Sunday, June 7, 2015

A running adventure



I had a half day conference on Saturday morning at Lurie Children's Hospital in downtown Chicago. I also knew that I needed to run on Saturday, and I did some mental gymnastics trying to figure out how I could get it done. I had to leave my house really early, and the thought of getting up at zero dark thirty to run was not appealing to me, at all. I made a decision. I was going to bring my running shoes and I was going to run downtown after the conference. I have never run downtown along the lake except when I'm racing. The more I thought about my plan, the more excited I became. And it was really interesting how things fell into place. The weather forecast? Sunny and cooler along the lake, with highs in the 60s. Fueling? Lunch (free) would be served at the conference. Parking? The hosts offered a $10 parking voucher. It seemed almost too good to be true. I decided that it was meant to be. This run would be my therapy, my positive ending to a very difficult week. 

Like the compulsive runner that I am, I planned this run like I plan for a race. I reviewed the route I'd take to get to the lakefront path. I laid out all my gear the night before. Set my alarm and went to bed early. Getting downtown at 630 am was a breeze. The conference was good. One of the speakers was a sports medicine doctor, and I've heard him speak before. He's quite entertaining. Today he talked about common sports injuries in adolescents. He did make the statement that "marathon runners are the worst patients to treat.". He gave a couple of examples, one of a runner who insisted on running the marathon with a stress fracture in her femur (she finished and then got treated) and a guy who collapsed after the finish line, needing CPR. Once revived, he asked where his medal was. Everyone in the room gasped. Except for me--the runner who ran a race on a broken foot last spring....I chuckled to myself and looked longingly at my bag of running gear on the floor next to my chair. 

Runners, we're different..

The John Hancock building and Water Tower Place
After the conference ended, I headed to the restroom to change into my running gear. I went back to my car to put my bag away, and headed to the street to try and get a signal on my Garmin. Anyone who has run in downtown Chicago knows that this is a huge challenge. The tall buildings really mess with the satellite reception. When I ran the Chicago marathon last year, my Garmin was useless for pacing. After a couple of minutes, I got a signal, and I was off. 

Looking south toward Navy Pier. You can see the ferris wheel. The building to the right is Lake Point Tower.
I headed towards Chicago avenue and looked for the underpass, and took the stairs to go under Lake Shore Drive. I came out on the lakefront path and had to stop briefly to take it all in. What a gorgeous day, and what a gorgeous view. I used to work at the University of Chicago, and drove Lake Shore Drive every day. The view never gets old. I've been a lot of places, and personally, I think there is no more beautiful skyline than the Chicago skyline. My brother-in-law, a native New Yorker, disagrees vehemently with me on this point. To each his own...

I ran south towards Navy Pier. I was shocked at how many people were on the path walking, bicycling, and yes, running. There were Segway Tours. My husband joked that I would get hit by someone riding a "Divvy" (a rental bike)--they're everywhere-- and yes, I had a close call almost right away. The path was under construction, and it was a little confusing but I just kept heading south. 

Running over the Chicago River. The building directly behind me is Donald Trump's contribution to the city of Chicago.
The detour took me up onto the Columbus Drive bridge over the Chicago River. There were a lot of tourist boats going back and forth. Once I crossed the bridge, it was back down to the lakefront. I stopped to take a picture across the street from Buckingham Fountain, and the people that I asked were visiting from Poland. They took my picture and asked me where they could find "the bean". I sent them in the general direction of the stainless steel sculpture and headed on my way towards the museum campus, where you can find the Field Museum, the Shedd Aquarium, and the Adler Planetarium. I spotted a couple getting married on the grass near the Planetarium. The wind was pretty strong off the lake, and her groom put his jacket on her shoulders. 

Wedding pictures on the lawn of the Adler Planetarium
I kept running around the Planetarium and found myself on Northerly Island. This used to be an airport, called Meigs Field, but was suddenly shut down in the middle of the night by the former mayor of the city. Now it's a park, and there was a concert stage set up. I wondered who was playing there that night. 

Burnham Harbor with Soldier Field in the background
I stopped to take a picture of all the boats in Burnham Harbor. Behind the Harbor is Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears. Behind that, I spied the Chicago skyline and the Sears Willis Tower. At this point, I had run 4 miles, and so I headed back north. My run up until then had been easy and when I headed north, I realized why. The wind, blowing off the lake, was really strong. Running into that wind, my pace slowed down remarkably. I groaned to myself and kept pushing forward, retracing my steps. I found the Chicago Avenue underpass, and headed back to my car. 

My hometown!
I reflected on my run. What didn't I love? The crowds. The tourists. There were so many people along the lake, and a lot just not paying attention to what they were doing--like the bicyclist who almost ran into me. I had to do so much weaving--it was like running in a race! If I did this again (and I will), I'd plan on running much earlier in the day.

Buckingham Fountain
But all that was minor compared to the pleasure I felt running along Chicago's lakefront. I do believe I had a smile on my face almost the entire time I was running. What did I love? I always love racing in the city but today I loved the experience of running along the lake with no goal, no plan, just to run 8 miles and take it all in. I love this city. The skyline? Spectacular. And if you get tired of that, you can always look out at the lake. Even though the day was fairly cool, the boaters were out in full force, either out in the harbors, or just sitting in their docked boats, living it up. 

I also loved that I could do 8 miles in the afternoon. The old me, the "I can only run in the morning me" would have wilted and never been able to do this run. I love how my running has evolved, how I've become so much more flexible. I love how I could eat a turkey and cheese sandwich, and head out 2 hours later and run some killer paces (with the wind at my back, there were a couple of 8 min/miles in there!), no side stitches. This run felt good, physically and mentally. I felt like I could have kept on going past the 8 miles I had planned for today. Don't we all love runs like that?

I pulled out of the parking garage, and saw that if I hadn't had my $10 parking voucher, I would have paid $53 dollars to park there today. And that's something to love.

I'm so glad I took advantage of my day downtown to have a running adventure! It felt so good to get out of my comfort zone. We runners get so caught up in our training--our miles and our paces and it felt great to just get out there and run. And to stop to enjoy the view. What a great way to end the week! 

Have you ever taken yourself on a running adventure? Not a race, just a really fun run?

I'm linking this post with Tara at RunningNReading for her Weekend Update!







88 comments :

  1. Glad you got out for a run! I have run on the lakefront path when I've been there for conferences as well. I usually did it early AM so it was usually other runners (and sadly some homeless people). I always think the Chicago River is such a weird color!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't even imagine what makes the river that color! Yikes!

      Delete
  2. That sounds like a lovely run! Yes, we are always taking ourselves on running adventures! I find its a great way to see new places, or places I would never other wise go to!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I've run here plenty of times, just always while racing. This was fun!!!

      Delete
  3. Looks like a fun run! I have never been to Chicago. I watched the making of the Donald Trump building and it was quite interesting bc of the narrowness of the building in the windy city. There was so much involved. Glad to hear you were able to get a great run in after your conference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a great opportunity for some me time in my favorite city!

      Delete
  4. FUN! I can't wait to get back to racing. My favorite part is always running in new places.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I love downtown Chicago and all the bikers/runners around the lake. I bet it would be really fun to once in a while drive down there early Sunday morning and do your Sunday run around the lake. I love running in new places.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a really fun run! I definitely will take a ride down there-early--and do it again!

      Delete
  6. I haven't had a running adventure in a long time but I am hoping to have a few in Hawaii next week. It's always fun to run in a new place. have a great day!

    ReplyDelete
  7. Totally love this! I was on a girls weekend trip a few years ago, and a bunch of us got up and ran along Lake Shore Drive. The architecture is so beautiful, I probably looked like a total tourist because I was oohing and ahhing at all the buildings and not paying too much attention to the path under my feet. I also did the RNR 5K and Half last summer. The 5K started along Lake Shore near the harbor, so the pic with all the boats looked so familiar. The half marathon went through the city streets, so again I had tons of awesome buildings to admire (did I ever mention I have a big obsession with art and all things related?) And, I was running side-by-side with Penny, so it was just too much perfect :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. And there's that...running with Penny! I miss my girls this summer--they're off training for triathlons and ultras; i"m over here planning on a mere marathon...

      Delete
  8. Every once in a while I head into DC on a run. It's 3 miles just to get into the city, so I don't do it often. I should just hop the metro one of these days.

    We visited Chicago this spring and I totally should have gone for a run on Lake Shore!

    ReplyDelete
  9. OOOHHHHH - you got me excited for the Chicago marathon!! The place looks fab. Can't wait.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're going to love it! Hopefully we can meet up.

      Delete
  10. I try to go on a running adventure whenever I visit a new city. I love running along the lakefront in Chicago. We usually run from the Pier to the Planetarium, but once we ran the other direction - past the "beach".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I usually run north, so this was something different and fun!

      Delete
  11. Wendy-- I love your blog. I found it a few months ago and am a regular reader. I'm in my late 40's and a marathon runner with a goal of 10 before I'm 50 (I have 3 more to go!!) I love the way you write---with humor and honesty, both about running and about life. Your topics are relatable and real. As a busy mom of three trying to squeeze it all in, I appreciate how you talk about juggling it all and the mama drama that comes with the territory. Keep up the good work!!!!

    Judith

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You just made my day!!! Thank you so much. The blog is kind of an online diary, but it's been so nice connecting with readers who tell me that yes, they've been there too! We're never alone...

      Delete
  12. Awesome! When I was there after Ragnar last year I fell in love with that city! Such an awesome place to run. My garmin totally messed up though like you said. It was totally useless and had me running a 1:00 min/mile, lol. Glad you had a great weekend!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The Garmin is really only good for keeping track of mileage; but along the lakefront it worked great!

      Delete
  13. Awe love love love this!!! Sounds absolutely PERFECT!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Sounds like you had an awesome run!!! I love love love the city, and the Sears (won't call it Willis, lol) tower always makes me smile. So glad to hear you had a great run!

    ReplyDelete
  15. Sounds blissful! I would agree - I love New York but flying into Chicago at night last year was breathtaking...Even though it was freezing cold I made sure I got in a couple of lakefront runs. I was coming back from injury so could only run about 3 miles, but enjoyed every frozen minute. My phone switched off, it was so cold, but I loved it! Glad your plan worked out and you had a good run.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Our weather is definitely a deal breaker for a lot of people! But when it's nice, there's no place better!

      Delete
  16. What a fun running adventure! Its looks like you had a gorgeous afternoon during which to enjoy your run.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Sounds like a fantastic afternoon! This post makes me excited to run Chicago in October! I live outside Boston and love running into the city - such a different experience than running in the suburbs. It's so fun to take a running tour through the city.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Are you running Chicago? I hope we can connect!

      Delete
  18. Love this! It was truly meant to be for you to do your run on the lakefront path! I hear you though on the frustrations of how crowded the path can be, and how so many folks there are not paying attention to their surroundings. The bikers can be the worst since they are flying by so quickly. And around North Avenue Beach, all bets are off since you've got all kinds of folks hanging out and socializing on the paths with their kids, strollers, and dogs. But you really can't beat that scenery! How cool that you got to see that wedding couple!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I should have let you know that I was there. It was amazing.

      Delete
  19. What a great run (w/ the exception of all the people). Chicago is SUCH a great town and I have always enjoyed any runs I've done while there. Way to multi-task and make it happen.

    ReplyDelete
  20. WHAT FUN!!! I loved seeing your pictures over the weekend, via Instagram; I'm so glad you were able to get out and do this, Wendy! Thanks so much for linking up with the blog today; hope your week is starting off well.

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm not a runner, but that sounds like a path I would love to walk! I've only been to Chicago once and I LOVED it!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It goes forever...I've run it plenty in races but never just for fun. I will do this again!

      Delete
  22. Great pictures. Glad you were able to make it to the LFT and get in a solid run after your conference! :)

    ReplyDelete
  23. This is awesome! Right before I moved away from Philly I did the same thing there - I ran to all the cool locations and took selfies in front of everything! It's so much fun exploring a city that way!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I loved it! I'd love to do this in other cities too!

      Delete
  24. One of my favorite paths--I live right near the hospital, so I know the route well. And Saturday was PERFECTION for a run. That weather + that route--they've changed my outlook on life many a time!

    ReplyDelete
  25. OMG those are amazing pictures!!! I love Chicago.

    ReplyDelete
  26. I found myself smiling throughout this whole post. I'm so glad you had a great run!!!:))

    ReplyDelete
  27. I love a running adventure and yes, it is fun to get out of your box every now and then! Good for you!

    ReplyDelete
  28. So great that you can have a run and an experience like that. I love cities but agree, the weaving around people and tourists gets a bit tiring but there are other advantages, like the sights !

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The view made everything else feel like background noise!

      Delete
  29. What a beautiful run! I've never been to Chicago. I had no idea.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, I may be biased but it's a pretty amazing place!

      Delete
  30. You were running in my second all time favorite city. Wait, have I already told you that. We're going on a family trip to Chicago this summer! I can't wait.

    ReplyDelete
  31. What a fabulous day to be running in the city! I'm glad you seized the opportunity. The Caveman used to have a weekend work thing downtown every March we'd all come down for and I'd always steal away early for a run on the LFP. It was very sparsely populated that time of year because it was still quite cold, but beautiful all the same.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Great city to run around. Chicago is SUCH a great place to visit. When I did the RNR half there it was amazing. I used to travel there for work all the time. Great food too!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh yes, the food is amazing! So is the view.

      Delete
  33. Oh, how I love Chicago! It's such a cool and interesting city. I hope to be able to run there one day.

    I have done a couple of running adventures: two times in the Bahamas and once in Virginia. To be honest, when we travel, we aren't really gone long enough to bring my running gear and we are bogged down with engagements, so I can't sneak away. That will change, one of these days. I would love to run in some major cities: Manhattan and Chicago spring to mind. I wouldn't turn down DC either.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'd love to run in DC! But no matter where I go, I pick my running shoes. It's always fun to explore a new city!

      Delete
  34. Running in a big city is so cool (though can be difficult later in the day as you mentioned). It's like taking a tour of the city. Even when you live there you're sure to get a different perspective. I've had the good fortune to run in Paris and Florence and they were great adventures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Lucky duck! I try to run everywhere I travel. Last fall was Charleston SC. Running along the river was amazing!

      Delete
  35. I TOTALLY want to go on a Segway tour hahahaha. I don't even care how silly I'd look

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My sister has done it and she thought it was the coolest. I just don't know...

      Delete
  36. Love love love these pictures, I can't wait to visit Chicago - what a beautiful city!! You look crazy strong and super happy in these pics - Just love seeing people in their element like this!

    ReplyDelete
  37. I've never been to Chicago but even with all of the people this looks like a great place to run!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was amazing. I would just do it earlier in the day.

      Delete
  38. Love this! The sports medicine doctor's stories made me laugh until I read that the other people in the conference gasped. Then I may have laughed some more. I'm glad you made it work and you were able to shake off the yuckiest of the past week!

    ReplyDelete
  39. What a great adventure! So fun to get to see the sights while running. I work with 8 orthopedic and sports medicine surgeons and they all think runners are the worst too :) Good think they love me, nice to get free consults when I have minor injuries. I used to only run if the weather was nice, now windy, cold, early whatever I am running :) although I never have learned to like HOT running. Anything over 60 is hot, but I refuse to run if it is hotter than 85.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's definitely a perk of your job! I do curbside my sports med doc on occasion, altho I'm usually pretty good at diagnosing my ailments. Ha!

      Delete
  40. Man I love that Lakefront Path! I may have to head out there this weekend! I wish the path was a little bigger though, I always feel like I'm going to get mowed over by a bicyclist. Those views though. I love our city!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! This was fun, tho, just to run and take it all in.

      Delete
  41. Looks like you truly had an adventure! A beautiful one at that. I look forward to running in new places! Great photos!

    ReplyDelete
  42. Ok this was a really cool update! I love the pictures from your excursion!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I really enjoyed getting out of my running comfort zone!

      Delete
  43. Your afternoon run through Chicago sounds wonderful! I can't wait to visit this fall, and see the Chicago sights for the first time! It is a beautiful skyline.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You will just love it! Fall is the best time to visit!

      Delete
  44. YOur run looks amazing! I love that running can be an adventure!!! Now I want to run in Chicago!

    ReplyDelete
  45. I love that you had such a great run! I've run along the lake shore in Chicago once (also while at a meeting) and absolutely LOVED the views, if not the crowds. :)

    ReplyDelete