I’m home in Illinois for two weddings, two weekends in a row. This might be kind of weird (or maybe not, depending on how you feel about weddings), but what I was most looking forward to upon coming home was running my old routes.
On Sunday, I had 10 miles scheduled. Rockford is not the most runner-friendly city in the world (although it’s not the least either), so it can be a challenge to find a 10 mile route that’s (a) easy on the eyes and (b) easy on the feet and knees. Especially in the area of town where my parents live, there are lots of jagged sidewalks and narrow roads (with drivers who don’t expect to be sharing their space with runners). So I prepared for this run by mapping out my miles beforehand and filling my route with streets I’ve run dozens of times.
I am constantly re-fascinated by memory. Most people find themselves transported back in time by things like the smell of the laundry detergent they used to use, the chorus of the song they played on repeat for a month in 2001, the taste of the madeleine… I’m much more interested in the flashbacks brought on by running the same place twice, as I find them to be extra intense. (I attribute this to the elevation of hormones like epinephrine brought on by running. Any bio majors out there care to confirm?) Anyway, this run was pretty much 10 miles of flashbacks.
Before moving back to New York in May of 2010, I lived in Rockford for a year. I ran down this hill several days a week, and I think it’s one of my favorite stretches of road in my hometown. It follows a long, steep uphill climb, and it ends at the Rock River. I know it doesn’t look like much, but this downhill block has made me so happy, so many times.
The path along this river is where I learned to ride a bike.
My mom used to take my sister and me to the Sinnissippi gardens for lemonade and to go rollerblading. Yes, rollerblading. I wish I could rollerblade everywhere, all the time.
I can’t even recall how many times I’ve walked under these arches. When I see them now, conversations I had beneath them return to me, and sometimes summer smells.
I paused around here to snap photos and refuel. My Garmin died very early on in this run, before I even reached mile 1. I had my map in my mind, though, so I didn’t worry about it. I knew by feeling that I was keeping a decent pace, so I focused on the journey, which is usually what a long run is about for me anyway.
Two bridges were involved in this run, one during mile 7 and another during mile 8. Running over water is one of my favorite things. I used to run back and forth on this bridge just to experience the view again and again.
The view from the Auburn Street bridge of Symbol, Rockford’s official city sculpture. Yep.
I have no idea how long it took me to run these 10 miles, but I thoroughly enjoyed each one of them. Several times, I would turn a corner and recall an exact phrase from the podcast I was listening to as I turned that corner two years ago. Memory is like magic. So many things have changed since that summer, but the feel on my arms of the light rain that persisted throughout this run was exactly the same as running in light rain has always felt and will always feel. No wonder people do this day after day for decades; it’s like a tiny thread holding all those random happenings together.
It’s kind of nice to be home.