Zoorunning (Running in the Lincoln Park Zoo)

On Saturday morning I had plans to take my favorite route over to the lakeshore for ten miles. It's about 4 miles there and back, and can be lengthened with some gorgeous lakeshore miles as needed (West Town runners: Webster Ave is a way nicer way to get there than taking North or Division).

There were two setbacks: 

  1. The handful of people I was supposed to run with all bailed, and
  2. It was raining.  

Fortunately, I had planned for #1 and brought music just in case the others were deterred by the rain. And the rain turned out to be kind of nice! It reminded me of the warm rain Florida has nearly every summer afternoon.

It's been so long since I ran with music and I spent the whole way there in a bass-fueled state of zen consciousness. The next thing I knew, I had missed my turn and accidentally ended up at the Lincoln Park Zoo. It was open, so I decided to check out the animals. I felt pretty high and had just been pummeled by soul-cleansing, bathwater-temperature rain for 45 minutes, and suddenly I was abruptly face-to-face with a tiger eating breakfast.

I stopped and gawked at the tiger. It was peeling the flesh off of a giant animal leg in long strips. Its paws seemed to be the size of my face. There was a man next to me who stated the obvious, "They just fed him." We both watched silently for an unknown amount of time before I turned and headed deeper into the zoo. 

It was very weird to be one of the only people at the zoo.

When I turned another corner, I saw about a dozen apes sitting in the trees, eating heads of lettuce. Some of them looked at me in a way I want to describe as "thoughtful," as they broke the lettuce with their hand-feet and chewed.

I followed the winding zoo trails and saw zebras, antelope and a leopard. The rain picked up and I considered waiting in the Kovler Lion House (a giant, domed ceiling hall that gives off a 19th-century zoo vibe) for the rain to slow, but I saw a trio of dudes run past and my legs just started moving on their own. I couldn't catch them (and I followed them in the wrong direction) but I found my way back, finishing the adventure with just over 10 miles.

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I ran three sweaty, humid, difficult "easy" miles the next day and had an "I'm-a-real-Northerner" moment when I came home and realized it was only 73 degrees out. What!  

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I also got some "cross training" in the form of bike commuting: I got on my bike more times this weekend than I have since bike camping a few weeks ago. Ugh, Chicago was gorgeous this weekend. Even the UChicago campus is in full bloom.

Last summer when I was preparing to leave New York, I went through two or three months of frantic thing-doing all over the city. I wanted to do everything and see everyone one last time before I left. It was awesome, but infused with a somber finality that was pretty draining. I'm trying to avoid all of that this time around and fortunately, it turns out going on vacation for a month is a pretty good antidote for the moving-away sads. But yeah. I'm going to miss this place.

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