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.

Highland Park & Stanton Heights

https://www.strava.com/activities/2712266792
Run into Stanton Heights: RATS #00124

This Sunday afternoon run took me from Highland Park into Stanton Heights. The previous day’s run (that 18 miler Duck Hollow to Downtown one) had been all about mileage. Today’s run was about running on tired legs. My goal was to do a few streets in Stanton Heights. By parking at the Highland Park Reservoir, I was able to extend the route a bit and hit more streets.

The park was active in that sleepy park way. Hammocks were strung up between trees, some with snuggling couples and others with solo readers. Perhaps the couples were reading, too, but I didn’t investigate. There were men grilling burgers and kids playing tag. Highland Park has large swaths of trees dotted with glades and picnic shelters. I made my way out of Highland Park on Farmhouse Road, making sure to keep right to pick up Heberton St.

This is the high-side of Highland Park. On the right the hill drops off quickly about 200 feet. But here, on Heberton, the street was comfortably downhill and straight, making an easy start. This area has large houses. The smallest are three or four bedrooms Cape Cods. The largest are foursquare houses with high gabled roofs and spreading front porches. Most have decent sized front yards and a driveway into back yard garages. Most everything was neatly trimmed and planted with flowers, orange, yellow and red. Then things went downhill, but only literally. I hit Stanton at the bottom of Heberton and then came back up Sheridan. At the end of Sheridan, there’s a small, cozy stairway up to Bunkerhill St.

I came up onto the dead-end side of Bunkerhill St. On the right, within yards of the stairway, the street ended unceremoniously in gardens and driveways. On the left, Bunkerhill Street runs straight off the hill passing a grand entrance to Highland Park and down toward One Wild Place, where the Pittsburgh Zoo sprawls.

I came back to the top of the hill and this time, took Hampton St down towards Morningside. From Hampton St, I maneuvered over to Stanton Heights. Azure St off of the sweeping Mossfield St is one of the few entry roads into Stanton Heights. I don’t believe I had ever been in this section of town, either on foot or in a car. How was it different than Highland Park? Well, for one, the streets were mainly wide concrete roads instead of asphalt-paved. The houses were smaller, more ranches and split level houses, yet the yards were bigger. I ran on Schenley Manor Drive till it met with Coleridge St. It looked very suburban. Eventually I emerged onto Stanton Ave and made my way back up the hill to Highland Park.

Go West, Young PBRs!

Starting in the West Side of Pittsburgh for a change. RATS #00119

Today’s run was one of four possible group runs, all with their own attractions.

  • Steel City had a later run going at 8:30 from the garage.
  • Perry’s group had a 20 miler going from Market Square. The last time I ran with them, it was pretty fun.
  • HPRC, another fun group, was running from a Point Breeze coffee shop, nice and close.

What tipped the scales for the Pro Bike Run from Chartiers Avenue? Well, I’ve been running Pro Bike’s Saturday run somewhat consistently and enjoy that 8:30-9:00 min/mile pace group. Not too much chatter, but a couple of good leaders and some very quick feet! Next was the allure of running in an area which would contribute so much to covering new streets of Pittsburgh. My first “official” RATS run was from Esplen, but I hadn’t gotten back out here again. Even though it was a bit far, mileage-wise, it still only took me ten minutes to drive to the Chartiers Ave starting point, no longer than any other option. Finally, the run planner, Kelly, was collecting teacher’s supplies, a good cause.

There I was, at 7:29 and fifty-five seconds screeching into a on-street parking spot on Chartiers Ave, just up the street from The Education Partnership. I grabbed my phone, clicked on the Forerunner 220, hoping the satellite would lock in before the run started. Kelly was just finishing her pre-run pep talk when I got to the group. The faster folks bolted out and then my group.

The first mile was steep, with grades up to 12.7% grade before we got to the top.

I start slow. Not super duper slow, but usually I’m the last person in the pace group at first. It takes some time for me to warm up and get all the muscles, sinews and joints in gear. This time was no exception and steep start was no help. We immediately went up Chartiers Ave, on our way to the West End Overlook. Once we got to the West End Overlook, it was time for pictures and a little water break. The downtown skyline looked magical as the sun broke through the fog. We lingered for a little, got a group pic and plunged down the hill. The sun picked up strength as we crossed West Carson Street en route to the West End Bridge.

Downtown and long shadows waiting for the light to change

The route showed that we would have a water stop on the Three Rivers Heritage Trail after crossing the West End Bridge. So, we expected to see some tables with beverages after we trundled across the bridge and down the stairs on the far side. And we were not disappointed! There was table after table of beer and pop. There were people grilling hot dogs and hamburgers. We were temporarily stunned at this extravagance, until we realized these were Pitt fans gearing up for the 11 am football game! After a little exploring, we crossed a gravel lot, found the break in the chain link fence and found our own water stop – a five gallon jug of clear, crisp water. Ahh!

From here, the group broke up a little. The folks doing seven miles went one way, the folks doing ten or eleven went another. Eventually I ended up in a group of four. We cruised along, promising the joking football fans that we’d be back for a beer. Our route did take us into the heart of the football revelry, right past Heinz Field then over the Fort Duquense Bridge. As we circled the Point, we could see the band marching and hear the oompahs of the tubas, the blare of the trumpets and the boom of the bass drum.

Soon after, I split off from the group. I had an idea I might be able to meet up with a friend at a coffee shop across town and didn’t want to wait for a pit stop. Turns out, the coffee shop plan didn’t pan out, but by the time I got that message, I was already zooming up West Carson St.

I had twelve miles on my feet when I got back to the run headquarters. Busted coffee shop plans meant I had more time and I resolved to get in sixteen miles. Gobbling a Honey Stinger Waffle and sloshing down water, I took off for more hills. I went up the other direction on Chartiers; strangely enough, still uphill. This section of Chartiers Ave is a wide, busy, curving street. On the left was a steep green hillside going up. Across the street on my right were several large parking lots and various business warehouses. Further along is a Comcast antenna facility, with a dozen large satellite dishes pointed at the heavens. Chartiers Ave keeps turning to the right, but I stayed straight and went up Straka St, which becomes Berry St. This was my first time in the Crafton Heights neighborhood. Berry St was directly uphill, again, and none too picturesque. As I wandered in the streets off of Berry I discovered it was a cute neighborhood with lots of tree cover and medium sized houses. Finally calling it a day, I was lucky enough to find that the Litchfield Street Stairs went back to Chartiers Ave. I made my way back to the start. Sixteen miles done!

That was quite a run. It had hills. It had flats. It had photo ops and it had boring sections. There was camaraderie and there was solitude. It had lots of new streets. Thanks Kelly and Pro Bike for getting me out there!

Battle of Billy Buck Hill

RATS #00115 – Yard Way and Battle of Billy Buck Hill Part I

Like any good battle, this one started innocuously enough. Just run a few streets in the Flats, scurry up a street in the Slopes for the elevation then come back down. I didn’t realize then that I had picked a fight with one of the toughest hills in town, Billy Buck Hill. Perched above the Southside Flats, on the right as you go up S 18th St, Billy Buck is reclusive. I had actually come up a section of Josephine St and wasn’t even planning to visit Billy. But then short, straight, Pius St seemed so benign that I couldn’t resist. And the quaintness of “Yard Way”, with its street sign and cute stylized pedestrian climbing it sucked me in. How bad could it be? Well, Yard Way stairs start at Pius St and goes six rounds, crossing Gregory St, Magdalene St, Roscoe St, Baldauf St, Huron St and Shamokin St before the final bell. Luckily, each round I was able to take a break and run the little streets just mentioned. It was a modest neighborhood. The mostly well kept spectators, neat little houses, watched in silence. On Baldauf St, as I huffed along, a large brown deer with dark splotches on its coat, froze in silence just feet away.

The driver’s way up, on Oporto street, was nearly as steep as the stairs. Then Oporto St becomes a set of stairs! Ha! But I had had enough and found my way down to the flats again. I had missed a couple of streets, but I’d be back.

RATS #00116 – Brosville St and Battle of Billy Buck Hill Part Deux

Billy Buck Hill, the rematch.

This time, I knew what I was in for. I wanted to avoid Billy’s left hook and make it past him to Arlington Ave. My route was up South 12th St which becomes Brosville St. That’s right, I was going straight up the gut. The tight curve which took me from South 12th St onto Brosville wasn’t too bad. Broad sidewalk stairs quickly put me above the rooftops on the Flats. A short bridge over active railroad tracks put me at Billy Buck’s foot. I feinted right, going up Welsh Rd. That proved exhausting. A dead end-street with a 15% grade. (Or something like that). No sign of life, except the light brown cat washing himself in the middle of that street. Pausing at the bottom of Welsh, I took a couple of pics of the church steeple towering on the hill above.

Now for the main round, up Brosville St to the end! I paused a moment at St. Michael’s street (another long set of stairs), but didn’t fall for the “oh come up the stairs trick”! No, I kept punching up Brosville St. This area was pretty deserted. A few houses sprawled out on the wooded hillside. To the right was an entrance to the Knoxville Incline Overlook Park. Only giving it a quick glance, I kept on. Finally I got to the Penguins of Allentown. Yay! I had made it past Billy Buck once and for all! Now I glided down Arlington Ave, back to the South Side Flats. Nice knowing you, Billy. Lots of respect.

August 2019 Catch Up

August was a pretty good month for running. Weather was hot but mainly dry. I hit 137 miles for the month with significant elevation. I got out to Morningside and am starting to fill in the big central Pittsburgh neighborhoods of Garfield, Friendship, Highland Park and Shadyside. I didn’t get out to the southern neighborhoods of Pittsburgh even once, though. Brookline and Beechview are still uncharted territory.

Route from Ellsworth Ave to almost the zoo shown on a map.
RATS #00101

Early morning run with Sasha simply going up and down long streets in Highland Park. Euclid Ave was on the outbound.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2602969129
RATS #00104

A rare evening run with SCRRC. We covered a few new streets near Penn Brewery, otherwise a usual route mainly on River Avenue.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2609800854
RATS #00105

Covering more of Shadyside. This time went down Devonshire St, which is a surprisingly quick way to get from Fifth Avenue to Centre Avenue.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2626838114
RATS #00107

A very short run into the Southside Slopes. Once you hit Josephine St, the streets are very steep, or they are actually stairs until you get to Arlington Avenue, (not on this map). It didn’t help that this was immediately after a quick ten mile run.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2634095350
RATS #00109 – Neeb Street

This was another short but steep run. Each of those contour lines is ten meters (~32 feet), so Hoosac St climbs over 60 feet from Alger St to the top of the hill past Neeb St, a distance of no more than a tenth of a mile.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2639858948
RATS #00110 – A PBR run

This run went down College Avenue in Shadyside, earning its RATS number. With Pro Bike & Run , which is always enjoyable.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2655584176
RATS #00113

This was another morning run in Shadyside. It drizzled a bit, and we went round and round on the alleys.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2667219500
RATS #00114

This was a quick six miles with pHPRC – Perry’s route in lieu of an HPRC route. The section going straight through Uptown on Fifth Ave earned this run the RATS badge.

In Friendship We Meet

Friendship Perk & Brew – start of run, thanks to HPRC

This was a cool run, both in temps and character. A cold front had pushed out the scorching August heat. The day was sunny, too! The Highland Park Running Club had met at Perk and Brew earlier in the morning and their runners were finishing up. Many were relaxing outside or lined up inside getting coffee and ice cream. I chatted a bit and then set off. My plan today was to do a few streets in Friendship and then take off to Morningside.

Running in Friendship was great! The flat, tree-lined streets were lined with large brick houses. There were many runners and walkers out. Children rode bikes and parents pushed strollers. I liked the street names, too; Harriet, Evaline, Winebiddle, South Pacific and South Atlantic, to mention a few. Even the alleys had cool names. Who can resist Asterisk Alley?

My overall goal was to run at least 13.1 miles, a half-marathon distance. I wasn’t exactly sure how many miles I’d get in Morningside, so getting two or three in Friendship would be a good start. Peeling off of Harriet, I went up Roup Street, then zig-zagged over to North Aiken Ave. North Aiken is one of the few of theses streets to go straight through Garfield. It also rises precipitously once you’ve crossed Penn Ave. Another zig and another zag found me on Chislett Street, which would take me into the heart of Morningside.

Morningside is a long narrow neighborhood nestled between Highland Park, the Pittsburgh Zoo and Stanton Heights. It is comprised of four parallel streets, Chislett, Jancey, Morningside and Duffield, and an equal number of alleys. At their northern end, are bluffs overlooking the Allegheny River. There are a number of cross streets, too. Also, at the end of Chislett and to the right is a section of short roads and alleys. While Friendship is tree-lined, Morningside is mostly open. Small lots with small houses line the streets. It is packed with people; few vacant houses, no open lots. As I ran on Chislett, I passed a coffee house and a few other small businesses. This was rather plain running. Then, at the end of Chislett was a nice view of the Allegheny River. Making a right onto Witherspoon St, I came to a flight of public stairs. Of course, I had to go down them, whereupon I realized I was very near the road entrance to the Pittsburgh Zoo! That was a little surprise!

I re-traced my steps back to Witherspoon and did the necessary ins and outs to run the warren of streets there. The edge street, Antietam, directly overlooks the zoo entrance. At the end of Antietam, a baseball game was in progress at Natoli Field. Also a working water fountain! (Yay!)

From there I went back and forth on Jancy Street, Morningside Avenue, and intervening alleys; stopping for a moment at a Rite Aid to get some OJ. I spied the Adelphia stairs (there’s a street sign on them), but resisted the urge to run up them. I was getting tired and wasn’t going to cover every street at once. I made my way back to Perk & Brew, via North Negley and Mellon Street, getting in a solid fifteen miles.

From Friendship to the end of Morningside: RATS #00111

Tesla – More than a Car

Map of run on Tesla Street in Hazelwood
Tesla Street – RATS 00103

Nikola Tesla was a brilliant and eccentric electrical engineer and scientist. He didn’t hit the big time payday like Elon Musk and instead had a series of setbacks. But his ideas still resonate in today’s world and a steep street in Hazelwood has been endowed with his name. Tesla St makes it to the 13th street in the hallowed Dirty Dozen (baker’s dozen, I suppose).

So, on a hot Sunday in early August, I trotted out there. The route hugged the boundary of Calvary Cemetery. The streets out here are more like country roads than inner city streets, “Harlem St” notwithstanding. The houses are rather suburban; mainly split level 3 bedrooms. Yards are large and the residents take advantage of the “country life” by spreading out.

My first encounter with Tesla St was, thankfully, downhill. It didn’t seem too bad, actually. I followed it to the end, then wound up through parts of the Hazelwood Greenway to the top of the hill, where large transmission towers and cell towers loomed over the greenery. Coming back, I went to the end of Kingslake St, hoping to find stairs to lower streets. No dice, Edington St stairs were overgrown and officially closed. Again, I’m surprised at the thoroughness of the City of Pittsburgh’s sign department. Even at the closed stairs, there was a bright blue street sign.

So, this Tesla St isn’t as electrifying as its namesake, but a steep, secluded, green street.

Adventurous Run Open Streets

Map showing route of run from Squirrel Hill to downtown
Run to OpenStreets: RATS 00097

That map does not do this run justice. It was a hot and sunny day as many of this summer’s runs have been. I would have given much to be in the start of a classic detective novel (you know… a dark and stormy night…). Anyway, with that groan out of the way, let’s go through this run.

I mapped out the first half of this run pretty well. It met two objectives, run over ten miles and cover lots of new streets in Oakland and Uptown. I got a late start, hitting the pavement around eleven in the morning instead of eight. It was hot, but I had some electrolyte fluids with me and have gotten used to the heat. However, I was definitely planning to take it easier than the previous day’s 13 miler.

Getting a nice start through Schenley park, I checked off Prospect Drive, a long looping park drive. Then, I delved into onto South Oakland, jogging on Dawson, Frazier, Semple, and Ward streets. Frazier St, I must say, wasn’t as hectic as the rest. In a little playground, water was spewing and I took the opportunity to soak my shirt. The other streets were lined with apartment entrails; sofas, bookcases, lamps, plant stands, TV’s, broken dressers, and mattresses. U-Haul’s were maneuvering in the narrow streets. New students were fumbling with apartment keys while parents unpacked vans. Moving season in South Oakland was in high gear!

Finally going up Halket, I approached Fifth Ave with five miles already under my belt. I took advantage of the Pittsburgh OpenStreets event in progress and explored some Uptown streets. In particular, I traversed Watson St. I was “in the loop” of closed streets, so I didn’t have to worry too much about cars. Watson Street is quite narrow with quite the variety of buildings on it. In many parts of the city, this would have been an alleyway. On it were a few older houses, some row houses, some detached houses. There were new warehouses and very old, haunted warehouses. There were parking lots and a small corner store. It was nearly devoid of people, except a couple of groups of young men and the occasional homeless person. There was even a city groundhog, nervously eyeing me as I passed.Just a block away on my left, the Open Streets program hubs were busy and cyclists were zooming around.

Finally coming to the end of Watson St, I made a loop and headed back home on Forbes Avenue. Only fifty yards in, I heard my name and there, just outside the Armstrong Tunnels, were Sasha, Chris and Donies. I was happy to stop running and chatted for a bit. As we were starting to break up, Suzanne, Amy and a friend biked past. Wait, we needed to chat more! It was great! Eventually, Sasha, Donies and I headed up Forbes, while Chris plunged into the cool Armstrong tunnels and Amy & Co biked away. Pretty soon the three of us split up as well and I made my way to Tustin St.

Now, there’s nothing fabulous about Tustin St. It was similar to Watson, but narrower and not as pretty. There’s not much in this area except concrete, asphalt, fencing and row houses. Tustin was in the zone as well and I didn’t have to worry about cars. It also seemed very direct and started taking me down to the Birmingham Bridge, with all of its underpasses and overpasses.

However, after I passed the Tustin Tot Lot, a little playground, I found a small vacant, grass covered lot guarded by a mounted horseman!

Sir Samelot on Tustin St from Google Streetview

That was the highlight of my run. I made my way back through Oakland, happy to find kids selling lemonade. I made use of the Lawn St stairs and Frazier St stairs to get home as directly as possible.

Connecting the Hills

What does this shape look like to you? Run All The Streets 00091

Today’s run is brought to you by the question: “Can I get there from here?” More specifically, I was curious how to run from Mt. Washington over to the South Side Slopes. I’m also hoping to find a “Great Southwest Passage” – a running route that will get me from the South Side Flats to the big southern neighborhoods such as Beechview and Brookline.

I began in the South Side Flats, concentrating on Larkin Way. Larkin Way starts at a ten foot wall enclosing an electrical substation. It feels rather odd, because there are also house entrances right there too. Another in a series of long alleyways, Larkin Way goes from that wall near 28th St all the way to S 17th St, where it basically morphs into Sarah St in the heart of residential South Side Flats.

Catching PJ McCardle at its lower terminus, I chug up the gradual slope as it rises past Cupples Stadium. All along here, McCardle is pedestrian friendly. OK, “friendly” might not be the right word. It has a crumbling sidewalk and wet branches swat you in the face as you’re running by, but at least there is a sidewalk. As you approach the Liberty Bridge intersection, its another story. Here there’s nothing for pedestrians but a high curb and the graciousness of Pittsburgh drivers. Crossing the entrance to the Liberty Bridge, begins the long ‘classic’ McCardle climb. This takes me over Sycamore St, under the Mon Incline, under the round viewing platforms on Grandview Ave and up to Grandview itself. Normally when I’m running classic McCardle, I’ll either stop here to take pics or run down to the Liberty Bridge and back for hill repeats. This time I ran through the intersection and onto Merrimac St, taking a left onto Virginia Ave. Behind the views and tourists of Grandview Ave is the Mt. Washington neighborhood. Modest three bedroom Pittsburgh brick houses with small yards are interlaced with $900K condos. The rather wide streets wind up and down steep rolling hills.

My route took me down Boggs Ave and up Southern Ave, making a loop down and up. These are densely populated streets with houses separated only by hedges or narrow walkways. As I finished the loop, where Southern Ave meets Virginia Ave and Wyoming St, I heard a rustle behind me. A deer leapt from the wall on my left, skittered across the intersection and bounded up a twelve foot retaining wall across the street. Urban wildlife strikes again!

I made a left onto Boggs this time and as it became Baily, the street flattened out. Baily was shockingly wide and straight. Larger houses, mostly brick four-squares with nice lawns lined the road. Across the street, you could see views of downtown. Then Baily made a sweeping curve past Emerald View Park and started a literal and figurative downhill into Beltzhoover. I’m always surprised what a mile will do, and this street was no exception. In Beltzhoover, the houses became narrower, weeds grew between the sidewalk blocks and it was just dirtier. I made the turn onto East Warrington Road, along the business district with its Family Dollar, barber shops with their old-style barber poles, bars, and a beer distributor. Onion Maiden is there, a vegan restaurant with a heavy-metal/punk playlist. I turned right onto Arlington Ave, past the police station and Black Forge Coffee House. At this stage of my Pittsburgh explorations, Arlington Ave is a well-known street for me. I know that if I continue, I will eventually cross streets that plunge down to the South Side Flats, often as stairs.

I did just that. Unfortunately Arlington was a long, hot run, but eventually I rounded onto Jospehine for a little and branched off onto Eccles St. Eccles St is a cross between an alley and a country road. Then I made the right onto Cologne St, with its unreal hills and stairs for sidewalks. I wound down to Oakley Street and took the extensive stairs from Oakley to Shelly and Stella streets and from there down to Josephine. Shelly St and Stella St would normally be one street, but the street is so steep that Stella goes one way and ten feet below Stella goes the other.

That was an amazing shortcut. In spite of all the tremendous hills I felt I had done, it turned out to be just about the same elevation as the previous day’s run though Stanton Heights. Now I know how to get from Mount Washington to the South Side Slopes. Next goal is to wind my way over to Beechview.

June Catch-Up

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RATS Squirrel Hill 00066

This run was specifically to cover some streets such as parts of Aylesboro and Northumberland near Homewood Cemetery which I had previously missed. This area is tree-lined with nice, but not palacial homes. There were lots of people out and about, playing with kids or walking dogs.

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Strava map of a running route through Shadyside and Oakland.
Run with HPRC: RATS 00068

HPRC had an early morning run from the Cathedral of Learning. It was a fun run with a lot of familiar faces, but, oh, so early!!

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Run All The Streets 00070

Another run just to cover some streets and get some miles. The area near the end of Hobart had a surprising number of small alleyways that led to cool houses.

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3ROC Run: RATS 00072

Three Rivers Outdoor Company (3ROC) is an outfitter store on South Braddock Avenue, at the end of the Regent Square business district. While they have cool stuff in their store, they also are big into community fitness events, such as their weekly trail run. This run covered a few new trails and maybe a bit of some streets. It was fun!

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Run All The Streets 00073

A run up to Pro Bike before their Wednesday night run. I got some little streets in which had otherwise escaped by attention!

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Another run to cover some streets. Gotta catch them all!

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Running down a dream in Greenfield: RATS 00075

A double-rarity – a Friday run and an early morning run! As with many of these catch-up runs, this was specifically to cover some streets. I’ve done between 50% and 75% of the streets in Greenfield now.

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Run to the Run on Webster Ave: RATS 00076

Down the wide open streets of the Hill District. It was relatively early and quiet, with the UPMC Building looming over me the entire run.

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How far from Phipps to Hazelwood? RATS 00078

A final run for June. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to go, but wanted to end in Oakland and go to the library afterwards, so I started near Phipps, ran down into Schenley Park. One route would have taken me over to the South Side, but I choose to go through Hazelwood and cut through Greenfield, so the mileage and time wasn’t too crazy. Thanks to some stairs which connect the two neighborhoods I was successful.

There were parts of the route which were a little stressful, such as running down Irvine Street in Hazelwood. It had the feel of a street which really wanted to be an interstate but never quite made it. Irvine Street was busy and dirty, with narrow, overgrown sidewalks. Going up into the hills of Hazelwood is always a bit surreal. The hills and steps are steep and the greenery is suffocating (oh, maybe that was the heat). There are parts of Hazelwood where the houses are kept up nicely, but on the streets I ran, mostly the houses were falling apart and often empty. Lastly running along Frasier Street and Swinburne Street was pretty scary. There is not a lot of room to drive, much less run, and the streets are curvy and hilly. Nonetheless, I persisted and found my way back to the car.

Whew! This was the last run of June. I covered lots of miles (132) and climbed lots of elevation (13,400) in June.