July 2020 has been rather a dud when it comes to running. I had the lowest miles since last November, at 64.1 miles and a very modest 5,528 feet in elevation. Knee problems were the most significant issue holding me back, though the heat didn’t help, either.
Nonetheless, nearly all my runs have covered new streets and I’ve made significant strides in filling in the map. I did some interesting runs in Perry Hilltop, North and South. I covered 95% of Oakwood and have continued exploring Beltzhoover, Allentown, Carrick, Brookline and Homewood. Pittsburgh City Paper also included me on their list of Instagram accounts to follow “when you miss exploring the city”.
One benefit of running less is that I’m nearly all caught up. In fact, there’s only one more run I need to tell you about.
RATS #00270 – Brookline Evening
This was a simple three miler in Brookline covering some a few blocks bordering Mount Lebanon. It was a late run, as the sun was setting. It is funny, I have become more cautious about running in alleys at night this summer. Of course, when it is the dead of winter, and its dark at 4:30 pm, I’m sure I’ll run them in the dark.
These were just residential streets. A hot evening, many folks were out on their porches and decks eating, drinking and chatting. The building below is at the end of Castlegate Avenue. It looked eerie and foreboding in the setting sun.
Onward to August!
And with that, I’m done with July 2020! I plan to run more in August, concentrating on Carrick and the other large swathes of south Pittsburgh which I’ve missed.
June has been a challenging month and my running stats show it. With only 75.5 miles this month, it was the lowest monthly mileage since February 2019. My elevation gain was decent, at 7,700 feet, but half May’s. The main reason has been ongoing problems with my left knee/ hamstring/ IT band. However, I’m hopeful additional rest, along with a few changes in my routine will allow me to run much more in July.
Nonetheless, all of my thirteen runs this month covered new streets. In the South and West, I’m continuing to make progress in Allentown, Brookline and West Liberty as well as Westwood. In the East, I’ve made progress in Garfield, Homewood and Regent Square. In the North I touched on Brighton Heights and Lawrenceville. I’m up to 261 “RATS” runs.
This project also had the honor of being the subject of two articles, one in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the other in the Pittsburgh Magazine. Also Jim Lynch, the host of FeelGoodRunning featured me along with two other runners in his July 2020 podcast.
But, without further ado, here are the rest of my June runs.
RATS #00249 – West Liberty, Brookline
A run tragically cut short by hamstring pain. (Notice how I don’t get back to my starting point?) However, it continued my exploration of Brookline and West Liberty. It is a nice area, with modest houses, clean streets and a hill or two.
RATS #00250 – Garfield
This run was right after the Post-Gazette photographer took some pictures. She kept having me run back and forth. I thought “I suppose the first ones didn’t come out well.” Only after seeing the article did I realize how she used them.
A simple run in Garfield, with its booming hills and big houses. Usually I have no egrets on these journeys, but today was different.
RATS #00251 in Brighton Heights
I like running in Brighton Heights. The rather flat big streets are tree lined and its easy to get to. As I ran down one alley, I heard a “Hi Ed” faintly. By the time it registered in my brain, I couldn’t see anyone, but I remembered passing a woman playing with her son, and thought, “Hmm, that sounded like Kara”. Sure enough, a couple of days later, Kara mentioned seeing me run by. I love to hear my name called out when I’m running in an unfamiliar place.
Below are a few pics from the run. Benton Road and California Avenue are major roads here. Many of the massive brick houses are now multi-family apartments. Got a chance to take a selfie, which looks tremendously like the “Slow Down, Children Playing” dude. I found a classic brick street which must be mowed; only exceptional areas keep their bricks. Finally, the peonies in the alley were spectacular.
RATS #00259 – Regent Square
This run was over five miles in Regent Square on a sultry summer evening. Regent Square is pretty nice with brick, tree-lined streets and large houses. I spied a Little Library as well as the Glenn Green Stained Glass Studio , hanging wares on its fence.
RATS #00261 – West Liberty
A simple run in the Southcrest subdivision off of Pioneer Avenue. It is wedged between West Liberty Avenue and the South Busway. A very residential area, it is filled with small houses with impeccable lawns, many Mary statues and lots of cars.
So that’s it for June, 2020. Let’s hear it for a great July!
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
RATS #00244 Another Jaunt in Mount Washington
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
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
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
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
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.
That’s all for May. Looking forward to June, with its late sunsets.
This run, nine miles through Brookline on a Thursday evening, actually belonged in my “April Catch-Up”, but I overlooked it. Why nine miles? Why Thursday? Well, it came down to completing my Stava challenge to run 200 km in April. I was about nine miles short and Thursday was the last day in April. I chose Brookline because the route was easy to plan. Every street was a new street.
Brookline is a large neighborhood and densely packed with houses and streets. The “Brookline History Homepage” has an outline of its history, which seems to have been a series of housing booms as access to the area improved, first trolley lines and then cars. It is a very car friendly area, with most houses having a little driveway or an alley garage available. Most of it is also pedestrian friendly. However, bikes might have a tough time on some of the streets and I only noticed bike lanes on Brookline Boulevard.
I started out on Brookline Boulevard, but when it veered off I stayed straight onto Chelton Avenue. The pictures above are fairly typical of the area. Moderate two and three bedroom brick houses stand shoulder to shoulder up and down the hills. There’s a lot of yard pride here, with neatly cut lawns and front yard decorations. My favorite was the row of miniature houses along Sussex Street. My next favorite was Boots the Friendly Cat.
The streets which are roughly parallel to Brookline Boulevard have big sweeping hills, while the cross-streets are crazy steep. Stebbins Avenue is a cross-street and is stair-studded. There were more steps as well. As dusk settled in, I found myself at the end of Hobson Street, which descends in steps to Breining Street.
There’s much to explore in Brookline, and I’ve only begun to scratch the surface.
April 2020 was the month of Covid19 quarantining. All group runs, all races and all gatherings of any size were officially prohibited. Stay-at-home orders were issued. Luckily, exercise was permitted. Under these dire circumstances, I continued to run and cover new streets. I have generally been planning runs more carefully and as a result, all seventeen runs I recorded this month hit new streets. I have also shifted my attitude. A few months ago, I might have been happy to cover one or two new streets in a run. These days, if the run doesn’t cover 90% new streets, I’m disgruntled. In spite of progress on the project, it’s been a tough month with motivation and lack of camaraderie.
Now for some stats: I did 124.3 miles of running with 15,441 feet of elevation and at least seventy sets of steps climbed.
RATS #00214 Hazelwood
This was a little run in the grid of streets between Second Avenue and the Monongahela River. The area has busy train tracks on both side of it and is adjacent to the Glenwood Train Yards. It is flat, but the small grid of streets is packed with small houses and row houses. On the far end, a pedestrian walkway carries you over one set of tracks. Lots of dogs in the area, including a few pit bulls, well trained, but not on leashes. It’s not a pretty area.
A quick run in Perry North. No phone, so no pics. Pleasant enough, but will have to go back to finish streets, do stairs and get some visuals.
A short run in Bloomfield and Friendship on a gray mild evening.
This route looks like a bull to me. Again, no phone, but I covered a number of streets in the Elliott and Crafton Heights section of Pittsburgh. Some things of interest included the fact that Zahniser Street, while looking like a reasonable street on the map, actually has a “lower” and “upper” part, not connected by pavement but rather by a footpath.
At the end of one dead-end, there were turkeys prowling, while two doors down people gathered and chatted. Ringgold Street and Lessing Street are long. The houses there have large yards; large enough for pitching cages, kids play towers and other cool things.
Small Street is justly named and also has steps down to Crucible, which weren’t indicated on either Google or OpenStreetMap. Of course, it had the blue City of Pittsburgh street sign.
March 2020 will go down in history as the month in which the coronavirus exploded in the United States. According to World Meter’s Coronavirus stats, on March 1st, there were 75 cases of Covid19 in the U.S. By April 1st, there were over 200,000 cases. In this, the first week of April, we’re at over 336,000 cases and over 9,000 deaths. This has had a huge impact on everyone, locally, regionally and globally. Professional sports has been shut down. Restaurants, and non-essential businesses are shut down. Everyone is being told to stay home, except for grocery shopping and exercise.
Against this backdrop, my project to run all the streets of Pittsburgh seems pretty petty, but I’m lucky I can still do it. Also since all group running, even in two’s, is verboten, I’ve had the unencumbered opportunity to run solo and cover many new streets this month. Twenty runs covered new streets. My running mileage was 161 miles with more elevation than ever. I’m over 35% complete with the streets of Pittsburgh, according to CityStrides. I’ve covered dozens of staircases. Here are a few of the runs I didn’t get a chance to blog about during March.
A dark run in Lawrenceville. Probably late for a PBR run, come to think of it.
This was a late Thursday evening run in Lawrenceville. This was a little somber because I went to a viewing before running. A co-worker’s Dad had passed away from a long illness. So, no pics.
This was an interesting run in the early evening. Mainly, it was in Four Mile Run, a little hollow of houses wedged between Greenfield Avenue and the Parkway East.
But first, lets get the steps out of the way. I’m not sure whether the steps from Greenfield Avenue up to the defunct Greenfield Elementary School are “official”, but they are in good shape and lead to a ball field. The steep steps from Sylvan Street to Waldeck Street offer a quick, though heart-pounding route into the heart of Greenfield. On the bottom, the steps from Greenfield Avenue to Alexis Street lead into the Four Mile Run hamlet. On the other hand, the Anthony Street Stairs, next to an impressive Byzantine Catholic Church, essentially go nowhere.
Four Mile Run is dominated by highway overpasses. It is surprisingly large, with several miles of roads winding under the bridges.
But, as anywhere, people make the most of their surroundings and decorate for upcoming holidays.
This run was to catch a few streets off of Hazelwood Avenue, including the Hilltop Street Stairs. From Winterburn Avenue, it was easy to see Hilltop steps.
However, off of Parnell, they were better hidden.
“Go halfway down the street, look for a yellow bush on the right.” I was a bit dubious, but these were, actually, the correct directions.
The next few streets are remarkably flat and deserted. Perfect for the kid zooming past me on a four-wheeler. I trotted back to Hazelwood Avenue and jogged back up the hill.
This was a big loop in the West End, Elliott and Sheraden. With no phone, I didn’t catch any pictures. It was a shame because Glen Mawr Street, from West Carson Street up into Sheraden is quite the trip. Sidewalk steps, a twelve-foot high viaduct under an active railroad track all made for an exciting run. I also managed to get from the West End to Sheraden on small residential roads. It was a beautiful day and a nice run.
An evening run through Bloomfield on a wet Spring evening. Passed a WWI Memorial which I had never payed attention to before. the police tape of the playground is to enforce social distancing. While there are many businesses in this area, there are still single family houses and, of course, new condos.
And that’s all for March. It’s a topsy-turvy world out there and I hope everyone stays healthy.
February was a busy month for running all the streets of Pittsburgh. Of the twenty runs I recorded to Strava, fifteen of them covered new territory. I was also pretty good about posting, so there are only five runs in this wrap-up. Overall, I feel I’m making good progress, with an increasing number of runs in new areas, such as Homewood and Larimar in the East; Brighton Heights and Marshall-Shadeland in the North, as well another foray in Beechview. By the end of February I had completed 191 “Run All The Streets” runs, so that 200th one is coming up soon!
It’s also been an exciting month planning an event, “Take the Stairs FatAss” – a 50K and 25k fatass (unsupported run) around the city, using many of the Pittsburgh city steps along the way.
Run #00179 was a group run with PBR, from Cinderlands, a bar-restaurant. Towards the end of the run, I caught a few new blocks in Lawrenceville.
RATS run #00181 was a Saturday group run organized by PBR. It also featured a pierogie and pie fundraiser for Team NDSS, organized by Gina. I ambled along the snowy streets of the Strip District, taking pics and trying to stay upright in those slippery conditions.
It ran past 31st Street Studios Stage doors and under Iron City Brewing’s tall smokestack. I ran past old four-story warehouses and gleaming new condos.
Some of the shortest stairs on the 50K route are here, as well as the 28th Street Bridge and a forlorn hopper, towering over silent tracks.
RATS Run #00186
Again, this was a PBR run, onto which I tacked on a couple of streets in Bloomfield, Garnet Way in particular.
RATS Run #00187 – so Dark!
A run through the tiny streets of Park Place. Very nice houses crowded together in dark alleys, camouflaging many speed bumps, one of which tripped me up. Torn tights and a bruised hand were the result, but nothing serious.
RATS Run #00191
This was a short run in the West End Overlook area with stunning views and merciless hills. Like some runs beforehand, a planned route with RunGo was interrupted by the reality that not all alleys on paper survive IRL.
The West End neighborhood wraps around the hillside and spits you out on dirt roads ending on a cliff. Usually there’s a “No Outlet” sign, but not here.
With Spring almost upon us, the threat of cold weather is nearly gone and I’m looking forward to many miles in March.
January 2020 was a good month for running and running all the streets of Pittsburgh. The weather has been relatively mild, with little snow or ice impeding progress. Of the twenty runs I recorded on Strava this month, fourteen of them included new streets. I ran off the city map on a couple of occasions, once spilling into Bellevue and once falling off into Penn Hills. I’ve finished Southside Slopes, excepting a handful of streets and finished all six streets in Arlington Heights. I was also pretty good about keeping up the blog, so only two make it into this catch-up.
RATS #00163 – Pro Bike in Highland Park
This was a group run with Pro Bike. Nice route, nice chat with Tom as we powered up Highland Avenue towards the park. Tom is notable in the number and variety of races he has run in the last five years. Something like two marathons a month, but including all sorts of other races, from 100 milers to 5K’s. I veered off the official course to take in a few new streets. I also like the way the route looks – almost like a runner with a backpack.
RATS #00165 before the Cathedral
This was a short run down the length of Melwood Avenue in Oakland, before doing stairs at the Cathedral of Learning.
Many the runs that December brought Many December's runs have been depicted and blogged Others... All but forgotten These are their simple stories.
On a night of some distress and chaos, this run was a godsend. Missed a group run, but ended up running with an old friend, chatting it out and covering a new streets in Shadyside, including, Stratton Lane, Yardley Way and Spirit Street.
RATS #00156 – Another Lights Run
Who knew that Market Square would be so busy on a Monday night, two days before Christmas? Not me! Lots of people skating, shopping at the Market Square Christmas Market and going to holiday shows. I met a new runner friend and, even though the map isn’t very clear, we ran most of Third and Fourth avenues.
A short run to cover a few streets and stairs prior to doing steps at the Cathedral of Learning. Schenley Terrace confounds the CitySteps app because it is so close to Bigelow Boulevard that it can’t tell which street you’re on.
RATS #00162 PBR from Modern Cafe
A cool group run with Pro Bike & Run. I added on a couple of miles so that I could reach 1,400 miles for the year. Those last two felt like they took forever, as I was running alone in dark alleys. There was beer, I mean light, at the end of the tunnel, though.
Usually running and beer is my thing. However, for this PBR Beer Exchange run, I just made the run. I suppose I had something pressing to do, like vacuuming the house? At any rate, we started off from Millvale Riverfront Park, dashed across the 40th St Bridge and gasped up 45th St into Friendship. I did have a few moments to chat with Gina and Keirstyn, who also were training for Indy. Then, in Friendship, I chatted with another runner about the various marathons he had run, including one that had been cancelled due to the heat. What a nightmare!
PBR run gone wrong…. The official course was the same one Kim made up for my 100th run. I went off course and explored cul-de-sacs off of Beechwood.
This was a run and event to benefit Pumped To Run. It is a great organization with a mission to help residents of homeless shelters through running. Instead of dreary loops through Allegheny Center, I did High St in Spring Hill and explored Troy Hill. It was an early evening run, as dusk was settling in. People were walking dogs, and sitting on their porches in Spring Hill. One of them, a teenager perched high on a porch full of chairs shouted down “You’re Late!”. Of course, I was. But, how did SHE know?
Ah yes, this started as a Steel City run. See that little rectangle on the bottom right? Those were three quick miles with Steel City. The remainder of the run was an urban exploration up Perrysville Avenue. This was all new territory for me. Large, four-square houses are plunked into small yards. Many houses have seen better days, but some are renovated. There are side streets which look like Squirrel Hill. There are side streets which look like Homewood. I found my way across the Milroy St Bridge which crosses high above I-279 N and came back across the East St Bridge.
A little run covering a few Bloomfield streets.
A short and steep run through Hazelwood and Greenfield. Managed to slog up Tesla St. However, running on Susanna Court and Parade St earned this run the RATS badge.
Keeping with the theme of running off course, I met up with George after Sami’s run had taken off. Instead of Sami’s nice flat run, I led George up 45th Street and up Stanton Ave. I believe he is still talking to me. Of the five miles we covered, Blackberry Way at the start earned this run the RATS badge.
Nice morning run with Sasha. My only RATS goal was to cover Cypress St, which we did. It winds through lower Bloomfield.
I covered a few streets in Squirrel Hill which I had missed. Pleasant, unremarkable run.