Thursday, April 4, 2013

Washington, DC keeps bringing me back. A great city will captivate you like that.

In my very first post on this blog I talked about my experience of going to Washington, DC for the first time at the age of 16 and falling in love with cities. I will never forget riding up one of those long escalators and starring up at the buildings. It was a sweltering July day, and despite that I loved every single minute of being there. I loved the metro; I loved the density; I loved being able to walk everywhere; I loved street vendors; I loved the cultural destinations, and I loved the green space weaved in between the buildings and the concrete.  

When you grow up in a town of 400 people, nobody expects you to feel like you're a city girl at heart. But even from the time I was quite young I wanted to be someplace busier. I have a busy personality by nature, and the sleepiness of a small West Virginia town just wasn't going to do it for me. I needed something faster; something louder; something bigger - both in sheer size and ambition.

Lansing, Michigan certainly isn't the world's biggest metropolis. I've lived places that are bigger, and who knows - maybe someday I will again. But getting to advocate for communities gets to me - it drives me and communities are part of who I am.  I try to let go of work when I'm not in the office, and yet it creeps into my psyche at the strangest moments - while driving through a roundabout, seeing a bike lane, seeing new development projects in a downtown and trying a new chic restaurant. I'm drawn to communities, and it's not just who I do but rather who I am.

Being a runner and choosing to run in new cities is just icing on the cake. I've discovered things while running that I probably wouldn't have noticed otherwise. I've discovered new restaurants to try and new shops in which to browse. I've gotten to have cities all to myself early in the morning while I'm running and taking it all in.  Running in new cities has become more than a passion - it's become part what I need to do. We craft vacations and trips around races. If we take a trip without me doing a race, I feel like it's missing something.

I've visited Washington, DC dozens of times in my life, yet I have never been there during the peak Cherry Blossom bloom. I can't wait to run the Cherry Blossom 10-miler this weekend with thousands of other runners. Despite the many visits to DC in the 18 years since my first trip,it captivates me each time. That's what a great city does.

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