Posts Tagged ‘queensborough bridge’

Happy Centennial to the Queensboro Bridge, my fantastic beautiful bridge!

(My grandfather used to call me his “fantastic beautiful,” isn’t that the sweetest thing ever? He also called me faccia bella and his “Number One.” Oh yeah, I was loved.)

Today is the 100th Anniversary of the first-ever automobile crossing of the Queensboro Bridge. I’d every intention of jogging across it to mark the occassion*–what better way to celebrate a bridge than to use it for that which it was designed? In addition to elegantly serving a very practical purpose, bridges are perfect, three-dimensional metaphors. I say, amen to all of the over-water crossings of the five boroughs, but I say thank you especially for my favorite metaphor. No one will ever be able to persuade me the 59th Street Bridge doesn’t exist just to make me smile, to help me train harder, and to give me a private space for thought.

(I’m sentimental, but I’m no fool. The hamstring feels no better than yesterday; in fact it could possibly hurt more. I struggled opening heavy doors today as I had no leg leverage, and I do believe I limped up a flight of stairs at lunch. Running, especially up hills or at speed, is simply not an option until the doctor tells me it’s alright.)

In lieu of a new bridge run here on PF, I give you a look back at some of my favorite moments running over the Queensboro Bridge. I’ve run over several New York City bridges, including the world-famous Brooklyn Bridge, but I don’t care what anyone says: none of them hold a candle to my bridge. The 59th Street Bridge brings me home; everything else pales in comparison.

*According to the Daily News, official celebrations will occur the week of May 31st, if enough funds can be raised. If I weren’t already running a marathon for Dan and Team Fox…! I did just give my bridge a birthday present, though.

Read Full Post »

Lots o’ links for y’all, sorry if they all aren’t running related… Monday, March 30th is the 100th Anniversay of the first automobile crossing of the Queensboro Bridge (apparently I’ve been spelling in incorrectly all along). Even though my hamstring still burns, I think I am going to have to run (very slowly) my classic Over the Bridge and Back route in celebration… The price of a beer in the new “Shea” Stadium is $1.50 less than last  year. Now all the Mets have to do is beat the Braves and we’re talkin’ baseball!… Watch the electrifying finish of the senior women’s World Cross Country Championship race. Bonus #1: a Kara Goucher for Nike commercial to kick it off. Bonus #2: women running and spectating in hijabs…The British publishing industry just copped on to the fact that most people think reading is for anti-social, boring snobs. This is breaking news to them?? Am I the only person who was teased in grade school for a “geeky” love of reading?? No wonder my industry is fucking dying… Lastly, congrats to Joe & Frank on running today’s Scarsdale 15k. Did anyone take pictures of the firemen for poor lil’ ole injured me??…

Read Full Post »

I harbor such fondness for my runs home from work that I’m practically nostalgic–and they aren’t yet a thing of the past! It’s strange, this sentimentality. It’s as if each homeward bound workout is a reincarnation. By that I mean, it is at once newborn, its own fresh and unique experience, and also the wizened community storyteller, rich with memories of prior passings which are recalled even as a new memory is being created.

Hai visto che piove? Senti come vieni giù
tu che dicevi che non pioveva più
che ormai non ti saresti mai più innamorata
e adesso guardati sei tutta bagnata

All day today I looked forward to my solitary run home. It teased me from the 6-7 PM slot in my Outlook calendar: RUN HOME 5. My future was clear. I would depart from the corner of Madison Avenue and East 53rd Street, in my black running tights, my new green Brooks windbreaker, Little G on my wrist and my tan canvas ballcap on my head to keep the rain out of my eyes.  There would be the impression of daylight through the overcast sky and indecisive raindrops. I would run east, and north, as the streetlights dictated, wending my way through the path of least resistance to First Avenue and East 60th Street. I would ease my way up the 59th Street Bridge, making the steep ascent slowly. (This would be, after all, a recovery run.)

Rinascerà sta già nascendo ora
senti che piove e il grano si migliora
e tu diventi grande e ti fai forte
e quelle foglie che ti sembravan morte
ripopolano i rami un’altra volta
questa é la primavera sulla porta

Slowly, slowly up and across the bridge. There’s no rush; Husband’s making dinner, Matilda’s dozing on the couch. For now, the only place I need to be is here, on my bridge, peering over the left side into the Queensbridge Projects. Wondering once again how such a notorious neighborhood could look so pleasant from up here. Along its southern edge there is a broad path symmetrically hemmed with elm trees. In the winter those trees sparkle with ice and snow and in the summer they stand lushly green; is it possible drug dealers and other dangerous types could be soothed into good behavior by this artful landscaping? Today the trees are just bundles of brown branches, patiently waiting to be re-leafed. Finally, the long descent begins, and I fleetingly recall, like I do every time I enjoy this downhill, about my triumphant ascent of the same hill on November 2nd, as one of 40,000 stampeding marathoners.

Tu che credevi che ormai le tue piantine
si eran seccate e non sarebbero cresiute più

Dodging puddles through Queens Plaza, the N and 7 trains rumbling overhead, the rain has claimed me yet I don’t feel wet. It runs off the bill of my cap in rivulets if I turn my head, yet I persist in believing that I am drier running than standing still. My left hamstring hurts a lot, as if I’ve been punched where my thigh meets my ass cheek. I console myself: Tomorrow is a rest day. Straight home is not the required 5 miles, it is just 3.5. So I run past the turn that would take me to Husband, warm penne all’arrabiata, and a hot shower. I keep trotting up Skillman Avenue in the bike lane, all the way to 58th Street. Skirting the Sunnyside/Woodside border (I must hum “Keep on the sunny side, always on the sunny side”–Poi Dog Pondering), I make a U-turn onto Roosevelt Avenue, once again running beneath the 7 elevated line towards home. Quick! bear left onto 43rd Avenue and it’s all downhill from here, past the martial arts storefront, past a hair salon, a manicure parlor, a bodega, Rite-Aid, a real estate office with glowing windows,  a few laundromats, the worst Chinese restaurant ever, my pizza parlor, my bodega, my dry cleaners, my old apartment building until finally here I am, at 41st Street—home. Five comfortable miles in 51:02.

Lyrics are excerpted from the song “Piove” (1994) by Jovanotti, an Italian pop star. Piove means rain. Here is the translation of the above, with less poetics than in the original Italian (sorry).

Did you see it’s raining? Hear the way it comes down
You said it wouldn’t rain anymore
That by now you wouldn’t fall in love ever again
And now look at you, you’re all wet….
It will be reborn, it’s already being born
Feel how it rains and the seedling improves
You become big and you get strong
And the leaves that seemed dead to you
Cover the branches once again
This is Spring at your door….
You who believed that by now your plants
had dried up and wouldn’t grow anymore…

Songs I ran to (actually): “La Femme d’Argent” by AIR, “Let’s Stay Together” by Al Green, “Baby, Now That I’ve Found You” by Allison Krauss, “Melissa” by The Allman Brothers, “Nighttime” by Ben Lee, “Plumb” by Brokedown Palace, “The Sad Cafe” by The Eagles, “Next Year” by Foo Fighters, “Don’t Wait Too Long” by Madeleine Peyroux, “The Good Soldier” by Nine Inch Nails, “One Flight Down” by Norah Jones, “In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning” by Frank Sinatra, “Cadillac” by The Push Stars

Read Full Post »

Yesterday evening I took advantage of Nike’s generous offer to listen to and meet Olympians Kara Goucher and Bernard Lagat. How could I not? Kara is not only my favorite female elite, and my girl crush, but she’s also my running muse. I conjure up images of her zooming around the track at the Trials when I need a boost in my own workouts. (I hope I haven’t just freaked any of you out. Or you Kara, if you’re reading.) And Bernard, well, he’s the sweetest–I remember how down-to-earth he was on the podium at the Fifth Avenue Mile last September, what a classy second place. 

Coach Ramon (it was excellent to catch up with him) led us on a 40-minute run from the New York Running Company store (at Third Avenue and 63rd Street; this new location is gorgeous) over the Queensborough Bridge and back. It was strange to be there with a massive group, but not unpleasant. I was scheduled to run 3 for recovery (after Tuesday’s hills and Wednesday’s tempo my legs were feeling a bit battered), so I turned around before the rest of the gang. 

Once I was back at the store and headed to bag check, I caught a glimpse of Kara. She was wearing jeans, black books, and a cropped, olive green satin bomber jacket over a drapey scarf and a bright blue Nike track jacket. I kid you not: my ears started to ring. Then I saw Bernard, who was already chatting with one of us regular runners. And then–bonus!–I noticed Alberto Salazar, hovering in the background. Wow, that man is a legend (and Kara’s coach).

I stood around nervously. I am embarrassed (and disappointed) to admit that despite the gentle prodding of both my TNT buddy SA and Ramon, I could not work up the guts to go say hello to Kara or Bernard. My mind went completely blank–I couldn’t think of a single possible thing to say to them besides “I’m a fan,” which would have been tragic for everyone involved. 

So instead I sat and listened to the Q&A, as rapt as a 5-year old at story time in the library. What they eat, how they train, what events they’ve got coming up, long-term goals, all the standard questions. At one point Kara took a teeny jab at Bernard when she pointed out that her husband Adam was a much stronger runner when the two men competed against each other in college (we all laughed, even Bernard). Then they opened it up for questions, and once again I froze. I’m starting to reconsider if it’s such a good idea to keep her on my dinner date list (you know the game, “If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be?”), since probably I’d get her across the table from me at Del Posto and have nothing to say. (Actually I don’t think that’s true; I’m much better one on one than speaking in front of a group.) 

Much of what she told us about her training for the NYRR Women’s Mile and the Boston Marathon she’d said just a day earlier to Runner’s World. But it was still cool to hear this chick casually throw out that she’s running 95 miles a week now and is going to boost that volume to 105 for several weeks leading into the marathon. Then, she said something that was reassuring to me, a mere mortal: her longest run in her marathon training will be no more than 23 miles. I’ve got a 22-miler scheduled for four weeks out from London. She wrapped up with another encouraging tidbit: no matter how fast you are, or how talented you are, running hurts. Whether you’re having a difficult training run or the race of your life, it hurts because you push yourself, period. Those are words I can fall back on during my pace runs, Nike Speed workouts, and Mile 25 of London. Thanks, KG!

Then we all cued up to get 8 ½ x 11″ photos (provided by Nike) signed by the athletes. I met Bernard first, and he obliged me with a quick photo. I wished him luck at the Wannamaker, told him I’d seen him at the Fifth Avenue Mile last year. He was super-cool, he gives off a great vibe. Then, there I was standing in front of Kara. I moved fast–I introduced myself, asked her for a photo, and then told her how the image of her running at the Trials occassionally motivates me during my workouts. In that moment, any cool credentials I may have earned over the years were immediately revoked. Star-struck: so not cool. But to her credit, Kara looked me in the eye, smiled and said, “That means so much to me to hear.” Who knows if she meant it; SA thinks she did. Chances are good, maybe. (How’s that for an equivocation?)

I walked to Second Avenue and 60th Street to get the Q60 bus home, replaying the evening over in my head. Nice! And I still have the Millrose Games tomorrow! Seated on the bus, I pulled my signed photos out of my bag, where I’d placed them carefully in a hard plastic folder. “To TK, Always Believe! Kara Goucher.” Surely that’s what she wrote for everyone, but I don’t care. I’ll believe anyway.

Read Full Post »

Perhaps the contrast between yesterday’s run and today’s run would have been greater if I’d ran on Mars and not through Sunnyside this morning, but it would have been negligible. I was cracking up at the differences the entire five miles. Let’s see… rural/urban. Piles of leaves/piles of garbage. Neighbors out of a Land’s End catalog/neighbors out of an episode of “The Wire.”  Stone walls/concrete street dividers.  I could go on, but I love Sunnyside too much to sell her out like that.

First, today I felt great, with not a shred of sullen in sight. Happy, relaxed, one might say even perky.  If I’d been running with a friend, I’d have babbled away the entire time. As it was, I burst out into song (see below) along with my iPod, on the deserted stretches through Long Island City. I felt like Paula Radcliffe as I trotted up 43rd Street, elbows pumping and knees high (you can laugh at me; I did).

Second, it was noisy. There were trucks unloading at bodegas, buses groaning to a stop, subway trains rattling overhead, cars honking, cyclists giving a clap or a shout to let me know they were coming up from behind.

Third, no one said hello. Well, one lascivious town car driver tooted his horn and wagged his tongue at me, but I’m not sure that qualifies as “Hello.” When I was in Connecticut, everyone we passed had a low-key, friendly, “Good morning,” or “How are you?” for us.

Fourth, traffic maneuvered around me but certainly didn’t slow down. In fact, one car almost turned into me when clearly I had the little white walking guy light. If it weren’t for my quick reflexes (I slammed my gloved palm down on the car’s hood) and quick wits (I shouted “What the fuck?!”) I’d have been dead!! Or worse!! The funny thing was, this whole exchange felt completely normal to me. I kind of liked it.

Fifth, it wasn’t as hilly. I totally admit it. My time (43:21) felt like a vindication, but in fact, the hills aren’t nearly as steep on this Over-Bridge-and-Back route. Just Mile 2 could qualify as a serious uphill, as it’s the  city approach of the Queensborough Bridge. And that was my slowest mile by almost a minute, a 9:39–kind of like yesterday’s pace.  (Today’s splits–8:37; 9:39; 8:48; 8:08; 8:07.)

Songs I ran to:“Ba Ba Ba” by Ivy, “Baby Love” by Joan Osborne, “Baby Baby Baby” by Joss Stone, “Back to Black” by Amy Winehouse, “Bad Little Doggie” by Gov’t Mule, “Badlands” by Bruce Springsteen, “Blanca Pema” by Marisa Monte, “Ball and Biscuit” by The White Stripes, “Bomboleo” by The Gipsy Kings, “Bananeira” by Bebel Gilberto, “Banditos” by The Refreshments (the world IS full of stupid people–just consider that dumbass who almost ran me over today!!), “Barely Legal” by The Strokes, “Be My Yoko Ono” by Barenaked Ladies (this song has one of the best first lines ever)

(Did I mention I’m on vacation? All week, baby! Please be jealous.)

Read Full Post »

Queens (Miles 13 to 16) 

Running over the Pulaski Bridge, into my borough, I was totally jazzed. So much so, that I picked up the pace on the uphill. It was at this point that EN did me the biggest favor of the day–he scolded me. “TK, now is NOT the time to Go.” Damn, the man’s right. I checked my pace (but just a little), and allowed myself to absorb the Queens miles. We turned off the bridge to the left, and I announced to all those around me, Queens rocks! You’re in my hood now! 

I loved it, every step felt like home, and even though the spectators were largely strangers, I believed I recognized them all. Running up Jackson Avenue, with its restaurants and pubs, made me think happily of long, wine-soaked dinners with friends. And then we were Vernon Boulevard, and DD, my TNT friend with whom I once ran a 20-miler (grateful the whole time he was a chatterbox), bellowed out my name from where he was stationed as a volunteer. Coming up to the Mile 14 marker, which has been my cheering spot year in and year out, I moved to the right and looked for my family–this was the first location I’d given Mom, Dad and Husband on the spectating plan I’d given them. But they weren’t there, I was crushed! I was way more deflated than I thought I’d have been. EN assured me they would be further up. In the meantime, I enjoyed the full-frontal view of the 59th Street Bridge, which posed ahead of us like a coy invitation. The course in Queens has some sharp curves, and I decided to airplane my way through them, arms akimbo, flying. 

And then there they were. I saw my mom first, scanning the crowd with her big blue eyes. I couldn’t shout to them, I got choked up at the sight, so instead I waved frantically. My dad starting shouting my name, drawing out the vowels, and his voice rung in my ears. And there was Husband, holding up the cutest sign ever. It said, “NYC’s #1 Running Blog PIGTAILS FLYING.” I could have stopped and kissed him, I was so touched and delighted by that sign. (The man came up with this all on his own, folks, I swear, no prompting from me!) As EN and I sped by, Dad’s voice still pushing me forward, I turned back to the course and covered my face with my gloved hands–I was crying. (This should come as no surprise if you’ve read other race reports of mine.) I quickly snapped out of it, though, because another big moment was upon me–we were approaching the Queensborough Bridge, my bridge. 

I later learned that my sister-in-law and her fiance, as well as my neighbor and occassional running buddy DM, and assorted neighbors from S.U.D.S. were cheering from the sidelines and screamed my name, but I didn’t hear or see them, most unfortunately. 

We were running up Crescent Street, and the 7 elevated line crossed directly in front of us. This is the train that takes me home, it’s my train, and wouldn’t you know, one pulled up (surely just for me?), and so I waved. Then I noticed people ahead of me turning left onto the bridge, and I had another emotion-filled moment. I thought about how many hundreds of times I’ve run over this bridge, in the dark of morning and night, in the heat of the summer and the bitter, windy cold of the winter. Through the rain, and snow. On my way home from work, or as my present to myself on Christmas, or to give thanks on Thanksgiving. I cried out: I own this bridge! And then, I felt gratitude to my bridge, for giving me what I needed: hills, an escape, and a way home. 

Quiet ensued for nearly a mile, and oh how I relished it. Of course, as I waxed on about my bridge this and my bridge that, EN felt compelled, with his typical irreverence, to point out all the men peeing over the edges of my bridge. Ah, yes. Poetic moment–whatev! 

Manhattan (Miles 16 to 20) 

And then, EN and I crested the 59th Street Bridge’s hill, and we could hear it: the distant roar of the crazy spectators along First Avenue. We all sped up as we descended the steep, short backside of the hill, turned left (the hay bales stacked along the right side of the curve cracked me up–runaway truck ramp!! Gotta give a shoutout to GMR teammate and speedster JD) and were blasted up First Avenue. Where was it, where was the propulsion I was looking for, that everyone promised me would come? I had imagined I would be lifted up off the ground by the wind from the cheering crowd’s lungs, and carried for miles. But nothing of the sort happened. 

Rather, I was distracted, and was concerned I was slowing down. Thankfully, First Avenue is about twice as wide as the course in Brooklyn, so it was only at the water stops I felt crowded. All of a sudden, EN comes jetting up beside me with his super-cute little brother Josh (19 years old–do they even make ’em that young anymore!?). He plugged right in to our pace, and totally saved me when he handed me an orange wedge somewhere around Mile 18. (I’d skipped a couple of Gatorade stops because I couldn’t deal with the clusterfucks at the fluid stations. To DRC Matt: I thought of your Boston Marathon orange wedge, which you told us about in epiode #99.) 

It was around this point where The Plan had me scheduled to Go. I looked at little G’s Virtual Partner feature, which I’d set to an 8:57 per mile pace. Yikes, I was more than 2 minutes behind. I mumbled to EN, Shit, we’re behind, and that was that. From that moment on, I was officially in “Go” mode. Breaking 4 hours (my B Goal) was a foregone conclusion in my mind, non-negotiable. I was running for my A Goal–a sub-3:55–and nothing nor no one was going to be able to deter me. 

The course at this point was familiar to me, so I could focus on pace and effort level. One thing that broke through was the ebulliently groovin’ gospel choir that was pumping out of a massive Baptist church somewhere in the upper reaches of First Avenue. Many parishioners, all decked out in their Sunday best, were on the steps, cheering us on, clapping and singing. It was so cool! I want to come back and party with these folks. 

At 124th Street, my family was awaiting me, one block before we all pushed over the Willis Avenue Bridge into the Bronx. There was a lot going on, so I didn’t immediately see them. Then, there’s Dad, his arms flung up high, a 6’3″ silver-haired man in a Crayloa blue fleece, booming out my name over and over. Hi Dad! And Mom and Husband are straightening up–they had been hunched over his backpack, rooting around for donuts! I was cracking up–People, I’m running a freakin’ MARATHON here, and you gotta stop for DONUTS? Hilarious! 

But quickly I left them behind with their green market snack, as I turned back to safely tramp over the Willis Avenue Bridge, EN once again faithfully reminding me to chill out on the incline, and just maintain my effort level. And look! The grates are covered in orange carpet, just as my faithful readers had promised in their comments

The Bronx (Miles 20 to 21) 

I have family and friends who live in Westchester, Dutchess County, and Connecticut; and I’d told all of them the Bronx was the place to come and cheer, but no one ended up being able to make it work. No worries, as I enjoyed blitzing through, alone with my thoughts, EN still on my right. The Robin Hood Foundation cheering grandstand was blasting “Eye of the Tiger,” which was very amusing. There’s nothing like a good cliché to make me speed up-if only to get out of range. 

Before I knew it, we were up and over the adorable Madison Avenue Bridge, turning left onto Fifth Avenue into Harlem.

Read Full Post »


When I think of the moments my city glitters, I recall heading out in heels and a little black dress to a late dinner in the Meatpacking District.  If I’m feeling less glamorous, I’ll remember running through Central Park on New Years Eve under cover of fireworks; I’ll picture walking out of Irving Plaza, the Roseland Ballroom or the Beacon Theater after an amazing live concert, woozy from drink and song as I trip to the subway.

I certainly don’t think of running across the Queensborough Bridge at 5:30 AM on a Tuesday in late September, but that’s exactly how I got my glitter last week. 5 miles; 49:12 minutes, including time to snap these four shots with my phone’s camera.

Queens Plaza, at the Eastern entrance to the 59th Street Bridge

The Chrysler Building, from the 59th Street Bridge

Upper East Side, East River, and Roosevelt Island, looking North from the 59th Street Bridge

The Roosevelt Island Tram heads into the sunrise

Read Full Post »