Wednesday, June 26, 2024

All the streets in Montclair

 (I'm blogging my journey to the 2024 New York Marathon. You can help me get there.)

At the end of 2020, Strava told me I had run 1362 miles over 12 months.  "I hope I never do that again!" I told a running friend. It seemed appropriate that my very last running song from shuffle was Fountains of Wayne's "Stacy's Mom"; founding member Adam Schlesinger had died of Covid. For months of that pandemic year, there wasn't much to do except work on my computer and run. It was boring, but at the same time I loved it. In retrospect,  the parks needn't have closed (or later in the year, required masks while running through). Remember how we veered around other people just enjoying fresh air?  In that year, running was one thing that made sense. But never have I celebrated the new year as joyously I did on the eve of 2021. Vaccines were on the way, the guy who suggested drinking bleach was heading to Florida, and I had a map of Montclair to fill in.

I've called Montclair, the New Jersey town where I live, "a running resort". It has beautiful parks, long, flat tree-lined streets without much traffic, short steep streets for hill work, well maintained tracks, a wonderful running store,  and at least 3 running clubs. During pandemic, everyone seemed to be out running. Even my wife, who for many years would tell me "I don't understand how you can run so much", started running so much. At Christmas our son gave us both  street maps of Montclair to put on the fridge so we could record our running wanderings.

So, come 2021 the three of us said goodbye to the boring routine of running favorite routes. Montclair has 363 streets, and a couple of named alleys so we could have done a street a day for a year if we had wanted to. But it was more fun to construct routes that crossed off several streets ata time. While I was at it, I could make strava art or spell words. Most of my running masterpieces were ex post cursus pareidolia.  Occasionally I spelled out words. Here's "love" (in memory of a running friend's partner). 

Starting on New Year's Day with the Resolution run up "Snake Hill",  I methodically crossed off streets. I passed Yogi Berra's "Fork in the Road"  I finished the complete set of Montclair streets on Jun 13 .

The neighboring town of Glen Ridge came quickly on July 18, as I had done well over half on the way to Montclair streets. Near me, Glen Ridge is only 2 and a half blocks wide! I took a peek at the Frank Lloyd Wright house on a street I'd not been on before! 

With five months left I started on Bloomfield, the next town east. Bloomfield is cut in half by the Garden State Parkway, the source of the "which exit?" joke about New Jersey, and I focused on the half near to me. I got to know Clark's Pond. My streets running helped me set my half marathon PR, in the lovely town of Corning, New York. 

I know of other streets running completists - it seems there's even an app to help you do it. Author Laura Carney wrote about it in her book "My Father's List"  My friend Chris has continued to add towns and cities to his list and has only 9 streets left to finish ALL OF ESSEX COUNTY. Update: He finished! and was written up by nj.com!

To finish the year I spelled out 2021.

2021: 1,268.3 miles, 223 hours 36minutes, 40,653 ft vertical. I ran to 1,700 different songs. Last running song of the year (on shuffle): Joy Division's "No Love Lost":

Wishing that this day won't last

To never see you show your age

To watch until the beauty fades


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