Ten Hours Post Sandy

Since I started obsessively logging my workout activities on Running Ahead, I have fantasized about crossing the line into serious jock-hood – spending ten hours or more exercising in a week.  I have come close a number of times, but never got there until Hurricane Sandy. This past week I climbed for two hours.  Ran thirty miles in roughly five hours, rode my bike thirty six miles in three hours and did other body weight work for another fifteen minutes.  Totaled up, that’s just over ten hours of exercise.  Its funny what you can do when you have to get to work and the trains aren’t running.

 

A crummy photo of a gas line on the marathon course.

Two hours of that time and thirteen of those miles came on Saturday when I ran part of the marathon course going down Bedford avenue through the Hasidic part of Williamsburg.  There are three gas stations on that section of Bedford.  Only one had gas, and the line for it stretched for ten blocks.  Police officers were patrolling the line, and pumping the gas.  It was an orderly but surreal scene.  I wrote repeatedly on this blog about how I wanted the marathon to go forward, but seeing those lines this weekend, I cannot imagine how it would have been possible.

I was expecting to be more excited about this little jock milestone, but the destruction we’re seeing everywhere along the east coast, the gas lines I ran past  on Saturday, the nasty  fight over the marathon, and the stories I heard while volunteering at a donation depot yesterday have left me unexcited about my stupid workout records.

No gas at the corner of Bedford and Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn.

The time running and biking helped me deal with the insanity of this week, but they were a luxury I was afforded because I was lucky enough to live in a neighborhood on high ground.  Perhaps the next ten hour week will feel more triumphant, but for now I plan on running again tonight and donating to New York Cares.  I hope you’re doing the same.

Commuter Ethics in a Disaster Zone

I’ve lived in New York through September 11th the black out of 2003, the transit strike of 2005, and now Hurricane Sandy.  In the days after those events, I’ve ridden my bike many times through a downtown Manhattan without power.  One thing has always been true – people behave better.

New York can be an aggressive place. Cars will cut you off when you’re trying to cross the sidewalk, cyclists routinely barrel through red lights and jaywalkers will casually walk across four lanes of traffic.  The roads of New York can be chaotic and perilous.  But this morning, when the street lights of lower Manhattan were out, the subways were closed, and there were thousands of inexperienced cyclists skateboarder, roller-bladers and razor scooter riders on the streets things went remarkably smoothly.  Even at the many intersections where there were no police, cars gingerly inched forward and cyclists waited patiently for their turn.

It was as if with the rules governing our behavior removed, we decided to act more ethically.  Perhaps because of some altruistic feeling brought on by the devastation of Hurricane Sandy, or perhaps because of some internalization of the categorical imperative – i.e. if I behave reasonably that asshole is more likely to behave reasonably and I won’t end up getting killed on 8th avenue.  I am cynical enough to think it is most likely the later.  But either way, it made what could have been a very dangerous ride to work a little less terrify.

Immanuel Kant, whose complex and nuanced theory of the categorical imperative I have entirely mangled in this blog post.

Now let’s see what this evening brings when we all repeat the experiment in play nice road sharing in the dark.

A Post Hurricane Run

I am lucky enough to live in a neighborhood in Brooklyn called Prospect Heights.  Heights is in the name for a reason- we’re on relatively high ground and far outside the evacuations zones.  All we saw from Hurricane Sandy were a couple of downed trees and some blown over signs.  We were very, very lucky.  Many of my fellow New Yorkers and people up and down the east coast weren’t so fortunate.  My sister in Connecticut  my in-laws in the West Village, and many, many others are without power.  Whole neighborhoods will need to be rebuilt and billions of dollars will have to be spent.  Its going to take awhile, but we’ll get it done.

My office is without power, and our remote server were down so there was no work for me today.  Instead, I did a six miler around the neighborhood to see what I could see.

The scenic Gowanus Canal.

The Gowanus Canal is a superfund sight and one of the most polluted water ways in the New York area.  There were worries that it would overflow its bank sending god knows what into the streets of the neighborhoods near by.  Thankfully, this does not appear to have happened to any large degree.  Any overflow was long gone when I ran by there this afternoon.  It looked like  the same old canal,  though the smell was even worse than normal.

Your humble editor at the canal, the smell was pretty bad… even for industrial Brooklyn.

After the check in at the canal, I ran up to Prospect Park to check out the damage in around my favorite loop.  The City had already cleared the debris from the roadway which circles the park, but dozen of trees were down around the perimeter including many which had been pulled from the ground.

Hundred of people were out survey the scene, taking pictures of themselves in front of downed trees.  I was out there two, taking photos, and thinking about how lucky I am that I get to go home, shower, turn on my computer and post this little piece to my stupid blog.

Downed trees in Prospect Park

New York and the whole east coast are going to need a lot of help in the coming months.  I know that New York Cares is already out in many parts of Brooklyn giving a hand, you can donate to them here.

The Long Run – Two Bridges

Considering the week I’d had, I was feeling pretty good when Joe from Movement Movement and I started out on a 13 miler on Saturday afternoon.  It was down Gates avenue to Bedford, then Bedford through the Satmar portion of Williamsburg and up and over the Williamsburg bridge down the Eastside greenway back over the Manhattan and up Flatbush Avenue.

Manhattan from the Manhattan bridge. The sky was already looking ominous and Sandy was far far away.

By the time we got back to Joe’s place, we’d only hit 10.5 miles so we just ran around in circles like a couple of idiots until we hit 13. Then I went home, showered, changed, and headed straight to a wedding in which both husband and wife had run Boston qualifying times, the best man was some sort of uber double ultra ironman guy and I hung out all night with a guy who climbed Everest when he was nineteen.  Needless to say, it was not a crowd that would be impressed with my 13 miler.  But whatever, a man has to (re)start somewhere.

The Brooklyn Bridge as seen from the Manhattan Bridge

It was a gorgeous day.  Sandy was a long way off and Joe and I had plenty of time to discuss running, getting old, the pettiness endemic in progressive politics, and what we’d had for breakfast.  The miles go by so much faster when you’re sharing them with someone else.  Looking forward to many more runs like this as the days get colder.  I’m running pain free, it feels so good, even when it doesn’t.

Joe: “When I open my eyes, I’ll be just as fast as Ryan Hall.”

The Long Run – Battle Hill

I haven’t run more than ten miles in over six months, so I knew today’s twelve miler was going to be a bit of a suffer fest.  It was – twelve miles in 2:15:40 is pathetic, but it’s a start.

My goal was pretty simple – run twelve easy miles and find the highest point in Brooklyn.  Done and done. Starting from home I ran through Prospect Park up Fort Hamilton Parkway to Greenwood cemetery then along the edge of the cemetery to 25th street, I entered the park to climb the highest point in Brooklyn – Battle Hill.

The 25th street entrance to the cemetery.

Greenwood is the massive cemetery in the center of Brooklyn seen by everyone who has ever driven down the Brooklyn Queens Expressway.  It covers 478 acres and is the final resting place of hundred of famous New Yorkers, including the founder of the New York Times, the inventor of Morse Code, and Leonard Bernstein.  Within it is Battle Hill.

It is a gorgeous place, recalling the gilded age past of the City.  Ornate memorials, and beautifully tended gardens – for a cemetery, it’s a very nice place to spend part of gorgeous fall day.  Being a cemetery, running is not allowed, so I had to walk to the top of Battle Hill, (this partially excuses my pathetic time). It is quite the view from up there – you can see the city, the Statue of Liberty and a whole lot of New Jersey.  There’s also a well-done memorial to the battle of Brooklyn, the largest battle of the Revolutionary War, which was fought on the slopes of this hill long before it became a cemetery.

Ok, maybe it isn’t the view from the top of Mont Blanc, but still!

I took some photos, and retraced my route back to the park and grinded out the final five miles at a snails pace.  I wish I had been faster today, but you cannot have it all.  It was a gorgeous day, I climbed the highest the point in Brooklyn, and I got in the miles.  I’m happy with that, the speed will come back with time.

Being a New Yorker, my first thought on getting to Battle Hill was “I wonder how much those condos behind me go for.”

Three Boroughs, Three Bridges and Some 9/11 Reflections

I wrote this post some time ago for another blog. Re-posting it here mainly for myself.

Like many New Yorkers, I tried to just go about my business this Sunday, September 11th, and my business on Sunday was to get my longest run of this training cycle done. The goal was 20 miles, I made it 19.25 before I called it a day. I feel pretty good about that.

Inspired by long distance voyager, I’m on a mission to run the big bridges of the city, this Sunday’s run was geared toward hitting one of the big dawgs – the Queensboro (aka the 59th St Bridge). To do that, I left my place, headed through Bed Stuy, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint and on up to the Pulaski Bridge.

Manhattan as seen from the Pulaski Bridge

I hadn’t run on the Pulaski since I ran the New York Marathon in 2006. The Pulaski’s a small drawbridge nowhere near the size of the big east river bridges, but it has its charm. It crosses over the Newtown Creek in the heart of industrial Queens. Like much of New York, isn’t much to look at, but it gets the job done. There are no tourists — just a couple of bikers, some polish kids, and me. I love this bridge.

Queensboro

After the Pulaski was the bridge of a thousand broken dreams in the New York Marathon – the Queensboro. For me, this was where the wheels came off in my running of the New York Marathon. I wasn’t alone. Many a marathoner begins to feel the pain on the uphill section of the Queensboro. It’s a testament to how far I’ve come in my running that I cruised across this bad boy in no time, stopping only to take these pictures for you.

The View from the Queensboro

It was a grey day in the city. The ceremony honoring those who died in the World Trade Center was going on downtown, but as I cruised down the east side of Manhattan, it seemed like any other Sunday.

I thought about that day ten years ago.

I was on the Q Train about to go over the Manhattan Bridge when the conductor said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. You could see it clear as day out the window of the train. A man in my car shouted “my mother works in that building” and rushed from our car. We were stuck on a bridge; he had nowhere to go. He ran anyway. A Hasidic guy sitting next to me said “Its terrorism”. I thought it must have been an accident, and that surely that’d put the fire out soon.

From the Manhattan Bridge

By the time I got off the train at 14th street, the second plane had hit and everyone knew it was a terrorist attack.  You could see the smoke coming out of the towers. I didn’t know what to do – so I went to work. At the time I was working in a video editing studio. We had a hundred videos monitors in the place, but not a single television. We all went downstairs to a dinner and watched the coverage with hundreds of other people on a tiny TV they’d brought out from the back. Thousands of people were streaming north from the financial district clogging Broadway with pedestrians.  Some would stop and watch the coverage before continuing uptown. Others just kept walking, trying vainly to use their cell phones.  Some people were covered in dust, others looked dazed, almost no one spoke.

I remember the television broadcasting an interview with a man who said he was trapped above the fire in one of the towers. He was fine, he said, but they just couldn’t get down. They just needed someone to come get them. Moments later, the tower collapsed.  It’s a strange feeling, being that close to something, only about a mile and a half away, and watching it simultaneously on television.

Once the towers came down, I felt a need to get home. Now. It was a beautiful day – clear skies and warm.  I started the march home with some of my co-workers and as we walked you could see Brooklyn ahead of us so beautiful and calm. Behind us, Lower Manhattan had disappeared into a cloud of smoke.

On the Pulaski

I got home to my place in Brooklyn and climbed on the roof with my roommate and my best friend. We watched the smoke rise up from the city.  I finally spoke to my parents, I drank a lot, and we sat there until it got dark.  A woman I barely knew came over and spent the night.  It was a surreal time and it now feels very, very long ago.

I crossed the Manhattan Bridge again on Sunday at around mile 15 of the run, I was hurting by then and still had a ways to go. I weaved through downtown Brooklyn, back up through Bed Stuy and home, glad the long run, and the anniversary of that horrible day were behind me.

Three Boroughs, Three Bridges and Some 9/11 Reflections

Like many New Yorkers, I tried to just go about my business this Sunday, September 11th, and my business on Sunday was to get my longest run of this training cycle done. The goal was 20 miles, I made it 19.25 before I called it a day. I feel pretty good about that.

 

Inspired by long distance voyager, I’m on a mission to run the big bridges of the city, this Sunday’s run was geared toward hitting one of the big dawgs – the Queensboro (aka the 59th St Bridge). To do that, I left my place, headed through Bed Stuy, Williamsburg, and Greenpoint and on up to the Pulaski Bridge.

 

Manhattan as seen from the Pulaski Bridge

I hadn’t run on the Pulaski since I the New York Marathon in 2006. The Pulaski’s a small drawbridge nowhere near the size of the big east river bridges, but it has its charm. It crosses over the Newtown Creek in the heart of industrial Queens. Like much of New York, isn’t much to look at, but it gets the job done. There are no tourists, just a couple of bikers, some polish kids, and me. I love this bridge.

 

Queensboro

After the Pulaski was the bridge of a thousand broken dreams in the New York Marathon – the Queensboro. For me, this was where the wheels came off in my running of the New York Marathon and I wasn’t alone. Many a marathoner begin to feel the pain on the uphill section of the Queensboro. It’s a testament to how far I’ve come in my running that I cruised across this bad boy in no time, stopping only to take these pictures for you.

 

The View from the Queensboro

It was a grey day in the city. The ceremony honoring those who died in the World Trade Center was going on downtown, but as I cruised down the east side of Manhattan, it seems like any other Sunday and I thought about that day ten years ago. I was on the Q Train about to go over the Manhattan Bridge when the conductor said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. You could see it clear as day out the window of the train. A man in my car shouted “my mother works in that building” and rushed from our car. We were stuck on a bridge; he had nowhere to go, but he ran anyway. I thought it must have been an accident, and that surely that’d put the fire out soon.

 

From the Manhattan Bridge

By the time I got off the train at 14th street, the second plane had hit and everyone knew it was a terrorist attack. I didn’t know what to do, so I went to work. At the time I was working in a video editing studio, we had a hundred videos monitors in the place, but not a single television. We all went downstairs to the dinner below us and watched the coverage with hundreds of other people on a tiny TV they’d brought out from the back. People were streaming north from the financial district and would stop and watch some of the coverage. Some people were covered in dust, others looked dazed, almost no one spoke.

I remember the television broadcasting an interview with a man who said he was trapped above the fire in one of the towers. He was fine, he said, but they couldn’t get down. They just needed someone to come get them. Moments later, the tower collapsed.

Once the towers came down, I felt a need to get home. Now. It was a beautiful day, clear skies and warm. As we walked home, Brooklyn ahead of us looked so beautiful. Behind us, lower Manhattan had disappeared into a cloud of smoke.

On the Pulaski

I crossed the Manhattan Bridge again on Sunday at around mile 15 of the run, I was hurting by then and still had a ways to go. I weaved through downtown Brooklyn, back up through Bed Stuy and home, glad the long run, and the anniversary of that horrible day were behind me.

Long Run: Hurricane Loops

Continuing the  parkway theme from last week, my original plan for this weekend’s long run was to run down Ocean Parkway to Coney Island, but then Hurricane Irene came along, they turned Coney Island into an evacuation zone, and E all but forbid me running down there. So loops in ProspectParkit was.

Trucks lined up for Irene

Intermittent storms, a worried wife, and unbearably humid conditions meant I only did ten miles. They were fun, if sweaty, miles. A lot of people were out in the park, considering the weather was pretty nasty. I guess everyone wanted to get some outdoor time in before being cooped up for the storm. Last night when we were watching the coverage of the hurricane, twice I saw runners behind the reporter. Once it was during a report from the Central Park, at twelve thirty at night. Twelve thirty, on a Saturday, during the hurricane. I love New York runners.

Here Comes the Rain

 

Today after the storm I did another loop in the park. The damage is pretty minimal. A couple of trees down, some flooding in the areas that always flood, and again a lot of runners out. Gotta get the miles in, I guess, no matter what the weather.

After Irene

Hurricane Loops

Continuing the  parkway theme from last week, my original plan for this weekend’s long run was to run down Ocean Parkway to Coney Island, but then Hurricane Irene came along, they turned Coney Island into an evacuation zone, and E all but forbid me running down there. So loops in Prospect Park it was.

Trucks lined up for Irene

Intermittent storms, a worried wife, and unbearably humid conditions meant I only did ten miles. They were fun, if sweaty, miles. A lot of people were out in the park, considering the weather was pretty nasty. I guess everyone wanted to get some outdoor time in before being cooped up for the storm. Last night when we were watching the coverage of the hurricane, twice I saw runners behind the reporter. Once it was during a report from the Central Park, at twelve thirty at night. Twelve thirty, on a Saturday, during the hurricane. I love New York runners.

Here Comes the Rain

 

Today after the storm I did another loop in the park. The damage is pretty minimal. A couple of trees down, some flooding in the areas that always flood, and again a lot of runners out. Gotta get the miles in, I guess, no matter what the weather.

The Long Run: A Parkway and Two Bridges

The first in a series recounting my long run adventures.

I have run over 1600 miles in Prospect Park, much of it on the 3.3 mile main loop of the park. It has, as you might imagine, gotten a little boring. In an attempt to branch out, see more of the city by foot, and keep things interesting I’m going to try and stay out of the park more, especially on my long runs. This weekend’s course was developed with three things in mind – avoiding the park, staying in the shade, and running a work related errand.

 

Eastern Parkway

With these goals in mind I started out from my place and ran up to Eastern Parkway, the leafy promenade that runs from Prospect Park to the far edge of Crown Heights. Eastern Parkway was designed by Fredrick Olmstead, the genius who brought us both Central Park and Prospect Park. I love Olmstead and not just because he is a Connecticut Yankee like me. The concept of the parkway was to create a tree lined avenue which would take residents into the park. Originally there were to be four of these leading into Prospect Park from every direction, but only two were completed, Eastern and Ocean. I might run Ocean next weekend.

I love Eastern Parkway, running it from the park to Ralph Avenue takes you through the hipsters of Prospect Heights to the Chabad Hasidic Jews, Caribbean immigrants, and African Americans of Crown Heights. The Parkway continues past Ralph all the way to the Greenwood cemetery, but it isn’t nearly as nice (or as shaded) after Ralph, so I cut things off there today and turned around.

Back down Eastern Parkway I took a right down Bedford Avenue running through Crown Heights into Bedford Stuyvesant. I ran a quick errand in Bed Stuy, checking out a building for work, taking photos in my sweaty running clothes and getting stares. It was fun. Then it was down Bedford through the Satmar Hasidic portion of Williamsburg and over the Williamsburg Bridge.

The View from the WillyB

 

Williamsburg, as you may know, is the epicenter of all that is hip in New York. The Williamsburg Bridge is a fashion show on a Saturday afternoon –  Rayban sunglasses, boat shoes, impractical bikes. I am not sure if the woman on the bike with the retro eighties halter sweatshirt top meant to show us all her breast, and she rode down the bridge, but show us all her breasts she did.

The Williamsburg drops you off in the center of the Lower East Side. Historically the LES was a ghetto for newly arrived immigrants, now it is a play land for dudes with beards in flannel shirts. At this point, I knew I was short on mileage, so instead of just heading down to the Manhattan as I originally planned, I headed up the East Side for a bit, dodging skaters and people who rarely ride their bicycles. Around 14th street I turned around and headed back down to the Manhattan, a much more proletarian bridge than the WillyB, the Manhattan is stocked with runners and Chinese and Mexican dudes on Huffys. No breasts were seen.

 

Looking at Brooklyn from the Manhattan Bridge

Off the Manhattan and onto Flatbush Avenue for the final push home. Once again surprised at how many tourists there are in downtown Brooklyn nowadays. Hot and hurting by the time I got to Flatbush and Atlantic and still needing a another mile, I went the long way home and clocked in at 17 miles in 2:54:57. Another one in the bag.