The last time I ran downtown was in February of 2020, before the world shut down.
Downtown running is normal to me. I run there after an incredible week. I run there after a frustrating or disappointing week. Watching Columbus come alive on a Saturday morning never ceases to amuse me, and especially after 2020, seeing people walking, running or riding bikes with their families serves as a reminder that the world as a whole is still turning.
During the pandemic and the George Floyd protests, I decided to avoid downtown like the plague and instead drove the northern suburbs to run on those trails. While Westerville and Dublin are wonderful places to run, they’re kind of a drive from where I live on the southeast side. I couldn’t really justify driving all the way up there when I live 15 minutes from downtown.
However, I still felt apprehensive about going downtown yesterday. There was no reason for me to feel that way, and I’m a firm believer that when I’m nervous without a solid reason to be, the only solution to overcome the nerves is to do whatever is giving me pause.
So yesterday morning I woke up and drove to German Village. Once the car was parked at Schiller Park, it was time for me to sunscreen up, strap on my fuel belt and get going.
The first mile was incredible, running around Schiller Park and up High Street. It was so incredible I forgot the first rule of running: never trust the first mile.
It was hot and humid yesterday, and not only that, the majority of the run was a headwind. But I told myself I could make it and there was no need to worry.
Turns out I did have to worry.
Being as humid as it was, I underestimated how much water I needed to bring and be drinking. So I got dehydrated halfway through and ran out of water.
I also noticed shortly into the run that whenever I would slow down my pace or take a walk break, I’d catch a chill. It’s normal for your body to register the outside temperature as 20 degrees higher when you’re running, and then for that temperature to go back to normal when stopped, which can feel like a sudden chill.
However, in spite of the heat, I couldn’t warm up at all. The temperature shifts were too sudden and severe.
I also misjudged my distance. I planned to run 10 miles roundtrip from German Village, over the Scioto Mile to the Arena District and take Neil Avenue north to Ohio State, then turn around at the Shoe and head back to German Village the way I came.
Turns out this is farther than 10 miles. And by the I got to Ohio State, I bonked like a son-of-a-gun.
Where the hell did those hills come from? Or that stupid headwind? Running into a tornado would have been smarter.
At Mile 8, on my return trip back down Neil Avenue, my body gave out and I had to walk the rest of the way back to my car. I turned the Strava off at the 12 mile mark, so my ambitious 10 miles downtown was 12 or 13 miles of progressive defeat.
So in a word: yesterday physically sucked.
But emotionally and mentally, I felt like I hit a milestone in normalcy.
After being away from downtown for over a year, I was pleasantly surprised to see how much hadn’t changed. German Village is still bustling with families walking their dogs. The skyline over the Scioto Mile is still majestic, and Arena District is still growing, welcoming everyone who runs up and down the brick sidewalks.
Neil Avenue’s stretch through Victorian Village is in full bloom. The hydrangeas lining front yards are lush, and the sunflowers in the median strip by Stauf’s Coffee are standing tall. Ohio State was alive yesterday morning, and I had to smile to myself as I passed the HangOverEasy, a diner I’ve been running past for several years that serves comfort food with mildly sassy names.
During the school year, the diner is always crowded with two segments of the population: nurses getting off of third shift from the Wexner Medical Center, and hungover college kids. It turns out HangOverEasy is just as busy in the summer as well.
My run continued around Mirror Lake on campus and to the Shoe. At this point I had to start walking and ran-walk-shuffled my way back.
Goodale Park was my Mile 9, and at this point I completely bonked. The best idea was to walk through the park and around the pond to say hello to the two elephants atop the water fountain, so I did that. I also said hi to the duck family on the rock and took a quick picture of them for my boyfriend.
The last two or three miles aren’t even worth writing about. I was in agony, then at Mile 12 I decided to save my run and shuffle my way through German Village back to my car.
Recovery included an afternoon swimming, sleeping in a lounger by the pool when I wasn’t swimming, and then date night at Khaab Indian where Mr. Sam and I demolished some sabaz chicken.
So I got my first long run of the year in and I’m glad I did. I felt great and I felt normal, as though the past year is actually behind me. Training is my stability, and I’m so glad to have that part of my life back.
I hope you all had a great weekend and have a wonderful week ahead.
Yours in writing and running,