4:30 or Bust: A Quest for Marathon Mediocrity

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Street Running Comment

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I usually keep my complaints and ranty comments to myself, but on my run today I got so mad about something, I just can’t contain it to myself.

The problem: running in the street in the same direction as the traffic.  I am a self-professed street runner.  In fact, I did a guest post on this topic over at Running Down Dreams just over a year ago.  I generally run in the street and avoid sidewalks.  You might think of NYC as a crowded place and not a safe place to run in the street, but that is not the case.  In NYC, the streets are wide, parking lanes, bus lanes and/or shoulders on each side of all streets and avenues usually provide space to run, and the recent proliferation of bike lanes actually creates a much safer environment.

Common sense tells many of us to run against traffic, and by and large, I usually see people running against the traffic in the street.  I covered the reasons why in the aforementioned guest post and so won’t repeat here.  However, just because a street has a bike lane, which is car free, you do NOT have license to run in the same direction with traffic.

I went for a long run today, which took me over the Williamsburg Bridge, and up through Brooklyn and Queens heading for the Queensboro Bridge.  Bike lanes connect several of the streets with the Williamsburg Bridge, including Driggs, which is where I was running.  I was, as usual, enjoying the day and the comfort of the bike lane.  I was running north, while the traffic was heading south.  In the span of less than a mile between the bridge and McCarren Park, there were 3 incidents of people running in the street with traffic.

I first encountered a guy running with the traffic in the bike lane.  While I would usually just let it go and mind my own business, for some reason today I felt like I needed to say something.  So as I approached the guy I said “Dude, look out for the bike” and motioned behind him.  That got his attention as he knew he could not see oncoming bikers.  He turned his head to see what was coming.  Of course there was nothing, but I quickly said, “See, that is why you should be running AGAINST the traffic – you can’t see the bikes”.

About 3 or 4 blocks further down I noticed 2 women running towards me side-by-side (with traffic) in the bike lane.  I might not have said anything (for some reason I am more hesitant to say things to women in these situations), but I could not believe what I saw as I got closer.  Behind them, on a leash, was a dog running behind.  So I ran straight at them, threw up my hands and said “You guys should be running against traffic, and with a dog no less”.  I was not surprised to see both of them wearing headphones.

A couple of blocks later I saw another woman running with traffic, but not in the bike lane.  I decided not to say anything that time.

Why do people do this?  Yes, it is technically safer to run with traffic in the bike lane as the cars will more naturally not be in that lane, but you are only creating potential hazards for everyone else on the road.  If you are running in the bike lane with traffic, you will not see when a bike is coming up behind you.  The biker will have to go around you, into traffic, to get by.  You also won’t see if a large bus or truck is coming by and needs more clearance, etc.

I know I’m preaching here to the people that know better, and I know that some of you non-NYers live in the burbs where this action might be just fine, but it makes me feel better to say “PEOPLE, PLEASE RUN AGAINST TRAFFIC FOR EVERYONE’S SAFETY”.

I do feel much better now…


Written by SCL

February 27, 2011 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Bike Lanes, Rant

27 Days to the Chicago Marathon

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27 days to the Chicago Marathon, and the time for procrastination is past.  These are the last 2 weeks for hard training before 2 weeks of taper.  Time to get some good quality miles in…

I’m impressed that I’ve been able to do 2 runs in the 16 or so hours since I wrote the last post.  Last night I ran 5.7 miles over the Williamsburg Bridge and back.  It was a great run, at about 9 pace!  Then this morning I went out early and run down to the bottom of East River Park and back.  4 miles at about 9:35 pace.  I’m really thankful that the next large section of the promenade is open in ERP, so that it is more runnable after rains…

Several of my Manhattan street runs go down 1st Ave, from where I live at 14th St.  In the last 2 months, a new bike lane has been installed on 1st Ave, from Houston St up to 34th.  This is great and fantastic news for bikers, and makes things much safer for runners.  However, after running on the path a few times, I think I’m going to opt to run on the bike lane down Ave A instead.  The 1st Ave bike lane, on the west side of the street, and right next to the curb (protected from car traffic) has a lot more cross traffic than  on the east side of the Ave, where I used to run.  And the protected nature of the lane makes it harder to go out and ‘use the avenue’ when necessary.  The Ave A bike line is perfectly fine for running, and I used it last night to head down to the bridge.  The only issue is that it cuts .1 – .2 miles off of my previous routes, but I can deal with that. 🙂

Speaking of bike lanes, I found another new one last night!  I generally use Suffolk St off the Williamsburg Bridge, which now has a bike lane, going up to Houston St!  I love this town…

Previous Entries

28 Days to the Chicago Marathon

Written by SCL

September 13, 2010 at 6:19 am

Couple of Bridge Updates

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First Bridge Update:

Yesterday I was out on my long run (which was great by the way, and my blog report is partway finished), which included the RFK Bridge (formerly known as the Triboro Bridge).  For the last couple of years, the pedestrian path has been under construction that added MANY, MANY steps onto the bridge.  This was a major annoyance on my runs as the bridge is hard enough as it is, and I usually hit the bridge about 13 miles into my run.  The construction had been ongoing for the last 2 years at least.  I’ve also heard complaints from my biker friends, who have biked the bridge.  Yes, this is much more annoying for bikers, as you have to haul yourself AND bike on the steps.  The many steps were necessary to get you up and over the side rail of the bridge (twice in 2 spots, for 4 times in total) to get onto temporary walkways built off the side of the bridge.

But, good news!

The construction is DONE!  There are still some steps, but nothing horrible, and the steps all have the bike rail to make it easier to get your bike up and down.  First there is a set of steps to get onto the bridge on the Queens side, and then there are sets of steps at either end of the elevated walkway mid-span.  The sets of steps on either end of the elevated mid-span are brand new, clearly this was the point of the construction.

I had not heard or seen this mentioned anywhere, so at least now another 10 people will know 🙂

Second Bridge Update:

Came across this nugget while going through my blogs.  Apparently, the Department of Transportation is planning to make some improvements to the Williamsburg Bridge, to separate bikes from pedestrians.  My first reaction is YES, HALLELUJAH.   I run and bike the bridge, and have had my share of complaints about the setup (see first paragraph here).  However, wait, hold on, stop the presses, I’m concerned about what this change will mean for us runners.  Separating bike traffic is great, and I know exactly what they will do.  I predict they will designate the north half of the bridge to bikers and give the south end to pedestrians, just like on the Manhattan Bridge.  This would be unfortunate, as the south half of the bridge has a really annoying step-like incline on the Brooklyn Side, which is also significantly steeper than the incline on the north half.  Will be annoying for runners.

As a runner, I’m not sure how I feel about this.  I don’t consider myself a pedestrian, and in fact, feel safer, and more out of harms way, if I am running on the bike side, against the traffic of the bikers, and staying as far off to the side as possible.

At the end of the day, these changes are desperately needed on the bridge, as it still continues to become more and more popular as a key connection between 2 very walkable neighborhoods.  On a run over the bridge the other night, I noticed a constant stream of bikers, several runners and many walkers, and that was after 8pm when the traffic should have been dying down for the night.

I know that bikers tend to lump us all together, the lone runner keeping off to the side, and the pack of people leisurely taking up the entire space.  I know because bikers have yelled at me when I’ve been on the bike side of the Manhattan Bridge, even though I’m keeping out of harms way, and the bridge is not crowded at all.  My problem boils down to the notion that I AM NOT A PEDESTRIAN!

Anyway, do any of you, my dedicated 10 readers, have thoughts on whether runners belong with bikers, or with pedestrians?  Maybe I should just give in and always stay in the pedestrian marked areas?  I sure as hell know we don’t do that on the West Side Greenway…

Written by SCL

March 21, 2010 at 5:13 pm

Posted in Bike Lanes, Reflections

If a tree falls in the forest…

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Last night had a truly wonderful run over the Williamsburg Bridge and back.  Hill run, in windy conditions, while minding the slippery conditions, was completed at 9:17 per mile, a pace I seem to have had a hard time hitting lately.  It was my 13th run in December, and I think the increased workouts are making a difference!

Anyway, was coming up Ave A in the bike lane (LOVE the bike lane here, by the way, so much safer for us runners) and came upon a car parked in the bike lane.  Annoying, but nothing I’ve never seen before, just need to go around.  As I was getting ready to go around the car, a bike comes hurling around in the other direction, and the lady on the bike screams and hits the car as she goes past.

Now, I am a biker as well, and I totally understand the frustration, but really, hitting the car as you go past, on roads that are already slick with slush and ice?  Not smart, and not the best way to get your message across.  If something were to happen, trust me, it would be the ‘crazy’ biker that would get in trouble, and at much higher risk of injury, not the driver in a non-moving vehicle.

The kicker though, as I passed the car, was seeing that nobody was in the car to hear or feel the outburst…

Written by SCL

December 23, 2009 at 7:17 am

Improved Bike Lane Coming to Allen St?

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My run today to the Williamsburg Bridge took me down 1st Ave and then Allen St to Delancey.  There has been a bike lane on Allen St for as long as I’ve been running down there, but it is a bit of a joke.  Lane was blocked in a couple of spots by long term construction, and in much of the rest of the area, the lane markings have long since  faded away or been obliterated by construction.  So today, I was pleasantly suprised to see new chalked markings on Allen.  Looks like the new bike lane will be on the inside, along the ‘mall’, and protected from traffic by a buffer zone.  Car traffic will be reduced to 2 lanes, from the current 3.

I wonder whether having the bike lane on the inside of the street, at the median, will present another set of problems, namely getting into and out of the the lane, but I think the buffered lane will be a big improvement.  I only hope they get the new paint down quickly, as there is definitely confusion out there.  Some drivers were respecting the old lanes, and some were respecting the chalked outline of the new lanes.  That is clearly a recipe for disaster.  More info on the overall plan from The Lo-Down.

I’ll be running down Allen lots of times as I continue my training for the New York City Marathon.  Looking forward to trying out the new configuration when it is all done!  On a similar note, I’m still loving the bike lane on Ave A.  It really has made Ave A more orderly in terms of car traffic, and much, much safer for runners and bikers.

Written by SCL

August 20, 2009 at 9:24 pm

Posted in Bike Lanes

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