After the previous day’s long run, this was a recovery run. For those not aware, a “recovery run” is an easy run after a very long, strenuous run, usually the day after. The rough idea is that after a long run the body needs to recover. Simple rest and good nutrition provide all the necessary ingredients for recovery. However, training is about improving. To improve you need to stress your body and then allow it to recover. Training is also about schedule, so the faster you can recover, the faster you can apply additional stress, improving even more. Some athletes use anabolic steroids to achieve quick recovery. For running, my preferred method is the recovery run. Practically, it is a slower and shorter run.
I haven’t run much in Larimer. It has a more interesting history than I had thought. Honestly, I had not thought much at all until I was writing this. I think that’s the same for many in this region. Only when it makes the news do you even think about Larimer. It is geographically isolated, bounded by deep ravines and off the beaten path. Highland Park, an adjacent neighborhood, is a bustling, busy area, with a large park and the zoo.
Finally, the run
I started in Highland Park, near the reservoir. My goal was to run five to ten miles at a leisurely pace and, afterwards, meet some friends at yoga in the park. Street-wise, I wanted to complete Jackson St and then see how Larimer Ave looked. Jackson Street emerges from the park, makes a ninety-degree angle and dashes down the hill to North Negley. One curiosity is the bright blue City of Pittsburgh street signs on Jackson for BRYANT St and HAMPTON St, even though there’s nothing, not even a stairway, which suggests that those roads actually intersect Jackson.
Completing Jackson, I wandered a bit and then made my way up Larimer Ave. This was all new to me. I crossed the Larimer Avenue Bridge. There was no elevation change for me, but the bridge crosses Washington Ave, about 250 feet below. The houses were fairly typical Pittsburgh brick construction, four-square houses, narrower than what you see in Highland Park and usually approached by a healthy staircase up to a porch. There was an “African Peace Garden” in a vacant lot with an impressive wrought metal entrance. As it started to sprinkle I traced a square and made my way across another, nearly identical bridge. The sprinkle was brief and I got back to Highland Park just in time to do some yoga. Then nap.
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.
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 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 got the badge for finally crossing off Nicholson St off my list. Whoo!
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
A couple of miles before my initiation into Sami’s runs, singing tunes!
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
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.
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
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.
This was a group run from Allegheny City Brewing. I believe the two blocks of Middle St, earned this run the RATS badge.
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:
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!
A short run in and around Polish Hill. Lots of narrow streets and stairs in this cliffhanging neighborhood.
A moderate distance through Shadyside and Friendship. Caught some new alleys in Shadyside.
Starting in Grandview Park, I ran some of small streets perched over the Liberty Tunnels.
This was long run day. I ran with Pro-Bike and then added on, at first with a friend, and then the last two miles on my own. For most of this run, I was keeping pace with Pro Bike’s “9:00” minute pace group (which usually runs a faster 8:30 pace). If you look at the Strava stats, you might think “he’s deluding himself, he’s no where near 9!” However, on long runs like this, I never stop my watch when we’re at a crosswalk or at a water stop, etc. It solves the “I forgot to turn my watch back on dilemma”.
Much of this run was uneventful. However, it WAS a beautiful day!
We ran across bridges, onto sidewalks in front of uptight hotel staff and round and round the point. Eventually, we made it back to our group starting point, in front of Allegheny City Brewing. Amy and I went out for more miles. We took long North Side streets all the way to Chateau St. On the way back, we saw these enormous tree stumps.
I’m hoping they have a good use for it. Making it back to Allegheny City Brewing was good for another six miles, but I had two more to go. Leaving the morning beer drinks behind, I did a little jog up Madison Ave and back. Finally, I, too, could have a beer!
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.
Today’s run was all about LSD, Long Slow Distance. I really nailed the slow part. Eventually I got the distance. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Like many a Saturday run, this started with serious preparations on Friday night. In particular, getting out for early dancing and drinking, instead of hanging out with the later crowd. That was fun, I must say. But this isn’t a dancing and drinking blog, its a running blog, so on, on!
Next, as per routine, I turned off the 6:30 alarm, valuing an extra hour of sleep as I mentally prepared for the arduous task ahead. When I finally arose, it was too late to join the group runs of the day. That was a bit sad, but I soldiered on. Finally, a route decision was needed.
In times like these, I try to have a couple of anchor streets I want to get to and let the rest of the run flow from there. I decided I wanted to explore Blair St in Hazelwood. It wasn’t very far away, maybe two miles, so I needed to add on mileage, by going the opposite direction!
Thus, I started my run by going to Summerset. In a February post, Lost-in-Your-Hazel-Highs , I have some pictures from Summerset. This time, when I exited Summerset, after going round and round in one cul-de-sac after another, I turned left and went down to Duck Hollow.
Duck Hollow has one road into it and only a few roads around the neighborhood. This was my first time there and I was surprised at how open it felt. There are, maybe, twenty houses there, most with large yards. It is surrounded by big hills. The lone person I saw quickly went inside When I ran by. I think cats would like it here.
The I ascended the hill and ran into Hazelwood. I covered some little streets there, notably Nansen St, which is now closed off due to the road sliding off the hill. I must say everyone I saw there gave me a friendly greeting, from the kid playing ball in his front yard, to the older, bald man having coffee on his porch. Cleverly continuing to run away from Blair St, I was astounded how many long streets there were above Second Ave. Eventually, when Gertrude St became an alley, I turned around. Second Ave is busy, rather dirty and flat. Not much to say here. When I got to Hazelwood Ave, I made the right onto Blair St. This is an area which is being redeveloped. CMU’s “Future of Manufacturing” is taking shape here.
Blair St is about 1.25 miles of flat, curving sidewalk, surrounded by weeds and construction vehicles. Views of the Mon and downtown started to improve as I got closer to the end. Hopefully this area will see a similar revival as other river trails in Pittsburgh.
From there, I wandered through Southside and Downtown until I got my whole 18 in. Will write more later, but got to run!
PS: Finding myself downtown after 18 miles, I took the bus home. No reason to do 25 miles!
The day before, I did an epic 16 miler with views, camaraderie and speed. Just for contrast, today was a plodding eight miler with none of those. On days like today, this project really was the motivating factor for the run. I had missed Mulhatton St. I had skipped Irma Way. There was a section of Northumberland St I had forsaken. Today was the day I would run those streets, no matter how slowly.
Mulhatton is only two blocks long, between Beacon and Darlington. I would love to live on Mulhatton St! Irma Way is a small alley which winds from South Negley Ave to Northumberland St. Unlike most alleys, it is not a straight-shot but makes a right-angle turn. The OpenStreetMap, which Strava uses, shows it as an intersection with another alley, Colma Way. Perhaps on paper that is true (see the Allegheny County Real Estate site), but the reality is, that it is someone’s side yard now, and perhaps someone else’s backyard.
Now, I have never traveled into that forsaken area of Northumberland. It abuts Schenley Golf Course, so I thought it was just a little service road. A mile and a half later, I realized I couldn’t be more mistaken. Northumberland itself is wide and shaded by forty foot oaks. It ends at the private Pittsburgh Golf Club. The curvy cul-de-sacs off of Northumberland are lined with well-appointed townhouses. It is amazingly quiet, given the central location. A few of the streets cut-down to Forbes Ave along stone-walled drives.
Crossing Forbes, I dashed up Normalee Pl, Techview Terrace and continued onto Beeler St. After Unger Lane and Bellermont Place, I had had enough and trundled on home.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.