30 April 2013


Change is in the air.  Soon I may no longer have the luxury of running in the middle of the day, so today I decided to explore the rest of the West Trail in Marine Park.

Marine Park is about 5 kilometers from me.  These days I normally run 10 km a day, 5 km out then back.  The entire West Trail is over 2 km, but if I were to travel it entirely in one trip that would add about 5 km more to my run.  Not that I cannot handle a 15-km run, it just adds more time to the run.  So, instead of doing the entire trail in one visit, I explored it by section.  Ever since some guy erroneously told me the entrance to the trail on Avenue U was also the only exit, I made it a mission to find as many exit points as I can.  I usually get to the Gerritsen peninsula via Avenue X then go south a block further from the last visit then try to find the entrance.  Once on the trail I would head back north and usually exit around Whitney Avenue.  I don't like the Avenue U exit because Avenue U is a commercial strip.  I prefer to run in residential area, where there is fewer people on the sidewalk.

During my last visit to the area, I went as far as the Gerritsen Branch Library then entered the trail behind the bus stop.  Today, instead of going a block south of the library, I tried to use the same entrance but planned to go south, to explore the rest of the trail.  Alas, there was some man doing clean-up near the trail entrance.  I prefer to enter the desolate trail without being seen, so I went a bit south and blazed my own trail.  I found some path but all side paths leading toward the creek were blocked by fallen trees.  I followed the wide path and ended up at the edge of Larry Veling Memorial Field.  There was another path leading back to the trail so I took that.  The trail was not quiet today.  There was some model airplane circling overhead and then there were two dirt-bikers roaming about.  Their noisy bikes gave away their positions and soon they zoomed past on the main road.  I was not sure if they were friendly and there were two of them, so I held back on the side road to let them pass without seeing me.  I doubt they would take the trail that runs along the water, so that's the path I took to get to the beach at the southern end of the peninsula.  For a few moments, I was by myself and heard mostly water lapping on the beach but soon I heard the sound of many dogs barking.  At the bend to the beach, I came upon a group of people out letting their dogs roam about.  Good thing I am not afraid of dogs and just walked through the crowd, exchanged some pleasantries with some dog owner and ignored the dogs as they circled and then followed me.  After the group of dogs and their people, I soon saw Gerritsen Avenue and even some city buses.  But as I approached Gerritsen Avenue I could help notice someone sun-bathing in the nude, lying face down.  Whatever, I don't want to bother anyone so I just kept on going.  I was going to get back on solid ground, on Gerritsen Avenue, but then I noticed path leading away from the beach so I took it.  It led me to the edge of field for model airplane, from where I got off the trail and found the skate park.  That's it, I pretty much walked along the entire trail.  Ideally, I should go south as inland as possible then loop back north along the water trail, assuming that part is not underwater at some point.  It's definitely desolate on the trail so I don't want to spend too much time there myself.  If my runner friend from the Marine Park Track Club would show me some tae-kwon-do moves maybe I'll feel more confident to roam around the West Trail some more.

If not for the occasional litter, the trail can be quite beautiful.
Tracks left by the two dirt-bikers.
Something was visible in the water.
Gerritsen Beach area used to have many car hulks, so I heard.  It still does.
In the background is the group of people with many dogs.  The canines enjoyed splashing in the water.
Airfield for model airplanes.

To see the entire album, visit


28 April 2013


"Pay it forward" is the idea of doing someone a favor after someone else did one for you.  I like that concept a lot.  Some years ago at the NYCRuns Inaugural Brooklyn Marathon, I overdressed and after either the first or the second of the two small loops had my outer layer, a yellowish hoodie, removed.  A staff person saw that the piece of clothes was too big for me to carry for the rest of the race and offered to take it from me and I gladly accepted.  It helped a lot not to have the hoodie with me, else my bad finish time would be even worse.  Yesterday, I worked at NYCRuns' Verrazano Festival of Races and got the chance to pay it forward.  I served as a bike marshal and traveled up and down the waterfront beneath the Verrazano Bridge many times.  On a trip back to Owl's Head Pier, where the start and finish lines were, I saw that a runner was carrying a balled-up jacket in her right hand.  Earlier in the morning it was probably cold, especially with the wind blowing and runners just milling about waiting for the start.  But once they run, they heat up very quickly.  I offered to take the jacket back for the runner and she accepted.  I dropped it off with Bag Check and later on I saw that it was not there any more.  I hope it helped the runner not to have the extra item to carry for the rest of her 5K or 10K race.

As usually, I took a few photos of the race, mostly of the volunteers but there are some of runners.
Volunteers of the Food and Drink Table.

Volunteers at Bag Check.

Two of the Bike Marshals.

Volunteers at Water Station #1.

Volunteer and staff of Water Station #2.

For the entire, small album, visit


What I really like about the Verrazano race is that it is in my neighborhood.  I did not have to take the subway and be at the mercy of the MTA weekend road repair schedule.  Instead, I got to the race on bike and brought along the $200 bike trailer that I used to ferry my son around for fun.  It was used to put out the mile markers later.  I should have used it, too, when collecting the markers from the 5K and 10K races once the Half-Marathon was underway.  By themselves the signs are light, but with 10 or 20 of them they became heavy and unwieldy.

When the race was over and everything taken down, there were four tall paper bags of  bagels leftover. I took them home in the bike trailer in hope of passing by some food pantry or soup kitchen in my neighborhood.  A quick Google search revealed none.  At home after a late lunch I did find a pantry not too far away, but I had to make sure they would accept the bagels.  I left a voicemail with the place and no one called me back.  So late in the day, there was little chance I would be able to donate the food for human consumption so I made a little piece of art out of them. 

Bagel Art
The good news is I recalled someone asking in Freecycling Network for bread and such for some chickens in her neighborhood.  I contacted her and it turned out she works not too far from where I live.  We met today and I was able to give her one bag of bagels, transferred into double plastic bags for safer carrying, as the paper bag that the bagels come in break easily if not carried properly.  I look forward to giving her the rest of the bagels over the next few days.  Hooray for freecycling!

23 April 2013


I love foot-bridges and have been itching to go visit the newly opened Squibb Park Bridge.  I saw it a few times from the BQE but never have the time to go.  It's too far from where I live so I cannot run there.  Even cycling is too far.  But then I happened to have some office work to do at NYCRuns' DUMBO office.  I left home a little early to give myself about an hour to visit the new bridge.  I already saw a few photos of the bridge but only one video of it, so I decided to record my slow walk across the bridge and back.  YouTube did a good job of removing the shakiness out of the video.  Enjoy!

22 April 2013


Happy Earth Day!  Not that it means much to me, since for me every day is a day to reduce, reuse, and recycle.  I try not to use drinking straws and just sip from the lips of bottles and cans.  I try to recycle every bits of paper around the house large or small.  I walk, run, or cycle when I go on my own, that is, not accompanied by family etc.  I hate driving, or more exact, the parking part when I need to leave the car.  Every day is Earth Day, but for this year's Earth Day, here's a little something I made while doing my morning run.  I would love to include "Happy", or "happy" rather, but with just the two words it was already over 9 km long and I had an appointment to be at.

Go to http://connect.garmin.com/player/301690842 to see how the path was made.  I am proud that my blog is as transparent as a Lululemon yoga pants, so I want you to know that the A and the E were made without any trespassing, but rather with careful stopping and resuming of the watch and running around a path segment a few times.

21 April 2013


It has been a busy weekend.  It all started on Saturday with working for NYCRuns in support of the Purple Stride NYC 2013 To Fight Pancreatic Cancer, in Riverside Park.  There was a 5K run then a 2K walk.  The event was the first NYCRuns gig after the bombing at the Boston Marathon, so security was tighter.  Bag checks actually involved checking the bags for anything suspicious.  In addition to two NYCRuns staff doing the checks, the Purple Stride people also had two private security guards standing nearby.  Then there were a few NYPD scooters in the area.  The runners and walkers were cooperative.  The only complaint I heard, not addressed to me but to a policeman nearby, came from a dog-walker who had to carry his pet's output in a bag in search of a trash-holder to dispose of.  New Parks regulation forbid garbage containers for the event.  Something else, which I would not label as a complaint, was that some walkers were surprised that the walking course was shorter than last year.  I don't know what the course was last year, but this year it was just north to 116th Street, up the hill to the highest path below street level, then back down to the tree mall level at around 103rd Street or thereabout, for about 2 km.

It was my second visit to Riverside Park and I got to explore the park a little more.  I actually traveled the entire 5K race course, not in one shot but at different times.  Some day I need to go north from 96th Street to see where the path no longer runs along the water.  For Saturday, after a long wait to make sure the trash got taken out, I went south on my bike along the Hudson waterfront.  Weather was perfect for riding, a bit cool but not too cold.  At around 72nd Street, cyclists were required to dismount and walk the bike.  I was going to keep walking the bike along the waterfront until wherever it's okay to ride again, but then I discovered that just not too far inland was a bike path.  It went below the elevated Henry Hudson Parkway all the way to 59th Street.  Not waterfront, but you still get glimpses of the water.  Lovely!  Cyclists, we don't ask for much, just enough room for two bikes in each direction, at worse one in each direction, enough room for passing.

The next day I found myself at the Nassau County Aquatic Center to volunteer for the Mini Mighty Man Triathlon.  A few months ago I discovered that NYRR will not hold the sprint triathlon in Flushing Meadows this year, perhaps never again, for whatever reason.  There went my hope for a sprint tri!  Luckily, through the power of social media, I discovered that the Mini Mighty Man just outside of NYC in Nassau County is similar to the NYRR event.  Pool swim followed by actual bike race and foot race.  There are sprint tris that involve stationary bikes and treadmills but I am not interested in those at all.

The ride to Nassau in 5 AM was wonderful.  There was plenty of parking when I got there.  After getting out of Meadowbrooks Parkway, I almost missed the left turn on Merrick Boulevard because the street sign was so small.  Luckily, a car ahead of me had a bike sticking out the trunk so I correctly assumed that it was a tri participant.  I followed that car and got to the place without any lost time.

I was assigned to Body Marking, Swim In, and Run In.  Armed with a marker, I wrote the triathletes' number on the left upper arm and on the left calf, then the age on the right calf.  It was a cold April morning so many people had many layers to remove to get the upper arm part done, but everyone was cooperative and nice.  The athletes came in all shapes and ages.  One little girl was only seven, then at the other end I think there was a 62-year-old woman.  Many people were fit and trim, but some people were a round at the middle, so it makes me feel more confident to give the tri a shot some day.

Eventually there were few people left to have body marking done so I went inside to help with the Swim In.  I came in just in time to pause for the national anthem, followed by a moment of silence, which I am sure was for Boston even though I didn't quite catch what the announcer said.  There were about 400 people total but because there is only so much room in a pool lane, the line moved very slowly.  We had to make sure people get registered as they walked across the timing mat, then that they only jump in with enough distance between swimmers.  Many people appeared to be veteran triathletes but there were some first-timers who were nervous.  Everyone got to start somewhere someday.  I ended up getting drafted for Swim Out as well, to make sure the pool was empty of event participants.  As someone who is out of breath after a 50-meter swim, these slow swimmers are still better than me.  Slowly they covered the entire 400 meters, even if they have to stop once or more times at the end of the lanes to rest.

By the time I got outside many runners were already finishing.  The bike transition area looked crowded with bikes so I suppose the bike race was over.  I came mainly to see the swim portion, as I saw one too many foot races already, so I decided to skip out.  I stayed out for a long time yesterday so it would be better to be home earlier today.

One day, perhaps before I turn 50, I will participate in a sprint triathlon.  I just need to improve a lot with swimming and get a better bike.  In the mean time, some time this year when NYC's bike-share program, CitiBike, finally gets implemented, I will definitely have my own little triathlon.  Hop on a subway to some pool, do 400 meters then jump on a CitiBike for some miles, return the bike then go for a run, finally take the subway home.  Anyone thought of that already?  A small benefit of living in a big city.

Greetings from Nassau County.
Step right up and get your body marks, triathletes!

Random finishers.

19 April 2013


The sports of running is often associated with fundraising or solidarity, to support some noble causes.  With the bombing at the Boston Marathon this past Monday, this weekend is packed with various such organized runs.  Due to temporary work and prior commitments, I cannot make to most of the events but hope that you can.  I've been running in support of the 4/15/13 Runners United To Remember the past few days, even got around to printing out the bib for the "event" and wearing it during yesterday's morning run.  The Facebook event can be found at https://www.facebook.com/events/318199378309189/319623684833425/

Greetings from Coney Island - Wonder Wheel, Astrotower, and Cyclone.

I was going to run to the eastern end of Coney Island's Boardwalk, but it was closed.  The sweater is from a NYRR 25K and 4-Miler race and the cap is from a NYRR NYC Marathon, both from the 1990s.

If you'd like to join others in a run, check out this event on the 21st:

NYC Runs for Boston
10 AM Sunday 21 April, Columbus Circle

Likewise, the NY Flyers running group is holding a run for the same purpose, on Saturday.  The event is open to all runners, not just members of NY Flyers.

NY Flyers
8 AM Saturday 20 April, Columbus Circle

Last but not least, NYCRuns, which I work for on many weekends, is hosting a virtual 5K fundraising run for The One Fund Boston.  By participating in the virtual 5K, you'll get a chance to win free entry into every races that NYCRuns sponsor, for the rest of 2013.

NYCRuns Virtual 5K
Ongoing until 2:50 PM Monday 22 April 

But wait, there are more!

Compatriots 5K, 10:30 Saturday the 20th, Reebok CrossFit, 37th St. and Fifth Avenue in Manhattan

Run in Solidarity with Boston, 3 PM Sunday the 21st, Tavern on the Green
Runners in this event are encouraged to register with the NYCRuns Virtual 5K

I am sure there are other events, free/donation suggested/fundraising in nature, please add them as Comments.

16 April 2013


Some months ago, I entertained the idea of making a day trip with my friends from the track club (PPTC) to Boston to watch the marathon in person.  I am usually not a sports spectator, in person or on TV, but many club members were scheduled to run and I want to cheer them on.  I most likely will never qualify for Boston.  My best marathon time is over 5 hours whereas Boston qualified time, for my age group, is like 3 hours and 20 minutes, or whatever nowhere near 5 hours.  But I love taking photos, especially if there are people I know running in the race.

Something came up and I dropped the idea.  The morning of the Boston Marathon, I didn't even feel like watching and instead went about my usual gwriting, with a message for a newlywed friend.  Then came 3pm and social media was abuzz with news of the explosion near the finish line.  I followed the news for hours, on TV and on handheld devices.  It was sad but not surprising.  It seems not a matter of if but when.  I was nowhere near the site of the explosion, but I could have been there.  It happened at an event for a sports that I love.  Sure, living in New York and liking to run in desolate area that is away from civilization, or early or late in the day, any day I can be a statistic in police blotter, but it still gnawed at me.  It can happen anywhere that has many people together, but it still affected me personally because I love the sports of running.

Enough with the brooding, this morning I decided to resume doing what I love.  I thought of just running straight out and back, but then why not make a tribute to the people affected by the bombing as well?  I've been experimenting with GPS writing, or gwriting for short, and got pretty good at it.  Here's the route I took for today's 7 km.  (I would want to make 8 km, my usual daily distance, but the phrase is short and 7 km was all it took.)  Always one to come up with clever names, I call this route "BOSTON BETWEEN US", because the letters fall between Avenue U and Avenue S.

See the route animated here:


09 April 2013


Yesterday was a beautiful day and while I had things to do in the morning, it was done early enough for me to have a noon run.  It was not too hot like June or July so it was perfectly fine to run at noon.  I even wore shorts and tee!

A few friends had yesterday as their birthday, according to Facebook anyway, so I decided to gwrite the message "happy bday" for them.  I thought ahead and decided that it was possible to spell "happy bday" using letters that are only one avenue block tall.  The width of the letters would be one street block wide.  I knew that I would have to resort to iTrespassing to write the "a" but the tips of "b" and "d" surprised me.  Luckily, iTrespassing worked here too.  Too bad in my rush to complete "b" I didn't realize that it was right next to "d".  And the second Y is too fat, but such is one outcome of intentional lack of planning.

"Happy Bday".  B and D should be a block apart and the second Y should be narrower, but such is the deal with intentional lack of planning.

Today, I decided I want a simple run.  No stopping to make sure which letter was just written, if I should unpause the GPS watch to resume tracing the path etc.  I ran straight for Marine Park West Trail, mostly along Avenue Y.  I entered the trail around the bus stop across the street from Gerritsen Branch of the Brooklyn Public Library.  The first trail I came across I disregarded since it was too close to civilization, you probably can even see Gerritsen Avenue while on that trail.  I went further in and noticed a red car bumper on the right, with a wide opening with trails going in all four directions.  As usual, I traveled north to connect back to Avenue X or nearby exit.  Twice I was startled by some bird whose wing undersides were bright yellow.  Just a flash of yellow was all I saw.  By then I was already walking to better enjoy nature.  I even had my cell phone set to vibrate.  Somewhere past the back of the school I saw a couple getting romantic while sitting on a log in the shade.  Luckily there was a fork in the road on the right, leading to the water.  I took the water route and went along the water to go around the couple.

During one past visit to the West Trail, I noticed a blue bag tied to a low tree branch and used that cue to find the nearby exit.  I did not see the blue bag today, but better yet I saw some opening in the bushes.  There was an arch formed by a few short trees, but the bushes were pretty sparse, there was no need to crouch to go through the arch, but instead I just walked around it.  I ended up at around the intersection of Avenue X and Gerritsen.  Civilization again!

I've been discovering the West Trail by going south along Gerritsen Avenue one block at a time, entering the trail, and heading back north.  I think there are not that many blocks left before I hit the beach at the end of Gerritsen Avenue.
From near the bus stop there appeared to be a path near that green cargo trailer.

There is a trail indeed.
Looking back at civilization I could see the tower of St. James Evangelical Lutheran church.
This is the trail I wanted to reach, a little further in from the nearest road, but not right next to the water, which may be submerged during high tide.
The trail raises and falls into the distance.
The waterfront trail did not look too bad.  I wonder if it's submerged at high tide.
A fork in the road, where I was sure I already went around the couple so I made the left turn.
Marine Park West Trail was once a dumping ground for car insurance fraud, so I read.  It's possible that this car was brought here after the clean-up some years ago.

See all the photos here:


05 April 2013


GPS-writing, or gwriting for short, makes running even more interesting, but having just a rectangular grid to work with is challenging.  I recently made some improvements to the process.  Avenue blocks are longer than street blocks so from now on I will allot at least two street blocks to the width of a letter.  The letter i, of course, is an exception.  Another improvement I started to implement is to make use of the fact that the path is generated as a series of lines between points.  Not just any line, but a straight line between two points, which as any math-literate person knows, is the shortest distance.  I call this technique iTrespass.  For those letters that require diagonal strokes, such as Z or N, I can make use of iTrespass to have a nice line cutting through city blocks without ever really trespassing anyone's properties.  Another use for iTrespass is in dealing with the requirement that the letters have to be connected.  To minimize the unnecessary lines, I keep the extra lines at the bottom of the word.  To even further keep the extra lines out of the picture, I would go below the word a little bit then use iTrespass to have the extra line running below the bottom of the word.

The first application of these new Gwriting techniques is the picture below, to show some love to the app Charity Miles.  It's really a composite of two different runs' screenshots off the Garmin Connect web site.  Because the words are not perfectly horizontal and the screenshots are rectangular in nature, additional screenshots were made to cover the void in the lower left corner.  Photoshop Element was used only to connect the pieces, no other photo manipulation was done.  iTrespass allowed me to create the letter "i" cutting through two city blocks.  Using iTrespass, I actually ran longer distances but what is a few extra kilometers between friends?

In a perfect world, I would have used the Charity Miles app itself to generate the path.  Alas, battery life on my Android Samsung Galaxy I stinks and would not last, so I stuck to my trusty Garmin Forerunner 210 watch.

Two runs, one purpose!




04 April 2013


Some spring we are having these days in New York City!  It's cold and windy, I actually put on a wool cap and wear gloves when outside.  Just a few days ago, on Saturday, it was really spring-like for the NYC Runs Spring Fling 5K and 10K on Roosevelt Island.

My duties for the event included shopping for fruits and creamy peanut butter the day before and picking up bagels and such at the crack of dawn on the day.  I once lived in Long Island City, Queens for over ten years and one time actually walked over that bridge connecting Queens to Roosevelt Island.  Back then there was no subway, you could only take the tram, paid for with the tram system's own unique coins, or drive/walk over said bridge.  Well, swim is probably possible if you are that good, though the toxins in the water may kill you years later.  I don't recall actually driving to Roosevelt Island but checked that off my bucket list this past weekend.  I always think of Roosevelt Island as Manhattan shrunken ten times.  Maybe more.  There is just one long Main Street running the length of the island, with some traffic circles here and there for the cars to turn around.  It sure is nice to have the footpath that goes around the island.

When I first started working for NYC Runs, it was winter and water consumption was not a major issue.  Runners did not drink as much.  Maybe it was because I didn't work with the water stations, or maybe because we also had hot chocolate all ready to be poured.  For the NYRR NYC Half, very few people took the ice-frozen water at Mile 11 water station, where I volunteered.  The race was almost done and it was too cold anyway.  With the Spring Fling it was very different.  Gatorade and water constantly ran low and I found myself helping with mixing more Gatorade then fetch more 6-bottle cases of water, then more Gatorade, more water, on and on.  It was a beautiful day to run, but it sure got hotter after 5K or 10K.  Just wait until summer rolls around!

There were a few PPTC runners in the race, like Tom and Kai here.

New PPTC member Glen and me, with the Queensborough Bridge in the backdrop.

That's one big apple, Randy.

Lots of bags in the bag check area.  The bags were sorted by the last digit of the bib number, the columns went from 1 through 9 then 0.

The Gatorade and water crew kept the runners hydrated.

The finish chute by the side of the Queens-side of the island.

Things got a little quiet as the 5K runners got to the start corral while 10K runners just arrived or waited for their turn.

For all 16 photos, see