On a perfect, crisp fall evening, just before sunset, I didn't run my 6 miles at tempo pace. I ran and walked 3.4, and I do not feel like a failure for it. Instead, I took pictures. I meandered. I daresay I moseyed. I reminded myself why I love our little downtown square, and I remembered why I love to run. There's no better way to see a city.
My favorite place to run is down Central Avenue. I'm always guaranteed to see other runners, cyclists and families out for a stroll. And in this alley, you can get the best grilled cheese on the planet from Hammontree's Grillenium Falcon.
I adore Central, and nothing makes me happier than running down the tree-lined sidewalk, ducking under branches and admiring the 100-year-old homes and manicured lawns.
These houses, with their generous front porches, wooden swings and fall wreaths just make me smile.
In my town, tiny parks are tucked away in neighborhoods. I run by this one all the time, and I always think how pretty it is, but I never fully appreciate it. This time, I stopped and smelled the flowers. For real.
I also love running by the old high school. Home of the Tigers. My school looked nothing like this, but it still brings back happy memories of Friday night football games, pep rallies and friends.
I love living in a town where people lock their doors, but they probably don't have to. I also love that it's pumpkin decorating season.
I ran from downtown over to Compton Gardens, where Trea and I had our wedding reception. It's a former home that is used for private events, and I love how it's nestled in the trees, in the middle of town, but secluded. Lucky for me, someone was having a party, so all the twinkle lights were on, I could smell whatever fancy food they were cooking, and there was a jazz piano and singer that I could hear from far away. I ran down the path toward Crystal Bridges, just as the sun went down, and I was so happy to hear the piano music wafting through the trees. (Does sound waft? You know what I mean.)
A run that I had dreaded all day turned into the perfect evening. Running without my iPod is one of the best decisions I've made in months. I love music, but even my favorite songs are someone else's noise, someone else's thoughts. It was nice just to be quiet and listen to the streets.
I made my way back to my car and was delighted to see it was time for Pickin' on the Square! People bring guitars, fiddles and any other kind of instrument they can carry, and they put on a show. There were literally people with guitars on every corner. Spectators bring lawn chairs and blankets and settle in for gospel and country music. I LOVED it. This is also where the boot-wearing, cowboy hat-loving citizens come out of the woodwork.
When I left work on Friday, I didn't want to run. All I wanted to do was go home and relax. Would this night have been better spent on the couch watching TV? No way. I hope you enjoyed my running tour; I know I did!