For the past few months, I've spent several hours a week running the streets of Atlanta in preparation for the ING Georgia Marathon. I usually stick close to home, but this weekend, I decided to do my long run on a large portion of the marathon course, which winds its way through some of the city's most storied neighborhoods.
I started my run in Midtown, and as I followed the course through town, I was surprised to find myself treading familiar ground.
From the joyous eccentricity of Inman Park to the funky chic of Candler Park to the cozy charm of Virginia Highland, these are roads I've traveled before--on foot, in memory, in spirit. From 3am greasy hangover eats at the Majestic to Saturday morning biscuits from the Flying Biscuit, to my very first run in Piedmont Park to the grueling hills of the aptly named Druid Hills that brutally hot summer I trained for my first Peachree Road Race, to countless conversations and communion over food and drink at landmarks like Murphy's, Watershed, San Francisco Coffee, Fontaine's, Park Tavern--the course is a moving postcard, celebrating all that makes Atlanta home and reminding me why I love it so much.
Why? Because it combines big city pace with small time charm. Because it's the place where you know every farmer and chef by name and vice versa. Because the local gas station attendant remembers how many miles you run each week and taunts you for running "only" ten. Because you can make new friends at the coffee shop, the grocery store, the dog park, the sidewalk. Because it snows one weekend and is a balmy 70 degrees the next. Because the green room at the morning news show feels like a family reunion. Because if that person you just met isn't family, she soon will be. Because it's home.