I don’t ever feel as though I’ve completely explored a place until I run it. If I’m gone anywhere for longer than a few days, I usually pack my running shoes and make it a point to get out in the streets or find a nearby park and just… run. It’s usually a little less than an hour, but for that hour I feel as though I own the place. And whenever I’m exhausted, lying sprawled out on whatever patch of grass in whatever country or state I’m in and look up, I swear I have a new appreciation for the city.
It all started in high school when my family would visit my grandmother in Massachusetts from time to time during track season. I didn’t want to sacrifice days of training, so I’d head out for runs in the idyllic New England town of Shrewsbury. I’d run past coffee shops, churches and turn down residential streets. I’d pass people who waved and imagine what it would be like to live there. So, when I actually started living in different places, I took to the streets (or paths) once again. Below are some of my favorite runs in some of the places I’ve called home — at least temporarily — over the past year.
To be honest, I didn’t do much running while studying abroad in Spain. But about once every week or so, I’d get that itch to run. (If you’re a runner, you know what I’m talking about.) I’d go from my dorm — which was on the same street as La Sagrada Familia (yeah, not real life) — south to the Parc de la Ciutadella. People were always running or relaxing in the park, which contained the Catalan Parliament Building, Modernist architecture and the Barcelona Zoo on the south end (and still, somehow, grass and paths). It was also the favorite gathering-spot of the musical Barcelonan hippies and men’s running teams, which I would try to hang with on my runs occasionally. (And just for the record, their shorts were the shortest I’ve spotted on male runners anywhere.)
Tara and I lived mere blocks from the West Side Highway, which second to Central Park is probably New Yorker’s favorite running spot. The strip hugs the West Side of Manhattan, and I’d start where it intersects Houston Street and run it past tennis courts, high-rise condos, parks, picnics and puppies; the New York Stock Exchange and to the tip of Battery Park. I brought everyone who visited me along that path — even if just for a walk — because in my opinion, it’s the best way to see the city.
My first couple of years at Northwestern my favorite run was south of campus along Lake Michigan, which was stunning. This year I’ve been running northwest more often along the perfectly manicured lawns of North Shore bliss — namely, Wilmette. The Baha’i temple, which is the longest-standing of only seven in the world, is less than two miles north. I’m still in awe of it every time I pass.
–Karina for TKGO