I didn't know much about the Lakefront Trail prior to this trip other than that it existed and it was a path for running, walking and cycling along the lake. Some things that I was curious about that I eventually discovered:
|I took this photo from inside of a cab
- There are plenty of water fountains along this trail
- I didn't notice any bathrooms
- The part that I ran on was concrete as opposed to asphalt, so it's not ideal
- However, part of the trail has a gravel-like side area that you can run on that's softer
- If you are in Downtown Chicago, you have to find stairs or an elevator down to get to the lake level
- The trail had quite a few people on it, but wasn't nearly as crowded as the Embarcadero in San Francisco.
- If you start in Downtown Chicago and go south, are there are some trees and shading. If you go north, there are no trees whatsoever.
- The trail has mile markers, and half mile markers.
Much to my surprise and dismay, it's warmer here in Chicago than it is back home in the DC area. At least in the mornings. On Monday morning it was 79 degrees at 6:00am and yesterday it was 82. With the humidity, the "real feel" yesterday was 86 as I started my run. The only saving grace was the breeze, which felt good on my face.
Monday: 9.2 miles (easy)
So, how did my runs go? On Monday morning, I set out for 9 miles. I looked at a map and figured I just needed to turn right from my hotel and go straight and I'd hit the Lakefront in less than a mile. That was kind of true, only I hit dead ends, twice. I was too high up and the water was below me. I finally asked a woman walking her dog how to get down to the lakefront and she pointed out an elevator. So, another first for me, I have an elevator ride during my run.
I decided to go south, which was a good decision because I later learned that there are no trees or any kind of shading in the other direction. I had my trusty heart rate monitor with me, so I just made sure to keep it in zone 2, no matter how slow that was. I think I am finally starting to come back from that darn illness so my paces weren't as ridiculously slow as they have been for the past two weeks, considering the 79-degree heat. I filled up my water bottle a few times during the run and I had pre-hydrated the day before so I felt pretty good throughout the whole thing. The total run ended up being 9.2 miles, and I really enjoyed it. One of the best parts about the run was when I turned around and got a great view of the city with the lake. So beautiful and amazing!
Tuesday: 7.3 miles (moderate)
Yesterday morning, the plan was to try to incorporate some kind of speedwork in lieu of the hill workout I would otherwise be doing back home. Well, it was a "real feel" of 86, so I didn't do the speedwork exactly as planned. I started out running with two guys from my company. Once we got to the Lakefront, one of the guys (who is an Olympic class runner with a marathon PR of 2:20) ran ahead of me and the other guy, so the two of us continued on at around an 8:30 pace.
This was too fast to be a warmup, but too slow to be considered a tempo run (which I am planning for Friday), but I just went with it because it was nice having someone to talk to. He turned around after 2.5 miles, and I continued on. I figured I would just slow down and make this an easy run but it was really hard to do that once I had established a cadence at the faster pace. I slowed down slightly, but not to the point of it being a truly easy run. So, I'm going to log this as a marathon pace run on the books! Keeping in mind, if it hadn't been so hot, the pace would have been easy, but I usually slow down abut 30-45 seconds per mile when it's this hot.
I got back to my hotel and was just dripping with sweat. I got out of the shower and was still sweating, and my face was still bright red. I tried drying my hair after the shower and I just kept sweating. Not the greatest for having to give a presentation in front of 30 people!
Today is a scheduled rest day (although I did lift weights in the hotel fitness center), and tomorrow I plan to run about 7-8 miles on the trail again. Friday I will be back home on the track with my teammates for a tempo run.
Other Chicago Things
|I took this photo from the top of the Willis Tower
My hotel is situated very close to the Magnificent Mile. When I got in on Sunday night, I tried to explore to see what was so Magnificent about it, but I didn't find any shops or anything. I later learned that I was looking down the wrong street. I'll have some time tomorrow before my flight leaves to check it out!
It's been a great trip so far. I've enjoyed meeting many of my co-workers in person who I previously only knew from conference calls and emails. I also gave a presentation to the group which went well and received many compliments afterwards. Having only been with this company for six months, the positive reinforcement is nice!
Anyway, if you ever come to Chicago, I highly recommend the Lakefront trail as a scenic, safe place to run!