Brooklyn Runner

The Ice Bath
August 31, 2008, 10:51 pm
Filed under: Hurting, Marathoning, training | Tags: ,

I have to give it up for my friend, who is training for his first marathon. After hearing about how sore he felt after a long run of 15 or so miles, I asked him whether he had discovered the ice bath yet, and the next week he tried it and became a believer.

Ah yes, the ice bath! I know, it sounds a bit scary at first, but there is truly nothing like it when you are training for a marathon — especially in end-of-summer heat — and getting in those 15-, 18- and 20-mile runs. How the muscles ache, the knees can complain, and just about anything that is a joint can creak and become irritated from all that running.

The ice bath is the perfect antidote to all that. It was first recommended to me when I trained for my first marathon. And while the idea of getting into a tub of ice cold water with a bag of ice in there is daunting in any other circumstance, when you are doing those long training runs you will discover how wonderful it is. The coolness just calms everything down, helps soothe the muscles and reduce the inflammation from all the motion on those joints. There’s nothing like it – but I would say just about the only time when it’s fitting is after the truly long runs. Because let’s face it, those long training runs can be utterly grueling.

I’m not against just filling the tub halfway with cold water, and just dumping in a bag of ice. You don’t have to submerge your entire body in there, in my opinion. Just get the legs and all the joints covered. Sit there for 10 or 15 minutes. Maybe with a hot cup of tea. Relax.

And make your recovery so much nicer.

A New Running Route
August 28, 2008, 9:46 am
Filed under: Running Routes, The City | Tags: ,

Hankering for a new “short route,” the other day I tried running some place completely new. A few friends have told me about running along the perimeter of the Brooklyn Navy Yard property, sometimes just for a short run, sometimes on the way to the Williamsburg Bridge. The down side: running on concrete sidewalk for most of the length. The upside: an uninterrupted path for a pretty good stretch. Also, some pretty interesting views, from the old industrial (and in some cases decaying) Navy Yard to the East River and Manhattan skyline.

It’s easy to get to the Navy Yard property. From any major bisecting avenue, head up to Flushing Avenue and you’re on the south end of the property. It’s also easy to know where you are — just stick to the perimeter of the property, which runs up against the river. I stayed on Flushing Avenue for a few blocks, veered left by the BQE entrance ramps, which got me to Kent Avenue heading toward Williamsburg. It’s pretty gritty, with government property and working factories dotting the landscape. An old lumber yard sits near South 11th Street right on the water. Around there the gritty landscape gives way to signs of hipsterville — old buildings graffiti’ed with “Screw Rent” and other clever sayings, and glittering glass condominiums by the Williamsburg Bridge.

There’s a nice new promenade sort of area on the river off South 9th Street behind one of the new condo developments, with benches, new trees, and an amazing view of the city and the bridge. It’s open to the public, so take advantage of this sweet spot. (No water fountains though).

It never ceases to amaze me what an interesting place Brooklyn is. It’s a great short hop around some cool spots, and a continuous uninterrupted path. Oh, but be sure to go during daylight. I wouldn’t want to be wandering this route after dark.

Push for Car-Free Prospect Park
August 26, 2008, 10:22 am
Filed under: Running Routes, The City | Tags: ,

The NY Sun has a story on a push to make Prospect Park a completely car-free park. Transportation Alternatives, the bicycle advocacy group, says they have already successfully whittled away at the hours cars are allowed inside the park. The group is lobbying the Bloomberg administration for a three-month no-car experiment next summer in the park, and are trying to convince the mayor to make a car-free park part of his legacy.

It’s a little confusing, more so since I’ve never driven in the park, but cars are allowed for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening (hours on Prospect Park website here).

Quite frankly, I so rarely see cars (other than police vehicles) in the park when I’m running that it startles me when cars do come by. And if I’m in a car and in a hurry to get somewhere, I’d want to find a route that did not take me through a big, heavily used park, with all its pedestrians and activities going on.

NY Sun: Prospect Park Is Now Eyed For Ban On Cars
Prospect Park website:Hours

Running and Beer
August 21, 2008, 11:10 am
Filed under: Eating and Drinking, Hurting

A good rule to follow: One goes before the other — the order is important!

As we finish out the season of backyard barbecues and grill outs, there seems to be no shortage of opportunities for much consumption of both food and alcohol. Just about anyone who trains for marathons will likely say that one of the great things about training is the, uh, license to eat and drink as much as you want. (I’m not vouching for the wisdom behind that here — just relaying some popular opinion!) However, when you are NOT training for a marathon, and eating and drinking like you are anyway, it could get a little problematic.

The other day I made the inexplicable mistake of going for a six-mile run after drinking two beers. Like, a half hour after drinking two beers. Do not ask! I knew it was going to be painful, and it was. I was incredibly slow and felt sluggish and winded for the entire first two miles. Somewhere around mile three or four the feeling faded a little, and I felt amazing close to normal, if a little below normal. But on the way back, the slog set in again. And after my shower, I felt like I got beat up.

The next day I came across this Running Times article on the effects of alcohol on runners. It says (drum roll please): 1) Alcohol dehydrates you, 2) You run slower, and 3) You feel like you’re working harder. Go figure.

The authors also commented on the hallowed tradition of running clubs or groups cooling down with a few at the local bar. A friend of mine has been trying to get me to go to a Hash House Harriers event. Unofficial slogan: “A drinking club with a running problem.”

The important distinction to keep in mind is that they get the all important order correct: beer after running, not before.

What can I say. We’re all prone to a little insanity every now and then.

The runner who died on Atlantic Avenue…
August 5, 2008, 1:35 pm
Filed under: Contemplating, The City

The runner who was killed while out on a Sunday afternoon run two days ago was a 27-year-old guy named Jesse. He lived in an apartment over Myrtle Avenue in Fort Greene. He played in the Nike Recess Federation (NRF), a competitive NYC basketball league that holds its playoffs at Madison Square Garden. He was an Ivy league grad from D.C. and was heading for L.A., an aspiring filmmaker. All according to relatives and friends, who have posted here, and other reports.

It is unbelievably sad and tragic for the community who lost someone who was so obviously and dearly loved. I live in the same neighborhood and run down the same street on my way to and from Prospect Park pretty much every week. Any one of us who runs in this city could have been in his shoes on any given day. It could just as easily be my family, dumbstruck and grieving, my friends talking about all the things I was passionate about, had enjoyed, and all the things I had aspired to do.

Witnesses at the scene say he was on the sidewalk waiting for his turn to cross the busy thoroughfare, a scenario any one of us has been in any number of times. It sends chills up my spine to think of how fragile life on this earth is, how we could leave it at any time.

I didn’t know Jesse personally, but as my path crossed so close to the place where he died, doing the same thing he was doing, I feel obligated to update this space with info and am glad to have people share a little bit of this person’s story. There are plans for another memorial here in Brooklyn, and a service with family in DC. If I receive any new info I will update it here out of respect for those who might be interested.

Atlantic Ave. Fatality
August 4, 2008, 10:15 pm
Filed under: The City

A runner was killed in that terrible accident I passed by yesterday at the corner of Atlantic Avenue and Vanderbilt Avenue in Fort Greene, according to news reports. The most detailed I could find is from the NY Post police blotter dated 4 a.m. Aug. 4:

A jogger was fatally struck by a car that spun out of control after being hit by another vehicle in Fort Greene yesterday.

The accident occurred at about 3:30 p.m., when a Cadillac, whose driver was turning on to Vanderbilt Avenue from Atlantic Avenue, plowed into an Acura.

The Acura then spun around, striking the unidentified, 27-year-old jogger, who died at Brooklyn Hospital.

The Acura driver was in stable condition; the Caddy driver suffered minor injuries. Neither was charged.

I wish I knew more about what happened and who the person was.

City Streets
August 3, 2008, 11:40 pm
Filed under: Seasons, The City, training

On my evening run today I passed a pretty bad accident at a major intersection. Bad enough that the corner was cordoned off by yellow police tape and the street closed for two blocks on either side. As I passed the wreck you couldn’t help but slow down (gawk?) — the entire driver’s side of the car was sheared off. I hate imaging these accidents, how they happened, what must have happened to the people inside, and I never know quite what to do with the info once it’s sunken in and sobered you for a spell.

At any rate, I’ve missed running. I’ve started getting myself back into shape, just focusing on regular runs as a form of conditioning. It’s amazing how the body can fall out of conditioning, and incredibly satisfying to see how the body responds to regular discipline. A few weeks ago I went on a longer run than I had done in a while, about 7 miles or so, and felt good because of the conditioning I’d been doing. Sore and just a tad fatigued, I commented to a friend: “It was good — I feel like a runner again!”

Maybe it’s the realization that the seasons will change. The sticky heat of summer will give way to the cool crispness of fall. Maybe it was that one season in Philly that forever fixed it in my mind, maybe it’s just that the weather is so perfect for long runs, but for me fall will always feel like the season for long distance running. And I want to be ready.