Banking on Southern Steps

https://www.strava.com/activities/4022027255
Strava route of RATS #00294

Good morning! Last Sunday I mapped out a little run in Brookline and left some room for exploration. Explore I did, crossing over into Banksville as far as Greentree, then coming back through Mount Lebanon and Dormont.

Brookline

Many of my “goal” streets were in Brookline, where Brookline Boulevard curves down to West Liberty Avenue. It is the site of the “Brookline” sign and has several small streets crammed together. The Boulevard circles a small section of lower ground packed with small houses. A few sets of stairs, such as Bodkin Steps and Kenilworth Steps rise out of the bowl. After the run, I feasted on strudel from DeLuca’s.

Wenzell and Louisiana

When Brookline Boulevard crosses West Liberty Avenue, it changes name to Wenzell Avenue. Wenzell Avenue has spotty sidewalks and rather steeply drops through Beechview to its terminus at Banksville Road. Some sections of Wenzell border the Borough of Dormont. Given this topography, it is no surprise this section is riddled with steps. Neeld Way, dropping out of Beechview streets, is a rather long set of steps going from Candace Street to Wenzell. Wenzell, itself, has a long section of street steps as it drops to Banksville Road.

However, the most impressive and interesting sets of steps is Louisiana Street. Just after the Neeld Way steps dropped me unceremoniously onto a shoulder of Wenzell Avenue, I looked up and saw the sign for Louisiana Street. In the summer, it looks like one of the many street signs to nowhere, swallowed up in knotweed. However, brushing aside the branches, I found myself in a long shady step tunnel. Along the way, a house arose on the right. It’s common to find ruins along stairs, but this large cream colored house looked pretty nice. Continuing as the stairs become a causeway, I came across the house’s mailbox and garbage cans. A living, breathing orphan house! Shortly after, it rises again to a streets blending into Dormont. Taking Ordinance Avenue steps out, I circled around to see it again.

Now, when I came down to Banksville Road, I was blocked by construction from crossing into Banksville itself. Not to be denied, I followed small streets to Potomac Avenue, whereupon I crossed over and ventured, for the first time, into Banksville.

Banksville

Banksville Neighborhood

Banksville is roughly bounded by Banksville Road, Greentree Road, the Parkway West and McMonagle Avenue. I was not familiar with the area at all. I crossed at Potomac Avenue, took the flat Banksville Avenue to steps and found myself in a curious area. On one hand, it looked very suburban with a range of houses from smaller 1950’s ranches to new McMansions. On the other, The Log Church was a rather hidden church complex near mobile home parks. Most of the roads did not have sidewalks. The steps from Banksville Avenue to Carnahan Road were impressive in length and the Anise Steps ended in the shadow of construction along Banksville Avenue.

Finishing Up

After exploring Banksville a little, I headed back to Potomac Avenue to finish off this run. I was trying to complete a half-marathon distance, which would wrap up my running goal for the week. While I’ve stopped paying attention to hills when planning, Potomac Avenue was a killer in the eleventh mile. I came across a chalk square, which happens from time to time, as I cross paths with other adventurers.

I still had a mile or so to go when I got back to Brookline, so I completed Bayridge Avenue and most of Harex Way. That’s a cool name, “Harex”. Anyway, with the 13.1 miles complete, I stumbled into DeLuca’s for my post-run treat. Yum!

Picaso’s Dog

https://www.strava.com/activities/4008140074
RATS #00291 – Looks Like Picaso’s Dog

A six mile run, with a few ‘targeted’ streets to begin and some exploration to end. Another Carrick evening run, which, in my humble opinion, traced a route which could be a dog drawn in Picaso’s style. Do you see it?

But first things first. My ‘targeted area’ was a small set of streets wedged between Brownsville Road and Becks Run Road. Athena Street was the entry-way and I was pleased to find some classical yard decorations right off the bat. Athena Street itself, was more of a country lane.

Athena Street took me to a small enclave of two and three bedroom brick homes nestled below it. Beyond the unexpected interruption of Nuzum Avenue, there wasn’t too much to see here. Once done circling the block, I popped out on Brownsville Road and hopped over to Parkfield Street. The drive behind Carrick High School is actually listed as a street, and, luckily was still open and had a nice view of the residential valley below.

Coming up Santron, I saw three or four tweens grass-sledding and giggling while moms watched for cars. “Grass-sledding” is a high form of sport wherein you take a large cardboard box, place it on the edge of a grassy slope, and whizz down gripping the sides, trying to stay on. It is summer practice for the winter sledding season.

Eventually I came down Westmont Avenue, meeting the Mother and Child sculpture, with its greenish patina as Westmont met Ravilla. Ravilla, which I’ve already traversed, does have a set of stairs smack next to a rather active house. I missed the steps my first time through, but today took them down to Almont. I encountered another lending library, very emphatic in its instructions to NOT BRING THE BOOKS BACK!

From here, I wound my way to Maytide Street and followed it to Saw Mill Run Boulevard. Maytide starts promising, with decent sidewalks, but as it descends, it deteriorates into broken sidewalks and then no sidewalk. There were a couple of step flights reaching up into the hillsides, but they had the “Thou Shalt Not Pass” bar across them. Saw Mill Run is not runner friendly. At least there are so many parking lots and businesses you don’t have to run in the street. This area has the prototypical used-car lots, with shiny streamers and lights. An older dealership had this mural, replete with the Pittsburgh skyline, traffic, houses and greenery.

Now my dilemma was finding my way back. I spied some steps and made my way to them. The first set was confusing. They looked like bona fide city steps, but after going up, I felt like I was on someone’s front porch. That didn’t feel comfortable, arriving unexpectedly on someone’s porch in Carrick in the dusk without even a six-pack or bottle of wine to share. So, I went down and checked out the next set of stairs, Sinton Avenue. These even had a street sign so they must be legit.

Sinton Avenue went up several flights, finally dropping me off near the high-school. There was one, minor detour, but except for that missing block, they went straight up the hill. Love the street sign of Marland Way and Sinton Avenue where steps meet alley. It was all the more incongruous in that the alley had run out of pavement at this point and was just a grassy space between yards. Got to love the sign department.

That brought me back to Brownsville Road and the civilization of Dunkin Donuts. Another section of Carrick explored, another doughnut devoured.

‘Sno Way! A Trek through Morningside and Stanton Heights

https://www.strava.com/activities/3183121606
RATS #00197

Much has happened since my last post. Most notably, COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, has become rampant across the world and has started to make real, day-to-day impacts on the lives of Americans in general and Pittsburgh in particular. There’s lots of ‘news’, some of it suspect and some of it very solid. Johns Hopkins’ site is pretty informative. In general, the genie is out of the bottle and ‘social distancing’ is being stressed in order to mitigate the effects of the virus. Hopefully, this effort to quash large groups will decrease the total number of cases of covid-19, and spread out the number of cases, so people who are severely sick can get the care they will need. Enough about that.

For the time being, I’ll be avoiding large group runs, but my Spring marathon hasn’t been moved or cancelled and I still have hundreds of Pittsburgh streets to run. Today I started out with Cathy, running from Point Breeze. Cathy wanted some company on the back-half of the Pittsburgh Marathon course, so we ran together for about five miles.

Then I headed over to Morningside to finish some streets in that area, notably Snow Way and pop up into Stanton Heights. So, running up Stanton, I expected to see an alley on the right, with a four letter name starting with “S”. There it was, Swan Way? Hmm, cool house on the corner, a long alley, this must be it. Swan Way continued deep into Morningside, nearly a mile. As I progressed, I dutifully went up and down many of the cross streets. When I got to Martha Street, I finally noticed street signs for Snow Way and realized I had made a mistake. Well, as they say “nothing to it but to do it“, so I made my way back to Stanton in order to pick up the start of Snow Way. Turns out, that’s nigh impossible since Snow Way, while getting really, really close to Stanton Ave, actually dead-ends in a retaining wall holding that street up. To make matters worse, it progresses only a couple of blocks before becoming a grassy track behind houses.. Thanks for the stop sign, neighbor. It does pick up on the far side, though and parallels Swan Way up the hill.

Morningside is a rather nice neighborhood. The well-maintained houses are pretty tight with each other, but each has a yard and often a garage off the alley. At the high end of Morningside, the Baker Street overlooks the Allegheny while on Jancey Street, the old elementary school, Morningside Public School, is now apartments.

From the top end of Morningside, there are three ways to quickly reach Stanton Heights, two sets of staircases without streets (Martha and Adelphia) and a steep street with sidewalk steps (Greenwood).

Going up Greenwood, I was pleasantly surprised at this piece of Stanton Heights. It was similar to Morningside with bigger houses, large shade trees and quiet streets. Since I had gone up Adelphia’s wooden stairs where pieces of asphalt roofing shingles were thoughtfully nailed down for traction, I actually went down Martha concrete steps, all 105 of them. At the bottom, I was vigorously chased by a freedom loving tiny weiner dog, no more than six inches high. Man, those tiny legs can move!

Stanton Heights

Heading to Stanton Heights once more, I was greeted by the official Stanton Heights welcome sign. My hands were still shaking from the weiner dog incident, so the pic is blurry. I covered more streets behind Sunnyside Elementary School then followed Camelia Street, Christopher Street and 57th Street to Upper Lawrenceville. On that steep route down into Lawrenceville, I saw several immense sets of stairs off to the left, which I will have to cover later. I stopped at Caffe d’Amore Coffeeshop, over sixteen miles done and many new streets covered.

Rich Christmas Run

https://www.strava.com/activities/2955625430
RATS#00158 Foggy Christmas Run

Christmas Eve, 7:23 pm, I’m doing last minute Christmas shopping. This is so late that the stores are emptying out. Decorations are already 45% off. Buzz, buzz, my phone rings.

“Hey Ed, how about a run tomorrow? 7 am? Before I have to go to my parents”

“Uh, yeah, sure”, I answer. “Can we make it 7:30? ” A brisk run to kickoff the day, before my kids come over for brunch.

So, here I am on a chilly, foggy Christmas morning, meeting Rich for a run. He had talked about running up McCardle, a favorite “hill” route which rises from the Liberty Tubes to Mount Washington. I suggested we start at Armstrong Field for ease of parking and so we could include the entirety of McCardle.

Rising from the low end of McCardle, the route took us above Cupples Field, where we could hear the bells at St. John the Baptist Ukrainian Catholic Church echoing through the fog. Dodging the one car coming out of the Liberty Tubes, we stormed up the McCardle escarpment. Usually, that 3/4 mile hill deserves high-fives and skyline selfies at the top. However, it was so foggy today that none of that could be seen, not even the high-fives.

We made our way to Virginia Ave, whereupon I introduced Rich to the “real” Mount Washington. Big rolling hills, stairs, more hills and alleys. There’s a variety of housing in Mount Washington, mostly in decent shape.

At the end of Virginia Ave, stairs continued down to Pyle Way and Sweetbriar Street. With temps hovering around freezing, the long wooden stairs were very slippery. Luckily, the handrails were sturdy.

Virginia Ave Stairs

As Rich commented, there’s nothing sweet about Sweetbriar St. It is a long, steep, uphill slog which takes you directly to the “Point of View” Monument. Here, Seneca leader Guyasuta and George Washington are engaged in an eternal staring contest, while the City of Pittsburgh changes below them.

From the Point of View to our cars was a fast downhill run. Rich was nice enough to bring doughnuts. Thanks Rich!

Deep in Marathon Training

Adventurous long marathon training run around Pittsburgh with friends on an early Saturday morning.
Once again the mantra was “Don’t stop and get cold!” Within a few minutes, the four of us were back on the road, heading home. Only having time for half the claw, I stashed the rest in my pocket for future reference.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2764841252
RATS #00135 – Early morning long long run (Did I mention it was long?)

Friends! Peer pressure! Social inclusion! Ugh! “Let’s do 23 miles” they said. “Let’s get up at the crack ass of dawn!” they said. “Sure, I’ll be there!” I said, like a wide-eyed puppy, eager to be petted.

There I was, shaking the sleep out of my eyes and parking on a Squirrel Hill side street. Just before dawn, we started from Starbucks. Amy and Erin leading the pack. Dayana and I bringing up the rear. The simple plan was to run down Forbes, cross over to Fifth and meet the Pro-Bike and Run group for their 7:30 am run from La Prima Coffee. Run with that group for the ten mile “Art Run” and then come back to Squirrel Hill.

As we thundered down Forbes Ave and then onto Fifth, it became clear that at our current pace, we would be at La Prima way too early. We would end up sitting around and cooling down before the Art Run began. So, we took a little detour and, as the sun was rising, crossed the Birmingham Bridge into the South Side Flats.

The South Side Flats was still grungy from Friday’s carousing. We skirted the early winos and late partiers. We slammed the sidewalk cellar hatch doors, daring them to open. We wove between short sets of stairs and parking kiosks. Finally we crossed the curiously spongy sidewalk on the Smithfield Street Bridge and made our way to La Prima.

We were there in time to greet the other runners and go with our respective pace groups. Kelly had laid out the running route to include as much urban wall art as she could. I got a few pictures, but the 9:00 pace group was very quick. When I stopped for a pic, it took me forever to catch up with them again.

No lie, this was a rough run for me. I had lower back spasms going up Butler Street, and, for a few minutes, considered stopping. They became tolerable and by the time we were back at La Prima, they had dissipated. I made the most of my time at the coffee shop, grabbing a bear claw and small coffee.

Once again the mantra was “Don’t stop and get cold!” Within a few minutes, the four of us were back on the road, heading home. Only having time for half the claw, I stashed the rest in my pocket for future reference. We decided, after a brief discussion, to return via Liberty Ave. It is a long flat road in the Strip, but then rises into Bloomfield with an equally long incline. At South Atlantic or Baum, Erin decided to peel off and head home. Dayana, Amy and I continued through Shadyside. Now hovering around twenty miles, I decided the future was now, and ate the rest of the bear claw. It was delicious. It also slowed me down and I had to pick up the pace to catch up with robo pacer Amy and sparky Dayana.

Dayana decided to go a slightly longer, less hilly route home. This left Amy and I trudging up Shady Ave. By the time we hit the Dunkin Donuts, I had twenty three in the bag. Unfortunately, Amy did not, so we ran another block or two to make hers even. After some more discussion, we decided to meet Dayana at Pamelas, a local diner chain. Another delicious stop.

Afterwards, something like five hours since the eye-opening start, again we were at Starbucks. I had to wander around a little to find my car, so cleverly hidden. Whew! Running friends are awesome! Maybe next time we can go for the whole 26.2!!

September 2019 Catch Up

September was quite the month. I ran more miles (189) and second highest elevation (12,425) this month than any other. I covered many streets, but still did not get into the Big Southern neighborhoods. Nineteen September runs got the “RATS” Badge, covering new streets. Here’s the wrap up.

RATS #00117

https://www.strava.com/activities/2675783421
RATS #00117 – covering the last bit of Nicholson St finally

RATS #00117 got the badge for finally crossing off Nicholson St off my list. Whoo!

RATS #00118

https://www.strava.com/activities/2683598843
RATS #00118

This run originated in Shadyside and traversed into East Liberty. The Strava route is a bit misleading in that the first few miles actually went on South Graham St, crossing the East Busway on a pedestrian walkway. Little Brownwell St has some neat old houses on it. Unfortunately they now only look wistfully over at Bloomfield across the wide bus way.

RATS #00121 Pre-run, run, a pre-run run

https://www.strava.com/activities/2703475578
RATS #00121

A couple of miles before my initiation into Sami’s runs, singing tunes!

RATS #00122 Sami’s Run!

https://www.strava.com/activities/2703475916
RATS #00122 Sami’s Run

This is a run worth the explanation. Let’s go into the Wayback Machine. …whooowhooowhooo <flashing lights> …

…landing a few years ago on a random Tuesday. In those days, Steel City Road Runners had a track workout. Elijah would run it from the Schenley Park track. (A few more “whooos” of the Wayback Machine would have taken us to the CMU track…) A man of more medals than words, Elijah religiously taught us the “A-skip”, the “B-skip”, and brought “high-knees” and “strides” into my vocabulary.

Then there was “reorganization” within Steel City. (Oh, no!!) At some point, the remaining leadership decided to cut track. Like energetic saplings rising from the trunk of a felled trip, several small running groups have emerged. One of them, HPRC, I have mentioned often in this blog. Another one, which I like to call pTNT!, is Perry’s Tuesday Night Track group. Perry was one of the coaches in Steel City and carries on the track tradition. In addition to posting about track, pTNT! also posts about other runs going on. That’s how I found out about Sami’s Thursday runs. Sami is part of HPRC, but, like me, has some issues getting to those 5:30am runs.

So, we started, promisingly enough, at Silky’s on Liberty Ave. Nothing but wide open, nearly flat streets! But Sami had other ideas. We galloped into Oakland via Centre Ave. That was worrisome, as Centre keeps rising. But then we cut over to Bayard St. Ah, nice trees, slight uphill. But then, up DeSoto! Up Terrace! Up Allequippa!! Now on level with the top of the Cathedral, we caught a little break on “Champions Dr”, only to climb up the backside of Centre Ave again! Five miles, 460 feet of elevation, it wasn’t easy. Luckily, it also ended at Silky’s, and they were stocked with Runners Honey, aka beer.

RATS #00125 – Ascend Runner Party

https://www.strava.com/activities/2715058616
Ascend Run Club RATS #00125

In addition to climbing, yoga and some fitness equipment, Ascend also has a small run club. Tonight’s run was inspired by the promise of beer and Chipotle after the run. That was quite the right promise, as they had nearly 50 runners show up. The routes were three, five and seven miles. Needing lots of miles, I went out with the seven mile group. What they didn’t mention was that they were moving at a 7:30 pace!! Like the last hippo in Jumanji, I struggled to keep up. After four miles of lightning speed (for me), I slowed down to a more comfy pace and caught a few new streets. It was a good run, with good food and friendly faces.

RATS #00126

https://www.strava.com/activities/2720940935
PBR Run, RATS #00126

This run was with Pro-Bike’s Wednesday night group. A few new streets around Schenley Park earned this run a RATS badge.

RATS #00127 A Northside Pre-Run Run

https://www.strava.com/activities/2723473110
Exploring the North Side before a group run. RATS #00127

Nothing too spectacular about this run. Eloise St was longer than I expected. Manchester streets are pretty desolate. Many houses must have been taken down, so there’s lots of open space.

RATS #00128

https://www.strava.com/activities/2723660177
RATS #00128

This was a group run from Allegheny City Brewing. I believe the two blocks of Middle St, earned this run the RATS badge.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2731058728
Steuben St Doughnut Run RATS #00130

Doughnut Surprise on Steuben St: RATS #00130

This was a recovery Sunday run after a long run on Saturday. I had gone to the the West End Overlook to take some pics and just wandered a little from there down Steuban St. This area is super hilly. Going down from the overlook, I took a long flight of stairs at the end of Fairview, which took me to Furley St. A couple of blocks of stairs…pretty impressive. A couple of turns later, I took the Amherst St stairs up from Chartiers Ave, which eventually took me to Steuben St. The neighborhood coming off the overlook was reminiscent of Morningside – small houses, close to each other. There were lots of people out, fixing cars, mowing lawns, walking dogs. Steuban St. was a bit different. It is an alternate route for drivers going to the Western suburbs, so it can be pretty busy. In this area, the houses are a bit farther apart, bigger yards, but not very cozy. Then, going up a large hill in the sun, I saw this sign:

Ahhh! A sign runners love to see!

Not the best sign, but a woman coming out of the store said “They’re open! I drove from Ohio to get these! You’d better get one!” I smiled and nodded and planned to come back. Another mile along this road and I returned. This time, people were parking randomly along the road and coming in and out the store. I went inside and searched for my cash while a young couple came in. The woman was impressed that I had run there and offered to buy my doughnut. I thanked her but declined, having come up with the dollar required. It was still warm!

The reward

RATS #00131

https://www.strava.com/activities/2739886985
RATS #00131 Polish Hill

A short run in and around Polish Hill. Lots of narrow streets and stairs in this cliffhanging neighborhood.

RATS #00132

https://www.strava.com/activities/2746325842
RATS #00132

A moderate distance through Shadyside and Friendship. Caught some new alleys in Shadyside.

RATS #00133

https://www.strava.com/activities/2750339505
RATS #00133

Starting in Grandview Park, I ran some of small streets perched over the Liberty Tunnels.

Lots of Hoods with HPRC

HPRC Run: RATS 00090

The starting point for this Saturday run was from Caffè d’Amore Coffeeshop in Upper Lawrenceville. It was organized by Corbin for HPRC. By the time I met up with the group, I had done a quick warm-up through two miles of Lawrenceville alleys. The HPRC group had ten to fifteen runners and I fell somewhere between the faster runners and the slower ones. I decided to ad-hoc it, running roughly the suggested route, but on streets I had never been on before.

My first detour was going up 44th St instead of 40th St. This took me up a slightly longer hill with nearly the same elevation from Butler St to Children’s Hospital. Then, fearing both that I had shortchanged myself on distance and that I would run into the faster runners (who might assume I was taking short-cuts), I zigged-zagged down an alley and then went down 42nd St to Butler St at the bottom of the hill. Hill climbing again, I went up tree-lined Fisk St to finally reach Penn Ave, or rather an alley parallel to Penn. This alley was wishfully named Garden Alley. Finally I did emerge onto Penn in front of Children’s Hospital. BTW, Children‘s is ranked in the top ten children’s hospitals in the country.

Ironically enough I did pass Kristen, Cathy and Dayana who had just come out of a water stop at Children’s. We just shouted at each other as runners do and I chugged down Penn Ave. My next detour was to venture into Garfield instead of staying on Penn and Negley. I had a thought of going down Broad, but that felt that would take me too far out of the way. So I started up Negley meaning to take an early left before Stanton and take one of those streets across Garfield. Alas, I was one street too far east – North Fairmont would have been a good choice, but North Negley only had a few little dead-end streets on the left. Then, I saw Columbo! Aha! Whew, I have never driven on Columbo and never had run on this section of it. The elevation chart below shows why. Heart-pounding indeed.

Near the top and off to the right a big blue water tower stalks on stilts above the houses. These large brick houses are on steep wooded hillsides. Broad, undulating swaths of pavement plunge off the left, streets eventually intersecting Penn Ave and continuing into Friendship. Staying on Columbo brought me past North Atlantic and North Pacific, and onto Schenley Ave. Where Columbo meets Schenley Ave, new housing has sprouted. This surprising subdivision of beige bungalows is nicely kept. From here, I wanted to get to Stanton without retracing too many streets. Little Aisbette Way appeared on the right. It looked like a driveway beneath large trees, heavy with un-pruned branches nearing the ground. From my memory of the map, I was pretty sure it went through, but it looked touchy. About 50 yards in, as Aisbette Way makes a sharp left, slouched a dilapidated house on the corner. Turning the corner, instead of pit bulls and angry residents which my mind had conjured, I found the street opening up and winding down the hill, lined by a couple of quiet houses, tall and narrow. Whew!

From there, I caught the curve of Mossfield until it became Black St and eventually made a left onto Samantha Way. Since my daughter’s name is Samantha, I had to see where that went. It went far. It was flat. Eventually it landed me on Wellesley Ave in Highland Park. I made my way back to Stanton Avenue, then diverged once more onto McCandless Ave, circling around a little, just for fun. I finally landed on Butler and Caffe D’Amore where a few HPRC people were still hanging out. Got a coffee and chatted for awhile.

Looking back, I went through five large neighborhoods and ran mostly on streets I had not covered, I saw cool views, neat houses and nearly always friendly people. Nice run!

HPRC Coffee Run and the ways of Lawrenceville

Classic Railroad Trestle along the Allegheny River in Lawrenceville
With me scanning the horizon, or maybe reading graffiti. Photo by Dayana R.

This was a fun run organized by the HPRC. It was from Espresso a Mano on Butler Street. With Steel City Road Runners going through some re-organization, HPRC picked up a number of new runners that morning. It didn’t hurt to be from a popular coffee shop. I ran easy with no intention of doing huge miles or a lightning fast pace. Spoiler alert; I was successful on both counts.

I ran with the 9:30-10 mile/min pace group, pretty much the same people I run with on Wednesday. We crossed the 31st Street Bridge, did the loop around Washington’s landing and had a photo op on the Southwest corner of the island, from which you can see downtown. We came back on the 40th Street Bridge, which is emblazoned with coats of arms every twenty or thirty feet. All of this part of the run was a standard route. Then, coming back to Lawrenceville, the planned route diverged from the normal. Sasha and Dayana busily crisscrossed streets to snatch low-hanging mulberries. We passed by one of the remaining Busy Beaver stores in the area and headed back to Espresso a Mano. Dayana wanted a few more miles and I wanted to cover a few more streets, so we ran together.

Lawrenceville is a neighborhood along the Allegheny River. The area closer to the river is dominated by warehouses, railroad tracks and other artifacts of its manufacturing and distribution history. Many of these warehouses are still in use, either by older businesses (olive oil, construction supply, tires) or by newer industries (restaurant distributors, Uber testing, auto garages). As the streets rise in elevation, newer Lawrenceville emerges. This area has yoga studios, bars, coffee shops, and at least one candle making store. The residential housing is being transformed from tall narrow row houses to large condo complexes, with gleaming glass facades.

Dayana and I ran in the older, warehousing section. Even though we did another four miles, we didn’t go far. We ran alleys like Mulberry Way, and down long broad streets like 36th Street, which are heavily rutted and end at railroad trestles. We ran past the place where I interviewed to be an Uber Test Driver and the fenced area where they keep their fleet of self-driving vehicles. We ran up to the railroad trestle, rising fifteen feet above the road. Dayana was a good sport, taking pictures and insisting on completing even the smallest alley. We covered many new streets that day.

Afterwards, the group gathered in the coffee shop. Corbin insisted that we all sit together which was a nice touch and helped welcome the newer HPRC runners.

A Strava map of the route through lower Lawrenceville, across the Allegheny River and back, winding through some alleys at the end.
HPRC Coffee Run: RATS 0063

Adventures with Alyssa

Adventures with Alyssa: Run All The Streets 00053

Alyssa is a planner, a runner, and, ugh, a morning person. She delights in running different routes throughout the city, finding cool public art and seeing the sunrise. She also organizes runs, often two or three a week. This is pretty impressive because it requires her to figure out a place, time, a rough route and invite people who are likely to come, and who are likely to get along and have fun. At any rate, Alyssa often invites me to come along. Most of the time, it’s too early for me, or too far away. But this time, it was a special run, several regular runners were going to be traveling for awhile, Rich was going to have surgery in a few days, and it was Rich’s birthday.
So, I dragged myself out of bed and drove in the murky pre-dawn light to Duquesne University. Street parking was free till 8 am, yay! We gathered in a parking lot, nine of us. Everyone was a pretty good runner, often doing trail ultras. Many had run the Pittsburgh Marathon the previous Sunday. Kim and Rich got birthday hats and a personal photo op with Alyssa.
Then, whoosh, we started! There’s no slow start with these guys. We cruised along Forbes up into Oakland, then down steep Bates Hill and across Hot Metal Bridge. As the run group morphed and changed around me, I had a chance to talk to most everybody. Rich was tired, having been celebrating his birthday until late the previous night. John had had a great Pittsburgh Marathon and was looking forward to upcoming marathons. Tim was talking about running while away. Sarah, Tony, Alyssa, and Kim were talking about Glacier Ridge and Thunderbunny, two upcoming ultras. Just as I started wondering where we were going, we paused at a “Just Good Donuts”, which is co-located with “The Pub Chip Shop”. Alyssa got us all doughnuts with a 1,000 calorie minimum. We did a photo shoot and then ran down Carson Street, all carrying little white bags full of deliciousness. It was quite comical, something you might see on Monty Python. Crossing the Smithfield Street Bridge, we came back to our starting point, salty but sweet.