Since moving to the city, I've been able to run on all sorts of interesting streets. There's Summit Avenue, with all its mansions and wrought-iron fences and "Do Not Enter - Alarm Will Sound" signs. The houses are made out of stone or brick, and some have marble statues or large fountains in the yard. Then, there are all the quiet, neighborhood streets surrounding ours, protected by the Historical Society---each house charming in its own individual way and each brightly painted with different colored trim and shutters. Someone stamped poetry into the sidewalk squares before the cement dried in front of many of the houses, and there are "Little Free Libraries" in random yards---a stack of books in a birdhouse-like structure where you can "Take a Book, Return a Book" for free. These streets are shady, and you run by sprinklers in yards or people sitting on their porches drinking iced tea. Someone was playing the ukelele when I was walking by on my cool-down on Monday.
These streets are nice if you're looking for somewhere peaceful to run. I, personally, like running on Grand Ave. It's busy, and there are lots of people and cars and a lot going on all at once. Here are my observations from my runs on Grand:
1. There are lot of random men in their 20's or 30's just walking around by themselves at about four or five in the afternoon. Maybe they are looking for the love of their life. Or maybe they just like the fresh air. One guy sat in his yard by the sidewalk and just strummed the guitar yesterday. We nodded at each other as I ran by.
2. There are also a lot of Moms. Shopping I suspect. They like to smile politely when you pass them on the sidewalk.
3. There are old men with white beards who sit outside of the Dunn Bros by Snelling and just stare at the sky and rest their hands on their knees or their fat bellies. They wear faded blue jeans.
4. Last weekend, a teenage kid almost ran into me when he ducked to avoid a low-hanging branch that almost completely crossed the sidewalk by Saratoga Street.
5. I almost ran into an elderly couple the week before when ducking to avoid the same branch.
6. It's nice to pray when you run. It's hard to keep your thoughts from jarring around in your head and wandering, though. (Isn't it like that no matter what you're doing?) I'm getting better at this.
7. People sitting outside of restaurants at tables on the sidewalk seem grumpy. This must be because they're very hungry because why else would you be at a restaurant at 4:30pm. I passed a couple in their late thirties on Monday who had finished their food and were just staring past each other. They seemed bored or mad or like they had reached a stalemate in the middle of an argument.
8. Mile 3 is my best mile. I can run faster, and I have more energy. I hit this mile when I'm running past the Sinclair station and the Twisted Fork and the fabric store.
9. There are a lot of things to dodge on Grand Avenue. Tables, little kids drawing with chalk on the sidewalk, couples walking. Often, they don't hear me coming, even when I'm a few feet away, so I have to pass them on the grass and skirt around trees or fire hydrants. I try to breathe loud, but it doesn't always work.
10. Being around other people while running encourages me to run. I like interacting with them as I run by. I like seeing other runners or bikers out getting the deed done for the day. Sometimes we smile (or grimace) at each other as we run past. It's nice to know that I'm not alone in the pain and sweat and numbed feet.