Valley City: A runner's perspective


ChAoS in MOtiOn
Valley City: A runner’s perspective.

            First off, I need to clarify something. We are not leaving Valley City. While it is true the Good Doctor took a different position with Sanford Health in Fargo, we have no desire to move.  We have many reasons to stay in Valley City, but I want to address why Valley is perfect for an active person.
            For anyone who chooses to be active in Valley City, they will have no choice but to become a stronger athlete than if they trained like a flat-lander of the Red River Valley.  It may come as a surprise to you, but the town lies in a valley. Therefore, chances are that no matter which direction you head in your run or walk, you will be moving away from the river in an uphill direction!  Traveling by car in town does not give one a true appreciation of how hilly is this community.  Do you know that little incline when you turn north of Main Street by Tri W G is loathed by many of us runners? I bet you’ve never noticed it in your car, but you will now.  If you should decide to train for one of the races in Fargo, and I urge you to do so, the elevation changes (aka railroad underpasses) will be a cakewalk compared to the Hill Top Hill, or any part of 12th St.   I will admit there are runs that I silently curse the hills, and beg for just one mile of flat road, but I am grateful that I don’t really have a choice to avoid hills and the strength that training on them creates.
            In some ways, active people are entrusting themselves to the community for safety when we hit the roads to walk or bike.  When I am out running, I have realized that I am usually no further than a couple blocks from a home of someone I know.  This is a huge comfort to me. I know that I if I roll my ankle, not once but twice on a run, like I may or may not have done, I’m within in hobbling distance to someone who can give me a ride to my car.  I know I would be able to get a drink of water or rest on their step.  I usually see at least one law enforcement officer and a couple drivers who I know while running.  This leads me to believe if I was ever abducted by aliens or eaten by a Mountain Lion, someone would have remembered seeing me run, and would know a good last location to look for me. And then would hopefully recover my GPS watch and upload the data, so I at least got credit for the run.
            When I started pounding the pavement after we moved here, I quickly realized that geographically speaking, Valley City is small.  It takes a lot of weaving back and forth to log 6, 8 or 10 miles in town.  There is a great upside to this however, and that is the fact you are never very far from a bathroom.  Runners know the importance of bathrooms and it didn’t take long to realize I was never really far from relief!  I love that it is a small enough town I can pop into my Church to get a drink of water, say “hi” to a friend and continue on my run.  It is the kind of community where I can drop a sweatshirt on a friend’s mailbox because I’m too warm and I know it will be there when I return for it.  It has the kind of drivers (well, about 99.5% of drivers) who realize I’m not trying to play “chicken” while on the River Road or the Kathryn Road and pull over while they pass, giving me a wave and smile.
            While all along I have thought Valley City is a great place to train, yesterday cemented my belief.  To say the heat and humidity we have been having is unbearable is an understatement.  My predicament is my current marathon training schedule gives no exceptions for weather.  I missed my long run over the weekend so it was imperative I log some miles yesterday, though every fiber of my being wanted to lie in air conditioning with some iced tea.
            I headed out about 10am and it was already over 85.  In running terms that means it was going to feel like 105 while running.  I ran into town 3 miles, then back home.  I was walking up my driveway, with my eyes burning from sweat because I picked the wrong day to forget my hanky. Yup, I said hanky.  I hear a car horn beep at me and turn to see a red pickup I didn’t recognize driving up my drive.  A slightly older gentleman rolled down his window and handed me a bottle of ice-cold water! He told me he had seen me running and went to get some water and was going to bring me home if I needed.  He had been worried when he didn’t see me, and was glad to see I had made it home.  I was overwhelmed with gratitude.  I thanked him and told him “Bless you!”  And so while every community has its issues, for me Valley City is the ideal place to live and train.  And to the red pickup man, THANK YOU!!