Evening Railroad Street

Railroad Street on the right parallels this set of rarely used, but active tracks

Wandering sunset

Took me down Railroad Street rails

Dusky warehouses

Old buildings new cars

Fashion boots walking house dogs

Along riverfront

Rowers practicing in Allegheny

Skyline last sunlight

Highlighting tall night structures

Bright half-moon hangs there

https://www.strava.com/activities/2761049281
RATS #00134 – Railroad Street

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.

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.

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

July Catch-Up

RATS 00079

This was a relaxed morning run including the short length of English Lane.

RATS 00080

Ah, Greenfield again. This time with more purpose and time constraints. The main goals here were completing Flemington and Deely, which I did. Yay! I won’t EVEN start talking about hills!

RATS 00081

This was a run with 3ROC in Regent Square. Mainly trails, but a little in Regent Square as well. That is a nice, tree-lined area.

RATS 00083

This was a pretty adventurous run, exploring Garfield and Friendship. It was the first time I had ever gone into Garfield from that direction. It was also, as I recall, hot as hell that day, AND the hills were significant, culminating at one of those blue water towers you see around Pittsburgh.

RATS 00084

Not to weaponize everything, but doesn’t this look like an ancient ritual dagger from a lost civilization? But its just Greenfield again. The view from the dagger point, Exeter St is surprisingly good.

Strava map showing route
RATS 00085, pre-track warmup

A pre-track warm-up along the tree-lined, yet heavily trafficked Greenfield Rd.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2519347513
RATS 00086 Frick and Regent Square

This was another 3ROC run, with more of Regent Square thrown in.

Strava map showing route
RATS 00087, just one new street

A Wednesday night PBR run. Can you tell the extra street?

Map showing route through Greenfield
RATS 00088

This run was all about covering Winterburn Ave and close-by cul-de-sacs.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2528543377
Pre HPRC RATS 00089

For some reason, I felt the need to run BEFORE an HPRC run. Since it was Upper Lawrenceville, it made for some nice grids. The “Ways” in Lawrenceville are small narrow streets. Unlike areas such as Greenfield, where garages and back yards line alleys, there are often front doors to narrow houses along the alleys.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2536445188
RATS 00092

This run was simply to cover more streets in Squirrel Hill. It is quite the mental challenge to remember a map, then go run it. It doesn’t help that often maps are slightly wrong, such as showing a street as going through when it doesn’t actually. Here’s to you, Colma St!

OpenStreetMap has Colma Way connecting to Irma Way, when in fact it doesn’t.
https://www.strava.com/activities/2538624915
RATS 00093

Some interesting streets solidly in Squirrel Hill North, an area characterized by immense houses with well manicured lawns and driveways to garages in the back. I think about five Lawrenceville row houses could fit in the space of one of these houses.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2544149093
RATS 00094

Just in Point Breeze, catching some streets which keep trying to poke into Homewood Cemetery.

https://www.strava.com/activities/2560757305
RATS 00095

Ah, the little Edgerton Square makes this PBR run qualify to be a RATS run. (BTW, a “qualifying run” is one in which I run on a street I’ve not done before. )

https://www.strava.com/activities/2567292437
RATS 00096

This was a long, quick run with Pro Bike and Run. I tossed in Broad St to add a few miles. Nice running group with auto voice directions (as other runners would shout out the turns as we approached.)

https://www.strava.com/activities/2574213560
RATS 00098

Wendover St was a bit disappointing. It is nestled between Beacon and Hobart, but was lined with large, old apartment buildings in poor repair, instead of cute houses. There could be over 1,000 people living on that street, given the number and size of the buildings. However, I did find a nice little cut-through connecting both sides of Murdoch St as I ran to track.

Long flat streets and alleys in Regent Square: RATS 00099

I almost made it to 3ROC, but instead ran up and down small flat streets in Regent Square, straddling the Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg border. This little 5 mile run took me into three municipalities; Pittsburgh, Wilkinsburg, and Swissvale.

That’s a wrap

That’s all for July. I was much more focused on covering new streets. I also ran a lot, slightly more than in June (134 miles), with less elevation (only 11,117 ft). Soon, I’ll be publishing maps showing cumulative progress as of the 100th run. Looking ahead, in August, I’d like to cover more of the southern neighborhoods, but run about the same amount of miles.

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.

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!

Eleanor, Steady on the Steep

Strava Cadence – straight as the South Side Flats

Not a long run, Just take Eleanor Street up from Josephine Street. If there are stairs, take ’em. If the hill is epic, keep your arms and legs going. Even six inches a stride if you need. Whatever you do, don’t stop (unless its to take pictures). Watch yourself coming down, that’s almost worse than going up. One trip and it’s tumble-sault time.

The graph above is from Strava and shows the distance along the bottom axis, the elevation along the left axis and three squiggly lines. The blue and dark purple lines are my actual pace and my “gap” pace (which takes the grade into account). The nice flat magenta line is my “cadence”. It is remarkably steady, but makes sense, given that I was trying to keep an even effort. I daresay the two sharp dips in cadence just after 0.5 miles and at 1.5 miles were picture-taking opportunities.

Downtown Pittsburgh from Cobden St
Great view from Cobden St on the South Side Slopes
View of Oakland from Keibe Way
Oakland from Keibe Way in South Side Slopes

Running up these streets always takes my breath away, both literally and figuratively. Eleanor St is incredibly narrow and steep. Starting from Josephine St, the pavement only goes a block before it gives up and becomes stairs for a tenth of a mile. That might not seem like much distance, but it is 282 steps according to Mis.steps (see Trip#212). Not willing to hit the steps just yet, I veered off onto Leticoe St, only to suffer Barry St and Holt St before rejoining Eleanor on the upper side of the stairs. Unwittingly, I was taking on the Twelfth Hill in the Pittsburgh Dirty Dozen. You might think it is the last one, but Pittsburgh is generous that way, there are thirteen hills in the Dirty Dozen. But I digress. This area has houses of all sorts of sharp angles, clinging to the hills, with decks and porches high in the air looking out toward Oakland or downtown. Cobden St ends at an overlook, where I took a picture and exchanged greetings with a woman sitting on her rocking chair. I always expect people to ask what the hell I’m doing, but in this case, she said that lots of people come there to take pictures. Ha!

I traveled a bit into Arlington, running the rest of Eleanor Street. I returned to the South Side Flats via the Eleanor Street stairs. On the way down, I kept an eye out for stairs and streets not taken. I’ll be making another appointment with South Side Slope streets soon!

Eleanor St Route: RATS 00071

HPRC Tribute Run

Run through Highland Park and Stanton Heights: RATS 00069

I got out of my neighborhood for this run, starting in Highland Park. Ironically, I had skipped over an HPRC run which started a little earlier, but was from downtown. Highland Park is both a city park, but also a neighborhood. The history of each are intertwined. The park dominates the neighborhood and the park is dominated by the Highland Park Reservoir. It rests about ten or fifteen feet above the rest of the park. Surrounding the irregularly shaped reservoir are conformal streets and paths, with sections descending to lower curves. This is a major portion of the water system run by the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority. The history of the water system is fascinating. It takes vision, significant engineering and an ability to bring together fractious local politics to create and maintain public water systems. Clean water is also a bedrock of public health, relegating diseases like cholera and typhoid fever to the dim past in modern cities. The 125 million gallon Highland Park Reservoir #1 was put into service in 1879, 140 years ago, for those who are counting. In recent years, lead levels in the city water have become a major concern. PWSA has a number of projects ongoing to mitigate this problem, including installing pipes like those below.

Pipes for the next 100 years

While I was pretty quiet exiting the park on Stanton Avenue, I apparently scared the horses. I guess I was breathing harder than I thought! There are some nice tennis courts along Stanton Avenue, the street I would follow for much of the run.

Horses Guarding Highland Park Stanton Avenue Entrance

Highland Park is a large area. While the housing stock varies from garden apartment complexes to single family homes, there are not many small houses. Usually they are large brick affairs with three floors and decent sized yards. Many have been converted into apartments. The streets are largely tree-lined. There are broad, relatively flat areas surrounded by some big hills. For the size of the area, businesses are rare, being concentrated along Bryant Street and Negley Avenue.

At any rate, I ran down Stanton until I caught Chislett Street and exited Highland Park. I turned onto Black Street until it became Mossfield. I caught a few small streets off of North Aiken Avenue, too. I veered onto Schenley Avenue (nowhere near the park of the same name) and then to North Mathilda Street. This area was much hillier than Highland Park and the houses were not as impressive. There was surprising new construction but also older houses and the too-often seen ragged Pittsburgh row house. This neighborhood is Garfield and this was my first time running though it. My initial impression was that it was very green, hilly and a little empty. North Mathilda dumped my down onto Friendship Avenue. From there, I cruised past Children’s Hospital, into the narrow houses and steep streets of Lawrenceville. I followed 45th Street to Butler, then caught 43rd Street to it’s terminus at the Allegheny River. Is has a cool view, but is also the entrance to 43rd Street Concrete (which has an impressive operation going).

40th Street Bridge from the end of 43rd Street

Finally, I needed to turn back to the car. I made my way to the low end of Stanton and followed it (mostly) back to Highland Park. That’s quite a climb! This was a cool run, having covered many different areas of the city and taking me from one of the highest points in the area to river level.