Cool running: Seeing the city at 6 mph

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This is one of the oldest outdoor murals in the country, according to WBEZ. It’s on North Avenue and it’s called “La Crucifixion de Don Pedro Albizu Campos” and features portraits of nine Puerto Ricans instrumental to the island’s development and independence. iPhone photo by Rose Raymond.

When I lived in D.C. in 2009, my Saturday runs were on the National Mall. I’d run north through my neighborhood to get there, then past the Smithsonian Castle, the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial. Sometimes I’d take detours past the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and the Jefferson Memorial. Occasionally other runners joined me, but I mostly dodged throngs of tourists mesmerized by the monuments, snapping shots of the capital of the free world.

Had I not been an outdoor runner, I would have visited the Mall about 25 fewer times than I did the year I lived in the District. I would have known much less about the geography of the area and the patterns of weekend tourists. Running is a great way to learn more about your neighborhood and your city. And you don’t have to go crazy—I’m by no means a serious runner. I max out at 7 miles. I have no interest in doing a marathon. But I do go running at least once a week, and everywhere I’ve lived, I’ve learned something about my home by running around it.

In Chicago, I often run in Ukrainian Village and Humboldt Park. On my Saturday runs here, I’m most struck by the murals I encounter. Some of them are political. Others are commercial. Most of them are beautiful. They all make my run, and the area, a little more intriguing.

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Chicago-area hot dog joints are often called “red hots.” This is Odge’s Old-Fashioned Red Hots on Damen. I haven’t eaten there yet. iPhone photo by Rose Raymond.

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I really enjoyed this spine painting. Only later did I realize that my legs were in the picture. iPhone photo by Rose Raymond.

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A portrait of Puerto Rican baseball player Roberto Clemente is on the grounds of a high school that bears his name at Western and Division. iPhone photo by Rose Raymond.

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Palms on California Avenue near Division, I think. iPhone photo by Rose Raymond.

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Flamingos on California Avenue near Division, I think. iPhone photo by Rose Raymond.

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