Why Wednesdays? – Why I Run, Reason #8: The Pleasures of a Neighborhood Adventure

A Note About This Feature:  Why Wednesdays is a Move Eat Create weekly feature determined to turn the mid-week doldrums upside down and celebrate things I love to do and blog about.  Currently, the focus is on running

I’m a road runner.  And my roads are in SE Portland.  I live across the street from a beautifully landscaped liberal arts college in the Reed neighborhood of Portland.  Like so many in my city, Reed is distinctively named, but really melds into other small areas to act more like one combined neighborhood.  In my case, it’s Reed/Woodstock.

Okay, so this picture isn’t actually in Woodstock, but I DID take it in Portland, near my office. So, you know, it’s close.

When I run, I have plenty of options in front of me.  Head north and I’ll end up on Powell or Division.  Due south will take me through Eastmoreland and towards Milwaukee.  Southwest leads me into the quaint area of Sellwood.  And east finds me running through Woodstock.  The latter is my most commonly traveled direction.

I love running this route.  While some runs are longer than others, heading east, no matter what my distance, provides a varied route that feels reassuringly familiar, while still providing enough variety to keep things interesting.

There is a hill.  It’s a long, sloping ascent, lined with houses, that comes to pass early in my run.  Making that climb early in my journey gets my legs fired up.  There is also a long stretch of mostly flat city sidewalk that I run, curving through the SE side of town – past coffee shops brewing fresh pots, a laundromat that emits warm gusts of air, and plenty of well-used bus stops with packs of riders waiting for their rides.

Eventually somewhere along that street, I’ll decide to turn right and head further south where I’ll make my turn around and start in the direction back home.  Often that turn-around places me directly on Woodstock, a long road that will lead me through the heart of the neighborhood with its namesake. I absolutely love running down this street.

Part of the street (the more eastern part) is lined with modest houses, held back from the street by an old, bumpy sidewalk that is cracked and sloping from the roots of old trees pushing them up.  I find the bumpy sidewalk fun – kind of like my own little obstacle course.  Leap across that crack!  Fly over that bump!  Duck so as to not to get scratched by low-hanging tree branches!

Eventually, the houses (and my little obstacle course) give away to the center of the little neighborhood.  Depending on the time of day, I pass by quiet coffee drinkers in front of cafes or laughing friends having dinner and cocktails.  I dart past the food trucks enticing me to come back when I have money in my hand and kids happily leaving the local library with their book selections tucked under their arms.  I continue on through the neighborhood until the small bustle of Woodstock gives way to the campus that is Reed College.

Remember that sloping uphill climb at the start of my run?  Well now I hit it again, only this time a few blocks south, where it is a bit steeper, and this time coming from the other direction.  Flying down the hill, I get a breeze that feels rejuvenating.  With the bulk of my run behind me, this part gives me the kick I need to finish the last couple of miles strong.  I pick up speed downhill until I eventually level out for the run around the majority of the campus.  This part is truly beautiful.  On my right are the old, grand buildings of the college, with well manicured lawns sprawled out in front of them, trimmed with huge trees that provide cover over me as I run down the sidewalk.  On my left, the modest homes of earlier blocks have given away to larger, upscale homes that inspire fantasies of sophisticated cocktail parties and happy Sunday brunches.

Reaching the end of Woodstock, I head up a couple of blocks and go north back towards my apartment.  Passing by the athletic field on the back side of campus, I take in the sight of the field’s occupants: rugby players, soccer participants, yoga practitioners, frolicking dogs, and even samurais (yes – samurais!) make their appearance on any given day.

And then, just like that, my adventure is over and I am home.


Previous Entries in This Series:

Why I Run, Reason #7:  People Watching (i.e. Cheap  Entertainment!)

Why I Run, Reason #6:  Instant Gratification and Immediate Success

Why I Run, Reason #5:  Breaking Out of Boxes and Shutting Down “You Can’t . . .”

Why I Run, Reason #4:  My Health, Silly!

Why I Run, Reason #3:  Because I’m Able To

Why I Run, Reason #2:  Birds and Tortillas

Why I Run, Reason #1:  Stress Relief

8 comments on “Why Wednesdays? – Why I Run, Reason #8: The Pleasures of a Neighborhood Adventure

  1. Jessi says:

    I love this! I live in that heart of Woodstock you wrote about and know exactly what you mean about the leaps and bounds and ducks from nature (especially fun when it rains and the puddles you have to jump over are also directly below the same branches you have to duck under!). Well written and cheers to samurais!

  2. BR says:

    Hey Shannon. I really enjoy your blog. It’s inspiring to read your reasons for running. And congrats on the half marathon!

    Do you take the pictures for your posts while you’re out running? If so, do you have a particular camera you use, or your cell phone? I’ve been thinking about adding some imagery to spice up my blog, but the idea of running with a camera seems a bit awkward.

    • Thanks so much for your kind words and feedback! Honestly I don’t take any pictures while I run. I sometimes use stock photos on my blog but the other photos I take when I’m out about town or on a walk. When I run I’m too impatient to stop for pictures usually!

    • Oh, and I forgot to add that I generally just use my iPhone to snap pictures. I’m not much of a photographer!

  3. laceyjbrown says:

    Oh my, I just re-lived my 8 month stay in Portland. I know EVERYTHING you just mentioned. I lived in that huge crappy apartment complex near Holgate and ran/biked through Reed College and Woodstock like I owned the place. Before we moved to Kent, we were in the process of buying a house in Milwaukie. LOVE IT. I will now live vicariously through you. PDX is my favorite and I miss it so much. 🙂

    • It’s so great to hear from a former SE PDX-er! Thanks for saying hello and I’m happy to help with your vicarious Portland fix anytime! I hope you are enjoying your new town!

  4. […] Why I Run:  The Pleasures of a Neighborhood Adventure […]

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