25 July 2015


After a two-hour car drive in yucky NYC traffic to go from the Coney Island area to the High Bridge Celebration, I felt pretty lousy.  The festival was good but since I just visited the area a few weeks back for the High Bridge 5K Trail Race, it was not as big a novelty as it could be.  The long car drive didn't help.  I salvaged the day by completing my push to put Brighton Beach, Brooklyn on my map.

It was quite a challenge to add the Beach to the seaside town.  There was not much vertical room to work so I had to use the beach area.  In the beginning, I walked with my running shoes but after a while I decided to blend in by walking barefoot.  As a bonus, I was able to walk right into the lapping waves, aaahhh.  Note that not only I didn't have much vertical space to maneuver in, because of construction, the Boardwalk ends at Coney Island Avenue, where the h is.  I spelled backward from the h and used MapMyRun's on-screen path to make sure I have enough space between the letters. Everything went well until B, which turned out to have too small a belly.  Oh well, it's a busty B, or maybe it's just upside down.

Speaking of Brighton Beach memories, here is what used to be "my" first home in the U.S.  This is the corner of Brighton 1 Street and Neptune Avenue.  Neptune runs left to right whereas Brighton 1 is where the five cars point to.  The road used to be one-way the other way.  My first night in the U.S. was spent in a house that would be where where the white car (fourth in the line) is.  Oh well, the price of commercialism.  Maybe someday when I become rich and famous I can buy the new building to knock it back down and rebuild the old home from a photo my #1 Blog Fan has.

22 July 2015


The past two days were hot and humid.  I didn't get up early enough to beat the heat, i.e. run at 5 AM or so.  Today I made up by running "Brighton", as in Brighton Beach.  I didn't like the fact that the area is small, with few large rectangular blocks to work with.  I thought of skipping it but then Eugene Morris Jerome may be upset.  My first night in the U.S. some 30+ years ago, I did sleep in a house in the area.  It belonged to an uncle but he has moved away since then.  The new owner knocked down the house, along with a few adjacent ones, and a big building is being constructed on the lot.

I knew that the area has these mouthful Brighton 1 Street and 2 Street etc but did not know about all the alleys that in other parts of town would just remain nameless.  There were Brighton 5 Walk, Brighton 5 Court, Brighton 1 Path, etc.  Most of these so-called streets are narrow and are mere empty space between two houses.  It is nice to have them nonetheless although I would not use them late at night.

T-intersection of Brighton 1 Path, which continues to the right of the tree, and Brighton 1 Walk, which runs from the foreground of the photo to the background.

Brighton 5 Court, which simply connects Brighton 5 Street to Brighton 6 Street.  It is relatively wide compared to other  named alleys in the area.  I recall one really narrow alley with overgrown weed and three or four guys sitting in the middle of the road.  Mugger paradise!

18 July 2015


My Brooklyn map-building continues to crawl forward, slowly.  The latest three runs put Sheepshead Bay on the map, so to speak.

To round out the coastal towns, next I will have to do Brighton Beach, which is immediately to the east of Coney Island, and Manhattan Beach, right below Sheepshead.   Both are tiny towns compared to Sheepshead Bay, with insufficient room to spell out the whole words.  I'll have to compromise somehow.

08 July 2015


Welcome to Coney Island!  Some time ago I ran the route for "Coney" but never got around to adding "Island", until this week.  It is a good thing that I took advantage of the open space in Leon Kaiser Park to make most of "Coney" because the island (which is not really an island any more) is not "tall" enough to give me much room to work with.  I thought of using the space between the Boardwalk and the beach but running on sand is no fun.  I studied what was available and what I did with "Coney" and concluded that I could do it with Surf Avenue and the Boardwalk.  Because of constructions, some streets no longer led to the Boardwalk but good thing I have that one trick in my bag.  I just had to run back and forth over some streets, but technically I can cut through walls and other objects.  For the I, I could have jumped off the Boardwalk and land on the sand below but to be safe I used my technique.

Onward to Sheepshead Bay!

07 July 2015


Welcome to Gravesend and Bensonhurst!  It took a few runs to have it done correctly but it is worthwhile.  The second e in "send" is not perfect, but that will do.  "Bensonhurst" was created from scratch, now a few blocks north of Bath Beach border.  I probably will re-do Bath Beach to move it westward toward 14th Avenue and away from Gravesend.

The next neighborhoods I'll put on the map, so to speak, will probably be those to the east and south of Gravesend, just to round things out.  Such as Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay.  Afterward I'll march northward to connect to Prospect Park, since I have many friends living up there, they may appreciate it.

12 June 2015


So I did not win the Newton Running route art contest.  Did not even get to be one of the three finalists having a shot at winning shoes for life plus a GPS watch.  After a short time feeling unhappy about it, I decided to start a new, very ambitious project: create a map of all the Brooklyn neighborhoods through run art.  It is ambitious indeed as I don't know all the neighborhoods.  Sure I can start with my own area and adjacent ones, but the thought of driving elsewhere just to run a route sure is not appealing to me.  The thing is once I am done, whenever that is, I'll know a lot more about Brooklyn.

I belong to a NextDoor.com neighborhood made for Bath Beach residents so the first nabe I ran was Bath Beach.  I made two separate runs and stitched the two pieces together.  I am not that happy with the B in Bath and may re-run the route one of these days.  Next I thought I would cover my own turf and ran "Grave"  for Gravesend.  I did feel something odd when I started to create the V, sure enough once I got back I discovered that the "r" and the "a" are stuck together.  It was good that I decided early on to make Gravesend in two separate runs.  No point of putting a lot of time into a run only to find out that it's no good.  These days I run in the evening any way and dinner seems to come too soon each time, that is I have time constraint.

Today I was supposed to re-run Grave but I happened to be near Bensonhurst so I made "Benson".  While "Benson" itself came out perfect, I made it too close to the border of Bath Beach and Bensonhurst such that when stitched Bensonhurst to the bigger map, the letters overlaps, rats!

Here is the work-in-progress map, warts and all.  Slowly and surely I will have the entire Brooklyn represented as route arts.

07 June 2015


My son goes to school in Staten Island and this weekend he needed to meet a classmate for some project.  The bus does not run reliably on the weekend so I drove him to Staten Island.  The kids stay at a public library and I had some down time.  Years ago I would spend that time in the car watching movie on a portable DVD player or maybe listen to audiobooks etc.  Now that I'm more health-minded, the night before I checked out nearby area for a running route.  Once before I noticed some National Park not too far from the school and the library.  Great Kills Park it is called.  It has a beach, too and features a narrow strip of land sticking out into the Atlantic.  That was my destination after dropping off the boys at the public library.

I don't hate driving per se, it's the parking part that I hate.  Luckily, this is Staten Island, the one borough of New York City that not that many New Yorkers visit.  I drove into the park and even near the main entrance near Hylan Boulevard there were some parking spots.  I kept driving further, I wanted to go as far as I could by car then explore the rest of the park on foot.  Parking Lot G was the furthest I could go.  Beyond that you would need a permit of some sort.  There was plenty of parking spots and there was no booth to collect tolls so I supposed it's free parking.  Kinda sad how I thought that way, elsewhere in New York City it costs a fortune to leave your car in a safe place, to avoid getting ticketed.  

I already had running clothes on the inside, so just removing the outer layer, a few minutes of stretching and off I went.  To be safe, I started with the multi-use path, there were already a few walkers and runners.  Not too long afterward the road ended and I took the sandy path on the left to go toward the beach.  On the beach I turned northwest to get to Crooke's Point.  The run became more of a walk, I rescued two overturned horseshoe crabs and watched them slowly re-entering the sea without saying thank-you.  There were a few fishermen out on the beach, some with kids.  The waves lapped at the sand but there was always enough room to go along.  After Crooke's Point, there was a rocky wall and a road paved with gravels.  I resumed running but took time out to snap photos of some sleeping ducks.  What a life, just lounging around with beaks in their back.  At the end of the gravel path, I was back at Parking Lot G.

I already covered about 5 km so I figured it would run 5 more km for an even 10.  As I ran toward park entrance, a raccoon calmly crossed the road to get into the bush.  The park has some some wild sections closed off to visitors, either by fence or bush, the 'coons are very much at home.  At the 6 km mark, I planned to run for another 2 km then U-turn to reach the 10 km.  However, at Parking Lot F, I decided to go along the nice waterfront and unknowingly curved away from the park entrance.  I kept following the road and eventually found myself back on Hylan Boulevard.  Sure I could still U-turn but there was no fun in that.  I had a good idea where the park entrance was and found my way there and eventually got back to Parking Lot G.  The distance came out 12 km, a hot and humid km's more than planned.

I was there!
Lucky duckies.
These two horseshoe crabs became some seagulls' dinner.
Whatever species these flowers are, I stopped and smelled them.