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 – 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.”

2000 miles in Prospect Park

As I ease back into regular running, I’ve been trying to not obsess over the numbers.  Sure I record the time and distance of my runs, but I haven’t really been digging into the numbers like I do when I am running seriously.  So, today, when I was bored and checking my stats on runningahead I was surprised to discover that somewhere in the last month, I ran my 2,000th mile in the Prospect Park.

2,000 miles around a 3.3 mile loop.  Those aren’t Luis Rios numbers, but I’m still pretty happy with it.  After all those miles, the park is still by far my favorite place to run.  I love see the regulars, and people out for their first jog.  I love running by the drum circle near the Parkside entrance, the cricket games at the top of the hill, and the rasta soccer games off Center Drive.  The park represents all that remains wonderful about Brooklyn – the diversity, the excitement; the people crammed shoulder to shoulder enjoying the largest open space in the borough.  It is an urban wonder that I am lucky enough to live just a half dozen blocks away from.

I’ve run the park loop in the rain at ten o’clock at night, and in the dark of the early, early morning.  I’ve run it when it was over 100 degrees and when the city was battening down for a blizzard, and in all those runs I’ve never gone all 3.3 miles without seeing someone else.  That is what makes this city, and this park, so special to me.  It is alive in a way no other place is, and I cannot wait to see it all again on my next run.

1000 miles in Prospect Park

Note: Originally written for another blog. Posted here for posterity. The “bearded guy” I have since found out is legendary local ultra runner Lois Rios.

Last night, sometime right around the top of the hill, near the great lawn, I ran my 1,000th mile in Prospect Park. Ok, I have probably run more, in the early days of my running I didn’t keep very good track. When I started running in 2006, I put in my first miles in the park, entering from the Parkside entrance and heading up the hill. I couldn’t make it all the way around the park without stopping. I went to law school in D.C. and only visited the park on the rare occasions when I was back in Brooklyn.

Since returning to New York this past fall, I’ve put in a lot of time in the park. Doing the 3.3 loop, I enter at Grand Army plaza and take a right. Some small rollers as I pass the playground and the band shell, then the ball fields and  the down hill to the lake, around the lake past the drum circle, past the zoo and the botanical gardens, and then up the hill by the great lawn. It is the perfect loop. Some flat, some up, some down, always plenty to see.

I know many of the regulars now. The bearded guy* who, no matter when I get there on the weekend, is run-walking his way around the loop. The small pack of older fast dudes who I always see around seven on week nights; the group of Latino guys who meet by the lake and clock off their miles around a 6:30 pace. We nod to each other acknowledging that we are the ones out here, no matter the weather, getting in our miles, in the greatest urban park in the United States.

Tonight, I think I’ll make it 1008 miles in the park.

* I am dying to know the bearded guys story. I have seen him pictured in some articles about the NYC ultra community. I would approach him, but when I say hello he isn’t particularly friendly.