|Plainfield Pedestrian Bridge|
Have you ever been out on a run, or bike ride, and seen a store, shop, or business that you’ve never seen before or didn’t know existed in the town where you live? I’ve lived in my town for 6 years now, and this still happens to me on occasion. When it does, it provides me with a sense of wonderment and adventure... knowing that this place has been here for some time now and I had no idea that it even existed. Yet I’ve been down that street before, but never realized or paid attention. It starts me thinking while I’m running that maybe I don’t know my town as well as I think, or I wonder what else I’ve missed and what else could be here.
I live in a small Indiana town called Plainfield. The name used to say it all, but not any longer. The town is anything but plain. It’s continued to grow and expand even during the economic downturn the country has been experiencing over the last several years. In 1990, the population was just over 10,000 residents and as of the 2010 census, the population has grown to 27,631. The town of Plainfield IN was incorporated in 1839 and got its name from early “Friends” (Quakers) who were a “plain” people. US route 40 runs through the center of town as Main Street, on which in 1842, then President Martin Van Buren was deliberately spilled from his stage coach in the thick mud of the highway. This was due to his vetoing a bill from Congress to improve the highway system. I wish we could sometimes do this now with some of our lawmakers and government officials, but I digress.
My town has over 26 miles of paved bike/running trails and they continue to add more all the time. (For those of you keeping track that’s enough to run a marathon on, right?) I live on the west side of Plainfield, nearing the town limits, and from my house it’s only a short warm-up before I’m on the trail system. Once on these trails I can travel through and around my town. I often run the same initial stretch of trail, but on my longer runs I get to see many more areas of town. On one such run I became aware of how many pizza places we have. Evidently Plainfielders like their pizza because at last count, we have 12 pizza shops. I think we’re approaching 25 hair salons but I’ve not actually counted these.
There are several gyms, a bike shop, 3 or 4 karate studio’s, yet there isn’t a running store. I would love to open one up but that would take a lot of capital that I just don’t have. With all of the trails and activities, we’re becoming a more active and fit community, so I would venture to guess that before long someone else will get the idea of opening a running store. When they do, I can't wait to visit and shop there. I just hope they have the kind of shoes that I like, but if not, it will be a convenient place to pick up gels and the like.
|Plainfield Aquatic Center Splash Island|
|White Lick Creek during winter|
Sometimes running isn't about your split times, PR's, races, etc... Sometimes, it's just about getting out there and putting one foot in front of the other and experiencing your surroundings. The smells, or the sun on your face, or rain in your eyes, and sometimes it's about the snow encrusted hair on your head. Running is, and should be, fun. It's not just about getting faster, or losing weight. But it should be about the joy of being alive and experiencing everything life has to offer, which sometimes can be painful during the long runs when you're pushing it. But it can also be easy, like when you're running with a friend and having a good conversation as you run.
The purpose of me writing this is not so much that you’ll know what my town is like, but to inspire you to get out and see your town on foot. You can experience so much more when you’re on foot than if you were driving around in a car. Even if you are a much faster runner than I you have the ability to see your town for what it is. You can experience the sidewalks, streets, or trails with your own two feet and revel in the beauty of the place that you live. Not every street may be beautiful, but even then sometimes the lack of beauty is beautiful in and of itself.