Tuesday, November 6

Postcards from Tallahassee

Last week I spent 36 hours in Tallahassee. I was invited to guest lecture and was in town long enough to enjoy a run, a lovely dinner, and a stroll around downtown. On the way home Hubby and I stopped at Torreya State Park for a hike and trail run, but that's another story for another time...

For now, here's your postcard from Tallahassee:
(It's just coincidence that my state capitol postcard arrives on Election Day, but it's a happy coincidence nonetheless.)

First things first... I've been in Tallahassee before, and my last trip centered around the Florida State University campus and capitol buildings. With little time to research alternate running options before my trip, I caved and asked the hotel front desk clerk to suggest a 3-ish mile route that didn't go through campus. (For the record: Hotel staff know the area and are used to questions from out-of-town runners, so they're usually a wonderful runners' resource.)

Unfortunately it's obvious that the clerk in question had never run a step in his life. He recommended that I run up Monroe St from Park to Lake Ella. To his credit, the route was almost exactly three miles. To his discredit, the entire route followed a bustling main street with numerous busy intersections. I spent most of my time sucking in fumes from passing cars and trying not to get hit while crossing the road...
The view along Monroe St. in Tallahassee
I wouldn't run a road like Monroe in my own hometown. I certainly would not recommend it to out-of-towners, especially when better scenery was only a few blocks away.

Fortunately things improved once I arrive at Lake Ella, a picturesque little park, surrounded by a paved trail.
Sign at the entrance to Lake Ella
  Unfortunately views across the lake accounted for less than half a mile of my 3+ mile route.
Egret looking over Lake Ella
But let's get back to the "better scenery" part of my commentary...

Nestled in the heart of Tallahassee is a thoroughfare known as Park Ave. This divided road is bisected by a "chain of parks." For runners who have the patience to wait for traffic signals, the scenery is pretty and the route is well shaded by overhanging live oaks.
One park in the Chain of Parks
The park at Park Ave and Monroe is home to a Saturday morning market with art, crafts, pastries, and some produce. (From what I understand, the true farmers market can be found at Market Square, also on Saturday mornings...)
Park Ave market
This neighborhood is also home to the state capitol, both the historic capitol and all of the functional administrative buildings.
Florida historic capitol building
The scenery and running options here are much better than the route I took the day before!

Dolphins in front of the Florida State Capitol
The streets, at least on a Saturday morning, are virtually silent, and a runner can enjoy an uninterrupted loop past historic architecture, community parks, and public art.
Oak poem and mural at one city park
Public art at Burnette Park
In fact, my only quibble is that the neighborhood might have been too quiet... I'm an unabashed fan of urban running. Part of the allure is passing shops and restaurants, dodging the hustle-and-bustle of crowded sidewalks, and giving the occasional nod to another runner.

The Tallahassee capitol area, however, is a virtual ghost town on Saturday mornings. (Unless you're waiting in line to vote at the Leon County Courthouse... Now there was a crowd!)

There are two ways to look at these long-voting-lines photos, I suppose. One perspective says:
"Oh my god. Look at those lines. How unfair."
The other says:
"Oh my god. Look at those lines. How awesome that so many people care enough to vote."
I suppose I believe both.

Either way...

Happy Election Day, y'all!

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