Thursday, May 17, 2007

Of Lakes, Museums, and Frank Gehry

There is no shortgage of unique, scenic trails in Chicago's park district along the lake. Here, runners cross over the highway from Millennium Park, home of the Frank Gehry-designed Pritzker Amphitheater.

I have grown up a Baltimore fan--from the city, to its sports teams, to its lore. So when I say, on a cultural and runner/biker-level, Baltimore could learn a lot from Chicago, I don't make that statement lightly. Of course, Orioles and Ravens fans are still superior beings to White Sox and Bears fans :)

Apologies for not updating the site sooner--the last five days, I have been in Chicago for the American Association of Museums' annual meeting. Simply awesome on all fronts. Great conference, great museums to take in, and 3 running explorations that covered ground in the city, along the Lakeside Trail, out onto Navy Pier, and looping through scenic parks.

Architecturally, Chicago is a marvel. And buildings aside, the thoughtful planning that has given runners and bikers uninterrupted lakeside trails, and other wanderers, locals, and tourists, beautifully landscaped gardens and parks, in the midst of the city, could stand to permeate cities and small towns alike.

I actually managed to run 3 of the 4 mornings we woke up in Chicago--each with its own exploratory goal. I won't go into specific runs here, maybe another time, other than to say that the "Windy City" earned its street cred with me this morning. I set out to run for 60-70 minutes this morning, on what was the coldest morning of our trip, out the door at about 5:45 a.m.

Chicago's Lakeside Trail, if you vary the main path slightly, will run you by the Adler Planetarium, at 75 years old, the first planetarium in the western hemisphere (hey, I was at a museum conference).

I noticed it was cool, and could hear the wind, but couldn't really feel it. Having past the Shedd Aquarium, and coming up onto the Lakeside Center, McCormick Place (where our conference was being held, about 2 miles from where we were staying), I was passed by a group of tech-y bikers, decked with new-fangled gear and weather reports. I heard one of them say, "about 20 knots," then didn't think about it for a while, checking out other sights.

About 10 minutes later, it hit me: I could feel the wind at my back. This meant my out-and-back run was going to be a beast for the "and-back" leg. The "Windy City" left its calling card on the return--yet my time back was almost identical to the time on the way out. It just took a lot more to pull it off.

The Lakeside Trail, morning, afternoon, and evening, was bustling with runners and bikers. Chicago has kept them in mind in its layout. I am glad to have spent a few days among their ranks--enjoying the new land- and cityscape, and getting to know a new place, as a runner.

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