Thursday, July 10, 2008

Inaugural Long Run: Manhattan & Brooklyn Bridges to Jack Rabbit to NYRR Club Run

Course: Manhattan & Brooklyn Bridges to Jack Rabbit to NYRR Club Date: July 10, 2008 Time: 10:30am Temp: 85F Hum: 45%
Distance: 11.11 miles Time: 1:57:10 Pace: 10:33 min/mile
Neighborhoods: D.U.M.B.O., Brooklyn Heights, Lower East Side, Chinatown, City Hall Park, Financial District, Grammercy, Union Square, Greenwich Village, NoHo, Murray Hill, Midtown, Upper East Side.

I could not contain my excitement. I was about to do a run that I hadn't even imagined of doing. Then when I blurted out last night at the club about doing something different, Bonnie had suggested how one of her favorite routes, was a five mile trek that she does between Manhattan and Brooklyn over, get this, the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges.
I could tell just by the way she looked as she described the course to me, that this was definitely a "must do". And if Bonnie has done a great job on Wednesdays leading the group on our runs, then I'm sure she would be on the mark here as well.

Prior to leaving, I took note of the forecast, and realized that I would need some SPF. For me, I get 3rd degree burns, if someone turns on a desk lamp in a closed office 50 yards away. Is that white enough for you? I do get dark, but they haven't invented a tanning bed that uses carbon dating yet in order for me to achieve such a feat. I get vanilla or strawberry. Chocolate is a tough one for me.

What a great day it was outside! Low humidity! Nice and Breezy! Sun shining! I tried all I could to conceal my stupid ecstatic look on my face as I headed for the Union Turnpike Subway Station in Kew Gardens. I was going to bring my Fuel Belt with me, but with only about 100,000 places for beverages along this route, I thought better, and shed a pound or two, by leaving it behind.

I already had my walkman (whoops! that's what old people say), err, my iPod on, and here were my songs in this order.

"Sleep Now In The Fire" by Rage Against The Machine
"Like The Weather" by 10,000 Maniacs
"Nighttrain" by Guns N' Roses
"Falling Stars (Radio Edit) by Sunset Strippers
"Push It" by Garbage
"Vanishing Point" by New Order
"Crush" by Jennifer Paige
"Two Hearts Beat As One" by U2
"Can't Do Nuttin' For Ya, Man!" by Public Enemy
"Right Now" by Korn
"Let It Go" by Def Leppard
"Rock Rock (Til You Drop)" by Def Leppard
"T.N.T." by AC/DC
"Long Way To Go" by Jeff Beal from the "Sprit of the Marathon" movie
"Aguas Blancas (DJ Shah's Original Mix) by Sunlounger
"Til The End of the Day" by The Kinks
"Moment Before Dreaming" by Ananda Project
"Gimme All Your Lovin" by ZZ Top
"4 Minutes" by Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake
"Stay Away" by Nirvana
"Wrath of God" by Halford
"Love Rollercoaster" by Red Hot Chili Peppers
"End Credits" by Jeff Beal
"Windy City" by Jeff Beal
"Thrown Away" by VAST
"Heading Out To The Highway" by Judas Priest
"Soul Makossa" by Manu Dibango
"I Was Made For Loving You" by Kiss
"Three Doors" by VAST
"Get It To Go" by To My Surprise
"Enter Sandman" by Metallica
"Round and Round" by Ratt
"Gypsy Blood" by Mason Ruffner
"Shot Down In Flames" by AC/DC
"Alice" by Moby
"Son of Jock Jam (Mega Mix) by Jock Jam All Stars
"A Reason To Run" by Jeff Beal
"Troubleshooter" by Judas Priest
"Hella Good" by No Doubt
"Hand That Feeds" by Nine Inch Nails
"She's On It" by The Beastie Boys
"Fly With Me (Original Mix) by Carbo
"(Reach Up For The) Sunrise" by Duran Duran
"Can't Truss It" by Public Enemy
"The Start" by Jeff Beal
"Downfall" by TRUSTcompany
"Safe In NYC" by AC/DC
"Weird Science" by Does It Offend You, Yeah?
"I Surrender" by Rainbow
"On A Plain" by Nirvana
"Fuel" by Metallica

There were more after Fuel, but if I don't get to back to my blog, I'll be running out of fuel....

I hopped aboard the "F" train. Destination: East Broadway. The last stop in Manhattan, before going to Brooklyn. En Route to there, two Jamaican men came in to my car with bongo drums. They announced there pleasantries, and then sat down and started wailing, I mean furious wailing on these drums. The acoustic on the train was surprisingly crisp and the rhythm was infectious. So infectious in fact, that a woman (perhaps also Jamaican) passenger that was nearby, stood up. Then she turned their back to them. I'm thinking like, "What the heck?", when all of the sudden, she starts grooving, belly dancing, you name it. What was originally a couple of musicians try to earn some coin, has now turned into a full fledged Alvin Ailey Theatrical performance! For those of you not of the area, the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theatre typically features young African-American dancers. And they also typically, electrify the stage and the audience with their abilities as well.

It's a damn shame that I was (like others in my car for sure) staring with my mouth hanging open in pleasant disbelief throughout it all. I would love to have taken a picture of this happening for sure. (I did get a shot of her afterwards above, but my "running" camera is a "shitty" camera).

Once I get off at East Broadway, I made my way to Canal. It took a little while for Garmin to acquire satellites, but it did and I was off, heading west till I saw Chrystie Street.

Canal Street, is primarily an area most commonly inhabited by Asians. I don't want to make too many assumptions, but by virtue that I ran through Chinatown, I'd have to say most of these Asians spoke Mandarin as well. Traffic was suprisingly light in the beginning, but once I got to Eldridge, it was all over. The service lane area of the oncoming cars was blocked off for construction, which forced me to then run among the masses of Asians. I had better luck making my way past runners at the start of the New York City Marathon last year.

The Manhattan Bridge (construction completed: 1909. It's 99 years old)

And now for pictures using that crappy cell phone camera of mine....(the jehovah bldg. not mine)

At the beginning of the Manhattan Bridge is a large and stoic archway. I saw what appeared to be a bicycle path on the left side of the bridge and headed right in. I few yards in though I began to think, "Why didn't I see a sign for pedesrtians?" At this point, I figured to come back out and look for one. There was one alright. It was on the other side of the bridge. So Bicycles are on the left of the two-way traffic, and Pedestrians on the right. Excellent planning, I thought. I won't have to worry about being mowed down.

Crossing the Manhattan Bridge was very cool. If the ascent was extreme, then I didn't notice. I was too excited to go over this bridge. Previously, I have never crossed it, even by car, just like the Brooklyn Bridge as well. I looked down and saw a large track n' field oval just before the FDR and the East River. To my right, a shot of the large Verizon building. And finally, the East River itself, along with the Brooklyn Bridge, my next conquest to be.

The Brooklyn Bridge now has a waterfall under the road way, parallel to main support structure on the Brooklyn end. Way cool. I took pictures again, and again. Unfortunately, none of them came out with my crap-ass cellphone camer, hence the stock photo on the left. At this ,a subway to my left passed me by. "Wow, they make great use of the Manhattan bridge, don't they?" I thought.

The last thing of note as I crossed into Brooklyn was the Jehovah Witness's Watchtower Building. Finally, I was in Brooklyn. Not too terribly far from a girl named Shirley for whom I used to date back in 2005. I also took note of the many Police and other official buildings. Since, I did not see Tillary, I asked a traffic cop, who pointed me in the right direction.

To be a pedestrian or cyclist on the Brooklyn Bridge you must enter a chute which is between the north and southbound traffic on Adams (corner of Tillary). I liked the idea of how the city went out of its way to make sure pedestrians have this opportunity to go between boroughs without actually having to drive (let alone pay) to do so.

The Brooklyn Bridge

(Opened to Traffic:1883 125 Yrs & Oldest Suspension Bridge In USA)

The Brooklyn Bridge, my next conquest, was truly a thing of beauty. As of tonight, it is now my favorite bridge of all time. First off, the pedestrian/cyclist walk is not on asphalt or concrete. It's on wooden planks. Such the kind one would find on any boardwalk at a self-respecting beach near you. In 1883, this became the first stell-wired suspension bridge. I can't tell you how spectacular even the wires looked. Seems like craftmanship in today's world is all but gone.

The bridge was very busy with tourists, taking pictures of loved ones. Even I partook in this, which is why my overall pace blew mega chunks. The views from the bridge towards Manhattan were breathtaking. Even if the bridge were empty, it would have been hard to go at full speed without taking in some of New York's incredible skyline beauty.

I was getting rather thirsty. So much for the 100,000 places to get a beverage. Here I am on a bridge. But wait! No sooner did I think this, there was a man selling Poland Spring water for a buck. And it was cold. And it graced my thirsty, parched lips, tongue and throat nicely too. As I kept running, I felt a little light. When I looked down, my white towel, which had been hanging off of my Nathan Polyprene running belt, was gone! My sweat is acrid, and combined with SPF45, I definitely needed to find that little thing or else. So, I ran back up the bridge, about a 1/4 of a mile. In the distance I see a black female with what appeared to be the same towel in her left hand. I got her attention, pointed to her towel and asked, "Excuse me Ms., but did you find that on the ground near here.". Nicely, she responded no, but added that there was a towel "back there". I turned around. Sure enough, there it was. Whew! That little bugger had become like that blue security blankie that Matthew Broderick kept rubbing over his face when confronted with stress.

If I thought that the bridge was crowded on this sunny day, I had no idea what would be in store next. Keep in mind that it was around lunch time, and it's a work day for most (but not me HAHAHA!!!) Coming off the ramp, with City Hall Park directly in front, were thousands of people just milling about. Many with cellphones, others sitting down and eating a sandwich while taking in the sights, others just sitting and reflecting. There were plenty of lovebirds just walking around and holding hands. It was all pretty chaotic, but that's what New York is all about. The Melting Pot.

I took tons more photos in this area. Actually, I was lost. I made an unintentional clockwise motion around the park in search of Lafayette Avenue. I asked several people, and no one seemed to know. Of course this is annoying. As I was crossing Duane Street (famous for Duane & Reede), I saw a man who had to know. He looked like a high ranking executive at a bank with his very expensive suit on, and definitely from these "woods". However, when asked, he answered like a robot, telling me he did not know. Never even looked at me either, and never stopped walking. It was like a character from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. All that remained was for Donald Sutherland to appear in front, holding a watermelon in his right hand, while pointing an accusatory finger with his left. This guy was an ass.

I kept on asking people though, and finally this one dude who looked like Erik Estrada from CHiPs (man, am I dating myself) set me straight. I made a left onto Lafayette, and went straight without worry all the way to 14th Street and Union Square. Took photos along this route too.

Being so close to Jack Rabbit Sporting Good Store, I just had to visit. I've written an article about them and will be posting it in the days to come. But let me just say this; They are very, very good.

As I approached the store, Union Square Park was loaded with artists selling their shtuff. I admired some of it, took a photo of George Washington on his horse, and kept on going.

After I left Jack Rabbit, I doubled back to Fifth Avenue, and made my next northwardly push. By now, I had completed 10K and was surprisingly fresh and full of energy. I cranked out the cheap cell phone camera again, and took plenty more photos of the Flatiron and Empire State buildings. I made a right onto 37th and as I headed east to Lex, I also snapped off some decent ones of the MetLife and the Chrysler Building as well.

The sun was strong, but not unforgiving. There was still a nice encouraging breeze swirling all around me, and it felt mad good. Having a visor and sunglasses helped tremendously. Folks, I can't stress how important it is to check the weather before you go out for a run. The longer the run, the more preparation you need to make.

I could have continued on 5th into the Park, but I was running very late, so I just went up Lexington until I got to the Super Runner's Shop on 86th. I forgot the girl's name there, but I've seen her in lots of road races. They did not have what I was looking for, so out I went. Out of the nicely air conditioned store, and back into the concrete jungle for some more running.

Made my left turn onto 89th. Fred Lebow Place. The home stretch. New York Road Runner's Club here I come. Actually, there was a legitimate reason to get to the NYRR's club. I was not only getting my race number for this weekend's Park to Park run, but also Scott's as well.

Today was one of those magical days where I had no pain, and all gain. I got back to 86th and Lex and hopped aboard the "5". And felt as if I hadn't run. I keep waiting for the wheels to fall of this bus, but it has not yet done so. I guess I've been very successful at being vigilant to not let this happen. Definitely need more rest though. Too much blogging. lol.

Overall today's run was lousy from the standpoint of having to stop so often, but from a scenery point of view, you cannot beat it.

Another long one in the books!
I kept wondering when I was going to get tired but I never did.


DGA said...

Wow! I don't know what to tackle first! You've got so much and such a variety on this blog! Let's see...Of all the songs you listed, my favorite is SAFE IN NYC by AC/DC. I love Science Fiction!

The Brooklyn Bridge is not 100 years old yet? My God, I remember in the 80s it looked like it was built in the 18th century!

What happened to your sneakers of blogrunner?

Nice pictures everywhere!

Carboman said...

what a great post. felt like you just gave me a tour!