It’s 5 PM and my options are clear. Choice 1 is the hotel fitness center. There are two treadmills, an elliptical, and a recumbent bike. Each fitness device is strategically placed in a tight row facing the back wall. Choice 2 is facing the outdoor elements and the tail of the first storm of the season. While its not raining now, it has been all day. Currently, it’s 62 degrees and the lake front is under flood advisory due to strong 20 mph winds (not counting the gusts) coming off the lake.
It takes me about a second to weigh the pain of a monotonous treadmill run with a windy Chicago adventure. Adventure it is!
I’m glad I packed my outer running shell as I head out the hotel door and run toward Millennium Park and the lake. I always feel under dressed when I run through a downtown area. Dodging between commuters in suits and coats wearing only shorts and thin running clothes makes me feel self-conscious (and a bit naked).
Coming through the park, I head south and find a few other crazy runners. Really, it’s not too bad if you can handle the wind. Moving south, I’m treated to a strong tailwind and feel like a world-class runner — effortless and fast. Needless to say, the views are much better than the hotel wall and flickering TV monitor found on a treadmill.
In no time, I’m past the aquarium and near Soldier field. I check my GPS monitor and decide that I should head back.
The 180 degree turn changed me from a elite athlete into a novice runner. The head wind is amazingly strong with the gusts threatening to blow my hat into Lake Michigan. Each stride feels like I’m running with a giant rubber band around my waist. I hold my hat and lean into the wind. Step – push, step -push. I’m beginning to wish I stayed in doors.
To protect my eyes (and keep my contact lenses from drying out while they’re in my eyes), I squint and look downward tracing the cracks on the ground. I tell myself to push and persevere. Without full awareness of my location, I miss the turn back to the hotel and find myself passing the boat docks close to the Chicago River.
Realizing that I’ve gone too far, I stop and turn around. Once again, I’m an elite athlete. I smile and work my way back to the hotel for a hot shower knowing that I persevered in the wind.
“Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12).
James tells me that there are rewards for preserving. While I don’t think my run qualifies for the crown of life, I do think I deserve the pulled brisket and hot link sandwich with a side of pork ribs and broccoli salad for dinner. Not the crown of life, but a close second.