I have been drawing lines since I was a kid, like most people. Colored inside the lines and out. I always loved to draw. As an architect I drew a lot of lines. In the profession lines were laid as symbols on drawings used for expressing an idea in design or for telling someone else how to build a certain type of thing. A wall, a window, a floor etc. The lines and other symbols on the drawings would be defined by a ‘schedule’ (like a key on a map) somewhere in the drawing set. Line thickness was used to create depth on a 2D drawing, dashed and dotted lines all had their own meanings and translated to different things. To draw a line an extra 1/4” further than intended on paper could be the difference of hundreds of thousands of dollars in real life. You had to take care when drawing lines in architecture, and it took a lot of time in the industry to fully understand the impact of drawing lines and how they translate to built form, and eventually into dollars and cents. The life blood of human existence.
I deeply despised architecture, somehow I managed to endure 10 years in the industry. I worked mostly on high-rise and medium-rise residential construction, as well as a great deal of renovation of landmarked buildings. I spent lots of time working on drawings for the first 5 years or so, then spent several years focusing on construction administration. I was lucky to have great mentoring early in my career while working for a small firm. This firm grew quickly and I was a part of the early team. It was demanding but I was determined to be successful, and this was the type of firm where you could bite off as much as you wanted. The advantage of working 80+ hours a week is you get double the experience in a single work week. I remember spending endless hours working on drawings while friends were out having fun, or sleeping. I remember going to work at 8am, working until 4am, then getting a few hours sleep and doing it all over again. I remember getting burnt out and being so frustrated with the lack of free time that I would punch my own leg in frustration…psycho. After a few years grinding I thought I would never get out of there. Finding myself staring out the 12th floor office windows on sunny days, wishing for my freedom of time. As a young architect, like in any industry, you definitely got taken advantage of…but thats the way it goes. Lots of egos, lots of office bullshit, lots of dealing with people so bored they got nothing better to do than to bust balls. I don’t miss that. It was not all bad obviously, lots of great co workers, lots of great times. Nothing feels quite as good as working your ass off in a team environment, all while learning a ton of new stuff. I am often asked if I would go back, still waiting for the answer myself.
Although near the end of my time in architecture I hated my life, out of fear of unemployment and disappointing my parents I never would have had the courage to quit. Be that as it may, I ended up leaving architecture in 2008 to temporarily relocate to the West coast. I returned to NYC two months later (I think Novemberish) and moved into the Lower East Side. I got a job bartending through a friend, and I tried to find a way back into architecture. With 30% of the industry already laid off, projects drying up, and more lay-offs on the way, I could not find work. I bartended for 6 years after that, starting OSR about 2 years in. That was a great time. Lower East Side was a lot of fun, lots of young, fun people in and around the service industry on Orchard Street. Specifically between Barrio Chino, An Choi, Spur Tree, Bunny Chow, etc. An Choi had just opened, but I had been friends with Tuan for a few years. When OSR became a thing, I asked him if we could grab that big communal table on Tuesday nights. We have had a standing reservation since. We would meet up at Lost Weekend, run, then head to An Choi and get messed up on margaritas till 7am the next morning. We would run all the time, and end there. I don’t think anyone had a day job at that point.
Eventually we did the Midnight Half in 2012. By this time we were doing weekly runs with the pre-loaded, posted- route format we use today. The reason I draw a map and post the route ahead of time is to give everyone all the information they will need to run this route completely on their own. I kind of fulfill my responsibility as an organizer to you right away. Now the rest is up to you. You have to show up and know the deal.
So now I still draw lines. Lines on a map or on top of the city grid. These lines are also symbols on drawings, but with a completely different meaning. The lines I draw now describe paths directing people where to go in order to meet a specific distance. These lines create the community that comes to OSR on Tuesday nights, or brings people to my races. The lines I draw now are a kind of autobiography through NYC. They take people past places of personal significance, luckily the city at night makes any route seem beautiful with intent. We run past some old apts shared with ex girlfriends, we run along the streets my dad and I would deliver bread to when I was kid, we run past where I went to school. It’s as good a way to plan a route as any I guess, or at least it has worked out pretty good so far.
The running lines have brought a lot of people together, and like the architectural drawings, we have built something with these lines. There is a real power in community like this, it is what all the brands are after. Funny how the best things in life are free, but you still gotta pay the rent in NYC.