Double Digit Running In A Single Digit Neighborhood

I’m in the final stretch of half marathon training and just completed my last long run before the big day this past weekend.  Nick and I were planning on going to White Rock Lake and doing our run there.  It’s 9.1 miles around and our last long run was 10 miles long so it would have been only a little bit of overlap.  We checked the weather when we got up Sunday morning and it was going to be a chilly day with the high hitting around 1PM.  I decided to head to the grocery store before the run since I figured my energy level would be shot after running 10 miles.  I left the grocery fully stocked with healthy groceries for the week.  On a side note, every time a I go to the Tom Thumb across the street I’m always frustrated that the produce is picked over or they don’t have what I need.  They had EVERYTHING I was looking for this time, so good job Tom Thumb!  Maybe Sunday morning is the best time to go.  Anyway, as I was loading up my car, I quickly decided that White Rock Lake might be a horrible idea for our running location as it was super windy and chilly and would only be worse at the lake.

After eating a small lunch and procrastinating a little while longer, I got geared up (and layered up) and hit the pavement for 10 miles.  Unfortunately, with White Rock Lake off the running agenda, Nick and I decided to stay in our neighborhood, which meant making lots of loops.  Over the long weekend, I’d filled some of my free time by reading a college sorority sister, Emily Malone’s blog.  I’ve read pieces of it here and there over time but over the summer I decided I wanted to read it from the very beginning.  Over the past couple of months, I read through about a year of her blog, all the way up to the point that she got married and I made some serious headway over the long weekend, completing another 6 months of entries.  So tying back to where I was going with this, over the weekend I read one of her old blog posts about running in her new neighborhood in Charlotte, NC and how she struggled with being able to run more than 5 or so miles in her own neighborhood.  I felt the same way.  I’ve maxed my neighborhood runs out at 4 miles before I have to start making loops.  It’s super frustrating but that’s the way a lot of southern cities and suburbs across the country were designed.  (Finally, a planning issue, right?!)

I searched and searched to find the graphic I wanted to post in my blog that will demonstrate my point of suburban sprawl neighborhoods and traditional neighborhood design, but I couldn’t find it, so this one will have to do.  (Thank you for the graphic that I grabbed from your image library.)  Basically this is a diptych of two neighborhoods: the top is a traditional neighborhood and the bottom is suburban sprawl.  Both cover the same about of land, have the same amount of open space, the same amount of housing, and the same amount of civic and commercial space.  The top portion is drawn out in a connected manner so that if you live in the neighborhood you can easily access your neighborhood amenities such as parks, schools, retail, etc.  The idea is that you can walk from point A to point B without having to risk your life walking along a auto-oriented arterial.  The bottom image is quite opposite.  all the residential is clustered together with dead-end cul-de-sacs.  Retail is designed for the car that is traveling at high speeds along the arterial.  Parks and schools are located separately and both would require getting in a car and driving there, even if it’s a quarter-mile away.  Like I said, this is how the cities in the south are predominantly designed as are American suburbs in the south or north.  There are several factors for why development has shifted this way.  First is the development of the car and the accessibility of owning one or two or three of them in the boom of the 1960’s.  At this same time, suburbanization was the latest dwelling trend and everyone moved away from the city center to have their slice of the American dream, white picket fence and all.  Zoning regulations also play a factor in the suburban sprawl model of neighborhoods, forcing use separation.  The list goes on as to other factors of why “newer” neighborhoods are designed the way they are, but I don’t want to bore you any more.  The point is, these suburban style neighborhoods lack a sense of connectivity and encourage auto dependency while making us pedestrians feel unsafe to venture out of our own yards.

Okay, now that I’ve FINALLY, talked about a planning issue for real and how it has impacted my life lately, I can get on with the rest of my story.  Being so cold out, I layered up, and quickly decided that all they layers were a mistake.  I took off my fleece and tied it around my waist at about mile 2.5.  Luckily, I was running in circles, so I ditched it at mile 4 (back at home) and set out for the remaining 6 miles.  Time passed and I often wonder what I think about while I run to make it go by, but honestly, if I’m not counting down the miles and time in my head, I’m not really thinking about much.  Mile 10 came and I had to walk about a half a mile home and it hit me that I had just ran 10 miles!  That’s a lot!  I haven’t celebrated any of the mile markers (literally) along the way.  I’ve just been so focused on the “end” goal that I haven’t really considered what I’ve accomplished.  11 weeks ago, I had never ran in a formal 5K race.  I’ve run 5K’s before, but never anything that was timed or drew a crowd larger than a small inter-departmental graduate school run.  I’d never done a 10K race before, and really the most I’d every really ever run was 6 or so miles.  So I’m just taking a minute now to celebrate my accomplishments along the way.  Go me.  Good job!

To round out the chilly day, I made some yummy Red Lentil Soup With Sausage, Spinach, and Balsamic Onions courtesy of Fitness Magazine- October issue.  I couldn’t find the recipe online to link it in here, but one of the pictures below is the recipe in the magazine.  Hopefully you can read it if you want to make it at home.

Sauteing the onions
Soup is simmering away
And the recipe in the magazine

Being a windy and brisk November night, I thought it was a perfect night to light a “fire” in our fireplace- which consists of lighting candles.

Our mock fire

It was the perfect way to end a long run and a long holiday weekend.

In other news, we’ve made some progress on our wedding planning.  We should have a date selected very soon!  And, I have two job interviews coming up.  More to come on those exciting items soon!


2 responses to “Double Digit Running In A Single Digit Neighborhood

  1. Kim!

    Super belated congrats on the engagement, I just caught up on your blog! I also started running last year, and did my first half marathon in Philly, and full marathon in Boston in April. It was intense, but awesome. Im taking a break from hardcore training to try to work on my phd, but I love reading your updates:) good luck on your run

    Sounds like all is well-let me know if you come out east anytime soon


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