Yesterday morning I went for a run in Chicago.
I visit Chicago once each year around this time. My visits are a mix of business and pleasure. For the past two years, my visits have included running, as well.
Yesterday, I was scheduled to run 9.25 miles. 6 miles at goal half marathon pace, a half mile at 10k pace in the middle, a few cool downs, bookended by an easy mile to start and another to finish.
I set out on Chicago’s Lakefront Trail. I headed north to pass Navy Pier and continue on to what was my favorite part of my run last year, where the path runs alongside the beach.
Last year’s visit was two weeks before the 2012 NYC Half, so I ran a 12 mile long run and a 6 mile easy run during my stay. I absolutely loved those runs.
This year, however, I was having a bit of trouble getting in to my run. Since I am traveling and didn’t have my usual fuel, my stomach was cramping and I stopped for a quick break at Navy Pier, after running less than two miles. This part of the path was icy and somewhat treacherous following the snowfall that Chicago had earlier in the week.
Then I continued toward the beach only to find that the path was closed.
I was upset. Mile 2 was supposed to be run at goal pace, but between the bathroom stop, the icy path and the closure I was well behind on time.
In running as in life, sometimes the point where you are told to Stop. Turn around. Go no further. is precisely the moment when inspiration strikes and you take off.
I turned around and my next mile was the fastest of my whole run.
I ran south on a sunnier part of the path where the ice had melted and the snow had been entirely cleared. I was able to pick up my pace and hit all of the time goals that I wanted to for this run — for the most part, I even exceeded them.
As I approached mile 9.25, I didn’t want to stop. I turned back toward the trail and ran another .6 before heading back to my hotel, lighthearted and free from my successful 9.85 mile run.
If I hadn’t turned around at that earlier point in my run, I may have given up on the day’s goals. I may have told myself that since I wasn’t hitting my paces, I should just call it a long run instead and not push myself. And then I never would have experienced my favorite part of the run.
After turning back north and heading toward my hotel, I rounded the curve alongside the Shedd Aquarium, to see Chicago’s majestic skyline unfold before me.
The extra .6 I ran was the chance I gave myself to experience that part of the run a second time.
New York is my hometown, but Chicago is one magnificent city.