Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Running in Seattle

I have this habit of visiting a new city and then wanting to move there. Last week, we flew to Seattle, and now Seattle is on my short list of places I would live in. The main thing, of course, is that the city is extremely runner-friendly.

It rains in Seattle half of the year, but in July, it's consistently sunny, dry, cool, and with 17 hours of daylight each day. In Seattle, roads have sidewalks, parks have trails, lakes have beaches, and water fountains sprout up every mile or so. Food is delicious and fresh -- their version of the Reading Terminal is much bigger and diverse. Northwest people are laidback, liberal, friendly, and earthy. That is of course a general statement, but you just don't see a lot of high heel types downtown. The only thing I'm not sure about is whether the city enforces its jaywalking laws on runners, too.

Seattle is a nice city to check out on foot, but before you go, make sure you can run hills because there isn't a road that is flat. One of my favorite runs (besides the sublime trail run in the Goat Rocks) was to run through real neighborhoods from downtown to Lake Washington, to Lake Union, and then back. I got a little lost due to excessive wandering, but since the sun was always out, I sort of figured out what direction I was headed, and later, I ran into a runner who confirmed where I was going. The other nice thing for a heat wimp like myself: I ran at 5:30 pm and it wasn't too hot.

Seattle is also a place to visit to buy running stuff. Brooks and REI are headquartered here, and there are Adidas, New Balance, and Nike stores downtown. I visited an actual Road Runner Sports store in the running neighborhood of Green Lake. I had no idea RRS offers more than online shopping. If you're in the frequent buyer program there, you might see your once worn shoes there on the clearance rack. In the same neighborhood is Super Jock N' Jill and Title 9. The highlight of running shopping is the Seattle Running Company located in the Capitol Hill neighborhood. The store features a large section of trail running shoes, and if you're serious, they let you try shoes on outside so that you can tell how they perform. If you've ever bought shoes that fit perfectly well on the carpet of a shoe store but are too stiff on pavement after you bought them, you know this is a helpful gesture.

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