Running the Chicago Dream

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Vacation is over and life begins again back home. I ran on the Chicago lakefront trail yesterday for the last time this year. A six-mile run was scheduled. I didn’t even think of turning around for 5-1/2 miles. I stopped at the same spot the picture was taken for my post a few days ago and sat down for a bit.

Boats were leaving the city for a day on the water. Oak Street beach was just ahead and the tall buildings just beyond that, one of which still holds the home I remodeled and decorated just the way I wanted it. The home someone fell in love with and bought, furniture and all.

It was from that spot I first found my running legs. My husband and I would walk down to the park and do sit-ups from the balance bars. We crossed under Lake Shore Drive to the path and ran to the North Avenue pier where we did push-ups and the elephant walk. He worked with me until I was able to do 75 push-ups in one set. From there we ran past the chess tables and the zoo to the water fountain at the Theatre-on-the-Lake at Fullerton and ran back home. That was the routine for one full summer.

imageBy the next summer, I could run for 10 miles and I took to the path by myself. Each day I went further and further and couldn’t wait to tell my husband, “I went all the way to the marina today!” I made it to the tennis courts, then the golf course, and to the end of the path heading North. Sometimes I went South because it was possible to get tired of going the same direction; sometimes I ran in both directions.

On summer weekends there were so many people you could hardly run through them. There were beach volleyball tournaments, kids, dogs, strollers, runners, people on skates. Sometimes I thought the cyclists would absolutely run me over.

I ran on the well-worn sandy gravel path beside the asphalt path… I know where it starts, where it temporarily ends. If it had been raining this week I would have instinctively known where the biggest puddles would be.

I trained for my first marathon on that path. The 15, 16, 18-mile runs happened there while my husband waited for me at the beach. When I finished, we ate lunch at the Beach Bistro (it’s gone now) and sat on the beach to recover. My first 20-mile run was an organized run called Ready To Run 20 Miler and I thought I’d never make it to the finish line. All of that run was on the lakefront path.

When the summer was winding down and days got colder, it seemed I was the only person out there – until a cyclist flew by at lightning speed from out of nowhere just to remind me the path was not my own private spot. The memories are endless and precious.

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We walked so much the first day of my vacation that I got a blister on my heel. We laughed so much my jaw hurt and I thought I would cry. We spent an afternoon shopping on Michigan Avenue – went to the Nike store, the Garmin store, through the Water Tower and Nordstrom’s Rack. The nice lady at Quigley let us go upstairs to see the newly refurbished chapel since my son had gone to high school there. We walked past what once was Borders and I told my son about the time the line wrapped all the way around the block because President Clinton was inside signing his new book. We went to dinner at Rosebud, our favorite restaurant that was just across the street from that favorite home. We had a chocolate truffle for dessert.

But….for all the fun to be had in the city, the best part of all is that lakeshore trail. Eighteen miles of sheer fabulous.

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