Thursday, September 18, 2014

Those Times I Fell in Love Easily

I once had a boyfriend tell me he fell in love easily. My first thought was...thanks? So you love me, but you love easily so I shouldn't be impressed? I'm being only partly facetious...I am pretty loveable. But I was thinking of this interaction as I'm finishing Charles Montgomery's Happy City. I've already told you my all-time favorite statistic from that book: for a single person, "exchanging a long commute for a short walk to work has the same effect on happiness as finding a new love." I'm polyamorous in my love for cities, and I'm singularly focused in my love for running. I fall in love with cities and running routes easily and often. This makes me want to cut the boyfriend who made that statement some slack.

I remember visiting Washington, DC as a teenager, and I just fell so hard. I couldn't imagine there was a city anywhere as cool as that one. Even after all of my travels in the 20 (yikes) years since I first went to DC, I still love it there. But a few years after DC I met New York. Where DC was preppy and buttoned up, New York is an unpredictable bad boy. I fell in love with the fast pace, density and grit of the City. New York became my new love.

Showing love for Washington, DC in the spring of 2014
With my sister in New York City, 2003

A few years later I met Chicago. Wow...I mean wow. Shopping, amazing parks, the gorgeous lakefront. I fell fast, and I fell hard. Chicago was the perfect mix between DC and New York. Sometimes preppy, sometimes naughty, always just right for me. I thought this is it...I've found the one. Of all the places I've been THIS one is the best. We're a match made in Heaven.

With my sister and niece in Chicago, 2012

After Chicago came San Francisco. San Fran has it all. Everything. Walkability, public transit, parks, great weather. San Francisco is also a little edgy, and it had me thinking maybe San Francisco could be the one...but it doesn't have that certain something that Chicago has. My love affair with San Francisco, while real, does not have what it takes to keep it going long term.  

On a City Running Tour of San Francisco, 2013

Then I went to Boston. Ah sweet Boston. It's smaller than Chicago and more intimate. I'm not sure I love it more than Chicago, but it's definitely worth of a little fling. The quaint and historic neighborhoods, the abundant green space. 

Boston in 2011
After Boston I discovered Portland, Maine. My love for Portland is legit. It is my favorite city, and I love it so, so much. There are narrow cobblestone streets, restaurants, shops, green space, the water. Portland is amazing (although in fairness I have yet to visit it in the winter). I fell instantly in love with Portland, and that love has not waned. I dream of going back. I dream of living there. Portland is my lobster (pun intended). 

I felt the same way when I started running. I went from not being a runner to signing up for a marathon, because that's how I do. I ran my first 5k in June of 2006, and I was hooked from that moment on. Now I've run countless 5ks, 10ks, more than a dozen half marathons, and three marathons. I've run in cities from San Francisco to Washington, DC to Detroit. I have a goal to run a race in all 50 states. I've got a lot of work to do (39 more), and my love of running won't let me give up on that goal.

We've combined trips with races. I ran the LL Bean 10k in Freeport, Maine in 2012, resulting in my first visit to Maine and love affair with Portland. We went to Pensacola, Florida in 2012 specifically for the Double Bridge Run. Oh and then there was the Covenant Half Marathon in Knoxville, Tennessee. I fell in love with Knoxville (particularly it's fabulous pedestrian mall), and it started this entire blog.       

Running these towns keeps me sane, and it keeps me falling in love over and over again with different cities and running. One of my favorite things is finding a city (Knoxville is a great example) that is unexpectedly fabulous and falling in love with it. It turns out I have my moments of falling in love easily as well.   

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