Jaunt Through The Park

Run All The Streets 0033

To park or not to park? One of the gray areas of this “running all the streets” effort is what to do about trails in city parks. Pittsburgh has numerous parks from the dual East End green behemoths, Schenley and Frick, to the high hilly Riverview Park in the North. There are a variety of trails, from wide paths paved with crushed limestone to winding deer trails. What to do? What to do?

For this run, I entered Frick Park through its Blue Slide gateway. Blue Slide Park is a local curiosity. If you Google it, the first wiki-pedia link is likely for Mac Miller’s album of the same name. Incidentally, upon Mac Miller’s untimely demise, thousands gathered there for a memorial (see CBS story ) . I was not following Mac Miller at the time, but on that night run ended up mingling with this crowd of mourners. Here is a link to some pictures I’ve taken of the Blue Slide.

Anyway, I chose big easy paths to run on, passed dog walkers, and groups of parents with strollers. Passing the OLEA (Off Leash Exercise Area), I went down the ravine onto Falls Ravine Trail. Its a nice, quick downhill that takes you to Lower Frick. Frick is one of the wilder parks in the area. Most of it is heavily wooded. The wide paths are roughly along watercourses and going off of them on the smaller trails leads to massive hills. At any rate, I popped out of Frick Park on Lancaster Ave, in the heart of Regent Square. This is a picturesque area with large houses, brick streets, nice yards and towering trees.

Regent Square Neighborhood

I ran a little bit out off the map into Edgewood. Eventually turning around, I came back through Frick Park by its Allenby Avenue entrance, which quickly becomes Braddock Trail. Braddock Trail follows Nine Mile Run until you hit Commercial Avenue. I veered off a little earlier, skirting the soccer field and going up Irongate Trail. That doesn’t even make it onto Google Maps, but is a biker trail which ascends in big rolls up above the Irish Center. If you take the right side-trail, you can drop into the Walnut Towers parking lot, high above Commercial.

So, with this run, I’m CONSIDERING including wide park trails as part of Run All The Streets. BTW, I’m trying to get an overall map ready for the 50th run of Run All The Streets.

Confusion Run

Map of run
Run All The Streets 0032

Squirrel Hill North, Squirrel Hill South, South Point Breeze

3 miles or 5 miles, but it is actually 4.56 miles

We’ve run this a million times, but I’ve never gone THIS way.

Turn left onto Homewood. We’re parallel to Homewood, we’ll never intersect!

Go straight on Linden to Beechwood. No! To get to Beechwood, we need to take a right here!

At least we’re the slowest group, so we can follow all those fast runners. Hey, why are they running toward us now?!?

Is there another running group doing this route? Wow, lots of fast folks passing us now! What? They are ALL PBR?!

March 6, 2019 will live in infamy as that strange twilight on which 98% of runners reported running the wrong way, pace and/or distance. Apparently the Bermuda Triangle has moved northwest. Why wasn’t it warmer?

Darlington, Frick Park to Schenley Golf Course

Run All The Streets 0031: Darlington

<This must be read with a Southern Drawl>

“Why Darling? It’s only 1.32 miles from start to finish. You can do that, I’m sure.”, she says, tossing her lush black tresses over her bare shoulders. “But it’s dark, and chilly and hilly, and I don’t know where I’ll end up!” I whine.

Movie scripts going on inside my head, sparked by the street’s name, “Darlington Avenue”. It isn’t far, but I’m not too motivated and this street is, indeed, hilly. I’m not exactly sure where I’ll end up, but I think it will be around the Schenley Golf course. There’s also the added benefit of being able to actually traverse a street COMPLETELY in one run.

So, I mosey on. Darlington Avenue is a hidden gem, with large houses and nice lawns. It is one way in several spots and is just one block south of Forbes. Where it intersects Beechwood Avenue, Darlington climbs up a steep hill and provides an amazing short-cut to drivers going to Beechwood. From the top of that hill, Darlington crosses all the major Squirrel Hill arteries, Shady, Murray, Wightman. It passes the old Silky’s (now “The Warehouse Pub & Grub”) right next to the Manor Theater. It passes behind the JCC and St. Edmund’s Academy on it’s way to the Schenley Park Golf Course.

Running it is pretty nice. Only have to dodge a car once in awhile and I could always run on the sidewalk. After Wightman, the street becomes almost park-like. There are a few other runners out. Getting to the Schenley Park end, I have a choice – take the easy route and go up to Forbes, or dive down on Serpentine Drive to Bartlett. Being lazy that night, darling, I take the easy way out.

February Catch-Up

It has been a few weeks or so since I last blogged. Sorry about that! As it is mid-way through March, I’ll just post all the February runs I’ve missed.

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Run All The Streets 0023

This was a run with Pro Bike from Church Brews Works, which was unfortunately closed that Monday. Nice run with fun folks.

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Run All The Streets 0024

Wednesday Night Run with Pro Bike

Run All The Streets 0029: Praying Mantis run

Map of South Squirrel Hill with running path traced on it.
Run All The Streets 0029: Praying Mantis Run

This was a short run in time and distance. I slugged up and down the broad hills of Beechwood Blvd, coming across a 25ft spruce snapped off a few feet from the ground by recent winds. It was still windy and on the cooler side. The itch to explore got the better of me and I finished off Phillips Avenue as it plunges toward Frick park, ending in a cul-de-sac. Then it was up to Beechwood and down into Forest Glen Road, another little hide-away making inroads into Frick Park. Both of these housing spurs had fairly nice houses, almost suburban, mid-70’s styles nestled down into the Park. As the trees and hills rise above you, it’s easy to believe you’re in the mountains somewhere.

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Run All The Streets 0030

This was another Wednesday run with Pro-Bike. I was very slow at first, but eventually gathered steam and picked up speed.

That’s all for February, folks! Thankfully, temperatures will start to warm up and it will be light later.

Finally running with HPRC

Map of Perry Hilltop neighborhood.
Perry Hilltop, aka Perry South neighborhood of Pittsburgh

Highland Park Running Club (HPRC) is a new group on the Pittsburgh running scene. It is mainly publicized through Strava and word-of-mouth. While the ‘club’ might be new, the runners are familiar faces to me, having run with most of them. Today’s run was part of their coffee passport series, where they run from different coffee shops each Sunday. This week, they were running from Colony Cafe. Colony Cafe is in the Strip District, but almost downtown. I drove by on time, but with no immediate parking, I had to circle around, eventually parking a few blocks away. As I got out of my car, the group had started running in my direction. As they passed, I started running with them. This was my second run since my fall, and I just couldn’t keep up. Going across the 16th Street Bridge, I gradually fell back. It wasn’t that they were going tremendously fast that day, I was just very slow. I saw glimpses of them, as they ran along East Street and made the turn onto Federal Street.

I continued up Federal Street. It was a sunny and a bit chilly. Ahead of me an older man started running up the hill. I thought, “there’s a local runner, I’ll follow him”. Federal Street goes from the Northside flats to the top of the hill overlooking it. It was quite a climb and I almost caught the other runner as we approached Lafayette Street. Going uphill felt good on the knee and I decided to run up Seabright Street. I hoped it would go through, but alas, it dead-ended at a house, in spite of how the Strava map looks. Those houses were cute and well kept with great views of the downtown.

At the top of the hill, I looped down toward the left, traveling down West Burgess Street. At one empty corner lot, there was a memorial to baseball players, I think primarily Negro League players. It was at an empty lot along Burgess Street. There were about 10 “billboards”, each one painted to look like an enlarged baseball card, a two foot by three foot wooden display. They were planted upright in a semi-circle. I wish I had taken a picture, because I can’t find any reference to it on the maps.

Burgess Street continued it’s rolling journey, dead-ending in a little subdivision at the side of a cliff. The subdivision looked like it had been built years ago, with some recent updates. The cliff overlooks the California-Kirkbride neighborhood, with the Ohio River in the distance. And so, I bounced around dead-end streets looking for an outlet back to the Northside Flats. Holyoke, Ridgeway, all looked promising but led to dead-ends. Again, the Strava map insists on a connector street that just isn’t real. Yale Street, at the end of Ridgeway, is a tangled greenway, blocked off at the end by Jersey barriers, not a through street. The houses were a jumble of styles and upkeep, clinging to the steep hillsides.

I finally made my way down to the Mexican War Streets again and found my way back to the Colony Cafe. I got there in time to enjoy coffee and renew acquaintances. Oh yeah, one of the ‘features’ of Colony Cafe is that they have an area in which you can meet and greet homeless cats up for adoption. That area requires a reservation! But I did see a gray cat with white underbelly peering down at us.

Map of a strava run, Run all the streets # 28
Run All The Streets 0028: Run with HPRC

Turtle Way

Turtle Way in the East Allegheny Neighborhood of Pittsburgh

This was a run from Threadbare Cider with Steel City Road Runners Club. Threadbare Cider brews their excellent ciders there and often have tours attached to a yoga class, or another activity. But tonight, this was a scheduled run organized by one of the Steel City leaders. No explanations of making cider this time! This was also my first run in a week. I had fallen on an earlier run, bruising a knee and hand. In the grand scheme of things, it was nothing. In my running, it was a set-back.

Setting out just slightly after everyone else, I just couldn’t close the gap it seemed. Then I came across Turtle Way and thought “how appropriate”! I took a pic and trundled down the dark alley. (BTW, I don’t think there are ACTUALLY Godzilla-sized turtles in East Allegheny, as shown on the map. Didn’t see one, at least.)

But, to my surprise, one of the last groups was stopped at a light. It turns out a runner had become light headed, and everyone was waiting for him to feel better, with phones out for a quick 911 call if needed. He recovered, the group started running again, me with them. I had the pleasure of talking with Neil, a runner friend who has just recovered from a brain tumor. It was great to see him out running. We talked about falling, recovering and moving on.

Moving on, we did. The group spread out, some faster, some slower. As we looped around Allegheny Center, I passed a few women who had started walking, but was far behind those who had kept running. The group was now spread out. Some doing five miles, some doing three miles. As it was my first time back, I chose three and slowly made my way back to Threadbare.

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