Chicago’s not a bad place, really it’s not. It’s got Lake Michigan and one of the world’s great skylines and it’s one of the handful of best sports cities in the country and world-class restaurants and plenty of good people and it’s more affordable than the snooty metropolises of the coasts. But holy cannoli and goof grief and golly gee willikers, Batman, one of the highlights of my entire life will be the day I finally get to see Illinois winters fade into the rear-view mirror and never come back. My wife is a lifelong Illinois resident and refuses to leave. Plan A is to change her mind. Plan B is to outlive her, so that the first day after her funeral I will leave for a warmer climate. I am not kidding about this. If she’s gone, I am absolutely, 100% leaving the next day.
Next year, I will turn 40. I’ve basically been a cranky old curmudgeon beyond my years since I was 19. And, you know how one of the benefits to being old is that you get to just speak your mind on anything and people just say “oh, that’s just my crazy uncle sitting in the corner, don’t mind him he’s crazy?” Come to think of it, it’s entirely possible that our presidential election this year will pit two crazy old uncles, but I digress… Anyway, here I feel like I can speak my mind.
Winter is horrible. I’m sorry, it absolutely is. From young childhood, grownups try to instill in us an appreciation for the changing of seasons, as if this aspect of nature is somehow enjoyable and beautiful.
Poppycock. Snow is hideous. Leaves are supposed to be green. Without sunlight, we would all perish. I see zero beauty in the change of seasons. Absolutely none. If I could be assured of never seeing another snowflake in person as long as I live and never needing to wear a winter coat again and never again suffering through a single day with a high temperature below 60 degrees, I would thank God nightly for blessing me so.
I loathe winter so much that I refuse to run outside when the temperature is below freezing. Never, never, never again. It’s misery. So almost all of my training in January and February winds up being on indoor tracks and the occasional treadmill. Sure, it’s not ideal, but it beats the frigid outdoors. But here’s the funny thing: Once a year, we mysteriously get a “mild” break in the weather around here, when the mercury creeps slightly above freezing. Today was that day in Chicagoland, so I ventured outside for that rarest of treats around here: An outdoor run on the trail in late January!
Yeah, it’s pretty ugly and barren midwinter, but it still beats the gym. The Gilman Trail of Aurora and Sugar Grove, Illinois, was pretty empty this morning. A handful of hardcore runners training for something and a handful of intrepid canine souls walking with their human companions, and me. That was about the extent of it. Today was a 12-miler for me. This is my trail of choice for those mid-length long runs during marathon training season. It’s ideal for anything between about 8 and 14 miles, but 14 is about all you can get out of the “nice” portion of this path. It’s quiet and pleasant, and does have this bridge:
It’s kind of tough to tell from the photo, but that’s a significant incline up this long bridge that spans a highway. In flat Aurora, it’s about as close as I can get to Heartbreak Hill.
Anyway, thank you Mother Nature and El Nino and WGN Meteorologist Tom Skilling for giving me this day to venture outside for a long run. It may not happen again until March. On the bright side of things, I’m feeling stronger this training season than I have for either of my past two marathons, and am on track for what should be a strong race in Boston. It’s getting close, y’all….
Miles Today: 12
Days to Boston Marathon: 79