In the last 4 years, I have ran in a multitude of places. I’ve ran daily in Cedar Rapids, where I live. I’ve ran in St. Louis in the middle of summer. I’ve ran in places I’ve vacationed, namely Utah (in winter and summer, and trust me, summer is much better) and Florida (Disney Half Marathon ’09, baby!). I’ve ran on farm roads in Illinois and the Lake Front trail in Chicago. But I always love coming home and running on my familiar running trail, and do you want to know why?
Because everyone is always unfailingly and genuinely friendly.
I ran 5 (very chilly) miles this afternoon, and I passed probably half a dozen other runners. Every single one made eye contact with me and offered or reciprocated a smile or wave. Dog walkers wave and smile. Speed walkers even nod or grin a hello, whether they’re alone or in a pack.
That was something I missed when I was running in Chicago. Despite there being dozens of other runners on the trail at any given time, none would make eye contact, let alone share a sympathetic smile or encouraging wave. Everyone was in their own bubble, concentrating on their run and theirs alone. Though I hadn’t left the Midwest, I had gone far from what I linked with Midwestern sensibilities: a friendly attitude that has no off switch.
And for this reason (and this reason alone because it’s winter and thus icy and crazy windy and really cold) I’m glad to be back to my familiar Cedar Rapids trails where all my fellow smiling and waving Iowan runners hang out. It’s those smiles and waves and nods of mutual acknowledgement that keep me going on days like today, when it’s freezing and I’m tired, and I just want to give up and walk home. Someone passes by and gives a little wave, and I get a boost of energy that I didn’t know I had, and I keep on running.