My office had a bowling outing for a departing intern last week and it led to a great example of why run commuting can be awesome. And also why people, upon hearing what we do, exclaim, “That’s INSANE!” Though, it’s not that insane compared to what some of those same people do as part of their daily work routine and deem “normal.” Say, a two-hour, one-way driving commute, for instance.
The day was normal enough – a simple, uneventful 5.3 mile run to work; a busy, coffee-fueled morning at the office; a quick lunch. And then I hopped into a coworkers car and headed to a bowling alley in Midtown, just north of downtown Atlanta.
At the end of the day when we finished, I went to the bathroom and changed into my running clothes. I had heard it was raining outside, so I put my Osprey raincover on my pack and was ready to go. I was only planning on running a mile up Piedmont Ave. to the train station and then another mile once I got off near my house.
As I neared the entrance, I could see through the glass doors that it was raining outside – not just any rain, but a torrential, drenching, what-the-hell-am-I-doing downpour.
Oh, well. Off I went…
I was soaked within the first few seconds after I left. It felt good though; the temps had been 90+ all week, so this was a welcome relief. I headed towards the intersection I remembered I needed to turn at. It wasn’t far, but I was unfamiliar with this part of town and combined with the blinding rain, I missed the turn.
After a few minutes of running, I found myself at Sweetwater Brewing Company. I sort of knew where this was since you can see it from the northbound train, and I decided to explore that area a bit further. I ran along an embankment and looked down to find Peachtree Creek, swollen and fast-moving from the rain. There appeared to be a trail along the bank. I stood there in the rain thinking about it for a minute and then made my way down through the brush, slipping and sliding as I went. Finally, I reached the “trail” and began running. I call it a “trail” loosely, since it was really just a short chunk of trash and root-strewn path that Atlanta’s jungle had failed to fully engulf.
When the trail ended, I had to bushwhack through thorns and brush, but in the distance I saw a hill that looked like it might be hiding a street on its top. I slowly made my way closer while listening to the sounds of raindrops and the creek roaring through the tunnel underneath the embankment. After clawing my way up, I instead emerged onto railroad tracks. Awesome! Kyle and I used to regularly run along these (BeltLine Trail Runners Club), so they were a welcome sight.
Running on railroad tracks is fun; almost machine-like and hypnotic. Your feet hit every other railroad tie or so, hence your stride length is usually pretty much the same, unless you have to adjust or miss a step. You mostly look down as you run and the repetitiveness of it all can put you into a trance. I ran south as the rain slowed to a stop.
About a mile or so later, I noticed something strange up ahead. As I made my way closer, I kind of had that, “uh-oh” feeling. The crushed rock beneath my feet changed to asphalt. The area above the tracks was covered. Signs indicated gate numbers. Fantastic. I was running through an Amtrack station! I veered off unto a paved street near the end and hightailed out of there…
Finally, I reached a street I knew and could figure out where I was. I was several miles west of Atlanta. I took a picture; the one and only one that day:
I ran east through Atlantic Station to Peachtree Street, took a right and jumped on the train at Arts Center Station. After a quick switch at Five Points to the east-west line, I got off at the East Lake Station and ran home the last mile of the day for an afternoon total of 6.7 miles.
I didn’t start out the day imagining I would run 12 miles, but when running is one of your main transportation methods, you never know how far you’ll go or what you’ll end up carrying with you. But you can be sure that every day has the potential for adventure.