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Run 3: Chicken

January 6, 2012

I ran just once in our new neighborhood last week. It was early and dark, and -finally- Chicago was exhibiting its best, most blustery winter self. Relishing the anonymity (read: stylistic unaccountability) anyone on a winter morning knows, I wore two pairs of running pants, a tank-top, a trendy running shirt, a vest, and- thinking for the first time in years about wind chill- I threw on an ugly grey hoodie (think Rocky), a bright blue stocking cap (with tassle) and enormous white mittens. This was decidedly not about dressing for speed.

It was a great run, with little snow drifts and icy flakes and, for the most part, not much traffic. I passed a startling number of old neighborhood churches (with good names, too, like: “The Mystic Christian Church of Chicago”), surprised each time an arched roof or steeple would rise up between so many block-shaped brick apartments.

I haven’t run outside since, largely for what I’ve convinced myself is the necessary, very practical job of checking out area health clubs. I did a free trial run of the Y on Tuesday (#2), and last night ran a quick 7 mi. on a treadmill at Bally’s. It was not great. The run was fine, but the club is an outdated dungeon/meat market, and I hope I never have to go back. What’s more- and this is where I have to be very honest, and a little bit vulnerable- I ran there not to “get a better feel of the gym” (the tour I took on Monday was more than enough) but because for the first time, perhaps ever, I was a little scared and sad to run outdoors. It was a disconcertingly beautiful, balmy afternoon, and I chickened out. This has nothing to do with safety, for I’ve run through plenty of questionable big-city neighborhoods, along long mountain roads in rural China, and- just once- on the docks in Duluth at night in the middle of a raging blizzard. (My favorite!) It had nothing to do with safety and everything to do with the fact that I’m nervous I will find all of the same: flat, square, loud. This is an unwarranted fear, and not very fair to so vibrant and complex a city- still. I miss my winding, hilly runs in Seattle, my body moving in the lush darkness of evening or early morning without thought or calculation, simply for knowing the route and the air so well.


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  1. I am going to start airily telling people that I’m “currently not stylistically accountable” as a defense for my sloppy-exhausted-grad-student look 🙂 Love it. Also can you go check out the mystic Christian church and then tell me about it?? Very intriguing.

  2. Stephanie permalink

    Seattle misses you, too.

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