Mornings were a frenzy of sifting, mixing, baking and boxing goods; I filled the afternoons by running them to friends at the city’s four corners, where they’d cozied up or hunkered down at their homes; I thrived in the iciest, nastiest parts of the storm, without oops or incident, yet when it seemed spring sprung forth, the waxing sun clearing lawns and slopes and grass, and the temperatures rose, freeing sidewalks from the freeze, loosing ice from limbs, and flushing silt-clogged roads with melt, I nearly lost my life: this is a tale of how I spent my two-day snow-mer vacation.
“What do you do when it rains?”
This is among the inner circle of Common Comments I receive, reigning with How Far Do You Run; Do You Shower; That’s So Impressive; and I Could Never Do That. If I might answer them in reverse order: you can do far more than you think; when you realize what you can do, that will be impressive; no shower, but I’m a clean-up ace; five miles; and, to answer the first, at the risk of sounding flip:
I get wet.
To be fair, run commuters will ask of themselves something similar: what do I do when it rains? How do I keep my gear dry, and keep from becoming an absolutely sodden mess? Let’s talk rain wear, dry bags, planning for your rainy run and soggy jogging, and how puddles and downpours can quench your thirst for adventure and joy.
Two weeks ago, I got three comments while running home from work. It’s not unusual: friends passing might hail hello; would-be wits and jerks in general offer more inflammatory fare, often from a passing car’s window. One of the comments that day came from an addled homeless lady sitting spread-eagle in the middle of the sidewalk outside a warehouse down my street: “Did you just get off a fire engine?” she squawked. No, ma’am, I assure you: I did not. I am to firemen what Steve Rogers, pre-Super Soldier Serum, is to Captain America.
The other two comments were the same, hurled heartily from speeding vehicles on North Avenue, a east-west artery of rolling hills, several lanes, and one speed: fast. It was while I was huffing up said hills that the aforementioned comments came, both of them, “Go, Boston!”
Then I spied this on a viaduct not much further on that passes over North Avenue, and pulled up short to consider. That structure carries on its shoulders the BeltLine Eastside Trail, a spiffed-up rail-trail that is Atlanta’s shiny new thing, universally adored by the city’s yuppies (and, for some reason, parents who think such a busy multi-use trail is an ideal environment for their kids to learn to bicycle). On one side of the viaduct, Murder Kroger, a grocery store that perfectly ties together all qualities and characters of North Avenue’s parallel thoroughfare, Ponce de Leon Avenue. On the other side, the Masquerade, a music venue-nee-cotton mill outside which suburban teens, greasers, Nth generation punks, emo kids, goths, and Hall queue to see their favorite bands.
One side of the viaduct has a colorful, well-crafted mural touting the BeltLine. This side, though, is a scratch pad for aspiring taggers, their handles like Crass, Squeak, Squeal, Queequeg, and Hall — seldom, if ever, seen again — snippets of bad teen poetry and the proclamations of self-fancied philosophers. Quite the contrast.
But the area is changing; North Avenue is changing. Developments like Ponce City Market, Historic 4th Ward Park, and the BeltLine are gradually, inexorably altering the areas in which they are situated. I saw Tuesday morning bags of trash piled high along that side of the viaduct that formerly served as taggers’ collective scratch pad. Weeds were pulled. Dirt was swept away. And the wall was painted that Eastern Bloc gray-blue color that is rolled over all permutations of “Queequeg was here,” and denotes that graffiti was there.
Except this. The entire length of the wall: gray-blue, then, bam: preserved with painstaking care, “Boston On My Mind” remained. And I hope it remains there for a long, long while. Community immersion is a benefit of run commuting, and running in general. Similarly, the marathon has been called the most democratic of sporting events, as it offers the least barrier between spectators and athletes, a minimum separation between those who cheer and those cheered on — including the former’s entrance to that athletic endeavor.
Perhaps drivers that day spied this, inspiring them to call, “Go, Boston!” as I huffed over those hills, rather than something derogatory or deflating, or nothing at all. I enjoy when strangers shout encouragement. I enjoy that they engaged me, as a member of the neighborhood, as a fellow citizen and person, despite the odds that we will never know one another or even again cross paths.
Perhaps passersby of all kinds, everyone, will take note, keep those barriers down, and keep the literal and figurative Boston on their minds and in their hearts.
DeKalb Avenue is off my typical run commute route, but the morning was foggy and DeKalb offers a wonderful view of the skyline’s sentinels huddled in their wooly blankets. It also allowed me to meet Mike, another run commuter!
I spied Mike’s florescent orange shirt from several blocks back and hot-heeled it after him, grabbing for my camera. I caught him at Georgia State University’s campus, and we huffed out a bit of exchange over the next two blocks.
Mike shared that he started run commuting about two or three months ago, while training for the March 17, 2013, Georgia Marathon. His kids’ needs and schedules sometimes precludes longer runs prior to or following work, so he began running two miles to the train station in the morning, and two miles home from it after work. That round-trip train ride also affords Mike 45 minutes in which to read, to his delight. Mike’s family lately scaled back to being a one-car family; this multi-modal run commute helps make that easier. It is something with which Josh’s family has experience, having gone from one car to being car-free (eventually going back to one car, after Ben joined their family). But that is how Josh came to run commuting, too.
Mike and I had about as many minutes as blocks in which to speak before our paths parted, so I neglected to advise him about improvising a waist strap. As you can see, above, his backpack lacks that feature; I could see from blocks away that it changed his form significantly, and swayed visibly back and forth. Many options to allay this: a bungee cord, preferably one of the flat kind; some string; a web belt, of the Army surplus type; an old bike tire: limitless options.
Mike, if you read this and would like to add anything, or more likely, if I botched some info, comment or contact us! The question we all have: what was your time in the marathon??
“I am out of shape,” he huffed, though he seemed anything but.
I encountered Gray on my run commute home Wednesday, at the corner of Piedmont and MLK, in the gold-domed glare of the Capitol. Weekly I see new run commuters, but often they are blocks away or my camera is at home; so it was with surprise and delight, and entirely without elegance, that I crowed, “Run commuter! You, too?!”
Gray told me he was running something over two miles, from Georgia State University, where he is a student, to Grant Park, due south. The campus is so close, he said, that he figured he could just run the distance. And it makes good sense: Georgia State University, one of Georgia’s four research institutions, is surrounded by a confusing network of four-lane one-way streets, viaducts, and turn-only/no-turn lanes that is as sensible navigable as an M.C. Escher drawing. Driving’s difficulty is compounded by jockeying for parking in stories-tall decks; rising transit fares are not always a student’s budgetary ally; but bicycling certain routes, and running any of them, is wonderfully easy, and often quicker than muddling through traffic.
Gray stated he was out of shape, hence the huffing and puffing as we spoke; however, I must disagree: he seemed fit, and Gray had just run up a rather steep, lengthy hill of Piedmont Avenue, carrying 20-25 pounds on his back (textbooks, laptop, and sundry). Tell me you would have your wind, having done the same. And I had just run two level blocks with maybe 10 pounds, and was huffing as much (see my greeting above).
Great job, Gray! Run hard, study harder.
UPDATE: We are extending the deadline through the weekend. All entries must be received by 5:00 pm on Monday, October 1st. We will notify the winner on Monday night.
Who’s ready to race?
If you’ve never participated in The North Face Endurance Challenge before, now is your chance. We are giving away a free entry to the October 13-14 Southeast Regional trail race in Atlanta, GA!
Overview of the Race
The North Face Endurance Challenge was born following ultrarunning legend Dean Karnazes‘ monumental 50 marathons in 50 states in 50 days . The first Endurance Challenge race was held in 2007, drawing together elite runners, ultramarathoners, and average athletes alike. The courses are all chosen to challenge the individual, as well as provide beautiful and breathtaking views along the way. What began as a single-day event with four race distances to choose from, evolved into a two-day event, with 8 different races (50-mile, 50K, Marathon, Marathon Relay, Half Marathon, 10K, 5K, and even a 1K Kid’s Run), held in six different cities across the United States.
The Atlanta, GA Southeast Regional Race
Location: F.D. Roosevelt State Park – Pine Mountain, GA (I know – not quite Atlanta)
Located 1.5 hours southwest of Atlanta, the Pine Mountain Trail provides 23 miles of ideal trail running experience – water crossings, technical terrain, tough uphill and downhill sections, and plenty of exposed roots and loose rock to try and take you down.
How to Enter:
1) Comment below on this post and tell us your favorite place/route to run.
2) Like The Run Commuter on Facebook.
One lucky person will receive a registration code good for any distance. Winner will be chosen by random number generator based on post number. Contest will end
Friday, September 28, 2012 Monday, October 1, 2012 at 5:oo pm EST.
We will also follow-up on the winner’s training progress and race experience if they will allow us to share (not a requirement for accepting the free registration).
Spring came and went like a bat out of hell, leaving us Georgians with 80+ degree days in February, followed by a summer that started in March. While the rest of the U.S. went from shorts to snowsuits and back again almost overnight, new plant growth down south greedily attacked the open spaces around it without mercy, leaving hazards and obstructions in its wake.
Personally, I’m a sidewalk runner. We are pedestrians and not vehicles after all. Some runners say you should only run on the road and they have their reasons for it, but I like to keep myself separated from bicycles, cars, and motorcycles as much as possible. However, like the picture above illustrates, that can be hard to do when the sidewalk is blocked by obnoxious plant life. What’s a runner to do?
There are several options:
On Monday, Kyle and I sat down for a chat with Caitlin Seick of WalkJogRun, a popular running route finding and planning website, and talked all about run commuting. WalkJogRun’s iPad app recently hit #7 in the health and fitness category, so check it out now, hipster, so you can say you knew all about it before it was #1. Blog post with audio/podcast below.
Article: Running To Work – WalkBlogRun
Did everyone enjoy running to work on Run to Work Day? TRICK QUESTION: of course you did. We heard from many of you, pre- and post-RtWD. Here is a sampling of some of the excitement that simmered in from Internaut, followed by my own experience and photographs.
Our pal and fellow Atlantan Hall said, “Good timing! My car needs some work, so I started riding MARTA, then I realized it’d be just as quick (faster even, if you can believe it) to run commute. Plus I needed to start adding miles to my training.” Not the first time in Atlanta’s congested streets that runners and riders have outpaced transit.
Christina, who discovered the event last-minute, jumped in regardless, eager. She has a great recap with photos, and her day-before prep. You might wonder whether she successfully summited the 0.7 mile-long Torrey Pines Hill at the end of her run. Go find out! (She did. TRUMPH.)
Matt and a partner, unable to go on Feb. 24, will instead brave their run commute on April 6. “Brave” it is apt: they will run 40 miles to work. They have a debate going: “Can we be late or do we have to be at work on time?” Your thoughts?
Aggie, with a wealth of commitments and dearth of time, saw this as an opportunity to notch some miles. “My job is just some 4.5 miles away, so I usually try to alternate running to with running from work. … Between school and work the commute runs are the only option for me to get any training going during the work week.”
And our pal Byron, known locally as one of the go-to guys regarding bicycles, jumped in, too. Adventurer, he. “Achieved “mode parity” today, with my route by foot (run, not walk), bike, transit, and car all taking less than 30 min total; I could probably get them almost equal with a bit more effort.” Josh and I saw him the other day for lunch, and Byron is looking quite svelte these days. Whatever level of effort he is putting out, it is paying off.
Al Gore opened new worlds of stalking to the shy, curious, and flat-out creepy. Gone are the days when one lurked in bushes, trees, or other foliage, hoping to ogle passersby or inventory their actions. That mode is, I imagine, much like vinyl: adamantly adhered to by a handful of purists (or, as it were, peepers). Now we have Facebook, Twitter, fascinating blogs, and so many more options for electronic, anonymous monitoring of the object of your obsession.
Mine: THE WEATHER CHANNEL. Mother Nature is fickle and often ferocious, switching in a day’s span from torrential rains to sun blasts and back, perhaps a cold snap during lunch, and a tornado warning or two for a night cap. Most runners need to plan attire for just a few hours: the duration of their exertions. The weather in that span should hold, but run commuters face two often distinctly different climates, bookending their days. Keep these things in mind before you brave the day’s elements, be they at dawn or dusk.