TITLE: Running on the Road: Greenfield, Indiana AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: August 06, 2007 2:27 PM DESC: ----- BODY: (The sixth stop in the Running on the Road series. The first five were Allerton Park, Illinois, Muncie, Indiana, Vancouver, British Columbia, St. Louis, Missouri, Houston, Texas, and Carefree, Arizona.) Hancock County Courthouse I tend to write these reports about running in a big city that others might visit, or a hot tourist spot, or at least a conference location, that some readers of my blog may care about. But this is more like my report on visits to my alma mater in Muncie, Indiana. It is about running in my high school hometown of Greenfield, Indiana. I didn't live in Greenfield for very long -- for four years of high school, and then summers during my college years -- but in many ways it still feels like home. I'm finishing up a few days back in Greenfield for a high school reunion, and I did something I never did when I lived here all those years ago: I ran. I did not run at all, really, until I was in graduate school. Sure, there were occasional attempts at a few miles here and there, and a bit of time on the track in physical education classes, but I never got over the hump. Every run seemed less enjoyable than it should have been, and I never got past the feeling that I wasn't cut out to run. So running this weekend gave me a different perspective on my hometown than I had ever had before, on the pavement at dawn, seeing buildings and scenery and signs pass by me from eye level. When I add this effect to the sense of change I felt after having been gone from town almost completely for eleven years and and nearly so for twenty, I experienced an mixture of déja vu and jamais vu unlike any before. For hours. While maxing out my legs at the beginning of marathon training. Not ordinary runs at all. The unusual sensation of time fits very well with attending a 25-year high school reunion and with recently reading Alan Lightman's book. I used my time own the road to survey the changes that have happened in Greenfield in the last decade. I recall it as a town of 15,000 or so folks, most with rural and small-town roots. Its official population back in 1980 must have been much less, as the 1990 census shows only about 12,000 people, but the outlying rural areas were then beginning to attract people from bigger cities in search of inexpensive land. Unofficially, the population these days must be closer to 30,000, and one can see that in the explosive growth of the town to the north and east. One big change I notice as I visit local stores and restaurants and as I run through town is much greater diversity. When I lived here, Greenfield and its entire county were almost 100% white, but now I see Asian immigrants, African Americans, and especially Latinos everywhere. The result is more plentiful choices of food for the palate and a richer set of accents for the ear. Sightseeing in one's own hometown is a great way to run. I encourage it to those of you who ever have the chance. Mile Marker 1.0 on the Pennsy Trail Other than running around town on city and country roads, I can report one neat development: the beginnings of a recreation route called the Pennsy Trail. This trail parallels Old National Road (U.S. 40) along the former Pennsylvania Railroad line just south of Greenfield's main street. It crosses Brandywine Creek, which is the presumed site of poet and Greenfield native James Whitcomb Riley's ol' swimmin' hole. Right now, the trail isn't much, running only 3 miles or so to the east of downtown Greenfield, but eventually the Pennsy Trail will connect westward to a network of trails in central Indiana, and perhaps be a link in the National Road Heritage Trail, which will follow U.S.40 across Indiana's breadth. As a runner, I greatly appreciate clean, marked, metered trails that offer peace, natural scenery, and even occasional services such as water fountains and toilet facilities. They are also a great resource for the citizens of the community, a sign that the community is thinking about the quality of life it offers citizens and visitors alike. Now I am off for a couple of days running in Plainfield, a city also on the Old National Road but on the west side of Indianapolis. Plainfield also has a nice trail system connecting its parks from north to south, which I will surely patronize. After that I'll do one run in Santa Ana, California, and a couple in San Diego. I probably will not write Running on the Road reports for Plainfield or Santa Ana, but I do have some raw material for a report on San Diego, from my three trips for OOPSLA 2005. San Diego is a beautiful place to run, and I look forward to being there just for fun. -----