Monday, August 18, 2008

On the Road to 26.2: Chicago, IL

It's strange that I was out of town 2 weeks out of the last 3. I don't have a traveling job. I despise traveling. I am a creature of habit, and when I get out of my routine, I can barely function. But, last week I was in Chicago again.

I love running in Chicago! I was downtown very close to the harbor -- about 1/2 mile from the nice, soft composite biking/running trail that runs right along the water. Yachts and sailboats, seagulls, Canadian geese, cottontails, and lots of other runners and bikers were my companions. The temperature was near 60 degrees each morning with a light wind. Running heaven.

Near one of the stadiums there is a memorial area for fallen paramedics and firefighters. Huge rectangular stones, I assume memorializing each hero. The stones are spread out, and some in clumps, and it appears are meant to be sat on to stop and reflect and remember.

The landscaping along this trail is amazing. Flowers that have long given up in North Texas are thriving there. Alot of the trail is shady from tall trees. There are several huge yachts -- much bigger than my house, docked along the edge. I left to run at 5:15 a.m., and on a couple of these big boats, someone was up on the deck with a cup of coffee. As I made my turnaround and headed back, the sun was coming up over Lake Michigan.

Have I gushed enough about running in Chicago?

I know it's not truly running heaven because of one thing -- gnats. There were funnel clouds of gnats swirling around most of the lights on the trail. Sometimes you don't see them, and you run into a cloud of them. They're all over your face and neck and arms. They're in your eyes and mouth and nose. (I always bring a washcloth with me to wipe sweat, and gnats.) You wipe and wave and cough and gag and spit -- and the people driving by are thinking, "Man, if that's what running looks like, leave me out of it."

Other than the gnats, Chicago running in August is pure bliss.

One other observation -- everyone is so driven up there. The bikers that race by are totally focused. They don't smile or say good morning -- they just race by like they are trying to catch up with Lance. (Except for the really large black guy who is riding along with his bike helmet, and he is smiling from ear to ear, and he actually greets me like an old friend now that we've seen each other the last 3 mornings.) The runners are the same -- racing along, checking their watches. One man's watch was beeping -- how much fun is that in such a beautiful setting?

There was one delightful red-haired girl on the trail. She alternated running with biking. She was stunningly beautiful. An angel with red hair and rosy cheeks. She also smiled at me one morning, and life was good for the rest of my day.

Have you ever gone out for a run just to experience the joy in moving? That's really what I do every morning. I'm not going to win any races. I don't often establish any PRs. (On Monday, my time was 1:04:07. On Tuesday, my time for the same route was 1:04:06 -- getting faster. On Wednesday, when the red-haired girl smiled at me, my time was 1:02:42. Thursday, I rested. Friday I couldn't wait to do my 12-miler to finish my week.) I finish, and I pretty much enjoy every minute of my runs. If you haven't run that kind of run lately, you might give it a try.

I'm just a plodder. You guys go on ahead.

Run on, friends.

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