April 21st — My Last 20 Miler
(Holy Cow, it was 22.1 miles!)

ooray! This was my last 20 miler. Of course there is that little matter of a 26 miler coming up, but those are always a lot of fun  . But there were a couple of unanticipated things: it got hot — no, not summer hot, but late spring hot — and I figured my mileage wrong and ended up running over 22 miles. I didn't actually figure it wrong, but I did some extra side trips which added up, and took a different route back from Van Cortlandt Park to avoid the long unshaded route along the Harlem River I had originally planned. But it's done, I feel fine (I'm writing this on Sunday) and what do they say, "No pain, no gain", whatever. Susan and Melissa both joined me but decided to take a different route back and they ended up with 16 miles. We all felt the effects of the warmer weather but I would say everyone was satisfied that it was a good run.

I've kept the number of pictures to a minimum, showing just a few iconic shots that are a bit different from previous pictures in this blog (and I avoided shots of streets.) After all, how many shots of a couple of runners in a park can you publish without getting boring. But what I have put in gives the flavor of the run.

Just below are a couple of maps generated by the USA Track and Field route tracking software. If you click on the links under each map you will get the live Google Map from the USA Track and Field web site. This will also give an elevation profile of the route. But the distance calculated (which is the sum of all the little line segments which you clicked in when you made the map) and the elevation data (derived from Google) is subject to errors. I find the distance is usually a bit under since there's no way to click every zig and zag you took. The elevation is OK, but it doesn't know how to do bridges. It assumes you ran at water level!! This is not too bad for these two routes since both the Willis Avenue Bridge and the Broadway Bridge are close to the level of the Harlem River. If you are interested in these routes, email me using the link at the bottom of the page and I'll give you all the details you want. If you decide to do this run, I strongly suggest you click on the links for the USATF ineractive maps and zoom in, since some of the fine details of the route are not given in this report (such as "zig-zagging over to the Grand Concourse").

Northbound and Southbound Routes

First Half: Going North, Mostly in the Bronx

he route was a combination of various other routes we had done with a few new pieces thrown in. Going up, we started up the East River, crossed over the Willis Avenue Bridge and did our South Bronx Route. This involves zig-zagging over to the Grand Concourse and running up through Franz Sigel Park and Joyce Kilmer Park . At this point we broke some new ground and made our way up to the Bronx section of the Old Croton Aqueduct (aka the OCA), via the Edward Grant Highway and University Avenue. Then we retraced the route we had taken 2 weeks ago along the OCA (see the ) up to and into Van Cortlandt Park to the Golf Club House. The part of this on the streets was a bit gritty, but hey, this is the South Bronx.

The elevation profile is interesting in that you can spot the relatively flat and elevated portion when we were running along the Aqueduct (roughly miles 6.5 to 10.5. That dip just before mile 8 is where the Aqueduct is interrupted at Burnside Avenue. See and for that story. It's also interesting to see how you go down when you enter Van Cortlandt Park (the last half mile or so), That makes sense since if you've run on the OCA in that park, you know it's up on the side of a hill. The fact that the Aqueduct is at a higher elevation than just about anything else in the South Bronx shows how expertly the surveyors laid out the route in the 1830s. Remember, the water was entirely gravity fed in that era.

One thing that was very noticeable to us was that the trees were much more in leaf than they were just two weeks ago. I didn't take any exact comparison shots, but if you notice the the one captioned "The Fenced off part of the OCA" in the slideshow to the right, and compare it with some of the scenes looking along the Aqueduct in the (especially the one showing the the playgound at Tremont Avenue and the next one showing the locked gate, which show the same section of the Aqueduct, although from a different view), you'll see the difference.

Taking a Break in Van Cortlandt Park

e took a break at the Golf Club House in VC Park and after some discussion, the women decided to do around 3 miles on the cross country trails and then head back along the #4 line. Then they would hop on the train when they got the mileage they were looking for. For my part, I would head out to Broadway, fill up on Gatorade from a local deli, and then figure how to get the least exposure to the sun on my way back to Central Park.

Second Half: Going South, Mostly in Manhattan

  had taken my shirt off when we got to Van Cortlandt Park and when I got back to Broadway I put it on briefly when I went into a deli to get some Gatorade. I ended up carrying the bottle about 2 miles. Meanwhile my shirt was hot a sticky so I took it off again. I was amused by the 3 or 4 comments I got, exclusively from young males. One memorable one was "Put your shirt back on, you're scaring the women". Hmmm .. Some how I doubt that. I crossed into Manhattan and stayed on the shady side of Broadway (the east side) till 190th Street. There I took a little known shortcut: there is a subway entrance for the 190th Street stop on the #1 train, even though that train runs under St. Nicholoas Avenue at this point. Well, there is a long horizontal tunnel that heads east under the steep escarpment, and at the end, an elevator that brings you up the 120 odd feet. It's shown as a dotted line on the Google map. A great saver for a hot tired runner. It also explains the unusually steep climb on the elevation profile (below) around mile 3.5.

Once I was on the top of the hill at St. Nicholas Avenue, I ran the two blocks to High Bridge Park and ran down on the park road and the OCA the length of the park. The very steep down hill, just before mile 5 on the profile, is the stairway down from the tower to the Aqueduct. Each part of this route was chosen to minimize exposure to the sun. This route through High Bridge Park is almost the same (in reverse) to that taken many times, the latest on my "" which you can read about via the link.

Once back on the streets, I stuck to St. Nicholas Avenue, the shady side, all the way to Central Park. But if you look carefully at the southbound USATF map, and zoom in around 154th Street, you'll see I was zig-zagging between St. Nicholas and Amsterdam Ave. for 4 blocks (around mile 6 on the route map). What's with that? Well, I was trying to find where the OCA crossed from High Bridge Park to Amsterdam Avenue. And I found it: look closely at the block between 153rd and 152nd Streets about halfway between the two Avenues. Zoom in and switch to "Satellite". There it is, see it?

Once past this diversion, you can see the long lazy downslope along St. Nicholas Avenue from about mile 7 right into Central Park on the profile. I was sure glad there were no hills at this point in my run.

2 miles too far, 10 degrees too hot, and about an hour too long!

Well, Central Park was a welcome sight and I went down around the Meer and through the Conservatory Garden and finally ended up at the Boat House — 2 miles too far, 10 degrees too hot, and about an hour too long.

I met Melissa for brunch, got home and crashed. But you know what? No more 20s! Yes, life is good.

Papa Bear