This Weeks Short Runs: Embracing Lake Michigan

Hi, it’s been a minute. I have about 9 pre-written blog posts that I just haven’t completed and posted because, well, quarantine. It’s not like I didn’t have the time. It’s more like I didn’t have the motivation or energy. Then I woke up one day and realized, I need to be creative now more than ever, even when it feels like poo. It’s the only way to make me not…feel like poo….you know what I mean.

So, I’m training for a marathon that will very likely not happen. The Chicago Bank of America Marathon is scheduled for October and even though it will probably get cancelled – I’m going to run the 26.2 anyway. Duh. I mean I haven’t been training for several months to not do it! That’s just not how I roll. When I commit, I commit. So here we are. I’m about a quarter of the way through my training plan. Before I had an official training plan, I was already doing some training of my own. Mainly just doing fun runs and testing my endurance. Now I have set miles to hit every week. During the week I’m running 3 days that are anywhere between 3-7 miles. On the weekend I do one long run that’s usually between 9-15 for now…but will soon be in the 20’s the closer I get to the marathon. Insert scream here.

I thought it would be fun (and hold me accountable) to blog about my short runs throughout the week and vlog my long runs. It’s a way to channel my creative energy and to make my running more enjoyable. So let’s get right into it.

Tuesday: 6.5 miles
I absolutely love the first running day of the week. I purposely make Monday’s a rest day because I normally do my long runs on Saturdays and I need a solid 2 days of not running before I start up again. So on Sundays I normally stick to strength training (usually full body) and maybe go for a short walk. Mondays I basically do nothing but walk a bit, if I feel up to it. I try really hard not to do much of anything because I know how important it is to let my body rest and recover. It’s just as important as the days I run.

Tuesday was fun. I ran to the lake for the first time in ages. The absolute best thing about living in Chicago is not the architecture, it’s not the deep dish pizza, it’s not the comedy – it’s Lake Michigan. Hands down.

I can’t believe I didn’t realize it sooner. The first time I truly, full body, went into the lake was in 2017…I’d already lived in Chicago for 4 years!! Blasphemy. Unheard of. I’m thoroughly disappointed in myself. I ran onto the lakeshore running path and made my way over to Montrose Dog Beach. I saw dogs faffing in the water, living their best life. I saw people swimming as well. Pretty much all of the actual beaches in Chicago are still closed (thanks COVID) but the parts where it’s pretty much just concrete and water….are weirdly open. I mean….they seem to be open. people are chillin there, getting some sun and taking a quick dip. I paused and saw someone swimming fairly far out…just some chill morning laps and I thought….”wow, that might be the most put together person I have ever seen in my entire life.” I mean, I have no reason to know that but like, if you get your ass up early and the first thing you do is swim some laps in Lake Michigan, I respect the fuck out of you. I thought…I want to be that person.

I guess in a way I am partly that person. Slowly but surely. I’m training myself to get up even earlier than normal (I’m a morning person, hate me) just so I can get my run in before work. There’s something about going to the lake every day though that seems so…I don’t know…it’s like the height of self care to me. I find going to the lake by myself to be so therapeutic. Partly because you actually have to make an effort to go there. I do, at least. It’s about a mile and a dash away from my apartment. So I get the first mile in just making my way there.

I splashed some water on my face, my arms, the back of my neck and my chest. The water was cool and refreshing. Those desriptions do not give it justice. I can’t even begin to describe the feeling to be honest. It’s like coming up for fresh air. I decided I was going to make the lake a part of every run I did….as much as I possibly can.

Wednesday: 6 miles
Wednesday in general was, by far, the worst day this week. And it’s only Saturday so….there’s still time. I was so amped for my run. Just as I was about to head out the door – I last minute remembered to pop my contacts in. I’ve gotten so fast at it now that I barely even see the contact before putting it in my eye. Classic mistake. The second I put the contact in my left eye, I felt a stinging sensation that through me into a panic. What the hell was wrong with my contact? Was it ripped? Something in it? Did I poke myself in the eye or something? To this day…I do not know and I wish to be featured on an episode of Unsolved Mysteries but, I digress. I managed to get the contact out. I threw it away so fast, by the time I wanted to investigate it had disappeared. Again, classic mistake. Anyway, whatever it was caused a major eye strain in both my eyes somehow. So I had to delay my run for another half an hour while I closed my eyes, put a cold compress on them and relaxed. Trying to calm myself down. It was awful.

Once I got myself out the door though, contactless, I was okay. My legs were still sprightly and ready for the run. Just as I was feeling my most absolute fab – a giant possum came out of NOWHERE above me. I yelped and ran into the street where I luckily was not hit by a car. I was running by a cemetary and it was slighly raised from where I was on the sidewalk. (See picture) I didn’t see it coming at all. Just saw it right in front of my face and lost all sense of myself. I know I know…Possums are harmless, but they’re terrifying okay?? They’re HUGE! So – again, stress.

Once I got to the lake, my senses calmed. I felt at peace again with the lake. I splashed water all down my body from top to bottom and made my way back home. It wasn’t enough to calm me though. This led to a horrible day at work which led to a complete mid year breakdown….I think the breakdown was inevitable and needed but, never fun. I needed a day to reset.

Friday: 6.5 miles.
That’s right… I took Thursday off. Look I am a firm believer in listening to your body…mind included. I was in such an emotionally distraught state on Wednesday and everything in my being was telling me to sleep in and take a load off. I went to the gym instead and did a short arms and abs workout.

On Friday I made my way back to the lake. This run was and usually is the toughest of all my runs. I’m not too sure why. I guess I put a lot of energy in to Monday and Tuesday that the third run of the week loses its steam a bit. My legs were run down and very tight. I’ve been a real ass about stretching. It’s not that I don’t want to…I just…forget? Then when it comes to mind I say I’ll do it later and I don’t…I’m a work in progress…

My tired legs aside, I felt reflective on Friday. I ran from Montrose Beach up to Foster Beach. There is a section just before you hit the beach entrance where the water is shallow and the rocks are covered in a soft moss. There were a handful of dads there with their kids. Getting in a quick dip to celebrate the weekend ahead. It made my heart smile. I leaned over the edge and grabbed a handful of water. I let it run through my hair and soak my sun kissed cheeks. I thought about how hard the past few months have been, not just for me, but for every one. How much I want everything to go back to normal but also am so grateful to know some things in the world will never be the same.

Running has been the one thing, besides Andrew, that has kept me grounded during this time. I’m not fast. I’m not even very skilled. In a strange way, that’s what I love about it. I don’t have to be. It’s purely for me and for no one else’s gratification. It makes me feel accomplished and strong. I carried that feeling with me for the remaining 2 miles back home.

“There is no failure in running or in life, as long as you keep moving.”
– Amy Burfoot

Onward I go…I’ll see you next week my friends.

Self care, self flare.




Published by Kelly Tietjen

Chicago gal offering my own take on self development, creativity, mental health and more.

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