Saturday, July 28, 2007

Inaugural Training Run: Metropolitan Avenue to the World Trade Center

Course: Metropolitan Ave. to WTC.
Queens: Kew Gardens, Forest Hills, Middle Village,
Brooklyn: Bushwich Junction, Linden Hill, Williamsburgh
Manhattan: Lower East Side-Delancey, Bowery, Little Italy, Chinatown, Financial District
Distance: 11.2 Miles
Date: Saturday, July 28, 2007
Time: 08:30 AM
Weather: 79F, 92% Humidity
Course Path: (see map)
Elevations: (see graph)

I could leave the description at that, and you'd get everything you'd need to know about this run.

I'm actually glad I did it though. It was important to get the blood flowing. Especially knowing, that I was going to a special place for me, the New Yorker that I am (and will always be). It's also wonderful knowing the distances and the places that your own two legs can take you to too.

Right outside my building,
is where I warm up and stretch.
If you can see above, that's my hairy
leg. As you may guess, I'm in the
middle of a stretch and I'm using the
side, outdoor brick step to do it.

Let the journey begin:
I run down Lefferts Boulevard, and make a right on Metropolitan Avenue. It's an annoying
climb for about 1/2 mile. I pass Forest Park on my left, as I enter the southern section
of Forest Hills. Here, there are a lot of restaurants and quaint shops..and they are all expensive.
Up ahead, is the Forest Hills Cinemart movie theatre...Beyond that is Eddie's....

Eddie's Sweet Shop has been around since the 60's but it generally took over a store that was there since the 20's. I was never impressed by this place. It has won awards for great ice cream, etal. I must be missing something. The place is a mess. The people who work behind the counter are kids that don't even know what they are doing. I read a review on Urban Spoon
and I agree...."It's used to be the shit, and now it's just shit."

...And speaking of shit, the weather was complete shit. I was actually hoping that the sky would explode, and that rain would fall on me, but no luck. It played the role of "Jurassic Swamp" perfectly.

Queens is also well-known for its cemeteries. I'm not sure if I should be proud of that or not. At one point, there were two different cemeteries on either side of Metropolitan Boulevard. Talk about "Bring out yer dead!"....BOHHH-R-R-R-RING!!!

And this was one of the best parts of this run!

The photo above is of St. John's Cemetery. I also passed Lutheran Cemetery another mile later on. ......I was not really too sure why Queens had so many cemeteries....Until I got to around Mile 5.5...I tell you later....

As Metropolitan Avenue began to narrow, the commerical businesses were giving way to the smaller "mom & pop" places. Bodegas, coffee shops, and greasy grill joints, were in abundance. Some Mexican-American exited one of these places ahead of me and started jogging. Actually, he was going pretty fast. I expected him to slow down. But he didn't. Best of all, was that he was wearing long black sweats! Not bad, if his intent was to cook his own balls.

I had gone 4+ miles, and I had done pretty well, but I was beginning to sweat myself. Wisely, I stopped, and got myself a Vitamin Water.

Interesting note: There is no sign or landmark on Metropolitan Avenue stating when you have left Queens, a/o have entered Brooklyn. Perhaps it's beyond Eliot Avenue, where I noticed an abandoned railroad track. Or perhaps it was Flushing Avenue (no where near Flushing), for which, traffic-wise, was so dangerous, that I took my headphones off before crossing.

Passing Fresh Pond Road, and Eliot Avenues, I started noticing an immediate downgrade in the surrounding area. Trees were being replaced by garbage, and little family owned shops were being replaced by dirty scrap metal chop shops and automotive graveyards! Now normally, I get on my Dad's case for painting all of New York in this light, as if this area spoke for ALL of the Big Apple. But DAMN!!! This place was really ugly......and......

Mile 5.5....I enter Hell.

By the time I arrived here to this 'pic' that you see on your right, the "Bo Bo Poultry Market", the smell was unbearable. In fact, you had to be a BOBO, for even walking around here!! The stench was far worse than the sulphur that one smells as they are crossing Flushing Bay near Shea Stadium, home of the New York Mets. How better to describe it? Okay. Imagine taking the shit of 10 Doberman Pinchers that had recently eaten endless bowls of chopped up White Castle Hamburgers and Nathan's Hot Dogs (two local favorite food chains in the Northeast, for which the meat may taste well, but with horrendous conclusions). Now imagine someone putting it all into a big bucket, and placing it snuggly over your head, like a fedora. Now imagine running for nearly a mile with that on your head.... I could not escape the smell!!!

It was then, and in desperation, that I dug into my shorts pocket, and whipped out my Google map to see where the heck I was.....I took a look at my map, and gritted my teeth, as I now KNEW where hell is on Earth..........

The English Kills.

The most infamously polluted area in all of New York City.

Lovely photos, aren't they? And these aren't even mine. I took them from another
website, because I didn't have the stomach (let alone the nostrils) to stop and take them myself.

'Nice work, Alex!' I thought. 'How could I have missed this when plotting out my runs?'

This place had it's own 'kills' too all right. Now I know why there were so many cemetaries before.....

....It was to bury the people that ran in the opposite direction (from the WTC to my place).
Apparently, they didn't make it much further, and croaked just over the Queens border.

The stink was stifling. It was like the giant Port-O-San from Hell turned upsidedown after used by several, and it caused me to slow down considerably. Whereas, I was running an 8:16 mile, smiling all the way past the Metro Mall in Middle Village, earlier on, I was considerably downtrodden now. The heat was nasty, but with the smell? Unimaginable. I wanted to sprint, but I was actually stricken to the point that I had to nearly slow to a walk.

This area was absolutely depressing and completely reprehensible. I had definitely run through the armpit of New York City.

No. Wait a second. I take that back. It wasn't the armpit. It was a dirty colon.

Oddly enough, I did not see one dead animal around. Perhaps that's because they had more sense than I to not be here!

Fortunately, I finally left the area (or rather fled), and found my way entering the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The neighborhood is a tough one. I saw lots of people that I probably would have rather not seen. So again, I am grateful that I did this run in broad daylight.

YAHOO! I can now see the bridge, and I am eternally grateful. I am eternally thirsty too. I see this park at the edge of the BQE (Brooklyn-Queens Expressway). It has a water fountain inside. A woman is filling a Bozo (or is it BOBO now) punching bag with water directly from the fountain. I'm thinking I'll be waiting forever to get a sip, but she sees me, and how miserably pathetic I look, and had no choice but to interrupt her task to allow me to drink.

Blecccchh! The water! It's warm! THE NIGHTMARE CONTINUES!!!
However, I found this little 'geyser' (see below) and I drenched my head in it. This water was cold, and it felt great!! okay, okay, so not everything was that bad...

Leaving the park, I began to get a little bit confused regarding where the entrance to the footpath on the Williamburg Bridge was. I was even beginning to doubt if the bridge even had one at all. Oh NO!!! Perhaps I had the wrong bridge! Perhaps it was the Manhattan Bridge instead with the pedestrian path!!

I tried to walk into a check cashing shop nearby. There were plenty of people inside, but, to no surprise of mine, it was locked. I had to get buzzed in. As they say in Brooklyn....Fuhgedaboudit!!
Then, I saw someone in front of a bodega, and asked him. A feeling of relief overwhelmed me as he confirmed that this bridge does have a pedestrian crossover and showed me where to go.

The bridge is pretty nice, I must admit. There are walk & bike paths in either side of the span, going in both directions too. There is also the Subway ("J" train, I think) that goes down the middle of the bridge. The vehicles then, are on the lower level. Very efficient!

Everything was going well for me again, until I got about two-thirds of the way over, when at about the 8-mile mark, a foot cramp developed briefly and went away. It was in my right foot and it was a sign of more bad things to come. The Potassium levels in my body must have been close to depletion by now. Again, no thanks to this wonderful weather us New Yorkers are forced to endure this time of year. It's kind of what Floridians have to endure, just not as bad, and definitely not nearly as long as they do. So, stop my bitchin' right?

Once I crossed the East River, both sides of the pedestrian walks merged. It was there where I saw this scribbled in spray paint on the ground below:

It actually read: "I'm tired of being stepped over on!"

I crossed into Manhattan and ahead to where the bridge ramp finally became Delancy Street. What a sea of gridlocked cars! Once I got there, the heat was getting ridiculous. I stepped inside a Burger King and got a cup of water.

I pushed onward, and passed Allen St (dubbed "The Street of the Immigrant" right on the street signs). I had just completed my ninth mile, and was in seriously bad shape. I was changing between running, jogging, walking, even stopping. I could not do anything consistent. My legs didn't hurt. I was just exhausted. The heat and the smell didn't help, but this was all probably due to the lack of long runs I had done in a long while (thanks to my injury in June).

So, what was I to do? Take more pictures, of course!

On Kenmare, looking down Center St..........A greasy 'spoon' near the corner of Lafayette.

Lafayette & Broome Streets...............................Laf. & Canal Streets. Good 'knockoff' place.

Canal Street again................................................Near the NYPD Headquarters.....

They say you can't fight City Hall. Well, perhaps that is true....but I did at least get to
run to it!!

As I made my way past Duane & Reede streets (Ahhh, good. Now everyone can revel in how it was that the drug store chain, DuaneReed, was actually named), I had my second foot spasm. It was massive. Both feet this time.

I actually stopped and held the lampost at City Hall Park, near the corner of Park Row and Broadway, until my feet "unlocked".

More photos....
222 year old, St. Peter's Church..................... Rico law? No 'Reeking Smell' more like it!!!

Right after reaching the Federal Office Building (above, right), I also started getting a little bit
woozy. After all, this week was also my first week dieting and up until now, all I had was my Vitamin Water (125 calories) and nothing else.

At last! (Please sing like Etta James now..,.) I have reached my destination, the area that was once home to the World Trade Center, Tower 1 and Tower 2.
As you can see, New York is hard at work with the new construction of the 'Freedom Tower'.
After stopping for a moment to take in the gravity of what had happened nearly 6 years ago, I selected "Born In The USA" by Springsteen on my iPod, and completed my lap around the tragic and heroic memoriam.

Once complete, I got a large diet coke at Burger King, and then I took my smelly self down to the bowels of the earth known as .....the New York City Subway system.

Heck, things have gotten much better in the Subways in the last 20 years.
Crime has gone down by 75% and the AC works much better now.
In my case, too well.
My sweat nearly froze on my skin, but I wasn't going to

All I had to do.....was to think of the that God-Forsaken place called
English Kills.

The 11.2 mile run took me 1 hour and 52 minutes. Not good, but not bad considering all the stops I made along the way. The train ride back home, incidentally, took 42 minutes.

This may not be the last time I do this run, but I will be far better prepared if I ever do this again.

....Perhaps, I'll use a 'haz-mat' suit next time.


DGA said...

You did not enter Hell. You've been in Hell for 42 years. It's called NY. The only difference between where you normally run and this, is that like in the DIVINA COMEDIA of Dante Alighieri, there are different "circles" or levels of Hell. You ran through the scum area where half normal humans dare not to visit. STAY AWAY FROM IT! (unless you want to lose all 156 pounds in one shot). THAT IS WHY THERE ARE SO MANY CEMETERIES, DUH!

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are one whining bitch. No fear of you "cooking your own balls," they disintegrated a long time ago.

Alex Gonzalez said...

Fantastic comments! "Disintegrated a long time ago". Fucking awesome. Next time however, sign your name to the comment, otherwise, everyone's going to think that you are the one with no balls, coward.