May 2020 Catch-Up

Summary

May 2020 was a long month. It started off cold and even had a few flurries early on. However, by the end of May, things had heated up in many ways. Cases of Covid19 are slowly lurching lower. However, we’ve gone from bad to worse in social upheaval. In early May, I did a “Run for Ahmaud” to show solidarity in the killing of a black jogger in Georgia. It was an emotional, sad, run. Then, on May 25, a black man, George Floyd, was killed by Minneapolis police officers. That has set the spotlight on racial inequity in the country and simultaneously sparked protests and called into question police tactics all over.

Against this backdrop, I’ve kept running and covering new streets. In May, I ran 130 miles, close to my goal of 135 miles a month. I completed all eight of my Strava challenges for May, including the distance challenge (210km), climbing challenge (4,229m) and the “Sufferfest Beer Challenge” which required four activities a week for four weeks. Of the 21 runs I did in May, 20 of them covered new streets. By May 31, I had completed 248 “RATS” runs in all. I’m over 45% done with the streets of Pittsburgh, according to CityStrides.

However, this sole focus on running has impacted my flexibility. I’ve cut more than one run short because of tight hamstrings. I’m hoping to put that behind me, by adding yoga and stretching into my routine.

RATS 00232 – Short and rainy in Scotch Bottom

https://www.strava.com/activities/3404563102
RATS #00232

Ah, a short run in Hazelwood. My heart wasn’t in it today, although I ended up seeing a few cool things. This church, for instance.

St. Ann’s Roman Catholic Hungarian Church

This church has been closed for awhile, but the Diocese of Pittsburgh still owns the building. In researching this, I found a short history of Hazelwood, taken from a 1972 issue of the Carnegie Magazine. Apparently it used to be known as “Scotch Bottom”.

Now the area is pretty run down, but still filled with people living and working among the old buildings. Wouldn’t it be cool to construct automobiles with biodegradable materials, so that once the engine fluids stop running, the whole thing decomposes?

RATS #00234 – Bloomfield

RATS #00234 – I run for Ahmaud

Short, chilly run in the rain. Fitting since it was dedicated to the memory of Ahmaud Arbery. Nonetheless, Bloomfield is quirky and I captured a little of it here. The immense building behind “Mend Way” is a hospital. <facepalm>

There’s a bar across from the mural. Had it been open, it would have been a pleasure to sit there and look at the bright mural.

RATS #00242 Brookline Evening

https://www.strava.com/activities/3485093748
RATS #00242 Brookline

Whew, Brookline is big! This run was over six miles, with minimal duplication, yet only covered one small section of Brookline. It is a suburban style community, flat except where it falls off of ravines. Running up Whited Street was heart-pounding not only for the elevation, but also for the lack of sidewalks.

The Jacob Street Stairs were cool and tunnel to the South Busway was interesting. In broad daylight, it wasn’t too bad, but it would be creepy on a misty November night. Birchland Street also gets steep enough to warrant steps.

Viaduct to the South Busway.

RATS #00243 Hills of Westwood

https://www.strava.com/activities/3490778183
RATS #00243 – Westwood

This was an evening run on the hills above the Westwood Shop ‘N Save. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the streets were very steep there. This seems to be an older area than across Noblestown Road. A number of the streets dead-end at the top of ravines.

Surprisingly, there were not many sets of steps here. Guyland Street’s steps are pretty impressive, though.

Guyland Street Steps

RATS #00244 Another Jaunt in Mount Washington

https://www.strava.com/activities/3499499413
RATS #00244

This was a rather laborious run through Mount Washington. You know the drill, hills, steps, views. Of note was finishing West Sycamore Street.

RATS #00245 South Oakland

https://www.strava.com/activities/3506891336
RATS #00245 – South Oakland

The last few runs had really done a number on my hamstrings. I looked up ways to alleviate the tightness and pain in my left leg. Ignoring the first suggestion, “Stop running”, I decided that the next suggestion, “Avoiding hills”, was more doable. I realized I had a few streets left in South Oakland and so headed there one Sunday afternoon.

South Oakland is a curious mix of students and a few long-term residents. At one point, three white-haired ladies, maybe even older than me, were gingerly helping each other off the three inch curb for a little walk. At the same time, less than a block away, cleverly tucked in an alley, a full scale frat party screamed with booming bass, a flashy car and beer pong.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. To get the opportunity to appear at that party, I had to face a dinosaur, run down the Romeo steps and uncover a wild strawberry.

From there, I used the Cathedral of Learning as a beacon to knowledge navigating the alleys of Oakland.

RATS #00246 South Oakland

https://www.strava.com/activities/3528144712
RATS #00246 South Oakland again

Continuing the “no hills” mantra, I again ventured into South Oakland. As you can see, I’m getting closer to downtown.

RATS #00247 – Southside Flats – and a hill

https://www.strava.com/activities/3537188640
RATS #00247 – Twelve miles in the Southside

Continuing to live up to my “Flatlander” reputation, I traversed the Southside Flats for twelve miles. It started out a bit rainy, but became beautiful. At the end I threw in one big hill and ran up South 18th Street to St. Patrick’s Street.

I did not encounter great sets of steps, but I have to say, the Wharton Street Passage is exciting. It will allow bicyclists and pedestrians to go under the Birmingham Bridge instead of going up to Carson Street. It’ll be great when it is fully opened.

While I traced five fingers up and down the Southside, I came across a mural painted to look like house fronts. That was cute. I also ran on Edward’s Way, which, honestly, could be more impressive. As it is, it is tucked against a railroad bulwark.

This is Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood – at least Mr. T-Rex Rogers! Looks like he’s not giving up King Friday without a fight.

RATS #00248 – Couple miles in Garfield

https://www.strava.com/activities/3541846391
RATS #00248 – Garfield

I was hanging around, waiting for someone and decided to run a couple of miles in the interim. Mainly covered North Winebiddle and North Millvale in the Garfield neighborhood. The North Winebiddle steps are long, going up several blocks to Hillcrest Street. Shamrock Way was as green as the Emerald Isle, while closer to Penn is a totally tagged door.

All Done!

That’s all for May. Looking forward to June, with its late sunsets.

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