A good run is easy to find. The western suburbs have a wonderful array of forest preserves, high school and college tracks, and the Illinois Prairie Path, not to mention your own neighborhood.
It is all about setting expectations against reality, and enjoying the ride. My reality is that I am out of shape, but have run before. I have been through the foolishness which comes from putting the pedal to the metal before my body was ready. In time, I will taste the freedom of a long run, but for now, I plod through a mix of walking and running.
"Don't worry about how fast you walk, or how much distance you cover. Take time to stop and sniff the flowers or enjoy a scenic view," suggests Hal Higdon, a Chicago-based author of running books, on his 5K novice training website.
Make Way for Ducklings No, this not a reference to the acclaimed children's book by Robert McCloskey. Rather, as I drove back from running at the gym this week, heading west on Roosevelt and Park in Glen Ellyn, Ill., there they were, crossing the road. They had help from a young woman swishing them along. She risked the smiles and cheers of others as she encouraged these wayward foul to get to the other side. The Aldi parking lot was not the Boston Garden, but Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack, and Quack all seemed to think so.
Goulash on My Mind This week, I found myself wearing my yellow Hungarian Gulyás Festival t-shirt. I have plenty of road race shirts, but those were acquired before I gained a few pounds. Am I the only one whose t-shirts are too tight around the midsection?
Gulyás? What's that? That's how Hungarians spell goulash, pronounced 'gooi'yas'. I have eaten my fair share of this delicious stew-like meal, and I suspect my current state of non-fitness is correlated to appreciating it. The festival is a sight and smell paradise: over a dozen cauldron hanging from wood-fired tripods steaming with paprika, garlic, banana peppers, caraway seeds, onions, beef, and lard. They compete for the big prize, based on votes. I, naturally, must do my part and adequately taste them all.
This traditional stew of Hungary can be traced back to the Ninth Century Magyar shepherds. Made of chunks of meat and onions, it was cooked slowly until the liquid was boiled off. It would then be dried in the sun. This allowed the meat to be used to prepare a stew by boiling it in water. Now, every Hungarian home has a version of the recipe which is arguably better than their neighbor's.
Running Playlist Pick of the Week "Radar Love" by Golden Earring
It starts out: "I've been drivin' all night, my hand's wet on the wheel There's a voice in my head that drives my heel It's my baby callin', says I need you here And it's half past four and I'm shifting gear."
Which songs are on your playlist?
PADS Run - September 11
Coming up September 11 is the Fourth Annual PADS Run. Whether you walk or run this 3.1 mile event, you will be helping make a better world. You might see me standing on a corner yelling at runners "Turn right! Turn right!" One guy has done much more than that, raising $13,000 by running 100 miles. That's not a typo. 100 miles. With no one on the corner yelling anything (not even a "Get off the road, you nut!" accompanied by an obscene hand signal), Mike McDemeritt of West Chicago ran more than 3.8 marathons in a row. PADS offers people who need a warm place to sleep on cold western suburban nights.
It is time to log off and run a few laps on the treadmill.
------------------- Writer Anthony Trendl loves BBQs, folk music and porches. Recently divorced from his couch, he looks to running as he battles midlife and his mid-section. Find out more at anthonytrendl.com
For more about my running adventures, see A Runner's Dilemma (workout details, videos and more)