I was talking to a friend the other day who asked me how in the hell I can run, because, according to him, "it is so boring." I asked him, "where do you run?"
I run in downtown Phoenix.
Lock the door. Watch Schooner pull Jane down the hallway. (Hmmm, I wonder who wears the pants in THAT relationship?). Push the button. Wait. Ding, door opens. We both look inside the elevator fearfully, Schooner leads the charge. We both get on behind him. "Going Down" says the recorded voice. Thank Pre, there is no one on board.
Ding, second floor parking garage. Jane and Schooner get off, on their way to Doggy Training. (there's $110 I'll never get back). "Going Down"... First floor, door opens. I get off and head through the lobby and out the door.
I walk across the street to Chase Field. I get approached by three different scalpers by the time I cross the street.
"Hey, need one for the game?"
"Nope, I'm good."
I walk past the line of pedicabs, all waiting for the game to end, nearly three hours away.
"No thanks." I check my Garmin. It's searching for a satellite. I stop at the stairs that lead up to the bank of ticket windows and spread my legs wide as I start to stretch out. No more asking the guy in running gear if he wants to by tickets to the game.
I stretch out right here before every run. I usually run about 5am, so I am normally here all alone. There are still hundreds of people walking around me, waiting to go into the game. A few of them wondering what the hell the guy over by the stairs is doing. I check my watch again. Satellite acquired.
I push the start button on the side of the watch, and start off through the crowd.
It's quite different running around the ballpark when there is a game going. I get looks that are a cross between "Ignore the guy who thinks he's cool running through the crowd", and "What's up with the guy running, any cops chasing him?" Nope, no cops, just a stop watch...
I pass Sliders, the closest bar to the grounds of the stadium, and check out the Beer Tub Girls as I run by. Outstanding hiring practices at that place. I get to the end of the field and turn right. More people all walking towards me. I pass the outfield entrance to the park, and move to where the little wall ends between the walkway and the Lite Rail route on my left. No train coming, so I don't slow down as I cross the street and the tracks heading North on 3rd street.
I am currently running about 213 out of 226 for people saying "Hi" back to me. It always affects my mood when I'm running, usually for the better.(for the worse about 13 times...)
I have to stop at the next intersection. There are cars coming, and since there is a game, there are also cops. My Garmin 405 stops the timer automatically when I come to a complete stop. (pretty cool) I cross the street with the light (the timer starts back up). On this side there are the dorms for Downtown ASU on my right, and the headquarters for the Catholic Arch Diocese on the left. I always found that a little humorous. Accidental? Who knows...
I run through the next light, no cars, no cops. On my left is Arizona Center. A great place to see movies, there is never a crowd. Also a couple nice restaurants, and the local Hooters (hiring practices, not so good). There is a beautiful stretch of green lawn through here and the street is lined with giant palm trees on both sides. Coming from Seattle, I smile every time I go down a palm lined street.
After passing this oasis in the city, I hit the edge of downtown, and start to work my way into the neighborhood of Roosevelt. This is the area where First Friday takes place, our monthly art walk. This is a cool, funky part of town. Past the restaurant Fate, now known as nine 05 . This is one of the hipper urban haunts, with an outside bar in the front yard of this old converted home. A fantastic place to people watch on First Friday.
When I hit Roosevelt, I turn left. Ahead of me is the vacant shoebox of a brick building that I call Alligator Jane's, named after the Bar /Restaurant I keep telling my wife we should put into the building. I look at my watch, and realize I am doing about a 9:15 pace. I tend to lose myself as I go through this part of town. As I am pushing down Roosevelt, I see the next intersections crosswalk light is changing. In phoenix, when the light is about to change, you get a flashing countdown on the crosswalk lights telling you how many seconds you have left to cross the road before the light turns red, and you get run over.
When I see this, I am pretty sure I can make it. It says 9 seconds, so I start to run much faster, almost a sprint. I love these lights, they always help me pick up my speed. I call the Pacemakers! The problem is that I become so focused on making the light, I don't realize one of the cars waiting at the intersection is a cop. I am sure he is waiting for me to not make it across in time so he can run me over...
I make the light, and I don't get the always fun "Red means stop" lecture on the cops PA system from his car. And I don't get run over. Today is gonna be a good day.
I get to Central and look both ways for the light rail, which goes in both directions along here. Nothing coming, so I cross the road. I pass the church on my right side. I run by here a lot on Sunday mornings, and get to say hi to all of the people on their way to services. I am now going through the nice area of Roosevelt, with old tree lined streets. Along here, many of these gorgeous older homes have been converted to attorneys offices.
I cross Third and turn right, up the sidewalk. This is one of the areas that is surrounded by new condos on each side of the street, with fully grown flowering trees an both sides of the sidewalk. I rarely get through this stretch without getting smacked by a low hanging branch. I suppose I could pay better attention, but along here there is often palm fronds fallen onto the sidewalk, so I am paying attention to my feet. Smack, my sunglasses almost fall off of my head.
I am wide awake now as I take the next left, and head down this residential street with nice older homes on each side, also lots of palm trees. At the end of this block is my house (I just haven't bought it yet). It is probably 100 years old on a corner lot with a rambling two story balcony and an unobstructed view of the downtown skyscrapers. Plus it's a fixer... Someday.
As I reach my house I turn right on 5th Avenue and head north across I-10 into the the residential area between downtown Phoenix and uptown Phoenix. It's 102' outside, and I am really trying to work on my pace. Every since I realized my goal pace for the Marathon is 9:16, I have quit accepting pussy footin around on my training runs. Most have been a 10 to 11 plus minute pacenot anymore. Time to step it up. I stretched out my stride as I continued on.
There are two things I need to pay attention to along this portion of my route. In the city, most homes have alleys behind them, and I am running along the sidewalk right up next to the typical Arizona six foot tall stucco privacy fences that every home has. What that means is if there is a car coming out of the alley about the time I reach the end of the fence, me and a 3000 pound SUV are going to argue about right of way, with me most likely coming out on the losing end...
The other issue is that there are continuous changes in the slope of the sidewalk because of the alley's, streets, and driveways. Constantly jumping off of curbs, across the side street, and back up over a curb onto the sidewalk. A twisted ankle would really screw with my training plans...
All that being said, I love running through here. There is usually shade around. I see more runners and bicyclists. There is always people walking their dogs. Not yippee little ankle biters like mine, but real dogs. Every once in a while I see a woman walking her giant dog towards me and I do a risk versus reward analysis. The size of the dog versus the size of the woman walking it. Sometimes it's just safer to cross to the other side of the street.
What is the point of this narration? Why am I describing my morning 4 mile loop?
Because. If the Disneyworld Marathon next January is the destination... Then this is the journey. You need to find a way to enjoy it. Otherwise you will get bored and quit. Same reason I have a tough time going to the gym. I get bored, so I don't go. What is it about your run that keeps you engaged? Is it the music on your headphones? Is it the company of your running partner. Is this the only time of day that you can think without being interrupted? Is it the only time of day that you don't have to think at all?
What is it you like about your journey? Jane and I try to run different routes as often as we can so that we get to see different parts of the city, and don't get bored. One morning we went down a street in the middle of downtown that we had not run in a while, and boom. There are three new restaurants right on the same corner. One of them, Sens, is fantastic. It is a Saki and Tapas restaurant. Another place we found on a Sunday morning run is Cibo, an urban pizzeria about a 10 minute walk from out condo.
This is why I run outside in 100' weather instead of inside an air conditioned room on a treadmill. I like to keep up with the Joneses. Or at least with how the Joneses yard looks. I try to make the journey as interesting as the destination.
I run in Phoenix. Where do you run?