In each of my homes over the last two decades and like many people who run for fun, I have found something in the place to provide both comfort and challenge. Something in the place that makes them both unique and shared. And something which links them as running grounds and home places. My new place is no different in that way, but remarkably different in others.
With this move, we made a dramatic departure from the past. The Mississippi Delta is relentlessly and unapologetically flat! Sure, with a 90-minute drive in any direction, I can find hills and mountains to test myself on but in my immediate backyard is one of the most fertile and productive swaths of farmland in the world. A place where cotton, soybeans, rice, and corn grow out of the ground as if by magic, feeding and clothing the country and the world. A place that has spawned some of America’s finest music, food, and culture. And a place with an often complicated and ambivalent past. A place that is anything but ‘flat’ historically and socially and yet completely flat physically. And it is with the flatness that comes a compromise and an opportunity and a whole new place to call my own.
Admittedly, in my first month here, the delta running has taken a backseat to all the pleasures of relocating and starting a new job. Meetings, gatherings, social events, and brief summer travel have all conspired to make July of 2019 a less-than-stellar month of training. Yet, in the past week or so I have ventured out and started to make my way into the unique environment of the delta and have found the running to be quite invigorating and inspiring. It turns out that here in this part of the country, there are extensive networks of gravel roads along levees and creeks combined with centuries-old turnrows (essentially, single-lane dirt tracks between the fields) that provide endless opportunities for self-propelled exploration. Additionally, the sights, sounds, and smells of rural America (not to mention the tastes!) make living and running here a full-blown sensory experience.
Certainly, when I return to actual training, I will have my work cut out for me as I will need to, as many flatlanders have to do, improvise my way into running shape with stairmasters, bicycles, and maybe even the swimming pool, but for now I am content to make my new home a part of me and along the way make the place what I can make it. At the end of the day, as long as I can still put one foot in front of the other and move along under my own power, then I am a happy man. And, from there, the rest of life will inevitably fall into place.
AJW’s Beer of the Week
Call for Comments (from Meghan)
- What is particular about your neck of the woods, for running and living?
- And what is it about your home landscape that inspires you to get out on your daily run?