Vegetables that go MIA when traveling America: any greens outside spinach, spring mix, and the ever present white-bread of greens, iceberg lettuce. Even in Chicago I couldn’t seem to get my kale fix on (though the town did boast a Chipotle, which Megs and I ran to with delight after a few days of having depleted our own stock of carrots and apples as means of healthy food).
What Chicago did have in spades was places to run! We were staying downtown with a friend of a friend of a friend, Kristy. The song lyrics Tres tres chic kept coming to mind as I’d gaze off her balcony at the sunkissed Sears Tower or as Megs and I wandered a very high-end part of town (so high end their water tower looked like a castle. Seriously). With two nights in Chi-town (um, that’s a cool thing to say, right?) I had two chances to hit the pavement.
First run: through town! How quickly neighborhoods fly by. As Chicago is mostly a grid system (meaning the streets aren’t all topsy-turvy curvy) and our homestay was close enough to the Lake that should I get lost, I could always use that as a compass to her home, away I trampled through into the city. Perhaps because it was daylight, perhaps it was simply the ‘hoods I was running, but darn it if the city felt very clean. I didn’t see much nitty-gritty, down ‘n’ dirty, rough and tumble anything. Rather, all was quiet on the Western front. Cars were polite to runners, coffee shops were full of coffee drinkers, and the concept of an idyllic urban area came to mind.
For my second run in Chicago, I decided to hit the Lake’s edge. If you’re savvy to how crosswalks work, you’ll be able to find an underground tunnel that takes you below the crazy highway and onto the cement cycling path. These tunnels are terrifying – much more intimidating than the city – so I sprinted through one and was happy to see sand, sun, and people exercising on the other side.
Apparently, there was a huge cross country meet of sorts in Chicago the same time I was visiting, as loads of lean, attractive, young adults in college-logos kept jogging by, occasionally stopping to huddle around a coach and a clock. As my iPod ran out of batteries during my run (I was accidentally out for an hour and twenty minutes as a carnival-like area piqued my interest and I ran around the amusement like area amused despite it being closed down) I wasn’t under-happy about being able to see real runners in action.
On this less city-like side, running was a lot scarier. Cars ruled the roadway, ignored pedestrian lights, and generally felt like they were terrorizing me (which was bass-ackwards from what I’d have expected after my urban jaunt). The path seemed to go on infinitely, and I was sad to know I had to turn around if we were ever going to make our next destination.
Regardless, two runs, and two thumbs up, Chicagoland. I’ll be back, and I’ll be running (once I get home and find me some kale!).