I run for many reasons. To stay fit, to stay thin, to sleep at night, to have time to think, to work at the nearly impossible goal of becoming fast, and to explore. Exploration can come in different forms. It can be exploring new trails and road, or seeing old roads in a new way. This weekend’s long run included a bit of both new roads and time spent in familiar places.
Things began with two figure eight loops in Prospect Park. The figure eight loop takes you down West Drive to Center Drive, across Center to East Drive, where you take a right, cruise past the lake, and up the West Drive hill, then a right back down Center Drive over the East Drive where you take a left and head up Zoo hill. From my house and around the figure 8 is just over six miles, two of them is makes it just about ten.
I’ve run thousands and thousands of miles in this park — 2,858 actually, according to my running ahead log. I’ve run through all conditions. I’ve run alone and with friends. This weekend, it was a prefect early spring day and I did the first loop with my Saturday run buddy, Joe. We talked about life, love, work and kids. We talked about running, rock climbing and how fat and old we have become. It was a great way to spend an hour.
After Joe left, I did another figure 8 alone listening to a mad decent podcast. The roads were packed with Brooklynites running, walking and cycling. Kids were pushing scooters; hipsters were riding long boards. It was all “tres Brooklyn” as, allegedly, the French say.
Two loops equals ten miles. Three more to go. I headed down Union street through the heart of strollerfied Park Slope all the way to the Union Street Bridge and the majestic Gowanus Canal.
The Gowanus Canal, Brooklyn’s New York’s finest superfund site has been described by the Environmental Protection Agency thus:
The Gowanus Canal, in Brooklyn, New York, is bounded by several communities including Park Slope, Cobble Hill, Carroll Gardens and Red Canal was once a major transportation route for the then separate cities of Brooklyn and New York City. Manufactured gas plants, mills, tanneries, and chemical plants are among the many facilities that operated along the canal.
As a result of years of discharges, storm water runoff, sewer outflows and industrial pollutants, the Gowanus Canal has become one of the nation’s most extensively contaminated water bodies. Contaminants include PCBs, coal tar wastes, heavy metals and volatile organics. The contamination poses a threat to the nearby residents who use the canal for fishing and recreation.
This gorgeous piece of waterway is crossed by five bridges. Over the next couple of weeks, I plan to run them all. In fact, inspired by Phil McCarthy’s excellent “Bridge of the Week series” I plan to spend a lot more time exploring the cities bridges. Some of theses bridges, like Union Street are old friends. Others will be new. I’m looking forward to seeing them all.
After Union Street it was down Nevins to Dean. Its amazing how industrial Nevins still is in this area. Seven years from now, the fabrication and demolition shops will be apartment buildings people by finance and advertising professionals, just you watch. I’ll run the street again then, and it will be like exploring a new world.