Brooklyn Runner

A New Year
January 6, 2009, 9:26 pm
Filed under: Contemplating, Seasons, The City | Tags:

Happy New Year! It’s not too late to say that, right?

I love this time of year. The city has been quiet — almost desolate — between the big winter holidays and after the first of the year everyone starts trickling back, slowly but surely. There seems to be a bit more optimism and hope this time of year too, New Years resolutions and all.

Sure, one could trot out all the dreary statistics about how most people abandon their resolutions by mid February, or one could be cynical and say “What’s the point” of making resolutions that you know you aren’t going to keep? But I think making resolutions and aiming for something is entirely the point. Even if you don’t keep them. Even if you try and don’t hit them. At least you hoped for something; at least you dreamed a little.

The tragedy is not in failing to reach the goals, the true tragedy is never having made the goals at all (that’s not mine, I’ve heard it from someone but can’t quite place it just now). So what if making resolutions is cliched, or makes you a big cheese ball. In my book it’s a good practice — at least it gets you thinking.

At the very least it’s an exercise in thinking about what is important to you, what matters, and in what direction you’d like to see things go. One step at at time.

Turkey Trot, 2008
November 25, 2008, 10:59 pm
Filed under: Racing, Seasons | Tags: ,

I would be remiss if I did not at least give a shout out for the very fabulous annual Turkey Trot in Prospect Park, hosted by Brooklyn’s own Prospect Park Track Club. The 5 mile race starts at 9 a.m. on Thanksgiving Day, this Thursday November 27. Registration the morning of is usually bearable, or go here for registration and more info.

Also, a discussion on who’s running a Turkey Trot landed in my inbox via Runner’s World this morning. Check it out here to see the discussion and add your thoughts. At the very least, running a race the morning of Thanksgiving will make for some good discussion around the dinner table, especially among the non-runners in the family.

The Brooklyn Bridge at Night
November 11, 2008, 1:01 pm
Filed under: Running Routes, Seasons, The City | Tags: ,


Brooklyn Bridge at Night.
Photo by madabandon.

The other night I ran through Dumbo and across the bridge at night, like 10 o’clock. (I would never do this alone but since I was with another person I felt it was OK).

What a treat it was to be on the bridge and above the water with the city all up in lights and the air cool and mild on your face. It’s a different city up there at night, quieter somehow but still full of life. Perhaps it was the colder weather, and how it gets darker earlier these days, but everything’s a bit more subdued.

With the winter coming and the weather cooling the nights seem quieter now. The cold has always been one of my favorite times to run. Fewer people on the street. The stillness and hardness of the earth seem to make running a more solitary experience — more soulful somehow.

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.

April 8, 2008, 12:26 pm
Filed under: Contemplating, Seasons

It is that wonderful time of the year when you never know what the weather is going to be like, even when you watch the forecast. The weather predicters have been wrong on more than one occasion this year — but there is something nice about a surprisingly beautiful day when you were expecting cold and rain.

Saturday was one of those days. Managed to get in a good run over the bridge and up the East River in the golden rays of the afternoon, and what a treat it was. It’s still cold out this week, and windy (oh my, I could do without that wind!) but it feels more bearable somehow. Like a cold that nips you but doesn’t quite have the chill of January or the bite of February, when you know there are two solid months of winter yet ahead. The April cold is like snow that falls on budding tulips. The ground is softening. The daffodils are blooming. The breeze is starting to smell like perfume. And there are colors appearing everywhere.

My only wish is that it would be a full fledged spring. Mild but not hot. Cool but not frosty. Let’s have something more temperate between the dead of winter and heat of summer. Every year, these months go by too fast, but recently it seems the mildness that we know to be spring has been virtually erased.

By global warming?

March 27, 2008, 8:52 am
Filed under: Contemplating, Seasons

I’ve been hibernating this winter. Well, not really, I’ve been quite active in other aspects of life but running has taken a backseat to some other priorities. There are only so many hours in a week! It’s the things you value highest that get done (whether knowingly or unwittingly), so it’s not a matter of “I don’t have time” (I don’t believe in “I don’t have time” — you make time for the things that are important). But I’m OK admitting that running has not been as much of a priority this season as some other things I’d like to make progress on. And those efforts are paying off, however slowly.

That said, the promise of warmer weather – and upcoming races – has me pushing myself just a bit harder so as to not completely embarrass myself in my performance! It’s a bit more windy than I prefer, but it’s running shorts weather at last. Which makes me smile.

Global warming!
January 9, 2008, 11:55 pm
Filed under: Contemplating, Seasons | Tags: ,

OK, I am all for an occasional mild day in January when you are comfortable running in the shorts and long sleeved shirt, but I’m sorry, this is just downright ludicrous! It’s January, people! “Cooling down” should refer to it dropping into the 20s, not the 50s! This is New York, not Boca Raton.

My last few runs had me in shorts, with no hat or gloves required. Which is nice, sure, once in a while, during the winter. But come on. As someone I work with astutely pointed out this afternoon, that’s why we love living in New York — because you have seasons here! In the winter it gets cold, and you get to wear your wool turtleneck sweaters and bundle up and brace yourself again the bitter cold. You have snow and ice and slush, and you leap over giant puddles of melting snow at intersections crossing the street. And in the summer you get to sweat and lounge around on the grass in the park in the sun.

Anyway. Those toe warmers I bought last year (the kind you break when you open them and stick in your shoes, and they stay hot for a couple of hours) have gone unused this year so far. Here’s hoping for “normal” weather sometime soon.

Winter in New York
December 22, 2007, 3:51 pm
Filed under: Seasons | Tags: , ,

They say the best thing about New York in summer time is getting out of the city. If that’s true, then I think the best thing about New York in winter is when everyone else leaves town for the holidays — and you have the quiet streets all to yourself.

The days right around the winter holidays can be some of the most relaxing times you’ll have in the city. You can get a seat on the train when you normally never do, catch a cab in record time, and get into your favorite trendy restaurant without having to wait an hour. Outside of the usual tourist haunts, it seems every place is just a little bit quieter, everything slows down just a little bit more.

Which makes those the best times for a good, long solitary run.

Prospect Park at high noon today was quiet like it never is on a weekend afternoon. Bare trees against a cloudy gray sky. A few walkers, a few bikers, a few hearty runners. Not much more.

The bridge — even in winter
December 20, 2007, 1:12 pm
Filed under: Contemplating, Seasons | Tags: , ,

It was twenty-something degrees, windy, a Saturday afternoon. I was hoping I’d find the Brooklyn Bridge walkway a little less crowded than it usually is, weather and all. Alas, seems nothing short of a hailstorm (or an ungodly hour, like 6 a.m. on the weekend) could keep the throngs away.

This is New York, after all.

The thing about living and running in one of the greatest cities in the world is learning to share it with tourists. I’m tempted to get annoyed by the crowds, just the sheer volume of people crossing through such a narrow space. But I’m reminded of why they’re here: To catch a glimpse of the sights I pass by every day — and sometimes take for granted.

Take the view as you’re going over the Manhattan Bridge on the Q train (which I take to work every day). There’s just nothing like it. Especially in the morning. Coming out of the tunnel, rising above the water, the industrial buildings of DUMBO to your left, the financial district to your right, the iconic webbed span of the bridge straight ahead. . . And at the right angle, on a clear day, you can see the Statue of Liberty too.

I just never get tired of it.

So it’s a small price to pay, having to be a little more nimble as you dodge camera-toting tourists, maybe saying “excuse me” to the group that insists on walking four-abreast across. You are out there to enjoy a good run, after all, in one of the most beautiful places in the city, and it’s hard to complain about that.

Holiday shopping deals
December 12, 2007, 9:59 am
Filed under: Seasons, Shoes and Gear

Tis the season to go shopping and there are plenty of deals on running gear to go around. . .

In Park Slope, tomorrow (12/13) is the first Buy in Brooklyn event, when stores stay open until 10 p.m. Slope Sports will discount running shoes 20 to 40 percent (though it doesn’t say which ones) and other merchandise is on sale. The $10 hat-and-glove bin, thermal socks, and gift certificates sound like good stocking stuffers for runners.

At Jack Rabbit Sports, all store merchandise is 15 percent off! Makes it worthwhile to replace those running shoes for a new season.

Paragon Sports has free one-day shipping for orders over $48.95. And at Super Runners, you can buy gift certificates online.

Not a bad bunch of options for runners dreaming of a balmy Christmas.