|North Avenue Beach, with the Chicago skyline in the background. This is the "preview" day for the Air and Water Show. We used to go with a bunch of neighbors every year!|
I grew up in a really small town about 60 miles northwest of the city, but my grandparents lived in Chicago and we spent a lot of time visiting them. They actually lived right across the street from the Lincoln Park Zoo! My sisters and I visited them a lot and my grandparents took us all over the city, fueling my love for Chicago. After I graduated from college, I got a job in one of the big hospitals on the near West side and moved to a Rogers Park, on the north side. Eventually I took a job as a home health nurse and traveled all over the city to see patients. I got to learn a lot about the city and neighborhoods. A few years later, my husband and I moved to Edison Park, which is located on the far northwest side of Chicago. I loved that neighborhood, but when I had my first son, we decided to move to the suburbs to raise our kids. Believe it or not, I had never lived in the suburbs and it was a bigger adjustment than I expected. To this day, I still love to go to the city and I still get a thrill when I'm heading in on the expressway and see that beautiful skyline. Some mornings as I'm driving to work, I can spy the Willis (aka Sears) Tower in the distance. Amazing, really, because it is about 25 miles southwest of where I live now.
|The boys and me, 2 years ago, playing tourist on the skydeck of the Willis Tower|
This is why I will be running the Chicago marathon again this year--provided I get in the lottery! I love the Chicago marathon. The race meanders throughout a large portion of the city, and runners really get a flavor of the various neighborhoods. Since I had all that experience traveling the city in my home health days, it's really like coming home for me. I'm happy when I run in the city. Chicago is a great city for runners. The people come out in droves to cheer on the runners and it is an amazing experience.
One of the biggest assets the city has to offer is its lakefront. Chicago's lakefront is loaded with beaches, parks, golf courses, and of course, the lakefront path. A lot of Chicago's races are run on the lakefront path. One of my favorite races, the CARA Lakefront 10 miler, which is considered a "kick off" to the race season, is run along the lakefront. The race also takes you through the harbors, which are somewhat empty this time of year. Since this race is in April, the weather can be unpredictable. But that's all part of the fun of living and running in Chicago.
|Broken foot and all...the weather was perfect for a PR!|
Another race, the Chicago Spring Half Marathon, is run on the Lakefront Path as well, but runs south to Burnham Harbor. Technically, I didn't actually run this race but if I had, it would be a favorite and so I've included it. This was the race I couldn't run, due to my broken foot. I did go down there to spectate and cheer my friends on, and I'm glad I did. I had never run a race on that end of the Lakefront path, and it was really beautiful. I was able to experience a race on that part of the path later in the summer when I ran Zooma Chicago. I also learned what a**holes some cyclists can be, as they raced by us while we ran. It was really dangerous.
|Chicago Half Marathon running on Lake Shore Drive|
Several years ago, I ran the Chicago Half Marathon. This fall race starts in Hyde Park, which is the home of President Barack Obama. Hyde Park is also the home of the University of Chicago and the Museum of Science and Industry. This part of Chicago was developed during the Columbian Exposition/Worlds Fair in 1893 (there is a great book, Devil in the White City, that takes place in this era). The parks in this part of the city are hidden gems, truly. Besides running through this area, part of the race is run on Lake Shore Drive, which is closed to traffic. I thought that was very cool and I loved this race but I didn't love the logistics, as getting there and finding parking was a challenge. Still, given the chance, I'd run it again.
|Chicago Half Marathon 2011|
There is one other race that I used to love, but haven't run in years, and that is the Shamrock Shuffle. This is an 8k, which is another distance that I love. The race is run through downtown Chicago and ends in Grant Park. It usually sells out, reaching a max of 40,000 runners. I don't normally like to run such big races, but the Shuffle is organized by the same group that puts on the Marathon, and so it is a really well run race. I haven't run it in years because it usually is held in late March, and that is when we take a family vacation to Florida. Hmmm...Florida vs Chicago....
One of the reasons I love to run in Chicago so much is because I just love the city. We've talked about moving back to the city once the boys are grown. Besides all the great races and places to run and play, we have theater...great restaurants...culture....if only we could get a Cubs World Series...or another Lombardi trophy....well, at least we have the Hawks!
|Wrigley Field and the iconic scoreboard, 2013|
As we say in Chicago, "there's always next year".
BTW, both these boys are taller than me now...