Sunday, July 24, 2011

Bridge of the Week #64: Hendrix Creek Bridge

This week's bridge continues the Belt Parkway series, the Hendrix Creek Bridge. This is the bridge number five of six, if traveling from west to east along the Belt.

Otherwise, there's not a lot more to tell about this bridge. It's a fixed steel and concrete bridge, built in the late 1930's with the rest of the Belt, reconstructed in the 1980's, and it has a sidewalk on the south side. The nearest street access is Erskine St. on the east and Pennsylvania Ave. on the west. Hendrix St. does pass underneath the bridge, right along the creek, but there is no access from the bridge or the Belt, and I think traffic on it might be restricted to landfill vehicles. (The beautiful green grass on both sides of the creek in the second picture above is landfill alongside Jamaica Bay.) The large buildings in the background in the first picture are Starrett City, a housing development built in 1974 and apparently renamed Spring Creek Towers in 2002. That development sits to the northwest of the bridge.

The bridge, by way of the creek, as well as the street were apparently named for Joseph C. Hendrix (1853-1904), a trustee for the Brooklyn Bridge Association from 1884, appointed Postmaster of Brooklyn by then-Governor Grover Cleveland, President of theBrooklyn Board of Education, Kings County Trust Co., American Bankers Association, failed in a run for Mayor of Brooklyn in 1883 but did hold a seat in Congress from 1893-1895. Hendrix Street had been named Smith St. but was changed in 1887.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Race Report: Back on My Feet Lone Ranger

This will be a somewhat short report, since unfortunately my race was fairly short as well.

Race check-in on Friday was at Lloyd Hall, just north of the Philadelphia Art Museum on the Schuylkill River (never did really figure out how to pronounce that, and don't really trust the answer from those who seemed to know). It's a nice facility, with a little cafe, open outdoor space on the river, showers and a gym for those needing a place to rest during the race. I had checked in and was waiting to meet Dennis Ball and his crew, who I'd be sharing a ride with to the motel we were staying at, when to my surprise I see Ryoichi Sekia, just a few days off his 2nd-place Badwater finish! I've run a couple of races with him and he's about the strongest runner I've ever met. I didn't figure he'd be at full strength for this race, but you can never count him out. But he's a nice guy, too and we chatted for a while, with the help of his friend who acted as an interpreter. I'll have to learn at least a few words of Japanese.

So Dennis and his crew and I returned Saturday morning and found a little place to set up just past the start/finish area and got ready for the race. The course followed Kelly Drive, passed in front of the art museum, across the river and north up to Falls Bridge, and back south along Kelly Drive. There were aid stations set up at about miles 2.3, 4 and 6, with additional water/towel stations at about miles 1, 5 and 7. Even with the aid, it was a different setup than a more common course with a loop of roughly a mile, and it took some getting used to for me.

Race morning was warm, with highs predicted in the upper 80's, much cooler than last year's weather I was told, but still mighty warm. There was some shade on the course, but in the middle of the day especially there were long sunny stretches too. Still, I set out on a pace that felt comfortable for me, but still a strong competitive pace, about 7:45/mile. I found myself in a group of seven (!) runners in the lead pack, including Dennis, Sabrina Moran, a couple of guys who looked like Kenyan marathoners, and a couple others. I hate running in packs in a race, so I alternately tried to speed up and slow down to give some separation, but everyone stuck together for two full loops before Dennis and I were able to hang back and let the rest of them go. It was a fairly aggressive pace still for four loops, considering the heat, but I felt I was able to handle it. However, after about 4 1/2 hours, about a mile after starting my fifth lap, in a long sunny stretch, the heat got to me, and I was forced to walk. And with seven miles to go to get back to my own stuff, it was a long, discouraging loop. Here's where the story gets short, because even when I felt like I'd cooled down enough, I couldn't get myself moving again. There were times when I'd be able to run for a few miles at a decent pace, but for the most part laps five, six and seven were torturous walk/jog experiences. And my mind was filled with all kinds of negative thoughts, which I won't get into here, that were truly debilitating, and I didn't have the mental energy to push them out. A friend of mine who'd seen me in my 48 hour race in New Jersey pulled some really dirty tricks (in a good way) to convince me to go one more lap, but it didn't have the hoped-for effect. After eight laps, about 67 miles, almost 14 hours, just before midnight, I dropped out of the race.

But as with all disappointing performances, I will learn what I can from the experience to run stronger the mext time. And the race did raise a lot of money for Back on My Feet (check it out:, a very worthy cause with great people involved. And as always, it was good to see friends there, and to make lots of new friends. My thanks to everyone who showed me support and had nice things to say! Some of you I'll see locally, others I'll see in Cleveland in September!!!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bridge of the Week #63: Spring Creek Bridge

This week's bridge is the Spring Creek Bridge, the easternmost of the Belt Parkway (Shore Parkway) bridges along Jamaica Bay. This one crosses Spring Creek on the border between Queens and Brooklyn, about a mile west of Cross Bay Boulevard. This, as all the Belt Parkway bridges, carries not only the Belt, but also has a walkway on the south side. Most runners using this bridge will be doing the Belt route, but there are parks on both sides of the bridge south of the belt - Spring Creek Park on the east and Fountain Avenue Park on the west, or so it's called on Google maps, but it really looks like an old garbage landfill that's in the process of being converted into a park. Oh well.

The Belt Parkway (the name given to four parkways that skirt Brooklyn and Queens, this section being the Shore Parkway) was built from 1934 to 1940, widened in the late 1940's, and the bikeway/walkway was included from the beginning. The walkway isn't very wide and runs right alongside traffic, so not an exciting experience in itself. This bridge is a fixed bridge and is not particularly interesting from an aesthetic standpoint, but it gets the job done. The Spring Creek itself trickles on for a ways inside Queens, but there doesn't look like there's much to explore there.

Pics: 1. View from below; 2. View from the bridge south toward Jamaica Bay

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Bridge of the Week #62: Hawtree Basin Bridge

This week's bridge is, I believe, the last footbridge that I will cover in this series. I might have said that before, but this time I really think I mean it! It's the Hawtree Basin Bridge, just around the corner from the last bridge I covered, in the Hamilton Beach section of the Howard Beach neighborhood of Queens.

The bridge connects 163rd Ave. in the Old Howard Beach section to land in Hamilton Beach, at a point between Rau Ct. and Davenport Ct. There is a section of road between the two streets where you can access the bridge on the east. It's a fixed pedestrian bridge, built starting in 1962 and completed in 1963. It's actually a very attractive little bridge, painted in sky blue. And from the bridge you can look over the Hawtree Basin, which is apparently the dredged and straightened mouth of Hawtree Creek, which flows from the land near JFK airport, and into Jamaica Bay. Most of the houses in the area have their own docks for small boats.

For runners, as with the Ramblersville-Memorial Bridge, it can be a nice side trip from the eastern end of the Belt Parkway path, or from the Joseph P. Addabbo Bridge and Cross Bay Bridge to the Rockaways. It can be accessed easily from the Howard Beach-JFK station on the A train, or from the west, the Ramblersville/Hamilton Beach/Old Howard Beach neighborhoods can be accessed from 157th Ave. and going south. To the west of this area is Shellbank Basin and to the east of course is JFK. Check it out - enjoy!