Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Running Chicago's version of Queens

While Max was rocking his 70.3 Timberman, I was moseying my way around the Northwest side of Chicago on my weekend long run.  It is a diverse multi-ethnic set of neighborhoods that blend into one another combining residential, commercial, and light industrial.  The closest equivalent I can think of is Jackson Heights and other parts of middle class Queens but with more green space.

I have been in a holding pattern of 12-14 mile long runs while I wait to ramp up for the California International Marathon in early December.  I ran the Rock n Roll Half in July and will run the Chicago Half in Hyde Park in early September and then my serious build. 

On Sunday I ran south and west to Logan Square an increasingly hipster area encroaching on the mostly Hispanic surrounding blocks.  There is a beautiful super-side boulevard with huge houses and even a mansion or two leading to a large circle where I headed off on the north and west spokes of Milwaukee and eventually Kedzie Avenue.  Both have various restaurants and boutiques few of which were open as I cruised by at 8:30 AM.  All told, probably 4 miles into my run.

Continuing north on Kedzie, I think I ran by at least 50% of the auto repair and body shops in the city.  The farther north you go the more the Spanish language stores begin to mix with Korean and then Middle Eastern shops and businesses culminating in a small strip mall that had all three types of grocery stores in the same place!  I am now at Mile 7.5 at the far north west corner of my run.

I headed home meandering back back toward the lake with a detour along the path bordering the Chicago River.  When I came up to the street level I was greeted with the headquarters and museum for the Cambodian Association of Illinois which I would have toured except I was sweaty and gross and nothing was open on Sunday morning.  More random streets brought signs in Polish, Serbian, Korean, and every ethnic restaurant you could imagine.  At the corner of Irving Park and Clark I came to Graceland Cemetery where the high and mighty of Chicago's past and present are buried.  As the day was heating up and I was tiring out I decided to hypotenuse home along Clark past the Friendly Confines on Wrigley Field and then head east the final blocks home.  All told, something north of 13 miles the way I did it.

The river path intrigues me and I want to explore more heading away from my place.  The problem is that the closest place I can pick it up is 3 1/2 miles from my home and it doesn't run uninterrupted until about 5 1/2 miles away which is usually close to turning around time.  So I think either parking the car near the start of the path or some long one way runs are in order with some lucky Metra or subway riders getting to sit next to stinky me when I take the commuter train home from the burbs from done with the run. 

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