I was able to run once while I was gone, but it was a somewhat stressful run as I wasn’t sure where to go once the sidewalk ran out and I had to weave in and out of traffic. I enjoyed the scenery, but because I was in unfamiliar territory I had to constantly watch my step lest I trip on an unexpected bump or rise in the path. It truly made me appreciate our Greenway with its four miles of uninterrupted, smooth, 10-foot-wide strip of running freedom.
Last Thursday was my first time to rejoin my running group which heads out in the early morning. However, the night before there were torrential downpours and as we began our run we discovered how Mouse Creek had gotten over its banks leaving spots of fresh mud on the Greenway. This was expected and we decided to take a detour at 25th Street.
Once we got off the Greenway at 25th Street and headed east, I began having flashbacks of that Orlando run. The first thing we had to do was dodge an overgrown crepe myrtle tree hanging over the sidewalk. Full of water, the bush soaked me as I tried to run under it. A few yards further we had to cross 25th Street. Even though traffic was a bit calmer at that hour, I had to look both ways three times before I safely reached the other side. Then, we had a mild hill to climb, which, if we were still on the Greenway, wouldn’t be there.
The 25th Street sidewalk was not designed to accommodate as much pedestrian traffic as the Greenway so when our group encountered another group we were forced to take our run into the street … not a good idea as a stream of cars just released at the last traffic light was headed our way. By the time we had gotten to Ocoee and 25th Streets, we had crossed three intersections and had gone no further than a quarter mile.
Once headed south on Ocoee, we encountered more of those busy intersections. At one of them we had to jog in place while waiting for traffic to pass, and at another one we had to speed up to beat the light. Although Ocoee Street is popular among walkers, speaking from experience that morning, it is not as attractive to runners, especially running groups. We encountered more of those crepe myrtle trees, weighted down with the previous night’s rain that was released on us when we merely brushed against them, and the unevenness of the Ocoee Street sidewalk required us to watch every step. I was relieved when we finally reached 8th Street and were able to spread out off of the sidewalk. We were able to finish our run going north on Harle Avenue and Harris Circle, but had to cross 25th Street once again, this time with a bit more traffic than a few minutes earlier.
For anyone who tries to argue the point that a Greenway is unnecessary because we have sidewalks, come take a morning run with me along the route I took last Thursday. Sidewalks are nice, but the stress factor alone is enough to convince me that we need as many miles of Greenway in our community as we can amass to offer a safe place for everyone to enjoy physical fitness.