Powerful Podcasts and Love Thyself

It wasn’t love at first sight
Some of our initial encounters
Were awkward
An up and down friendship
But you grew on me
Then one day I realised
I was in love with you
I love running
We have the odd bad day
But I can’t resist
I always come back
I want to grow old with you
#Running

Such a great find on twitter earlier this week from @RunningMrJones.

I’m still not entirely sure how my random treadmill try in January 2017 turned into marathon training, but I’m so glad it did. On the two year anniversary I did my first ever double digit, two hour training run and less than eight months later I ran 3.5 hours and sixteen miles. Who am I?!?

As I’ve mentioned, podcasts are what gets me through the long runs. I switch to music to “cross the finish”, but it’s not enough of a distraction. I had three on this Saturday’s long run and while all were good, the one that really resonated was Running Rogue’s Believe in Your Body with Jessie Barnes. I don’t have the exact quote, but she said something to the effect of “our bodies are meant to be more than cute”. Once upon a time, this blog was a weight loss blog – but running isn’t about that for me. Partially glad because I really have majored in winning and losing the same 2 lbs, but also because I think it would stress me out if I had to worry about that too. I loved the two guests and how they talked about PRs in running vs. on the scale and the comfort needed to run shirtless. I’m not sure I’ll ever be team sports bra, mostly because I burn so easily, but I did ditch the cover up on the beach and celebrated my strength. A really, really powerful lesson and great episode.

Also listened to: Marathon Training Academy’s Ask The Coach Part 2+ Books (link complete with the list of her reads this summer) and Running Rogue’s Staying Fit Through Injury with Sasha Gollish. Three excellent episodes to pass the miles and hours.

I started dreaming about the marathon – or more precisely that I booked a vacation that meant I’d miss a long run. I know where that came from, lamenting a possible long weekend trip that wouldn’t be wise, but it’s still silly. More on that if/when I get my “costs of Marathon training” post done.

On nutrition:

delicious, but troublesome

TMI territory: This week I learned – well experienced first hand, I definitely knew this but head to learn the hard way – that here there be dragons when it comes to salad. I had poke most days for lunch thanks to MealPal, but was craving some greens come Friday. It kept me full most of the day thanks to a good mix of fat and protein (eggs, bacon, avocado) with the veggies. It also made for my first mid-run I need a bathroom moment. Luckily, one was close and all was fine, but never had to go mid run before. 18-20 hours before a long run is a no go for salad.

Otherwise, all good. A very Science in Sports week with the tabs on Wednesday and for Saturday’s long run, which also featured Cliff Blocks. I need to figure out more of the in-run fueling, which will be the 18/20 mile runs plan. This is why we practice!

Weekly Run Down with Deborah and Kim:

  • Monday: I tried to run, but my head was not up for the treadmill and I couldn’t stay on it. Turned this into a full PT and some yoga as I was sore from Saturday and tired.
  • Tuesday: planned off. Dinner with a friend. I walked home from work though, so it wasn’t a totally sedentary day
love at first sight
  • Wednesday: Lumberjack Twists take two with the addition of a 15m “steady” effort.  I set a personal goal of 8 repeats this time, since 7 was all I could manage last time with my Achilles. I managed ten! My Achilles was not happy, but I walked back to the store after the second effort and by Thursday morning it felt mostly OK thanks to an Epsom soak. Post-run I wanted to take advantage of JackRabbit’s double points and our 15% discount and I went to look at the 1080s as my April ones are nearly out of miles. They come in purple! Alas, they don’t come in size 9, so I spent the week on a quest for them while the blue ones stalked me.
yay exploring Central Park with Darlene
  • Thursday: walk/run/visit the Turtle Pond with Darlene. I forgot my watch, but think we called this 2 miles
the bottoms are cool, but the top will be filthy too quickly
a much needed pedi
  • Friday: a rest day, but still lots of steps ISO those shoes. A longer than planned series of errands meant I missed my window for avocado toast. That came back to bite me during the long run, but it’s a teachable moment. I realized mid-pedi that I have to keep my toes painted. They’re a mess. One not at all running related as someone stepped on it causing a fugly while healing bruise.
why are you heavy cotton? nopity nope nope nope
do I really need another pair of shoes? YES
forever my favorite, and I take a photo every time
imagine indeed. I lost my group, but so many out there I never felt lonely
open splash pad, Happy Cari ca. mile 13 Who is this person whose hat, shirt and SIS tablets matched?
I have a runner’s body
  • Saturday: Sweet 16!  I really, really wanted to do 16.21 so that I could say I had singe digits to go, but at the end I was just done and didn’t want to chase garbage miles. The route/the reality. Pretty close. I wiggled in the w 60s as I wanted no part of Wednesday’s ramp or the stairs leading up from the water. I felt this on my pre-Vermont shakeout, but today endorsed my “latter half of the Great Saunter is boring” feeling as I’ve run it twice this month. I love my East River, but the Hudson is so much prettier. Since we ran the lower third of Manhattan (nuts!), I really should bring back my beloved #GreatManhattanLoop tag.As I mentioned, missing the avocado toast window came back to bite me on the run. My dinner ended up as a scoop of peanut butter and a couple scoops of dry Cheerios. Yep, that fuels nothing. Coupled with the salad above, this was a weird run. I was hungry during, which hasn’t happened before. The Cliff Bloks got me through, but as I mentioned to Liz in text, I should have had two packs with me. Was glad to have had the extra tabs of SIS Berry as I needed those vs. pure water. Luckily lots of spots on the Hudson side to refill the water and add a tab. As I’m not sure I’ll ever manage Gatorade, this was good fueling practice. I need to work out the logistics to take water from stations and add it to bottle in belt during the run though as I can’t add it to cup and hold. Hi NYRR 18M plan.
  • I’m pretty sure that my beloved Cascade (RIP :(, but I did manage to snag one more in yesterday’s flash sale ) is going to be my race skirt if the weather is at all conducive. Aside from some mid-run wardrobe adjustments that had nothing to do with the skirt and everything to do with a stretch, it just doesn’t move and I had no chafing on my lower body. That’s unheard of for me – even in Skirt. I love Gym Girl and will probably get it in Rebel Fleur, but I can’t imagine it for 26.2. Backup plan is Lotta Breeze Capri, which I wore for two Halfs earlier this year, but I’m really thinking Cascade.  Ever think on a race outfit this far out? Given how often I wear that pink shirt, it might be part of the ensemble, but I have a different one in mind.
  • Post-run I hit up the New Balance store at the NYRR run center to see if Juan could find the purple for me. He’s a wizard and even he couldn’t, but he did turn up a pair of darker blue that I like and won’t be filthy, so I should have them in a week or two.  I LOVE these 1080s and might switch to the blue ones now so I can still run November in the black.  The shoes above? Coral are my cross trainers, the navy Vongo2s got me through three Halfs and are nearly out of miles, the 880s didn’t quite work for me but are OK on short distances. And then my two existing pair of 1080s. So glad I found and my feet fell in love with New Balance. Post-run sushi and sunset.
  • Sunday: rest. Maybe beach

Training mileage:

  • Week: 21.21 not counting  Darlene’s and my walk/run. That happy accident parallel is too funny
  • Total cycle: 188.32. Even with a down week, going to have a hundred mile month 😮

Plan for the Week:

  • Monday: run with Darlene
  • Tuesday: cross/off
  • Wednesday: Rogue
  • Thursday: cross/recovery depending on meetings
  • Friday: off
  • Saturday: 10/12. I love down weeks
  • Sunday: off

On gym visits:

I was more than a little stressed about hitting the 50 gym visits and then when I requested a print out I realized I’d been 61 times. I guess I’m not as good at tracking cross train and / or yoga visits in my spread sheet. That’s a relief, claim filed for my $200 reimbursement which is going right in the travel fund for Bermuda and/or toward a post-marathon treat.

September Home Stretch

But I would walk 500 miles and I would walk 500 more. Just to be the man who walks a thousand miles to fall down at your door.

I love Shorewalkers, they got me exploring Manhattan when I couldn’t do the Saunter, and I’ve done part of the Saunter twice. Shorewalkers’ founder Cy Adler died at 90 on Thursday, September 27. If I’m in town in May, I’m doing the Saunter for him. What a man and legacy.

Thanks again for all the Garmin advice. I decided on that as my #GoTheDist Q3 present to myself as the Charity Miles sale seems better than what I imagine will appear on Black Friday. I’m glad the sale ran through Sunday as it took me that long to decide which model. Final nail in the coffin? TomTom being a complete muppet during the Bronx 10 Miler.

Welcome to busy. Fall is always busy. This year seems worse (volume wise), but I’m lucky enough to truly love what I do, so I don’t mind the busy.

Final stretch of #NBBronx10M training Click To Tweet

Weekly wrap with Holly and Wendy:

  • Never miss a Monday: cross train was the plan and the reality as I did not want to run four days in a row especially after three relatively hard runs. An amusing 5K row was the only option as I forgot my sneakers. Not my crosstrain sneakers, my sneakers entirely. Oops! Although relatively slow, the row felt good.
  • Tuesday: off entirely. Late dinner with friends. Had contemplated a morning run, but it was bucketing down, and no.
  • Wednesday: had a short window after a work event and before the gym closed so I made the most of it by repeating last Friday’s speed test. Whee! 6.2 for a mile, then 6.3 and 6.4 for the final quarter mile. If I’m going to have these tight windows, I’m going to make the most of them.
  • Thursday: office run group somewhat made a return. There were only two of us, and we used it as my Bronx shakeout since the weather was perfect. Cat Hill got me, but I pushed through and recovered pace on the final mile.  Crossed 500 #RunTheYear miles on this run. I cannot wait to sync from Garmin since the Strava sync does not reliably work. Yep, doing the challenge again next year. I won’t hit 2,018 miles but I love the Facebook group for the great people. I’ll probably skip the shirt and medal next year though as I only took out the shirt when I was desperate, laundry wise, and medal and tokens are still in the package.
  • Friday: Bronx 10M Strategy (more on that in the recap) & partial walk home. Although my running mileage has been great for September (hi, weather-facilitated long runs), my steps are off. It’s mostly a factor of busy, there just isn’t the time in my schedule to walk home.
  • Saturday: quick shakeout, followed by a wander around the Village with the lovely Darlene who was in town to run a rescheduled race. Most amusing? Spotting one another in non-running clothes. We clean up nice! I learned the week of Cherry Blossom that I can walk the day before a race without ill effect.  My feet had been feeling rough and I never got to a pedi earlier in the week so I decided to treat myself to a mani/pedi. Self care in all forms and as soon as it’s no longer sandals weather, I’m doing another Baby Foot.
Best finish ever
  • Sunday: Bronx 10 Mile, on a gorgeous autumn day. I ran to the train, and then it was a game of hurry up and wait as the race was delayed due to MTA issues. It was appropriate that Pitbull’s Greenlight came on while we were waiting in the corrals: Give me the green light, oh yeah. ‘Cause I’m ready to go. Not at all my typical music, but perfect for running and especially today. The race was a PR and I hit my goal. Still digesting this one, which I’m not thrilled with. More TK later this week. ETA: TOTR focusing on Bronx 10M here.

Training Mileage for Bronx 10M: 129.19 Miles

Plan this week:

  • I’m going to miss a Monday. I need a day off. I’m sore, and have after work plans that probably negate even crosstrain.
  • Light recovery run Tuesday or Wednesday depending on how my quads are feeling.
  • Thursday: office run group
  • Friday: off
  • Saturday: Grete’s Great Gallop. Yep, bit the bullet and signed up for this 10K. If I’m doing Lebow or Women’s Half, I need to get back to Harlem Hills. That starts Saturday.
  • Sunday: Albany

GoTheDist:

Need to plug in the steps & run walk tomorrow when month is officially over. I also need to process this. I pulled September steps out of a hat with a good closing week, but it wasn’t a particularly good month. I didn’t top last September’s steps until yesterday even with the increased running.

September:

  • 473,757 Steps
  • 209.72 Miles Run/Walked
  • 69.22 Miles Run

Definitely my highest running mileage month. Was I remotely tempted to go out and get .78 miles? Nope. I had a number of vague plans after today’s race. None of them involved more miles.

Q3:

  • 1,486,727 Steps
  • 649.46 Miles Run/Walked
  • 171.67 Miles Run

I think this is the closest I’ve come to my goal of 180 miles run in each quarter.

2018 YTD:

  • 4,311, 909 Steps
  • 1886.21 Miles Run/Walked
  • 515.99 Miles Run

I am three miles ahead of pace on 700 miles run this year. That is, thanks again, to some insane long runs this month. Will I get it? Not sure. Always a stretch goal. I think I set it right though and look forward to seeing where I land. I’ll also likely hit 2,018 miles run/walked sooner than the end of November, which was when I hit it last year. 2,500 miles on the year probably won’t happen, but stranger things have.

On to October. Where did 2018 go?!?

Great Saunter and Steps Goals

The Great Saunter is not only a gorgeous walk for a great cause, it’s a wonderful thing for my steps math. With Saturday’s 60K steps (~56K of which were Saunter), my May stretch goals went from iffy to doable.

That reminds me, I never followed up here on my May goals once April’s were finalized. In short, my realistic goal with the Saunter was hoping to top May 2015 (slightly higher than 2016 as I had Saunter and walking vacation) even with a non-walking vacation. I left my stretch goals what they were the last two months and while I’m not certain, I think I have a good chance at them. Exactly what stretch goals should be.

pre-saunter average: 6,559.21

post-saunter average: 10,131.06

Pre-saunter step goals:

Steps needed to goals before the Saunter

 

Post-saunter step goals:

steps needed to goal after the Saunter

 

The craziest thing about that is the change in average in the 1m goal column. That usually increases because my spreadsheet math isn’t good enough to factor that there’s another month of days left. With 60K in one day, I lowered that.

I topped my Saunter distance from last time and although I didn’t keep such great spreadsheets, I’m sure my numbers were just as fun.

Part of the reason the pre-saunter average was so low was I’d factored in some minimal days for time out of the city and day post Saunter. That way I have a worst case to work from. I look forward to what May brings.

Great Saunter 2017

I started the #GreatManhattanLoop project because I knew I could never finish the Saunter. That was ~50lbs ago and before I discovered my Fitbit addiction. Two attempts and five/six years of walking Manhattan later I’ve realized I’m never going to finish the Saunter and I’m OK with that.

Last time I walked 19.5 miles and yesterday? 22.5. No shame in that. While I had a mental image of going all the way in my head I nearly dropped out much earlier so 22.5 miles is way more than a moral victory. More on that later.

Looking back at the photos from last time (and IG for the project) I realize how much has changed. Aside from the opening of Hudson Eats at Brookfield, the Seaglass Carousel is open, Hudson Yards is blooming and the end of the Greenway on the west side is finished. Can only imagine what this walk will look like in ten, fifty or one hundred years.

As I went digging through the #Loop archives I realized that the 2017 Saunter and photos were a walk down memory lane to areas I’ve explored the last few years. Especially when I first “finished” the “Loop”. That’s a fun feeling and why I love the Saunter/Greenway. I was very excited for more/better photos this year because of my new camera. I went to turn it on to take a photo of the Statue of Liberty in the mist and… dead batteries. In my quest to be sure both phones and external battery packs were charged, I forgot to check my iPod and camera. Fail. That’s when I first had an inkling I wouldn’t finish. I didn’t think I could do it without music.

One World Trade and the Winter Garden, May 2017

Even though I was just in Battery Park and the Battery Park City portion of the Greenway for the 9/11 Memorial & Museum 5K, I didn’t get to take it in as I was jogging. The lower portion of the Greenway and its piers were the first walk I did on the loop and places such as the above (so very different five years ago!) and the AIDS Memorial still catch my attention. Wary of last time’s lessons, I switched into my fitflops early and headed north. I was feeling good, although I wasn’t particularly excited. Not sure why. The weather got warmer though and once we crossed 42nd it seemed to go fairly quickly.

I was on/ahead of pace (pre registering & having my packet mailed helped) through Inspiration Point and even the walk from the Lighthouse wasn’t as bad as I was dreading. Yay run training paying off. If it hadn’t been more of a climb to the subway I might have bailed here. I was just tired. At Inspiration Point I paused to change back into my sneakers ahead of the rougher trails in Inwood Hill Park, have a second Uncrustable and take Advil. Quads were in worse shape than feet and I was thinking that if I took Advil while walking it might help (It did – I’m not terribly sore today). By the time I reached the halfway point at Inwood Hill Park for a potty/snack break I’d fallen about ten minutes off pace. If I hadn’t committed to walking at least as far as last time, I probably would have jumped on the train — the 1 train between Inwood Hill Park and the Speedway was a strong pull. I’d decided ahead of this year that I wasn’t going to have sit down breaks, I thought those were my undoing last time. I think part of the reason I was flagging though was I pretty much hadn’t stopped other than for 2-3 minutes since 7:10 AM and it was now 1/1:30. That’s a long time.

I thought at that point that I might have eight more miles in me, which would take me to the point on the Saunter that passes my apartment. Even if I was feeling good, that would be hard to resist. Along the Speedway I once again walked with some folks and that energized me. I was also sneeze powered for a ton of this section. Not sure how much was my allergies and how much was the pollution from the adjacent cars. Almost no cherry blossoms this year which made that section just as desolate as when I first walked it. I pointed out the Brush stairs to a couple of baseball fans and I was tempted to end the walk there again. It wasn’t pain, I just wasn’t loving it. I did enjoy the Horse Fountain, which I was disappointed to miss last time due to pure exhaustion.

When we reached the bottom of Edgecombe – amazing architecture – we learned that we couldn’t head east as planned and instead were to head south on St. Nicholas to 111th Street before walking back east to pick up the Greenway. While I was hoping to get the eight miles from Inwood to home-I had a backup ejection plan at 126th & 2nd Avenue where I could pick up the m15. I had a feeling I was going to take it as I headed over to St. Nicholas.

Almost exactly four years ago (May is my perfect walking month, clearly, from these posts) I said I needed to go back to Hamilton Grange. Yesterday thanks to the St. Nicholas/Edgecombe detour I ended up back there. Unfortunately, both my phone batteries were dead/dying and I didn’t have the stamina to even walk into the park to eke out a photo. I’d been toying with evaluating what I head left when I hit 126th and seeing if I could push on to home, but that’s when I knew I was done. It wasn’t fun anymore. As someone I walked with on the Speedway said, this shouldn’t be an ordeal. As I said last year when I bailed on the Bridge Walk:

There’s no “have to”, especially when something isn’t fun. No winning for martyring.

I think that’s why I’m OK with not finishing the Saunter. I’ve known that the streets don’t interest me as much since 2013, I just need to remember that day of. I have walked the loop. When I turned left on 125th St. I realized just how far west the detour had taken us. Or rather, how much narrower Manhattan is where we should have turned. It was a challenge not to hop on a crosstown bus, but I walked to 2nd where I got off my feet and took in just why my feet were so sore!

 

end of my Saunter, 4:02 PM

Only just realized the time on making the collage. I’d like to say I’d have walked another eight minutes to have walked 9 hours, But I really don’t think I’d have cared.

Now I want to focus on exploring more of the neighborhoods – especially uptown. I now know how close High Bridge, Coogan’s Bluff and Hamilton Grange are to one another and how relatively easy it is to get there. That’s on my list for this summer.

For now, more Saunter pics:

40,000 steps

In. One. Day.


40,000 steps and 16.6 miles
40,000 steps and 16.6 miles

It’s not my personal best. That honor still goes to the Saunter. But it’s my best since that day and was also a product of Shorewalkers. The thing I’m most proud about? Nearly 6 of these miles were after I bailed on the official walk.

Anyway…

I’ve had a thing for bridges for a while now and in the words of the famous Jack, who I had the pleasure of meeting today, “There are a lot of bridges on the east side of Manhattan.”When I saw the Shorewalkers June newsletter I saw they were doing one of the three annual  and was initially bummed that it was taking place on a Friday. When I realized the date was wrong and it was today I decided to do it. Did I mention that was yesterday?

Oops.

So I knew I wasn’t going to finish. I’ve actually made a lot of progress with walking the bridges, but I liked the idea of trying to do all at once. I was nervous though because I remembered hating both the Williamsburgh (for its incline) and Triboro (proximity to car exhaust). I decided I was just going to take it as far as I could and play “the end’ by ear.

We met at the Municipal Building where Thomas Kinsella’s 1872 words served as a nice start to the walk. It was just after 9 AM and the Brooklyn Bridge crowds weren’t too bad. From there it was an uphill walk through DUMBO to the Manhattan Bridge which has stunning views but is by far the ugliest and loudest of the bridges. Back in Manhattan it was a nice wander through Chinatown and pit stop in Seward Park before crossing into Brooklyn again on the Williamsburg Bridge. I took that for the first time in 2013 on Citibike and remembered hating it for the long slog over land (no view) and the incline. Both still true. At this point the group split and some hopped on the bus to LIC while some opted to walk that portion. Fresh off the bus and on fresh legs, we crossed back into Manhattan on the 59th St. Bridge.

After a pit stop at Bed & Bath Walt opted to take the Greenway up to 103rd rather than 1st Ave as initially planned. If the group had gone up 1st I’d have taken the bus on this leg since I knew I wouldn’t make it past my street without peeling off. As we walked from Carl Schurz north along the greenway to Wards Island, I found myself thinking of something I said nearly three years ago:

I don’t see most of the Harlem River bridges happening. Walking between the Harlem River Drive and Major  Deegan is underwhelming, as I realized from Macombs Dam and there is no “have to” in this project.

There’s no “have to”, especially when something isn’t fun. No winning for martyring. The heat was getting to be too much especially with the car exhaust so when they turned right to cross the Wards Island Bridge, I went left and over to 1st Avenue. I was done. I wasn’t in pain like when I stopped the Saunter, I’d just had enough and wasn’t enjoying the walk. I do want to do the Washington and Henry Hudson** and plan to join this walk when it starts at the GW in the fall and heads south though.

After re-charging with an iced coffee at Dunkin and some down time in Target’s AC, I set off again. Destination unknown. Knew I wanted to do sunset though so I headed crosstown on the m116 before landing in Riverside Park. When I realized tomorrow was Father’s Day, I knew where I wanted to spent sunset. Soldiers & Sailors of course. I stayed there and read for a while before it got crowded with prom pictures so I instead headed south where I was treated to this. How i know i wasn’t feeling the official walk? I barely took any photos.

From sunset I caught the m79 home via 16 Handles and an extra lap around the block to hit 40K. I didn’t do 30 miles, but I had a magical day.


sunset from W. 80th and the Hudson River
sunset from W. 80th and the Hudson River

Welcome back, NYC’s High Bridge

A year to the day after I finished my “last major bridge crossing“, I got to walk across the one that has teased me for most of my #GreatManhattanLoop – ing.  After 40-45 years (depending on who is counting) and some $61m, the High Bridge reopened this week.

“The High Bridge is the city’s oldest bridge, dating back to 1848, and stands 140 feet tall, 2,000 feet long and stretches between about West 173rd Street in Manhattan and West 170th Street in the Bronx” ~Zoe Rosenberg

and I’d venture to guess, it’s least known until the press around its reopening hit this week. I couldn’t make it up for the opening on Tuesday (due to an amazing EmptyMet Tour), but knew I wanted to do it as soon as possible. With a walk up Broadway occupying yesterday, today was it.

Tip: Google Maps doesn’t yet know where it is without the coordinates, so use those provided by the Parks’ Department to get to the Park. Failing that, if going from the Manhattan side, High Bridge Tower will get you close enough that you’ll see the stairs.

After a few false starts in getting past 106th St, the m101 took me practically to the Bridge’s door step. Entering High Bridge Park at 172nd, the new signs are immediately apparent-and exciting! While it’s possible to cross between the Bronx and Manhattan on some of the Harlem River Bridges (Macombs Dam likely the most famous), it isn’t as pleasant when there are cars mere feet away.

It’s just a quick five minute walk through Manhattan’s High Bridge Park to the EVIL stairs down. One look at them and one limp down and I knew I’d be using the accessible exit to leave the Park. While many comparisons are made to the High Line, the comparison I most found myself drawing was Poughkeepsie’s Walkway Over the Hudson. The High Bridge is much shorter at about 2,000 feet but with it’s north and south views and virtual panorama of NYC, it was stunning.

I took my time lingering both on the span and in the small park on the Bronx end for reading and photos, but even with reading and photographing all the historical markers, the bridge itself takes about half an hour to explore. The markers are by far my favorite for the way they tell the span’s history. That will be especially helpful once the re-opening press dies down and people search out the history.

TIP: Some more great historical photos here and the best writeup I’ve found of the Bridge’s history.

Although it doesn’t appear that the bridge will ever be open at sunset, I’d like to be there closer to sunset as I think the views will be amazing. With the afternoon sun, walking toward Manhattan is a challenge and photos just don’t seem to work. However I love how it looks when overcast – layer of eeriness and history to it.

Although the restored bridge links Manhattan and the Bronx in a way that hasn’t been possible in generations, I think its relative inaccessibility (an hour plus from the Upper East Side) will keep the numbers down. There’s something to be said, however, for the restoration of High Bridge Park on the Manhattan side as well. Without that and the increased visitation that came with it, I don’t think the Bridge gets done.

Much like the Saunter, I ended my wander up to the High Bridge at Coogan’s Bluff. Partially due to avoiding climbing back up the stairs into High Bridge park and partially to see if going via the M2 was any quicker than the M101. Mostly as an excuse to see the Brush stairs again when my feet didn’t hurt as much as they did at the end of the Saunter. Yep, still magical. Still living baseball history.

The M2 wasn’t any faster especially as the first bus randomly went out of service at 110th, but it was a nice end to an exploratory day.

19.5 miles of the Great Saunter

as I’ve touched on before, the Great Saunter was the idea behind the #GreatManhattanLoop when I first started walking Manhattan. Due to a combination of not being in town on that Saturday and knowing I wasn’t up to that distance, I walked the Loop in segments before finally finishing in May 2013.

In May 2015, the stars finally coincided for me to attempt the Great Saunter. I didn’t finish it (and apparently most don’t), but I (mostly) enjoyed the 19.5 mile walk around Manhattan’s shoreline including some places I knew of but had never gotten to photograph, like Pumpkin House.

Historical markers on the Broad St. side of Fraunces Tavern
Historical markers on the Broad St. side of Fraunces Tavern

Saturday, May 2, came bright and early-especially early with registration beginning at Fraunces Tavern at 7am. As I learned later from a Shorewalkers volunteer, there were 1,070 folks preregistered and they expected that 3-400 had joined at various points along the route.

Castle Clinton in Battery Park
Castle Clinton in Battery Park
One World Trade behind the Winter Garden
One World Trade behind the Winter Garden

The first miles of the walk go around the southern tip of Manhattan through Battery Park and up the west side through North and South Coves and Battery Park City. I’m pleasantly surprised with how relatively construction-free Battery Park is and it looks like the SeaGlass carousel might finally become reality. I enjoyed the quick view of Castle Clinton aka South West Battery in this National Parks’ Centennial year. Amazing to think that was once in the harbor. The opening of One World Trade last fall for office space and the Observatory later this month is amazing. I also can’t believe this was less than three years ago but that site will never not be arresting.

 

New York Central Railroad 69th Street Transfer Bridge
New York Central Railroad 69th Street Transfer Bridge
Treelined Cherry Walk in Riverside Drive
Treelined Cherry Walk in Riverside Drive
White and pink cherry blossoms on the same limb
White and pink cherry blossoms on the same limb

I didn’t take many photos along the early part of the route in part due to wanting to keep pace and, in part, because I had many from my May 2012 walk. The only exceptions were the New Whitney and the fairly new North River Lobster Company. Alas, it was too early in the day for lobster and we walked on through Riverside Park which is the stretch of the Greenway I feel as if I know the best. I walked it in February and two weeks ago in a premature attempt to see cherry blossoms. The no photo thing-which I knew I’d need to keep up if I wanted to keep up with the group-died as per usual when I saw cherry blossoms. Aka why there’s a whole Flickr album dedicated to them. Plus the whole stretch from W. 89th up to the George Washington Bridge is gorgeous in all seasons.

Alas, it was at this point when I started to drag after maintaining pace for the first 11+ miles or so. At West Harlem Piers Park, I changed my socks and repacked my bag* in an attempt to keep my water bottles from stabbing me. I slugged past Riverbank and into Fort Washington. I was already dreading the walk up from the Lighthouse, even though it’s one of my favorite spots in the city.

Pumpkin House, north of Castle Village
Pumpkin House, north of Castle Village
Inspiration Point
Inspiration Point
arches of Fort Tryon Park
arches of Fort Tryon Park

I limped through this stretch of Fort Washington despite being eager to see the Pumpkin House and Fort Tryon Arches now that I knew what they were and normally loving Castle Village and being fascinated by Inspiration Point. In short, I still didn’t get the appreciation feeling I was after back in 2013. I thought the end was in sight when the greenway ended, however I didn’t know the route that the Saunter would take through Inwood as the Greenway is a bit of a myth at this point. It was a slog, and by this point I mostly decided I was done.

Shorakkopoch Rock
Shorakkopoch Rock

On the final limp to the flagpole and lunch break at the 16 mile mark, I finally found Shorakkopoch Roch (full name & details). The whole story is little more than a fanciful myth, but it’s a fun market to NYC’s history. While I broke for lunch-and to change to my flip flops-I gave some thought about how far I really wanted to go. Now that I knew I wasn’t going to finish, I wasn’t concerned about pace.

Coogan's Bluff
Coogan’s Bluff
the John T. Brush Stairs up to Coogan's Bluff
the John T. Brush Stairs up to Coogan’s Bluff

I won’t lie-as I left Inwood HILL Park at Isham the A train at 207th was tempting. But I’d made the decision to go as far as 155th for three reasons:

  • that’s the end of the Greenway. So much of the rest (save for 116-59th which I’ve done more time than I can count) is city streets and I’m no more interested in that then I was in 2013.
  • It was a commitment. Once I was on the Greenway (aka the Speedway) I was going to 155th as there was no out.
  • I wanted to see what changed on that section as well as with the HighBridge‘s continued construction

I had forgotten about the biggest upside – cherry trees! – which made the northern stretch of the Speedway gorgeous. Their soft soil a nice treat under my super sore feet. As I moved toward the southern end, I thought about something else that would be near 155th. The restored Polo Grounds Stairs had reopened in 2014 after years of talk and being “a mystery” as recently as 2010.

While walking along a portion of the Greenway that paralleled the “Harlem River Driveway” and trying to figure out whether Coogan’s Bluff was truly accessible, I turned to the right and there they were! I just had to figure out how to get there with a cement barrier in my way. This portion of the Greenway was either new since 2013 or a portion that I never found since it carried me above the street level of the Polo Grounds Houses.

I walked down to 155th and doubled back – only sports history could make me do this at this point – up Edgecombe and Coogan’s Bluff came into sight. Climbing up on the exposed rock was beyond me at this point but I sat at the top of the stairs before gingerly making my way down where i rested on a picnic bench and communed with the ghosts.

“This is the last piece of real evidence that the Polo Grounds existed, other than the plaque that indicates where the approximate location of home plate was,” said Gary Mintz, president of the New York Giants Preservation Society. … “This is historic ground and should be preserved and treasured any way possible. The Giants’ history in New York was tremendous and judging by the legions of fans today, the New York Giants and San Francisco Giants haven’t been forgotten in New York.” ~ Gary Mintz

It was the perfect place for my saunter to end – and end it did when I boarded the M2 Bus and headed south. I have no regrets. I stopped enjoying the walk somewhere between miles 14 and 16 and there is no shame in walking 18+. It’s always the west side that I’ve found prettiest and the city streets of the east side – which I know well – don’t appeal to me in the same way as the Greenway does. Maybe I’ll finish when they finish the Greenway.

the John T. Brush Stairs from Coogan's Bluff
the John T. Brush Stairs from Coogan’s Bluff

*I looked like quasimodo. I was in awe of all the slim line packs people were carrying. Some of mine was exacerbated by shedding my fleece at the start. I vow not to look like a turtle if I do this again. Eight sandwiches and a box of granola bars were six too many

2015 walking related goals:

  • Visit the Little Red Lighthouse when it’s actually open.
  • Walk the High Bridge (and explore High Bridge Park) if/when it finally opens
  • Finish re-reading Philip Lopate’s Waterfront which I’m super primed for now
  • Read Walking Manhattan’s Rim, despite the mediocre reviews. Manhattan’s Greenway has changed since I started this walk and want to know more about the last decade of change.
  • Read The Power Broker, if I can get my hands on a copy, or something else on Robert Moses and/or Jane Jacobs.

Winter Wonderland rescues February

The shots of the frozen Hudson have been awesome this winter. I got a few I liked last weekend on the train, at sunset and on the Intrepid but decided this weekend was likely my last chance to go exploring with a warm-up coming this week. Coupled with a prediction for snow tomorrow, I realized today was likely it and I set off around 1pm.

Like the last time I went to the Lighthouse, the best laid plans went awry. I knew ice was going to be an issue and I realized that almost as soon as I hit Bennett Park. When I took this photo I was standing near the marker for the highest point but it, like everything else, was covered in snow. Luckily, I’d been there before. While the Pinehurst stairs were OK, it was smooth skating as soon as I crossed Riverside Drive. It was COLD (but no wind), but I knew I wasn’t going back the way I came.

The Lighthouse was just as spectacular as I knew it would be but the un-planned walk south was even better for the ice floes. I kept changing my mind as to my final destination and when I hit Riverbank I was ecstatic to realize there was a Park-level path to Riverside Drive. I would finally have the opportunity to see the Lee Brothers Warehouse that has caught my eye for years. Not for its history, but for its current role as a hub for Manhattan Mini ads. Although I walked that stretch of Riverside Drive across the Valley, I missed the building’s famous clock.

I still need to:

I seem to have my spring mapped out. In the mean time, this long walk saved February’s mileage totals. More on that later…

#GoTheDist? Pfft Bridge The Dist

after a renewed interest in bridges of late, I have been on a mission. By borough I have crossed as follows:

Bronx to Manhattan:

  • Macombs Dam Bridge  in May 2013

Manhattan to Brooklyn:

  • Brooklyn Bridge: more times then I can count, also via bike
  • Manhattan Bridge: June 2014
  • Williamsburg Bridge: Summer 2013

Manhattan to Bronx:

  • Macombs Dam Bridge

Queens to Manhattan:

  • Queensboro Bridge, June 2014

Other:

  • GW Bridge and back, July 2013
  • Wards Island Pedestrian Bridge, May 2013
  • Triboro (Randalls Island to Manhattan)

That’s all the major bridges with the exception of the Henry Hudson since there’s no pedestrian access on the Verrazano and the High Bridge has not yet re-opened. I really don’t have an interest in walking to the Rockaways so those are out.

What’s my next Great Manhattan Loop related goal? Riverside Drive! I’ve done it up as far as 125th St. but time to do the northern spur that I skipped in favor of a riverside walk two years ago.

A walk down Wall Street

I had only vague plans of what I wanted to do after finishing the Trinity Church tour. Walk up to the Lower East Side and explore more of my adopted home? Walk down to Wagner Park and read while taking four million photos of the Statue? Walk the last section of the #GreatManhattanLoop that I did via bike earlier this summer?

The answer, unsurprisingly, ended up to be none of the above. I’ve been talking about exploring Lower Manhattan a lot and I decided when better to do it then when I was already down there. So I left the church yard and headed across Broadway and east on Wall Street. I had of course seen the Stock Exchange and Federal Hall previously, but never in day light. Come see the vampires of New York! Federal Hall was a miss (aside from a pair of crazy OWS protestors calling the reopening of the Statue the work of Communists) due to the Shutdown as it’s a National Park. Additionally, George Washington is behind scaffolding. What is it with our 18th century historic figures hiding behind scaffolding? The Stock Exchange, however, is phenomenal. I really had no idea how big the building was and I love its grandeur when compared with the more pedestrian American Stock Exchange building.

Intrigued by their Fed at 100 exhibit, I continued down Wall to the Museum of American Finance (48 Wall, former Bank of New York Building). Pleasant surprise: free admission. The exhibit is awesome and not just because I’m a ridiculous banking & economics nerd. It’s really well laid out and accessible to all segments of the population, no matter your level of comfort with the Fed. Plus it has figured of Hamilton and Burrr mid-duel. The museum’s shop is small but good, especially its collection of books.

Speaking of the Fed, I don’t know how many Money & Banking classes I took in school, yet I’d somehow never seen the New York Fed. I wasn’t even entirely sure where it was until I read the release for the Museum’s exhibit.

20 Pine, the Trump Building, Chase Manhattan Plaza and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York
20 Pine, the Trump Building, Chase Manhattan Plaza and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York

It’s a relatively unassuming building from the Liberty St. side with the only indication of what the building is a plaque on the southwestern corner, but from the Eastern side and Maiden Lane? I actually didn’t realize I was looking at the same building. If you think the NYC skyline is boring or the same throughout, I’d argue you’re really not looking. I love the architecture of the Fed and many of the buildings in this area and I definitely need to find time to explore it more. Ideally after I read a guidebook so I know what I’m looking at. I didn’t recognize the infamous 20 Pine in the photo above until someone mentioned it.

Random thoughts:

  • No. 37 Wall, now home to Tiffany’s has a fascinating history and I love the facade.
  • I had forgotten what a big deal (NYT, Metro) the Duane Reade at 40 Wall was when it opened. The space is still amazing even if the fare (aside from the stock ticker) is the same as all the new locations.
  • Love the Liberty Mural, but it too is a victim of scaffolding and you can’t get even remotely close.
  • The Chamber of Commerce building (and its history/current use) is intriguing and a fun read. The building itself looks like it’s a better fit up by City Hall rather than with the Wall Street area architecture.