Back in 2007 when I trained for my first marathon and then again some last year, I spent a lot of time making long runs on the Columbus, GA Riverwalk. If you have ever been in town running this is a great place to do it. The city/county government got together several years ago to plan and develop this 15 mile walking/biking path that winds in a north-south orientation all along the Chattahoochee River on the Alabama-Georgia state line. The project was well planned and resulted in a beautiful and easily accessible location for enjoying the outdoors in west central Georgia. For a portion of the year, it is really quire pleasant down on the river; especially in the spring and fall. A few months in the summer can be rather stifling but that's life in the South.
The new training program I am following calls for only three runs a week, incorporating a fast track workout, a mid distance tempo run and a long, slower paced run. Today was my day for the long run and I decided to revisit the Riverwalk. I was to do 8 miles and frankly, I have been tired of all the hills around my house. The Riverwalk is somewhat hilly but they are long and gradual and much easier to negotiate than the steep ones in Midtown Columbus. With air temperature still hovering around freezing this morning at 7:30, I parked at a convenient spot by a marina, got out, stretched for a few minutes and took off. Oh, before I started, I met a friend of mine who was just finishing up her Saturday run. We have been friends for a few years and have enjoyed seeing each other at our local Toastmasters club and on certain Saturday runs at the Riverwalk. She and her running partner get to the river a but early for me on Saturdays. She is usually there and on the run around 5:00 am...too early for a Saturday. I do enough of that during the week.
The day dawned gray and cold and if I was doing anything but running it would have been dreary. But, anytime I can get a run in, the day is anything but dreary. Thanks to those endorphins, a run can turn the nastiest of days into a bright and cheery experience. Today was no exception. The first half of the run was quiet and secluded. I didn't see a soul until I turned around and headed back where I passed a couple of folks and saw another of my friends who is back in town for a while from an extended assignment in Montana. His influence on my love for running is another example of the benefits of the running community and the positive benefit it can have on ones' life. Thanks, Mike, for being such a good running role model.
I have many good memories of running down on the river. I have run anywhere from short, fast four or five milers to long, arduous ones spanning over 20 miles. I have managed over the years to progress from a 220 pound, out-of-shape pavement-pounder to a 190 pound running athlete. I am proud of the transformation. I am glad to be back running at the river.