Year 1 of “running every street in Austin” project
I was asked this morning at the annual Black-Eyed Pea run if I was more of a trail runner or a road runner and I didn’t really have a good answer. I’m more of a trail “racer” but do a majority of my training and running on roads. My methods are indeed a little bizarre and unconventional, and truth be told I don’t really even feel like a “runner” these days (but that’s a different story). However, I have such massive trail experience from all my thru-hiking that my feet and body move and dance with ease on trail and it is easier and more efficient to do speed workouts or get in a long run on the road, so I wind up doing tons of road miles even though I like racing trail better. And 2021 was a year of mostly road running with two big Grand Canyon trail efforts.
The Red dots are called "nodes" (or GPS points) and once all the nodes for a street have been collected (ran) the street is then counted as "complete." This is called "node-hunting."
Year 1 of a multi-year project to run all the streets in Austin commenced last January to kick off 2021. I’ve currently accomplished 39.88% of the streets in Austin (anyone who has ever been on CityStrides knows that is A LOT) for a slight second place lead on my dad who will no doubt take it back within days of returning to Austin. He and I casually started this project at the beginning of 2021, and it quickly turned into a bit of an obsession. That sense of accomplishment every time a new run was uploaded and our maps filled in little by little would send us both into a route-making frenzy, hungry for more streets and a more complete map! The first place CityStrider is about 53% complete with the streets in Austin as he started back in 2020 when quarantine first hit. It would be very difficult to catch up to him if he continues to dedicate so many of his runs to “getting streets.”
When I initially synced my all time Strava data with CityStrides (free to anyone looking to see their own map!) one year ago, I was sitting at around 5% completion for the city of Austin. I think it will become very difficult to get as many streets as I did in 2021 ever again as the streets left to conquer are increasingly further away from home, and thus the addiction begs the question… Is this really worth it?
My dad has been a major motivator for me in this project as it is something we do together. He’s a bit more dedicated to it than I am, so it fuels me just to try and keep up with him (although we have different maps with a lot of south Austin overlap). Initially, it was pretty easy to meet up near my apartment in east Austin or in south Austin to get all the streets nearby. We had made substantial progress through the spring, but then we both left in the summer to set out for the mountains which stalled our Austin streets project some.
With the start of my new job this August and my training for the Grand Canyon FKT effort in October, “running streets” (as we call it) kind of took the back burner. It has become harder to justify driving in rush hour to and from a run route after a full day of teaching and planning just to run 10k when the mountain of work that awaited me each evening took priority most days. I began to feel like I was spending more time in the car than I was running and pretty much gave up on mid week street-running. If it was time with my dad, it still felt like time well spent as we got to catch up on stuff in the car ride together. But after the Grand Canyon I took 7 weeks completely off to let my hip injury (not related to the GC effort) finally heal and then soon after that my dad headed to Wisconsin to help my grandma with surgery and recovery. My street collecting has dwindled a LOT in the second half of the year, but I still try to make it happen at least once a week (on the weekends).
Side note about my dad. In 2021 he COMPLETED 4 cities on CityStrides!!! Two in rural Colorado where he spent some time last summer (Salida and Poncha Springs), one in Austin (Sunset Valley) and just before the end of 2021 he completed the more sizable town, Eau Claire, Wisconsin! His dedication to get out there daily (and many times doing two-a-days and even THREE-a-days on occasion) at 64 years old is truly remarkable and inspiring. He got out there 350 out of 365 days last year and methodically finished every street in Austin south of Ben White Blvd (a hwy that runs east-west and marks the “far south” section of Austin). For anyone looking for some consistent running inspiration - follow my pops on Strava and/or Citystrides!
(Go Chris Howard!)
I would be remiss if I only bragged on my dad, so side note to the side note to brag about my 60 year old mom! This strong woman can do more push-ups than me and religiously attends her weights and functional fitness workout 5-6 days a week virtually! A friend of ours (and one of my former school-mates), Elise, leads a tough workout practically every day and leaves all her class recordings in case you miss the live class. If you’re looking for a good all around workout try EliseyFit (IG: @elisey.fit). You can wave hello to my mom who is the most dedicated attendee!
The streets project has been a quiet motivator for me this last year to keep moving and running when I didn’t have much direction with running. It is certainly an odd but fun project and a few others have hopped on board since my dad and I took it up which adds to the fun. Running all the no outlet streets and cul-de-sacs has allowed me to see many areas or streets in my home town that I’ve never been to and I feel like it has allowed me to get to know my own city and the different neighborhoods in a totally new way. Here’s to more streets and perhaps more direction in 2022 and beyond!