Thursday, June 14, 2012

Introducing Little Runner to Des Moines

There are two types of tired that I’m acquainted with: the one that results from too little sleep, too much concentrating, too much stress; and the one that results from healthy exertion.

The former drains me, the latter invigorates and then calms me.

On my first day in Des Moines, two weeks ago today, I was floored by the first kind of tired. I’d stayed up late and risen early, packed my car and drove it 300 miles to unpack it, hopped back in a car and taken a winding tour of my new home that culminated in a restaurant dinner.

Everything had gone according to plan — except the wave of homesickness that washed over me after my meal, making me feel my exhaustion even more acutely. It was too early to go to bed, and it was too rude to leave my host so I could privately wallow in my gloom. What to do?

Run. Run with no expectation of time or strength or distance.

My host showed me a 3.5-mile loop that combined a rec trail and sidewalks, and off I went, hoping for no rain and no creeper sightings.

The first quarter-mile was physically downhill and emotionally uphill. Clouds, rain and chilly wind from earlier in the day had faded into a fresh-smelling, sherbet-colored summer evening.

After about a third of a mile, I reached the rec path trailhead. I ran along forests, flowers, a river, rabbits, reminding me of home but better: Already I’d noticed that Des Moines’ downtown and suburbs had more plentiful and vibrant options than back home; already I had a few Millennials offering (and being offered) to take me out; and now I could see that this three-mile loop was only a tiny taste of what I could explore on my two feet or my two bike wheels.

This was the view that won me over, photographed the next morning.
Dripping with sweat, I wrapped up my run in 34:28, a 9:50 pace, having conquered hills — both metaphorical and literal — on the way. For the second time that day, I was glad to be in Des Moines, but this time it had nothing to do with being freed from a car.

With that out of the way, welcome to Little Runner, Bigger City, where you’ll mostly read about (and probably laugh at) the snafus and speed bumps I still hit after three years of running.

Curious about those three years? Check out my former blog, Get Running.

Curious about only the notable moments of those three years? Read my race recaps.

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