A work trip this past week has allowed me to add another city to my 10 city running challenge.
I’ve just returned from seven days in Chicago, where a sales conference was interspersed with incredible art institutions, spectacular views and of course, running.
When I arrived and the temperature was down to -7 I strongly questioned if I’d manage to get out for a run. It was so cold my face froze just being outside for longer than 30 minutes and my initial trip to Whole Foods to pick up supplies and carry them back to my apartment resulted in very frozen fingers and pinched cheeks.
Fortunately, however, Monday’s temperatures were outside the normal range and the next morning it was up to -2.
By Wednesday it had hit the balmy heights of 0 to +1 accompanied by perfect bright, crisp running conditions and so, dressed in 3 tops, full length running tights, gloves and a headband, and with a good few hours between meetings, I set out on run.
My route took my down to the lake and along the riverside trial, and back along the beach front towards Lincoln Park, before heading back to my apartment on Dewitt, just over 11km in total.
It was such a beautiful route and I was so distracted by the views I could have gone on for longer if I’d had the time and the daylight hours.
As it was, however, I was able to run along the lakeside beneath the most beautiful sunset, with the water reflecting the vivid purples of the sky – the pictures don’t do it justice.
A second run, in the morning this time, took me to Lincoln Park as far as the zoo, looping round and running back along the beach on a shorter 7km route.
As with my New York trip, I was determined to make use of every free moment in Chicago, so when I wasn’t working or running, I ventured out to the main attractions, museums and galleries for some cultural, personal development.
I went to see Anish Kapoor’s ‘Cloud Gate’, more famously known at ‘The Bean’ in Millennium Park, which was utterly stunning, both by day and by night.
From there, I walked over the bridge to the Art Institute of Chicago, which has the most phenomenal permanent collection, with rooms full of Monet, Renoir, Degas, Picasso and Van Gogh. It is also home to the famous American Gothic, a favourite painting of my fellow Mudder teammate, Sandra.
I walked along the lake, which is so enormous it’s more like the sea, and along Navy Pier, where I saw the city from on high by riding the Ferris wheel.
I went higher still, going to the tops of the city’s two tallest buildings, the John Hancock Observatory (where I also enjoyed a sneaky Friday evening celebratory cocktail in the Signature Room), and the Sears/Willis Tower Sky Deck, to look out on the city below, to appreciate the fascinating architecture and structure of the city, and to watch the sunset.
I took a trip down to the Museum Campus just south of the Loop to the Aquarium and Field Museum, both well worth a visit, and indulged in some live American football at Soldier Field to see the Chicago Bears play (and lose) to the Dallas Cowboys.
Despite the loss and the fact I wasn’t entirely sure what was going on, it was so much fun to watch and to get caught up in all of the excitement and ceremony of the American football culture.
I also enjoyed some all American cuisine including a cheese-less Chicago town veggie pizza, complete with broccoli, peppers and spinach, which was the most filling item of food I’ve ever eaten!
Having an apartment rather than a hotel room meant that I could cook for myself and not just eat out, and I kept my cupboard well stocked from Whole Foods, with lots of vegan treats not available in the UK.
Chicago was such an incredibly beautiful and vibrant city and I would recommend a trip to anyone who has the chance to go.