In order to get to Boston last weekend, we borrowed a car from our friends Franklin and Kate (who also happen to be runners, but that’s just a coincidence), and eventually I had to get it back to them. Since all involved were very busy this week, tonight I just parked the car near their apartment and then locked the car with the key in the glove-box (they have a spare), then ran home.
Frankie and Kate live in a part of Brooklyn called Ditmas Park, almost exactly five miles south-west from us. HopStop says it takes 48 minutes by subway, including 35 minutes on three different trains (the Q, S, and A) and almost 15 minutes of walking. On foot, it took me 42 minutes, including time stopped fro traffic. I love the fact that, apart from being enjoyable, running is often the most efficient way to travel in this borough!
It was also a gorgeous evening. The sun set as I was driving the car back, so I started back in the dark, but the temperature was still up in the low sixties; after a few blocks I stripped off my shirt just to feel the cool air. There was a full moon hanging low over the buildings to the east, just out of the corner of my right eye the entire trip back. The first mile was a straight line up Rugby Avenue, a low-traffic road without many other pedestrians, which made running easy. Ditmas Park is an architectural anomaly in Brooklyn, as it is largely made up of free-standing, single-family houses, like you would expect to find in the suburbs of Long Island — its this incongruous island of suburbia nestled between high-rise apartments and projects just south of Prospect Park. In the dusk, with the noises of the city dampened by the hush of night and the world shrouded in darkness, it felt very much as if I had been transported out of the city for that first mile.
Rugby dead-ends at the Parade Grounds, which I circled around to enter Prospect Park at the corner of Ocean and Parkside. I’ve only run in Prospect Park after dark once or twice, and its wonderful, with the trees blocking out the rest of the city even more than they do during the day and casting their bizarre, nocturnally arboreal shadows across the nearly empty road. The ring-road is just close enough to the edge of the park, and just busy enough, for it to still feel safe, while at the same time feeling secluded from the rest of Brooklyn.
I just did a short cut through the park, leaving again at Empire and Flatbush, from there moving back to my regular route home from Prospect and back into the busier, more active night streets of Crown Heights and Bed-Stuy. Eastern Parkway also acts as the “Heights” in “Crown Heights,” so while the first 3 miles was a slow, steady uphill climb, the last 2 miles was a gradual decline. Eastern Parkway, Bedford Avenue and Nostrand Avenue, the three main roads I took to get home, were also much busier even after dark, but even that has its own urban beauty to it after sunset: red-tail lights stacking up at intersections, the neon glow of Chinese Takeout and African Movie retailers, gaggles of teenage girls clutching one another’s arms and laughing, the visual cacophony of a cop car speeding past.
I’m glad I had to return the car, since I’m not sure I would have been able to convince myself to head out for a 5 mile run at 8 o’clock on a Friday night after such a long, busy week, but it was perfect. I really needed that time to decompress, and this forced me to take that time; the fact that it was at dark, under a cloud-swept full-moon made it an even better atmosphere for reflection.