Just got back from an amazing run where I ran past several projects throughout Brooklyn. Some people I know are scared or shocked; "You run through the projects?" Yup. It's not those fears you have; it's full of yes, low-income housing, poor people, but full of friendly faces, hellos, smiles at me singing while I'm running, cute boys winking, little kids squealing, fire hydrants blasting. I'm welcomed, mostly. Sure, sometimes I get the stares, the "whatcha doin here, white girl?" but mostly, it's just accepted - another person doing their thing.
I've run through rich neighborhoods and hate it. I've asked for directions in wealthy Long Island towns to get that snotty-look-down-the-nose. People see a sweaty runner and shudder. "Darling, just looking at that runner made me sweat. Off to the spa now - must deep cleanse myself." Running through the Upper East Side and Midtown East on forty-plus mile runs never is fun. Running through Harlem before that, yes.
And the music's better - I heard "Just a Friend" by Biz Markie at 6am in projects in Williamsburg. I've danced in splashing fire hydrants with ten year olds. I've blown kisses, given the finger, asked for cups of water, screamed with delight, moaned with pain, just felt more alive.
City running's nothing like trails but I must admit, when I'm forced to do it (which is most times I run), I enjoy the diversity of some of the less wealthy neighborhoods - and the diverse reactions.