Looking forward to a Pleasant Run

Even though I love running on trails, I also have a soft spot for historic, urban neighborhoods.

You know the kind of place I mean: the pre-World War II communities with lots of cool architecture, very walkable, often built around a town square.

On Saturday, I’m planning to run a five-mile race through Irvington, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Indianapolis, located about 10 minutes from downtown.

It should be a very pleasant run, in more ways than one. A good chunk of the course follows the Pleasant Run Creek. In fact, the name of the race is the Historic Irvington Pleasant Run Run.

If you’re a sucker for old architecture and walkable neighborhoods, like I am, you can’t visit Irvington without doing a double-take at all the beautiful buildings — houses that are 80 and 90 years old, Colonials and Georgians and Tudors, Arts and Crafts, and Four-Squares.

Here are some images of typical Irvington houses and attractions, inside and out, that make the place so interesting:

 My challenge, during this run, will be to resist the temptation to stop and stare at one interesting house after another.

When I first moved to Indy, I desperately wanted to buy a house in Irvington. I visited dozens of open houses. Just about every time, I was blown away by the rich woodwork and hard floors and creative layouts. And the houses were very affordable.

irvy3Unfortunately, Irvington has fallen on hard times since it was founded more than century ago. Walk three blocks outside of the historic area, and you will see lots of red flags: payday loan stores, dollar stores, liquor stores, plasma centers.

As much as I wanted to overlook those red flags, I just couldn’t — not with two small boys to raise.

That’s not to say Irvington doesn’t have its loyal fans. The place is a haven for artists and architects and urban pioneers.

My own neighborhood isn’t nearly as interesting as Irvington. It was built in the 1960s, and is filled with Cape Cods, ranches and split levels. It’s nice and safe, but nothing really to take your breath away.

I noticed that again this morning, when I was out running loops in my neighborhood before breakfast, 4 1/2 miles in 37 minutes. The run got my blood flowing. But it didn’t do much for my imagination. It would have been much cooler running through Irvington.

I’ve lived in  plenty of walkable cities — Lakewood, Ohio and Cambridge, Massachusetts and Washington, D.C.  And I always enjoy visiting places like that.

Places like Irvington. I’ll be there Saturday morning, running, rain or shine.

And afterwards, I have a feeling I’ll be walking leisurely through a few residential streets, enjoying the sights before I head home.

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