I did 22 miles yesterday. I was on my city street training route, that has to do with utilizing public drinking fountains, mostly in city parks. I also can stop at stores along the way.
There is some natural beauty along the way, but there's also a lot of cramped Chicago neighborhoods and industrial grit. Yesterday was big with "block parties", a local institution where a neighborhood block is closed for a day, allowing children to play in the streets, often featuring an inflatable "bounce house", or "jumping jack" as they're known around here.
My route takes me to places I don't go otherwise, and I've grown to feel these places are mine in some odd sense, familiar way-stations on my private journey of preparation for the grueling event of running 26.2 miles. I've been visiting these places for 20 years or so, usually only a few times in the late summer and fall, and I have watched them change.
Oh, look, the soccer field now has artificial turf!
Once in a while I wonder whether any of the people along the way have noticed me, the perennial visitor. I do not see other runners along my way, as a rule. These are not runners' neighborhoods that I am going through. Have I been spotted and noted as that crazy old guy who jogs though the park once in a while?
Did I run by some 5 year old, 20 years ago, who vaguely recognized me yesterday as I trotted by?
I remember discussing running with some young person who was impressed with how many marathons I have run. And I said something like, "It just happens. You do one a year, and before you know it, you've done twenty."
is just a distance to do,
but the training takes my feet
down this set of city streets
where no one knows my name.
It feels familiar all the same.