19 August 2012


Many times, as I traveled on the Brooklyn-Queens Express portion that runs below the Brooklyn Height Promenade, I would look longingly at the relatively new jogging path that extends south from Brooklyn Bridge Park.  Especially so when there was a traffic jam.  I should be down there exercising my muscles, lung, and heart, instead being up on the highway contributing to air pollution.  Once or twice I went with the family and others to the area but each time by the time we got to Brooklyn Bridge Park it was too dark, or the kids too tired.  Always something or others.  I suppose some day I may drive the family and the usual entourage to the park, but I am sure by the time I find parking five blocks away I would be in a sour mood and won't enjoy the park as much.

I signed up for a few marathons this year, all near the last quarter of the year.  The Yonkers Marathon is the first one to arrive and is about a month away, on Sunday 16 September.  Most, if not all, marathon training schedules dictates that the runner must run a 32-km (or 20-mile) distance a few weeks prior to the actual race.  Of course, you are supposed to build up the distance over so many weeks, which I did not.  But I still want to do a 32-km run before the Yonkers Marathon.  According to gmap-pedometer.com, from my home to Brooklyn Bridge Park is supposed to be 16 km.  Run there and back and I will have my 32-km long run.  Nhất cử lưởng tiệng, "one lift of the hand to do two things," aka "kill two birds with one stone."

When the alarm clock blared, I was ready.  Tech clothes already picked out, camel pack with four filled water bottles, fanny pack with house keys, four packs of Gu energy gel, some energy beans, and eyeglasses case. Cell phone and GPS watch charged overnight.  I also had some money in case I need to buy a MetroCard to get back, plus an NYRR membership card for use as ID in case some mishap occurs.  All the preparation the night before can make a big difference in the morning of the big day.

I ran mostly along the south-southwest waterfront of Brooklyn, or as close to the water as I could.  I entered the Belt Parkway Waterfront via the footbridge at around Bay 16th Street then ran toward the Verrazano Bridge, all the way to Owl's Head Pier.  A short distance before the pier, I ate the first Gu and washed it down with water.

For hill training, I ran to the top of the hill in Owl's Head Park.  I thought about taking photos from the hilltop but the tree branches were in the way.  I must come back here in the winter.  Eventually I found myself along Second Avenue, ran past Lutheran Hospital, some live poultry market, and Costco.  On Second Avenue, there was a moving company called Van Gogh but I don't recall seeing it on this run. I try to run against traffic whenever possible, so at the first favorable street I turned into it to get to Third Avenue. The last time I went along Third Avenue and not in a car I was on a bike and had to ride on the sidewalk. The other options were to go against traffic or walk the bike at around the Prospect Expressway underpass. Running is so much better. I was able to keep running on the sidewalk against traffic, past Home Depot, onward to a drawbridge that spans the Gowanus Canal. I recently heard about The Superfund Super Run and had a chuckle about the nickname Lavender Lake, for the Gowanus Canal. I took photos of the canal but did not do it justice. Or maybe it's just too clean at that point. I know in the past I've seen the canal in some eerie green color.

By the time I reached the Battery Park Tunnel, it was already 16 km. My goal was the Brooklyn Bridge Park so I continued, along Columbia Street. A novel idea here is the bike path is actually half of the sidewalk, not on the road. At Atlantic Avenue, I asked a dog-walker whether there's an outlet and he told me about going around 1 Brooklyn Bridge, which he called the Grey Building. At long last, I would be on that cool jogging path. Alas, I missed the entrance to the path, which was across from the Grey Building's loading dock. I had to run on the really narrow sidewalk of Furman Street, all the while occasionally seeing joggers on the path and wondering how they got there.

Finally at Brooklyn Bridge Park I decided to use the restroom. Ooh, air-conditioned! So nice, but on second thought the location is probably a tourist magnet, better make it worth their money. From then on I mostly walked as I had to stop many times to take photos. Such a nice place! See the photos and descriptions below.

I thought the jogging/bike path was just something very basic. A dirt road at most. It turned out to be nicely paved, well marked to separate cyclists and joggers. Around Montague Street, near what is probably the exhaust tower for the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, I saw that the path went all the way to the Grey Building and Joralemon Street.

When the entrenched portion of the BQE is jammed, I usually go along Columbia Street to get to the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel area. Columbia is so narrow and is two-way so I dread driving on it and often wonder about an alternative. I found it in the form of Van Brunt Street. Get to it from Degraw and Van Brunt would take you to the BBT also. I should have headed for the BQE ASAP but stayed on Van Brunt for too long and ended up somewhat lost in Red Hook. The only bridge in the area to cross the Gowanus Canal is on Third Avenue. When I saw Ikea I realized I was far off-course. Luckily I knew my direction and just kept heading for Third Avenue, past Red Hook Park and its pool. The track at Red Hook Park sure looked nice, but I had a long way to go to get home.

Home, so far away. Over the Gowanus Canal, past the stinky DOT asphalt plant, Home Depot, some FBI holding center, back on Second Avenue, past Lutheran... I started to think about what to eat for brunch and headed for Bay Ridge, along Third Avenue, instead of back on the waterfront, where at most I would be able to get food from a mobile vendor. I wanted a sit-down place where I would rest my tired feet. The GPS watch finally read 32-km at 73rd Street and Fifth Avenue. I already used up all 4 bottles of water, the Gu packs, plus one of the energy beans. I could use a nice cold drink but I wanted to get it from Jenny's Farm, at Fifth Avenue and 85th Street, I thought. During one of my past run, I stopped there for Gatorade and the nice old cashier-man offered me a paper towel to dry my sweat. About 5 km of walking later, with a stop for lunch, I finally made it home. The running portion took about 4 hours and 22 minutes, which is bad because at that rate I won't finish the Yonkers Marathon within 5 hours. Maybe if I didn't stop to walk and take photos at Brooklyn Bridge Park and also not get lost in Red Hook the time would be better. Also, usually during races I run faster. Something to do with all the energy around and also the natural urge to outrun someone nearby. I already plan to run to the Rockaway over the Gil Hodge Bridge. It's a quiet path with that I traveled by bike before so there will be no need to stop and take photos.

The bumpiest portion of Second Avenue?  Costco is at the traffic light, I think.

Thirty-third Street heading toward the Gowanus Expressway, which is not visible because of morning sun glare.

Going against traffic along Third Avenue heading toward the Gowanus Canal, the elevated Gowanus Expressway on the right.

The Gowanus Canal heading to New York Harbor.  I was hoping the water would be its usual chemical-polluted green to reflect the nickname Lavender Lake, but it is not.
Joralemon Street wraps around 1 Brooklyn Bridge Park.  Once I was one of those unhappy drivers stuck on the BQE.  At the moment I was a happy runner.
At last, Brooklyn Bridge Park, even if I did not get there via the fancy jogging path.

A great view of the new WTC and the good ol' Brooklyn Bridge.
Not readily seen from the highway, this waterfront path is so inviting to running.  Too bad it is not that long, but then that's where the other path can be used.  Governors Island is in the background.
A fork in the road in Brooklyn Bridge Park.  I think I went right.  Perhaps the left fork would lead to the hilltop that the series of steps I decided not to take would lead to.

A wild side of the Brooklyn Bridge Park.  There is a stream running but in trying to capture the entire height of the bridge I failed to include it.
At last the jogging path that had eluded me so long.

There were a few boat ramps along the path, such as this one.  It's closed off, made me wonder when it's open.  I would have loved to stand barefeet in the water.
Spiral Pool.  I sure rather be here than stuck in traffic on the BQE in the background.
In the background, perhaps near the white blob, is the entrance to the path, across from the loading dock of the Grey Building.  To the left of the photo is the exhaust tower of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel.
Lost in Red Hook.  When I realized that yellow-and-blue building is Ikea, I knew I was too far south of Third Avenue.


  1. So much to see from a route that I drove along for years.

  2. Thanks for taking us along on your run Qap. Great details and nice photos - very enjoyable. The photo of the waterfront reminds me of a place CH used to live. I remembered walking from CH home and admired her for selecting a location with a great view.
    We had a real nice weekend here in STL. Not sure how it will last.
    Keep up the good run - I will continue my walking during lunch.
    Have a good week,
    TOTA in STL

  3. Glad you like the details, TOTA. I enjoyed writing it. The only down side is it takes much time, thus the infrequent updates.