempt to rectify this unintentional oversight, of course, I decided I needed to head down that way today. Still, I didn't want to spend all morning on the train (or worse, freezing on a platform somewhere), so I devised a relatively simple course in which I'd start the run just five subway stops from home, head south for a couple of miles, spend another few in the southeastern corner of Crown Heights, and then continue back north to a point only four stops to home. And, I'm happy to report, it worked out just fine.

Crown Heights is an interesting area, brimming with recent immigrants from the Caribbean and parts of Africa and Asia but also home to the world headquarters of Lubavitch Hasidim. Unfortunately, the name of the neighborhood is linked in many minds with the rioting and violence that erupted in August, 1991, exposing not only local ethnic tensions but deeper currents of racial antagonism in the city. It's still something of a contentious issue (when doing a little background Googling it quickly became evident that accounts of the riots vary significantly, often depending on whether they are being related by African Americans or Hasidim, cops or reporters, locals or outsiders), but this 2001 article from the Times provides something of a starting point, as well as some details about the changes that had taken place (and, alas, those that had not) during the ensuing decade.

A few pictures:

church, crown heights
Corner of Crown Street and Utica Avenue

houses, crown heights
Houses along the north side of Crown Street

library, bed-stuy
Brookly Public Library branch on De Kalb Avenue

arthurine's, crown heights
Restaurant on Kingston Avenue

mitzvah tank, crown heights
Mitzvah tank parked just west of Kingston Avenue

church, bed-stuy
Mt. Pisgah Church on Tompkins Avenue

14 January 2007

Another Williamsburg Sunday

Sunday 1/14, Run #109: Greenpoint & Williamsburg

Distance: 9.82 miles
Time: 1:15
Pace: 7:38
Temp: 44
Wind Chill: 39
Weather: overcast & foggy

click on image for interactive map

Unique Miles Today: 8.68
Total Unique Miles: 848.52
Percent of Brooklyn Run: 48.70

For the complete route, click here

Notes: As with the previous two Sundays, I stayed close to home today and once again followed a route that allowed me to start and finish within a few blocks of the Runs Brooklyn world headquarters here in Greenpoint. So despite the lousy weather out there (and the forecast for more rain to come), this morning's run was a good one from the moment I started for that reason alone. But I also passed a significant milestone, though not one that shows up in any of the numbers I post here on the blog: I hit the 1000 total mile mark since I started this whole thing last June. I know, it's more symbolic than anything else since it's the unique miles that count toward running the whole borough, but still -- a thousand. That's a lot of sidewalk, a lot of dodging drifting pedestrians, a lot of darting through traffic across busy city streets, and a lot of strange looks from my fellow Brooklynites. And while it looks like I'm now within just three more runs from hitting the halfway mark (only 22.66 unique miles to go!), there's something immensely satisfying about having run 1000 miles over the last 29 weeks. Interestingly enough, that's almost the exact distance from my previous home in Iowa City, Iowa, to my apartment in Brooklyn -- in fact, if you were to drive from my old address to my current one here you'd cover precisely 1001.42 miles (at least according to Mapquest). Of course, that'd only take sixteen hours or so, provided you didn't hit any traffic south of Chicago.

Like the previous two local Sunday runs, my excursion today took me through a pretty diverse cross-section of the borough, from working-class residential streets to the edge of the East River to some heavily industrial areas to the (increasingly gentrified) hipster chic of Northside Williamsburg. I ran under both the BQE and the Williamsburg Bridge, alongside decaying nineteenth-century warehouses, beside the enormous old Domino sugar factory, and past new buildings with million-dollar condos. And I made my way through neighborhoods that are mostly Polish, predominantly Hispanic, or in which Orthodox Jews comprise the majority. All this in under ten miles, too. A pretty great run on a pretty lousy morning, weatherwise at least.

So there. I made it through a whole post without complaining about anything besides the weather! Anyway, I'm taking tomorrow off to rest up for the final push toward 50 percent, and will hopefully be back on the road Tuesday and then either Wednesday or Thursday, with Friday tentatively penciled in for hitting the big milestone. The big milestone that really counts, that is.

Given the low light and gloomy conditions, here's the best I could manage with the camera:

novelty court, williamsburg
Driggs Avenue

no parking, williamsburg
Also on Driggs

spilke's, williamsburg

live with animals, williamsburg
Metropolitan Avenue

bridge and warehouse, williamsburg
Looking southwest from the end of S. 4th

nick's, williamsburg