Early yesterday morning, I ran in a 5K race down in Atlanta.
I don't know why I keep doing this to myself, but I do. I don't actually enjoy running, you know. But there's just something exciting about paying some money and getting a t-shirt and lining up with thousands of my closest friends while loud music plays, followed by trying not to trip all over them while we jockey for position on streets usually reserved for motor vehicles.
There's just something about that, see?
I ran right under that bridge, toward the Capitol building in the distance.
Yesterday's race started and ended at Turner Field (home of the Braves), and we all ran on the Olympic bridge under the Olympic rings commemorating our city's hosting the 1996 Olympics. Brendan and I walked down that very bridge -- wow, 16.5 years ago -- on our way to watch Australia and Cuba play a baseball game at the old Fulton County Stadium. That stadium is now a parking lot, the same parking lot I plopped down in the middle of yesterday, with thousands of my closest friends, to eat a banana and drink some hot chocolate after the race.
I think part of the reason I've enjoyed these little races, apart from just making sure I can still complete them without dying, is that they offer me a renewed chance to experience landmarks and views that I sometimes don't notice or appreciate much anymore.
As best I can tell, I was sitting near where first base was at the old Fulton County Stadium. Didn't get a picture of my perspective, but rather, the more important thing -- my hot chocolate.
I've never run a race in Atlanta, and it was nice to be trotting down the streets I'm familiar with, to see the gold dome of the Capitol building (where once I went to a protest in the rain, and another time a video of me talking about Ayn Rand was played), to pass a parking garage I once parked in for an appointment at Georgia State, to reconnect with some memories, big and obscure, from my past.
And because I love this reconnection so much, I'm going to do it more often. I'm going to search for 5K races, mud runs, CrossFit competitions, etc. in areas that I love, have loved, or maybe even have dreamed of going due to some other connection. I am going to go to these races and experience these places anew, from the road, while sweating and trying not to trip over people.
I had this idea last summer, after running a second or third 5K in my own little town, running on streets I drive at least a couple times a week and through a park we visit quite often. After that last race here in Kennesaw, I made a list of places I'd like to visit and race. So I'm going to put my list here, as a reminder. I have been to most of the places in person, but there are a few places I'm connected with only via imagination/soul, and those count, too. I suspect different readers will be able to figure out the sentimental connection for different places.
These aren't really in any particular order:
Groton/New London, Connecticut
Newport News, Virginia
Charleston, South Carolina
Fishers, Indiana (and Conner Prairie Farm)
West Lafayette, Indiana
Lake Jackson, Texas
Cumberland/Vinings area of Atlanta
Kennesaw, Georgia (done this several times already)
Atlanta, Georgia (done!)
The Wisconsin Dells
Mineral Point, Wisconsin
The Outer Banks, North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina
Miami Beach, Florida
Orlando/Lake Buena Vista, Florida
Blewett Pass in Washington
Blue Ridge/Ellijay, Georgia
Portland, Oregon :D
So I guess that's it for now. I might add to this list as I think of other places. You know how I love to make lists and check things off, and now I feel like I need to get going!
This is obviously not a short-term kind of thing, but more of a long-term travel/race goal. I think it will be fun to try to accomplish some kind of race or competition in or near all of these places. When we travel, I'm going to start checking the local race schedules. For example, we're going to Chicago this summer, so there might be Chicago/Wisconsin possibilities.
If you happen to live near any of these places and know of an annual race that's fun to do, let me know.