Surprises on Orr Street

RATS #00154

Good morning! I’m still in muddle-mode, not really focused on training for anything at the moment, so I wasn’t too concerned about pace or distance today. However, the desire to run more streets is starting to rev up again. I am approaching the one-year anniversary of starting this project, and I feel like I’ve made good progress this year.

Today’s run started in the South Side, under the Birmingham Bridge, with Pro-Bike and Run. I stayed with the 9:30 pace group for a few miles and then headed off on my own to catch a few small streets on the other side of the Monongahela.

After crossing the Mon on the Birmingham Bridge, I checked out a few of the small streets immediately across the bridge. Generally speaking, this an area hounded by heavy traffic and poor housing. The urban rejuvenation spurred by Pitt’s growth hasn’t made it all the way down the hill. I went up Beelen St, which has a few houses on the bottom and an isolated house at the dead-end. I believe there are old stairs at the end of Beelen, but I could be mistaken. The residents of the dead-end had parked their cars so that it looked like a private area once you got to that house, so I turned around. I took the opportunity at Mohawk St to run down and up the stairs. Most of it was solid, but in places the handrails weren’t really attached to anything. It’s unnerving to think the handrail is solid only to feel it bouncing in your hand. Those stairs went down to Fifth Ave. The upper side of Mohawk curved up into the hill, only to dead-end in front of a darkened house.

Going down to Kirkpatrick again, I came across a section of Allequippa St. There’s a busier section at the top of Pitt’s campus. This section, however, was still paved with blocks and went straight up the hill to a dead-end. A couple of houses on the left were in bad shape. One had the blue “Condemned” kiss of death on it. The other had stairs going up to it. I thought they just went to the front porch, but from maps, it seems that these stairs go all the way up to the Oak Hill neighborhood on the top of the hill. Nonetheless, this wasn’t too inviting, so I turned around again.

At this point, I had run a couple of miles, so I decided to just do a few close-by streets and head back across the bridge. I found myself in an area of better maintained row-houses. Circling the block, I came across a little free library and a couple of well-decorated areas nestled into the hillside. This was a pleasant surprise.

I made my way back across the bridge in time to have some cookies and coffee at the end of the run.

Trolls Tapering

Run All The Streets: 0050 !!!

“This is 911. What is your emergency?”

“There are trolls, trolls under the bridge”

“Excuse me? Did you say ‘trolls’? Uh, what bridge and exactly what were they doing?”

“Under the Birmingham Bridge, you know, Southside Riverfront Park! Maybe not trolls, but, well, they were all sweaty and salty, breathing heavy and wearing ridiculous outfits. I daresay they were drinking as well.”

“Oh, THAT. Let me check my calendar…Yep, two weeks before the Pittsburgh Marathon. This happens every year, sir. Tapering runners, not trolls. “

But before the taper, there was one more run. The last long run of the Pittsburgh Marathon training cycle! Eight quick miles through through the Southside with PBR. We literally started underneath the Birmingham Bridge, which is so wide at that point, it’s like being in an open air warehouse. All the sign-in forms were blowing away. True to form, I got there on the later side and played catch up. The route took us up the Southside River Trail which winds along the Monongahela River. The trees were covered in that bright early-spring greenery. As we wound through the trail, I passed several groups, trying to give a friendly “Good Morning” to everyone. Not sure how much that was appreciated. At any rate, I caught up with my normal Wednesday night crew and kept pushing on. Eventually, caught up with Sasha and stayed with her for the rest of the run, as we dodged the construction sandbags and maneuvered along Carson Street, back to the start, up to Hot Metal Street and back once more.

At the end of the run, it was time to celebrate! Within a couple of minutes, everyone else finished. Huddling between the cars, we broke out chips, salty potatoes, luscious cupcakes, sausage rolls and muffins. Someone broke out the champagne and the classiest among us pulled out crystal champagne glasses! When those were finished, Dragon YumYums popped out. We periodically shuffled our chairs into a new, sunnier spots. Under the bridge, eating and drinking, several people approached us to find out what the fun was. Taper time had officially begun!