By Christopher Cudworth
Spring is the season for many people to move. Everyone goes through that experience in one way or another. Unless you’re part of a Royal Family, it seems we all move a few times in life.
The last time I moved my own household was 1996. That’s when our family moved into our current home in Batavia, IL. That move was architectural, in its way. Our little bungalow in Geneva Illinois only had two bedrooms. We had a 5th grade boy and a 1st grade girl. It was time to get them out of the same bedroom.
Moving from Geneva to Batavia changed my running architecture as well. The street on which we lived in Geneva was named Anderson Boulevard. Wide and flat, it had once carried trolley traffic through town. Until the city repaved the surface in the early 1990s, you could still see railroad tracks in places where they had not been removed.
Road to success
For me that street was the location for many a fast training mile. For more than 20 years before that it had been part of a larger loop back over to my former house in St. Charles, a 7-8 mile loop that covered several of the best hills in the Fox Valley.
Anderson Boulevard (left) was also the perfect road for long intervals during a hard training run. The surface was smooth and the roadway wide enough to clip along without worrying about traffic zooming too close to you. Years later when I took up cycling in the early 2000s that street turned out to be a riding joy as well. You could hit it hard and reach speeds of 25 mph, fast enough to keep up with some of the cars, since that was the speed limit in places.
So it was hard to give up the familiarity of all that and move away from training routes that had seen me through the best racing days of my career, through high school, college and beyond. As a bachelor I’d rented a coach house at 741 1/2 Illinois Street. Seriously. It was the only Half Address I ever enjoyed. That house as also close to Anderson Boulevard, so the memories of those years dovetail with those of early marriage.
New digs. New routes.
There’s both a thrill and an anxiety to setting up new running and riding loops when you move your home. Sometimes we can’t help repeating the first loop we choose. Our minds seem to cling to those initial steps and the surety that comes with them. We try to make our homes through these experiences.
I recall moving to Paoli, Pennyslvania in 1982. The move was required for a job, and though I had lived in Lancaster, Pennsylvania as a kid, the move to Paoli felt foreign and strange. I knew no one except my brother in Lancaster, and that as an hour or more west.
Fortunately there was a running store called The Runner’s Edge just a half mile from my house. I joined their racing team and began training with a group of 10-15 runners on long, slow weekend runs. 2-3 hours we typically wandered through those Pennsylvania hills.
It was a welcome fraternity for a stranger in town. The first few runs I had done were almost tragic. The roads around Paoli wandered through horse country in a disconnected fashion, often T-boning into one road and picking up the same name a quarter mile down the way. Try finding your way around when the roads do that! I got lost several times. Nothing went purely north or south, east or west. It all made the move to Paoli feel that much more raw at first.
Fortunately my newfound running friends helped me orient and learn the area. It made going back home to a lonely upstairs apartment just that much better. In fact I lived for those runs as well as the hard intervals we did on the track over at Villanova. For the entire 9 months I lived in Paoli, running was my home. It helped me survive.
Lincoln Park, Chicago
And when the company cut the entire marketing department that spring, I packed up all my stuff and moved back to Chicago. The big old U-Haul truck nearly quit and died on a long mountain highway in western Pennsylvania. But I limped that clunker home to Chicago and dumped a bunch of stuff in my parent’s garage before moving a few things into an Old Town apartment with a friend.
We haul our crap around with us the best we can. But we live to hit the streets. That summer and winter and summer of life in Chicago saw some very hard training and great racing. My home was a two-flat on Clark Street right across from Lincoln Park. We chased girls all night and I chased running dreams all day. It was a great place to live when you’re young and not yet married. Glad as hell I did that.
Helping with a move
This all comes to mind as I spent the weekend helping my companion move her stuff across town here in Batavia. Her new place seems great. But we’ll know she’s really at home once we put on our running shoes and take our trek together by foot. And now the cycling season is upon us, we’ll be spinning down her block and onto the bike trails to swing out to the big roads out west. Her new place is great, but as people who run and ride, part of our new home is always out there on the road. It’s where we live, in many respects. It’s where we both love to move.