A year (and a day or so) ago, I was writing back
hundreds of people who knew I was running the Boston Marathon, telling them
that I was safe and okay.
always had been at worst a logistical pain, or some leg cramping.
glad to see
from (quite) heightened security measures at the Chicago Marathon in October, things seem to back to normal, with Boston folks even enjoying a World Series win last year.
The most die-hard Yankees fan still
has to grant Boston a little love, no?
I have enjoyed sharing my passion for running with you, and
sharing some choice runs across New York City over the last few months
me such pleasure!
This month is no exception.
As many other local runners and I
gear up for the Brooklyn Half Marathon next month, and I’m telling people of the race’s course, which ends in Coney Island, I frequently am surprised
by how many people tell me that they haven’t been!
So, in honor of the upcoming race, take a look at a 20-mile run I did a few months ago from the Upper West Side to Coney Island (!).
For our purposes here, I’ll assume you know that the West Side Highway, running from the West Side down to South Ferry, is flat, full of water fountains and nice views of the water.
As the weather improves (we can only hope and pray at this point that snow will stop, even in April), the flowers along the Chelsea Piers Park will bloom.
I must stop to write that I visited these parks, not running,
this past weekend, and they are amazing.
Rolling topography ensures that there won’t be ball games happening – really, they’re for quiet enjoyment –
birthday parties, picnics, and the like.
The fully realized parks created out of piers in the West Village and down into Tribeca are gorgeous.
And Brookfield Place, still under construction, offers some air conditioning and restrooms if one needs to make a pit stop.
This run took us “around the horn,” if you will, along the water, along what is still the recovering Seaport, and under the FDR.
You can cut across Chambers Street to the
Brooklyn Bridge, if you want to shave off a couple of miles.
I’m not accusing you of laziness, of course…
Once in Brooklyn, this run cuts into Downtown, along the Flatbush Avenue Extension onto Flatbush.
The construction along this area is astonishing!
3300 rental units being constructed currently!
(And the soon-to-be tallest building in Brooklyn, 388 Bridge, just opened its sales office).
The vast majority of developments here are rentals, until you hit the quieter nabes of Cobble Hill, where new townhouses and condos are selling briskly.
Travelling during the quiet of the early morning, without foot traffic, we quickly
pass through the Atlantic Yards hub and the center of Downtown Brooklyn and hit the Barclays Center.
This time of morning probably is
moment to fully experience the bustle and growing residential component of downtown Brooklyn, but it had to do, for this run.
Crossing diagonally through the transition from Downtown to Park Slope, the complexion of the retail spaces
grows less Big Box and more artisanal, the coffee smells and beards accumulating for the
noses and eyes.
As we finally reach the Northwest Corner of Prospect Park
at Grand Army Plaza, I’m reminded of the battle being waged between car and bicycle, spearheaded in some small or large way by my friend Doug Gordon.
The view is much better enjoyed at this pace, taking in the view of Richard Meier’s On Prospect Park
and gearing up for some hills inside the park.
The dog walkers get out early, but running down the West Side of the Park affords plenty of shade!
Perhaps I’m writing this for the people who don’t get to Brooklyn often enough, though I don’t want to paint myself as favoring one borough or another.
Frankly, you’re missing out if you don’t explore.
Let’s leave it at that.
Leaving Prospect Park and the car-free fun, the Brooklyn Half Course goes along the Ocean Parkway, but for this run we were determined to look at real estate, of course.
This took us through the more pedestrian-friendly environs of Prospect Park South, Victorian Flatbush, Ditmas, and into Midwood.
Let’s assume that you are not at all caught up in the branding names of neighborhoods; please don’t throw me under a bus for any naming mistakes here.
What I can tell you is that the homes along Rugby Road differentiate this neighborhood from any other in Brooklyn.
Huge, majestic, sprawling houses.
If you want to go and tour them, there’s a Victorian Flatbush House Tour in early June!
Just don’t show up in your running clothes!
This was one of those runs that really makes you happy to be alive.
Exploring new neighborhoods, hiding in plain sight a block or two off of busy Ocean Parkway.
The transition into Midwood and into West Brighton Beach and Coney Island happens through the major cross streets like Cortelyou and
Ditmas Avenue, and becomes clearer into the Letter Streets.
We bypassed the heart of Brighton Beach, veering West as we approached the water.
skipped running on
the boardwalk itself
truthfully, we were
pretty hot and tired at that point!
The morning quiet of Coney Island allows you to focus, perhaps, on a little more dirt and grit than you might otherwise, as the flashing lights aren’t all turned on.
But finishing in front of an open Nathan’s, you can bet we took full advantage of what was open and on.
Nothing better than a hot dog at 10 am.
Well, maybe nothing better.
The subway ride back offers even more views of the neighborhoods we had just run through, perhaps a touch to the East of our route.
I would encourage you to bring Gatorade with you, as fewer shops are open that early in the morning than I would have expected.
You also should know that this route allows you a ton of “on and off ramps,” given the incredible amount of subway access.
Go and enjoy part or all of this run!