Tuesday, August 16, 2005

How To Get Lost In Your Hometown

Woodlawn 6.75mi

View Interactive Map

I was a little worried that this run wasn’t going to happen, but I managed to do it. I tried to get out the door a little earlier, but even at 8:00 its already too hot and running before the sun is up is a little precarious in this neighborhood. I don’t mind running out on the UTBT in the dark because there is no traffic, but here there are a lot of morning commuters that make me kind of nervous. I also have a tendency to run through some kind of sketchy areas, which is fine in the daylight, but I have this hang-up about wanting to see my attackers as they approach. I just hope that if I get chased it is in the first mile or two, when I still have a little kick left in me.
I didn’t want to aggravate my shins any further so I took things very slowly and just kind of shuffled my way along. I explored the route at the base of the MLK bridge and found that there is a footpath that goes underneath, eliminating the need for a street-level crossing.
I had planned my route to go through the Woodlawn cemetery, which is supposed to open at 8:00. As I approached from the south, just past Gram’s Place, the sign on the gate said to use the entrance off of Indiana. This is the gate that I had planned to exit from, and it would have added some distance to the route to go in that way. The route as I mapped it was 7.3 miles, and I figured if I just cut out the cemetery it would be closer to an even seven.
I brought a disposable camera with me and snapped a few pictures along the way. On the long runs, this is a nice way to slow things down as it gives you an unexpected break every now and then. Heading north on Ola I took some shots of the House of the Concrete Hand. The hand was probably six feet tall (not the ten feet I had remembered). My memory has a way of inflating my experiences. That’s what drives this project.
I try not to write about a run on the same day that I did it. I like to keep myself at least a day behind in my writing. This allows a little time for the process of forgetting, which is easily as important to good writing, I think, as remembering.
And so these maps are formed. Certain details fall away and others grow (17 percent becomes 60 and 6 feet becomes 10). There are places, I think, where my mind tends to wander as I run, and my physical experience of these places is almost non-existent. By doing something as simple as running the same route clockwise instead of counter-clockwise, the entire landscape is changed. This is something I have learned from backpacking: if you’re coming back the same way that you came, turn around periodically and have a look at your surroundings.


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