I've started running in the park near me at work, part of my new plan to get more runs in each week. I drop Buster off at daycare, drop my bags off at work, and then head over to the park. Thankfully, there is a field house there with a changing room and showers - I don't think I could really consider running in the summer there if there wasn't. Not and then head into a day of work.
It's a lovely park, just off the lake, with a quarter-mile track, picnic tables, tennis courts, softball diamonds, and playground. So lots of opportunity to watch people. The local neighborhood association maintains the garden that frames it to the east and west, with a nice assortment of annuals and flowering trees and shrubs. And of course the views are fantastic - looking to the east there is the lake, and to the west the Chicago skyline. And there you are, running your miles, with a great stretch of green in the center and beautiful greenery along the sides. In the middle of the city.
I love running in my neighborhood, but I always have to watch out for something - cracked and uneven sidewalks, cars coming out of alleys, a new intersection every minute or so. Here I could really pay attention to more attractive distractions. A red-winged blackbird streaking across the field. Sparrows bathing themselves in the dust. The differences in shade and light as I ran through and then out of the gardens. The slight breeze from the lake as I turned east.
And I loved not thinking about distance, just setting my watch for 30 minutes and then running as I felt like it until it went off. At home it's easier to run for distance, because I can plot out a course and know I'll be back home at the end of it. The times I've run for time in my neighborhood, I end up overshooting my home or not being anywhere near it at the end of the time, which isn't very relaxing to me. So in the park I had a nice easy run of half an hour, occasionally picking up my pace for a lap just for the heck of it, and remembering when that half hour would have been a slog.
I've been thinking about my running history recently (and will post more on that later). Usually when I think about it I see the gaps in my running, the months I didn't run, the races I wasn't able to train for. It's kind of startling to look back and see that I've been running for thirteen years now. And as much as I've been grousing to myself about how out of condition I am, I was able to go out and run a 5K three weeks after starting running again, after a break of almost two years. Without hurting the next day. That's pretty darn cool.
I am looking forward to making this a regular part of my week, and to having a place where I can really watch the seasons change.