After a miserable winter, we've actually had marvelous running weather here in Chicago for going on two months now. Highs in the 50s and 60s, and plenty of rain, but not enough to keep me from my running habits.
Funny thing, though: perfect running weather is still too nippy for the average citizen to be moved to go play in the elements, and the public paths remain the domain of the runners and cyclists tryingto get their work in.
Now, though, Memorial Day has arrived and we find ourselves on the cusp of summertime in the city. The middle of last week we hit 85 on the mercury, and it was like someone threw a switch. The parks, beaches and paths over on the lakefront were choked with the regular folk moseying their way to a lazy day outside. Now, while I admit this often makes for a nicer view on my random 6 mile jaunts, it also means that long stretches of the lakefront path because virtually impassable.
SO, it's time for me to find some new running routes! I can handle the extra traffic during my mid-week runs, but my weekends long runs are going to have to relocate to a more serene venue. I'm familiar with two good options already: the Des Plaines River Trail up in Lake County, and the North Branch Trail system that follows the Chicago River and shadows the Edens Expressway to the Botanical Gardens. Both have their good points and draw backs (the North Branch is devoid of water fountains and the DPRT is often flooded by the river it follows). A few months ago, I also did my first bit of running on the Illinois Prairie Path, but the east-west branch that I used crosses so many little roads along the way, that it's tough to get into a rythym. It didn't seem like a good option for long weekend runs.
I'm sad that I may have to make a 20 or 30 minute drive just to get to a good running venue outside the city, but maybe there are still one or two nearby options that I've missed. If my research pans out, then maybe once a month I'll throw in an excursion to a new trail and give it a go.
I know there's more out there to discover!