Sunday, August 12, 2012

NYC Running Routes: Summer Streets!

What on earth are summer streets? So glad you asked! During the summer, has arranged for Park Avenue to be closed to car traffic, allowing runners (hello!), cyclists and pedestrians of all kinds free to roam the streets! With rest stops along the way, this is a scenic crazy taxi free route is sure to encourage fun and high fives.

Name: Summer Streets

Location: 72nd Street and Park Avenue-Lafayette Street and the Brooklyn Bridge entrance

Entrances: Anywhere on Park Avenue from 72nd Street until 14th Street, then enter at Lafayette Street until the Brooklyn Bridge.

We entered at 60th Street and Park Avenue around 7:15am, and the streets were teaming with runners, bikers, and walkers! I had 14 miles on the schedule, so Mr. Miller and I ran from Astoria, over the Queensboro Bridge, and on to Summer Streets. As we started running down Park Avenue, I said "Wouldn't it be cool if we ran through the tunnel at Grand Central?" Well, this was the first cool thing we did on Summer Streets!

Be sure to take fancy pictures:

The route was not as flat as I thought. The hill up to Grand Central was a pretty decent climb. When running back uptown, Park Avenue between the 30's and 50's has some decent climbs as well. If you're including the Brooklyn Bridge in your run, then you're adding some great bridge climbs as well.

Timing was an issue on this route. Although Park Avenue was closed down, there were some cross town streets open for traffic, resulting in being stopped at a stoplight every 5-6 blocks. Also, my watch was out of control; hi, I'm Kristin, and I don't run 7:xx minute miles. I spoke with other runners and they said the same thing. It must be the tall buildings! As long as the GPS accounted for the distance, I figured I'd survive an easy long run without constantly monitoring my pace.

I was unsure about the water conditions, so I brought my fuel belt. This was an awesome move, even though there was PLENTY of water! It was a HOT, HUMID day, 90% humidity in fact. Staying hydrated was key. We stopped at each water station and the water was DELICIOUS freezing cold goodness. I refilled my fuel belt and threw some on my head. Each rest stop listed on the map had frigid water.

You can add the Brooklyn Bridge or the Queensboro Bridge to your run! If you're looking to add some distance or challenging hills you can add either one of these bridges to your summer streets jaunt.

Enter the Brooklyn Bridge by following the signs at the end of Summer Streets in lower Manhattan. Warning: Brooklyn Bridge appears to be under construction so it was a TIGHT claustrophobic fit:

If you choose to add the Queensboro Bridge, enter at 60th Street and 2nd Avenue: (Photo is Queensboro Bridge run and view of Manhattan Bridge)

There was awesome people watching! Little kids on bikes getting stuck with training wheels, first time rollerbladers, and puppies in baskets! This made my day: a Yorkie puppy in a basket! 

Speaking of puppies, we ran into a real Firehouse Dalmatian! Her name was 20. Also made the run happier ;-)

Not only are the streets available for activity, there are events taking place at each rest stop! We got to try out some Muscle Milk, eat some applesauce, sample  homemade cookies and lemonade, we ALMOST tried the "Are you Stronger Than a 5th Grader", but we didn't want to stop running for 20 minutes. Some things we didn't partake in that you should check out include free bike rentals (GET THERE EARLIER THAN 7am), the Muscle Milk Yoga and massage recovery area at the midtown stop, and the zip line at Foley Square (Which was booked for the day by 7:45am, according to the sign). 

Verdict: We loved Summer Streets! PLUS, Mr. Miller ran 14 miles, a new PDR for him!!! We also ran into a runner friend at the end of our run who joined us for a bit; love NYC and random run-ins!

This route is right for you if you...
- Want to do a FUN run!
- BYOWB (Bring Your Own Water Bottle, unless you're part camel; it's HOT!)
- Enjoy a flat route with a few decent hills.
- Want to add other activity to your run.
- Need bathrooms; there are plenty of Starbucks etc with public restrooms on the route.
- Want to try a unique NYC experience!

This route is not for you if you...
- Want to PR.
- Desire to monitor your pace (ie run at goal pace, intervals etc)
- Freak out when your watch is out of whack.
- Don't like stopping at stop lights semi-often.
- Don't want yummy snacks along the way!

Have you tried out Summer Streets? Tell me about it! If not, there is still time! The last day to experience them is August 18, 2012. Unfortunately, or rather fortunately for me, I will  be on VACATION in Virginia Beach!


85 days until the ING NYC MARATHON!!!
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