Whether it is a success or not, a resolution is designed to inspire growth. Ideally, once you’ve succeeded, you’re a better person. Or, if nothing else, the process changes you. What do they say? “It’s the journey, not the destination.” For me, running is a lot like a resolution. Ideally, I’ll be a healthier, stronger person after accomplishing a goal – or a single run – but it’s the journey that moves me. So, for 2016, I decided to accept a challenge presented by www.ilovetorun.org and run 1,000 miles this year. This article will serve as a pedometer, of sorts, for you to follow me on my journey as well as a place for us to share the thoughts and ideas inspired by each mile.
One of my favorite days of the week is my long run day. It’s a moderately early start, a few hours wracking up mileage, which burn the calories to enjoy a perfectly gluttonous day. Now, sure, some might say what’s the point of burning the fat if you’re only going to turn around and pack it back on? I say, what’s the point if I don’t! Besides that, the body needs fuel and I see no reason why pizza and beer shouldn’t be my reward for running seven+ miles. Think of it as my personal fuel point reward system – like Kroger!
Knoxville offers some of the best options for running routes. It’s essentially connected by Greenways from east all the way to west. People ask me where I run, and the answer is honestly, everywhere! Recently, I’ve been getting adventurous and creating new loops through different neighborhoods, but they almost all get me back to one of our Greenway paths. My recent favorite includes the Third-Creek Greenway. It runs behind Earth Fare and travels parallel to Kingston Pike and Sutherland Avenue. It extends all the way to Tyson Park, near campus, approximately three and a half miles. On the other side of the Pike is Sequoyah Hills; a two and a half mile gravel path through one of our city’s loveliest neighborhoods, and perhaps one of the most popular spots for outdoor cardio. Along both of these routes, I’ve discovered what I like to think are secret passageways connecting one to the other. Some are hillier than others (yielding a grander reward post-run). Some are curvier. Some have gorgeous houses that I like to pretend I live in, and some just have amazing scenery.
Most long runs, I struggle. Actually, on all long runs, I struggle. I’m not lying when I say the thing that gets me through the hard times is what I plan to eat after: Country Eggs Benedict from Cru Bistro, Steak and Eggs from Downtown Grill, The entire buffet at Copper Cellar – all of it, Pizza from Hard Knox Pizzeria, Black Horse Brewery Vanilla Cream Ale and a homemade dinner from Fresh Market. What better way to settle up a long loop around the area than a feast held – I’m sure – just for me right there in the Western Plaza Shopping Center on Kingston Pike.
So it goes a little something like this: Start at Western Plaza. Head west on Kingston toward Earth Fare to meet the Greenway. Begin dreaming up perfect pizza. Mile three, reach Tyson Park, refill water bottle, pretend water is beer. Cold, bubbly, carbonated beer. Head back down Kingston Pike toward Sequoyah, try to decide between marinara or Alfredo base on previously dreamed about pizza. Mile five, the struggle is on: more than half way done, under halfway to go. Hope the Blackhorse Hefe is cold because the view of this river has got me parched. Mile six, fuel up with my favorite PowerGel Kona Berry gu packet. Remember I’ve run out of gu packets, must stop at Runner’s Market before pizza to restock. Mile seven, screw it, marinara AND Alfredo. Two pizzas! Mile eight: home stretch. Speaking of home, add basil to Fresh Market grocery list for tonight’s zucchini lasagna.
As I run up Noelton, knowing the top of the hill is the end of my run and this is where I earn my beer, I feel a swell of pride knowing I’ve done more today than yesterday. I’ve earned quite a few fuel points for the day and seen quite a lot of my fair city along the way. I’ll enjoy a bite and a refreshing libation and head back east for a quiet night of home cooked food to write this piece or that piece – or some other piece. It’s a perfectly rounded day and I wouldn’t trade it in for anything.