Apologies to everyone who hates romanticized sporting blogs.
It wasn’t a picture perfect day by any means. It was beyond overcast. It was actually dark and foreboding a coming storm. I decided if it was raining when I stepped out of the door I’d cut my distance short for the day. Thunder rumbled but no rain was coming down so off I went intent on putting in my eight to nine miles for the day.
My planned route was a personal favorite and like so many of my runs it combines bike paths and urban blocks. I started off down by the North Channel path which is right outside of my house. I made it all of a half mile before a light rain started to fall. Not bad I thought if it stays like this I’ll be fine. As I cruised along the path I couldn’t believe how good I felt. Maybe it was the ever-intensifying rain or just one of those days, but I was gliding. By the time I hit my first turn on to Lawrence Avenue the rain was steady and I was pretty much soaked. When I crossed Clark Street the wind was coming off the lake. At that moment I had an “I’m a runner” moment that are not all that common for me. The wind was blowing in my face, the rain didn’t show any sign of letting up and I still had over half of my route to go. Yet as my ipod played “Don’t Fear The Reaper” (I know, lame) all I could think was how awesome the turn away from the lake was going to be, wind at my back on the last stretch toward home.
That stretch had to wait, however. One of the best paths in the city, perhaps the country, was my next turn and I ran along Lake Michigan, north from Lawrence. This section of the path is not nearly as popular as it’s southerly connection but it’s still quite beautiful. I’m always happy to run on there especially when the ipod play list turns to a Phish jam. I had a great “Down With Disease → What’s the Use?” going while I moved along the path. I wondered if Runner’s World ever did a profile on the Chicago lakeshore path and before I knew it I was rounding the bend at Loyola on to Devon Avenue and headed for home.
When I made that turn I heard my run tracker read off 7.5 miles. I couldn’t believe it. Not the distance, but how good I was feeling, even this late into a run. My whole body responded to “Sometimes” by My Bloody Valentine and I had my best form during this last stretch. The rain had finally stopped and the sun was even trying to peak out. I felt invincible. I was keeping my pace right where it should be and I managed to keep it there until the end. By the final mile I finally tired a little. My wet feet started to blister, my rain soaked shirt chaffed, and my rain-drenched shorts began to itch in all the wrong places. Even with these irritations (Oy! Did they cause irritation!) I did dread the soreness that was waiting. I couldn’t ask for a better run. I wish every run, especially races, could feel this way, this good. But it just isn’t that way which is what ultimately keeps me going: The possibility that a mundane, dreary day can contain something magical.