Surviving the Trail

If you’ve ever taken to Chicago’s Lakefront Trail on a summer Saturday morning, you know it’s a jungle out there. Runners, bikers, strollers, dogs, tourists and even the occasional rollerblader (seriously, people, just stop already).

Sharing the road.

Sharing the road.

I’ve seen the world through the eyes of most of these people, but almost always, I take the role of runner on the trail. And while, yes, some bikers are obnoxious, and yes, most tourists are clueless, I have encountered enough idiot runners to know my kind is not an innocent bystander in the ails of the trail.

So listen up, kids. Here’s how to properly navigate the trail on your long run.

(Note: This post refers specifically to the Lakefront Trail in Chicago, but really, these rules can and should be applied to all recreational trails.)

Stay to the right. Just like on the highway, run on the right and pass on the left. The Lakefront Trail even has a gravelly “shoulder” that you can run on to get really over to the right and stay out of the way.

Run in a straight line. Why is this so difficult? I don’t get it.

No more than two across. We’ve harped on this before, but if you’re running in a group of more than two people, sorry, folks, you have to stagger. Deal with it. Oh, and your two across cannot span the entire trail. If you’re friendly enough to run together, you’re friendly enough to run closely together.

Throw away your trash. There are trash cans EVERYWHERE. There is no excuse for jettisoning your GU packet in the grass. This is not a race, so if you do that, you’re just straight up littering. Boo on you.

Look before you do ANYTHING.  Look before you turn around, look before you pass someone, look before you spit, look before you start walking, look before you veer off for a water stop, look before you cross the street, look before you stop to tie your shoe. LOOK! I know it’s easy to disappear into “your own world” when you’re logging 14-16-18 miles, but you are not in your own world. You are in my world and the world of hundreds of other trailgoers. So, for the love, be aware of your surroundings and watch what the eff you’re doing.

Got it? Good. — Mags


We Are Runners

14266_597063563004_6659042_nRunning is a community. That’s why this hurts so much.

We support each other, no matter how fast or slow.

We celebrate each other’s triumphs. We empathize with one another.

Runners know the pain that comes from pushing yourself to the limit; we know the mental and physical toll that is followed by the pure joy of crossing a finish line.

This pain is different. And we all feel it.

We think about the runners who had just completed one of the most grueling and prestigious races in the world. Runners trying to reunite with their families after 26.2 miles, their emotions already on high, and then being thrown into a panic.

We think about the spectators who came with signs and cheers and words of motivation, who were there to encourage their loved ones and total strangers alike, who became mixed in the chaos.

We think about the runners who were still on the course, who had trained for months or their whole lives to make it to this race, who were stopped short of the finish line and achieving their dreams.

We think about the race volunteers who handed out water and massaged aching muscles, who stepped up to help as the terror unfolded.

When tragedy strikes, we turn to running as a form of therapy. It is our safe zone, our happy place, our time to be alone with our thoughts.

That safe zone was breached yesterday, and it’s something every runner felt to their core.

But we are runners. We are a world-wide community. We support. We persevere.

We turn pain into triumph. — Mags