Friday, April 8, 2011

How do you become a running cityphile?

The first time I went to Washington, DC I was 16 years old. I remember getting off the Metro near GWU and I fell in love - with the density, public transit, the street vendors, the crowds. Being from a teeny, tiny town in West Virginia, I was enthralled by this large city, and in the years since I've only come to love cities even more. I'm enamored with walkable downtowns, public art and green space.

I'm one of those lucky people who gets to do what they love, and in my day job I advocate for cities. It's a challenging time for communities across the country, but when I visit a city for a race and see the great things various towns are doing, it is inspiring. Running has become a way for me to see cities in ways that I would never otherwise have the opportunity. 

Five years ago I started running by accident. It was no accident that I laced up my Nikes and took off, but the idea to get me there wasn't my own. A dear friend of mine is a runner. She looks like a runner - tall, thin, gazelle-like. Me, not so much. I'm only 5'4" in bare feet although most of the time I'm rocking 3 inch heels. She asked me to attend a Team in Training meeting at our local YMCA and insisted that she was going to run her first marathon.

I went to the meeting for moral support, but by the time I left I had paid the Team in Training entry fee, signed up for the Nike Women's Marathon in San Francisco and agreed to raise $3600 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. I called my boyfriend (now husband) and said "Surprise! I'm running a marathon!" and so my love affair began.

Training was challenging and as a result of an IT band injury (I had never heard of my IT band before I started running) I ended up running the half marathon in San Francisco instead of the full. But during my first 13.1 I feel in love with exploring a city through running. There isn't a better way to experience your surroundings.

There are lots of proud city blogs and plenty of running blogs. But I'm looking to discuss the cities I run through the eyes of a cityphile and a runner. I'm looking at not just the quality of a race but the quality of the community that supports it. I've run a marathon, 6 half marathons, a 10 miler and a myriad 5k and 10k races. Each city offers its own take on a race, and every race is an adventure.

Where it all began: my first trip to Washington, DC in 1995.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to running with you in Chicago this summer :) Great blog - really inspiring!