I just got home from a 4 day trip to Austin, Texas where I attended a conference but also had enough time to play and enjoy the city a little bit. Austin is pretty great and definitely a runner-friendly place; I think everyone in that town runs. Seriously– the trail was so packed in the morning it was almost annoying.
But this isn’t about how awesome Austin is. If you’d like to know about that I suggest you go ask Jess who knows far more than I do.
I love to travel. I love airplanes, I love hotels, I love seeing new places, eating new food, meeting new people and running fresh routes. No matter how much I travel (and I travel a lot for work) it never gets old to me. Unless I have to go to Bakersfield or Fresno but even then I enjoy checking out something new. And while I love to experience the new and the fresh and to get outside of my everyday routine, I love that traveling allows me to appreciate what I have at home.
While I was out and about I’d find myself thinking, “oh wow! People are running around the capitol and downtown. How cool!” And then I’d remind myself that people here run around the Capitol all the time and I kind of make fun of them (why run laps around the Capitol when there are a ton of other, better places to go?) and never do it myself. Then I’d find myself thinking, “oh wow! A paved/dirt, mile-marked trail that goes along the river by downtown, that is so neat!” And then I’d remember that we have this little 23 mile thing called the American River Parkway that is beautifully maintained, goes along the river from downtown to Folsom and is, for the most part, safe. Plus, our trail has bathrooms. I’m just saying. They come in handy.
It is so easy to take our home routes and trails for granted– especially if you’ve lived in one place awhile. I definitely get bored on the Parkway (oh look, the pack of wild turkeys. Again. And the pedestrian bridge at Sunrise. Whoopdedoo.) because I’ve run there so often and my parks get boring and muddy at times but really, they’re great. If I were visiting I’d be enchanted by the jack rabbits, wild turkeys, ducks, coyotes, wide riverbends and well-maintained parks that I get to enjoy any time I want. I need to stop referring to the ducks in McKinley as the, “many, nasty, smelly urban park ducks” and remind myself that they’re actually pretty hilarious! They do smell though. I’m not giving that up.
I’ve always known that Sacramento is a great city for runners. We have tons of well-organized races, tons of places to run, lots of teams and opportunities to run with others and a handful of gorgeous parks that make getting those everyday miles in a pleasure. Everyone at the conference was raving about how wonderful Austin’s trails were for running. And while they were great and I enjoyed them, I don’t think they were better than anything I have here. Something about being outside of my normal routines and routes allowed me to appreciate and love mine that much more. (As an aside, the eye candy in Austin is way better than here. Holy wow. Every single guy looked like a Runners World cover. Hello!)
I don’t know if it’s the break from running I was forced to take or the travel or the weird, introspective mood I’ve been in during 2010 (I’ve seriously lost my mind a little bit) but I was just so grateful for where I live, my running and non-running friends, my comfy 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10 and 15 mile routes in my neighborhood and to have a place I call home. So I guess what I’m saying is that you should go out and shake it up a little bit. Run somewhere new or run your route backward (seriosuly, I did this the other day and it was SO disorienting and weird) or visit a new town. Not only will it give you a new route and challenge but it just might give you fresh eyes to see what you already have. You just might find that it’s really great.