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Running to Coney Island

April 12th, 2010

In New York it takes time to get anywhere–by car, bus, subway, or on foot. It makes distances seem farther than they really are so, when I realized how close I am to Coney Island, and the Atlantic Ocean, I thought I should go there.

To make it more fun, or more of a challenge, or simply to try and do two things at once (a trademark of mine), a few weekends ago I decided to run there. To see more ground, I mapped out a trapezoidal shape for my route. Off-the-couch, I’d run a half marathon the weekend before, but I wasn’t sure about running this distance in the city. Fortunately, there’s the subway.

I ran through Prospect Park–the last time I’d been there it was covered in snow–then made my way south on 5th Avenue through a largely Hispanic community to the Verrazano Bridge. Next to an ancient canon, likely a relic of some fort that once protected the harbor, I crossed under the bridge and to the Beltway trail. Container ships chugged through the waterway and, closer than I’d thought it would be, I saw Coney Island. I meandered through some light industrial areas and trash-filled dead end canals, passed through the projects, and there it was. The boardwalk. The ferris wheel. The Atlantic Ocean.

At this point, I’d run about a half marathon and thought about taking the Q train back north. My legs hurt. Instead, just to see if I could, I started running up Ocean Parkway. I paralleled the the Q train for some time, then broke off onto a more direct route as it started to rain.

I had four miles to go when it got hard. I was down to a running shuffle; I wasn’t tired, my legs simply hurt. Then, with one mile left to go I gave up and walked. Painfully. Back to the apartment I mapped it out: 22 miles. So, now I know not only what Coney Island looks like on a windy, empty day, but how far I can run. Not bad for Sunday city entertainment. Cheap too. But maybe I should stretch more.

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