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Run 5: Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Begins, and Ends Again… and Begins…

January 11, 2012

Miles: 8

Other Runners: 1

Okay! Things are looking up in the land of pseudo- suburban running. On Tuesday, I ran north on Cicero. (At this point anyone who vaguely knows the area will reasonably ask, Why?) I don’t know, but I can tell you this: the sidewalk ends all the time on that stretch. For nearly twenty minutes, I was in one of the least scenic spaces ever, running alongside the interstate and crossing above and below CTA and Metra train tracks. Anyone who knows me will understand how disconcerting this was: I am, after all, the person reduced to nearly a crawl (and not “crawl” in the “slow” sense, but in the “on-hands-and-knees” crawl sense) anytime I run across Seattle’s University Bridge. You can’t tell in the photo below, but not only does this bridge open up, its surface is grating and you can see directly below your feet to the water. My stomach hurts even as I write about it.

Still, the thunder of cars and trains yesterday obscured quite a lot of my anticipated bridge panic, and I remained aware of little more than the frustrating unpredictability of city works. Sidewalk, sidewalk, sidewalk, dirt. Every ten or so minutes, the concrete would disappear, leaving a narrow, scrubby path filled with scraps of wrapper and glass and what I’m sure were more than enough gross substances to convince me to leave my shoes outside our apartment later.

I turned east on Foster and found the sort of dirt that someone might actually expect: LaBagh Woods, a so-far unpronouncable forest preserve not too far away. A green space! In the city! (In all actuality, it was really very muddy and gray.) I ran across a few playing fields, then followed a faint trail in and out of a wooded area. It was an especially quiet moment in the afternoon (right before school dismissal), and just when I began to feel the tiniest bit unsafe I noticed a police van parked nearby. So thanks, Chicago PD, for your excellent security provision and/or really long lunch breaks. The trail moved to the east, down a tiny slope, and fell alongside a river. Every so often I caught sight of a wall brightened by graffiti through the branches, or some animal tracks in the mud, and at one point I nearly ran into an elderly woman standing still, praying the rosary. It was a nice run, one I’ll most likely do again.

Something else: If you ever want to feel superhuman, put on your most slimming running clothes (or a sail, but that could be dangerous), find out what direction the wind is blowing that day, and run with it.

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One Comment
  1. Amber permalink

    I love your superhuman description. I love running with the wind…that is until I have to turn around. 🙂

    Your encounter with the Chicago PD being in the right spot at the right time is the second one I have heard this week. Go Chicago PD!

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