Sunday, September 20, 2015

Jess Goes Running: Running Home from Navy Pier

Earlier on in the summer, I set a few running goals for myself in order to stay motivated for the Chicago Half Marathon at the end of September (which is very rapidly approaching!!)  One of them was to run in the Chicago 10K--another race I still need to write about--and I accomplished that on the day before T. and I left for our vacation to Las Vegas.  It was a great race, a strong race, and from there, I found myself looking forward to my next running goal: to run the distance between Navy Pier and our apartment up in Edgewater.  Initially, I set this goal for the end of August/beginning of September.

But then it was getting closer to the middle of the month, and I still hadn't done it.  I made one attempt that ended in a Red Line ride home from Wilson, thanks to a cramp I just couldn't shake.  Finally, this last Monday, I decided that I needed to just do it already.  Especially with the half marathon getting so close, I didn't want to being running a terribly long distance too close to the race.  So Monday was just under two weeks away from the half and I got a text late in the morning from T., who had taken the Lakefront Trail to work on his bike, saying that the weather was perfect.

In the early afternoon, I took the train down to Grand and walked the mile from the CTA station to Navy Pier.  Though I wasn't tracking this with MapMyRun, I still kept a quick pace towards the lake.  After a quick stop to freshen up, I set out from Navy Pier on the Lakefront Trail.  I decided that it would be extra motivating to start from Navy Pier, knowing that I would be attempting to make my way home by foot.  I had my Ventra card with me just in case, but I was not planning on using it!  It was a perfect day for a run--maybe a little warmer than I would have liked in the sun--and to be right there, running along the lake, was an incredible feeling.

I had about 8 and a half miles ahead of me.  And though I started out feeling optimistic, I soon found myself in a mental battle with myself to even just keep going.  With each mile, I seemed to be getting slower, I couldn't find a rhythm that worked for me, and I was just downright frustrated.  I stopped for a few short minutes just north of the furthest south I had run on the Lakefront Trail, just about halfway.  I was able to talk myself into continuing (with a little bit of encouragement via text from T.), and I calmed myself down enough that my breathing was more regular.  And it took about half a mile, but my confidence was up and I picked up the pace.

Until I ended up with a cramp in my left hip.  It never really went away, and I found myself doing a mix of running and walking.  It is much better now, but my hip was sore for a few days as I worked out the knots.  Even though the last few miles were a little slower than I would have liked, and even though it was a struggle for me at first, I was able to accomplish my goal!  All in all I traversed about 9.7 miles, and I was very happy with my minute/mile pace and my general pace on the trail.  9.7 was a good long distance for me, pre-half marathon, and I am feeling prepared for whatever the course may bring.

Besides that, I am incredibly happy that I accomplished a goal that I set for myself.  It wasn't easy--in fact it was downright difficult at times--but I did it, and that's what counts. It was just so quintessentially Chicago, and I felt (and feel) so fortunate to be running along such a gorgeous backdrop.  Especially considering how much our previous home lacked in natural scenery, I am especially grateful.  I highly suggest the Lakefront Trail for runners, cyclists, walkers, and everyone in between!  I hope to run from Navy Pier to the apartment (or vice versa) again before winter hits, as it really was a beautiful course.  Proud of myself and my growth as a runner.

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