A Great Start for the New Year

appy New Year! We spent the holiday at my son's house. We watched the ball drop in Times Square on television with the grandchildren and then listened to the last of the Classical Countdown on WQXR.org (Beethovan's Ninth was #1 again). The next day I did a nice 8 mile run. Temperatures were around 30° and it was partly sunny and with the recent snow narrowing the roads, there wasn't much of a margin for running (no sidewalks in the suburbs). But most folks slept late so the roads were pretty empty. Here's the route: . It was a nice run and a great start to the New Year. We got home on Wednesday and on Thursday morning I had a nice run in Central Park with my running partner Susan. Her broken arm is much improved and she's working hard to get back up to speed. But boy was it cold — mid 20°s, if that. I was one day short on my weekday runs but after the previous week's 20 miler, it was a recovery week anyway.

For today's run we literally chose the destination and figured out a way to get there while running 13 miles, this week's long run target. After Thursday morning's run, Susan said, "I'm in the mood for pierogies", and the rest was just detail.

A Long Run to Pierogies

hen you're running to pierogies, where else would you go but to on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (yes, Manhattan Avenue is in Brooklyn). It's simply the best Polish Restaurant west of Szczecin!

Melissa was also coming but she wanted to just run 10 miles. And to complicate things, Susan's place is only about 5 miles from the restaurant by the most direct route, over the Queensboro Bridge (aka the 59th Street Bridge, aka the Ed Koch Bridge — hey, this is New York!).

Solution? Easy: Susan and I would do a 3 mile warmup along the river, meet Melissa at 78th Street, go down and over the bridge, and then take a 5 mile side trip over to Roosevelt Island to check out the recently completed Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial at the south end of the island. From there we would take the usual route to Greenpont (see the map on the right; click on it to get the on-line Google map version).

The day started cold (around 30°) but with a cloudless sky and a good pace, we all ended up overdressed. It was just great running weather. As always, running down along the river and across the bridge was delightful. And we were in such good spirits that we couldn't help but wave at the tourists in the Roosevelt Island Tram as it went by. I know, very unlike New Yorkers!

Roosevelt Island and the New FDR Memorial

oosevelt Island, with river views in all directions was supurb. We got there via the bridge from Queens and did a partial circumnavigation of the Island.

The details are pretty simple: when you cross the Queensboro Bridge you will be running on the pedestrian walkway on the north side of the bridge. You run right over Roosevelt Island with great views of the island, the tram and both the Manhattan and Queens shorelines on either side of the island.

When you get off the bridge you are on Queens Plaza North at 25th Street. Make a 180 and run down along side the bridge — get on the right hand (north) side of the street. When you get to 21st Street, cross over and continue down the hill inside the housing project. The driveway inside the project is an extension of Quuens Plaza North. Continue on this driveway a couple of blocks and you will exit at Vernon Boulevard. Turn right (north) on Vernon and go past the huge Con Edison plant. You're almost there! Go north past the power plant to 38th Avenue. This is the first thru street (with a traffic light) and it leads right to the bridge to Roosevelt Island. Cross the street and head west over the bridge — make sure you are on the right hand (north) side of the bridge. Once over the bridge, go into the parking garage building and go down the stairs, or take the elevator (wimps only) to the bottom. You are now on Roosevelt Island.

At this point we headed west on the streets to the west shore line (about ¼ mile) and got on the west promenade — Manhattan is just a stone's throw across the East River. Although there's plenty to see on the island, I'll just talk about the FDR Memorial, our target for today (I know, the real target was the pierogies). Head south along the promenade, under the Queensboro Bridge and continue as far as you can go to a chain link fence and you are at the entrance to the park. From the signage, the area in called Southpoint State Park. Besides the memorial to FDR, it contains the remains of the 1856 Smallpox hospital, and the 1909 Strecker Memorial Laboratory (the first pathology lab in the country). But the main attraction is the FDR Memorial, aka the Four Freedoms Memorial at the south end of the park (and of the Island).

We had read a bit about the new FDR Memorial which had recently opened at the south end of the island, but the reality of it was stunning. Simple, yet perfectly placed to take advantage of the island's setting. You first come to a set of stairs with granite abutments on either side. It almost crosses the whole width of the island. When you reach the top of the stairs you see a long gradual tree lined slope whose width diminishes to a point. At the south end is the memorial with a bust of FDR facing north, and the quotation of a speech he made in 1941 enunciating the "Four Freedoms". Those of us of a certain age, will remember the four Saturday Evening Post covers by Norman Rockwell illustrating these Four Freedoms. Here's a link . It's worth a look.

The few pictures here will give you the flavor, but all I can say is you MUST SEE IT!

Back on the Mainland and on to Greenpoint

From there we got back off the island via the East Promenade and the bridge to Queens, and headed back towards the Queensboro Bridge, crossing under it at 21st Street. We then headed due south on 21st and zigged over on Jackson Avenue to the Pulaski Bridge to Brooklyn. As we crossed the Pulaski Bridge, with the stunning views of Manhattan, we were impressed by the string of pleasure boats anchored along the Queens side of Newtown Creek. This poor waterway, a superfund site, must be improving. Horray!

After crossing the bridge, we stayed on McGuinness Boulevard to Greenpoint Avenue, then east to Manhattan Avenue and down the ½ mile or so to the restuarant.

Królewskie Jadlo — the Best Polish Restaurant west of Szczecin!

rólewskie Jadlo, our Polish restaurant, was our next and last stop. We can never remember, let alone pronounce the name. It's "kru-lev-ska yad-lo", which means "King's Feast" (). We always called it the "Rusty Knights" because of the two soldiers in armor which stand outside the front of the place. But we may have to call it the "Shining Knights" since the knights seem to have recently gotten a new coat of silver paint. Check out the picture.

Once we got there, we were happy. Happy for a good run and happy to be in this place. We each had the specialty: "Chef's pierogies stuffed with goat cheese and spinach with chanterelle mushroom sauce". The Polish beer (Zywiec, which I can neither spell nor pronounce) was also quite good. The next set of pictures says it all:

And to make matters even better, on the walk to the subway, we spotted what looked like another great eating place (). We'll be back to Greenpoint — count on it!