Thursday Things

1. On my run on Saturday, I was a little less than a half mile from home when I noticed a bird sitting on the sidewalk. This is hardly an unusual occurrence, so I didn’t think anything of it until I got closer and it stayed still. From a distance, I figured it was your typical house sparrow, but since it didn’t move, I got a better a look and quickly realized it wasn’t a house sparrow at all.


I thought stopping by the bird to take a picture would be enough to scare it away, but it wasn’t, at which point I realized I probably had a stunned bird on my hands. I chatted with it for a bit (as one does) and after a moment, it flew up onto a nearby windowsill. Well, rather, it attempted to (slowly) fly through the window, and upon realizing that that was not a possibility, settled for sitting on the windowsill instead.


I gently warned it that even though the window looked like it was fly-through-able, it was not, in fact, fly-through-able, and after another moment, it flew across the sidewalk into a tree. I figured all of that flying (and lost patience with my instance on befriending it) must’ve meant it was feeling okay, so I carried on with my run and, as soon as I got home, uploaded a picture to Merlin to find out what kind of bird I had seen. Turns out it was a female Common Yellowthroat. I’ve never even heard of the Common Yellowthroat, never mind seen one, so this was quite the occasion for my bird-loving self!

A brief analysis of the Cook County checklists on eBird also lists only one other sighting (on Monday) of a Common Yellowthroat, so this was apparently a super rare occurrence! That’s a nice feather to put in my birding cap (#puns). Anyway, the whole experience was quite exciting, and I seriously can’t believe I saw a bird like that in the city. I spent so many years thinking the only birds that lived in Chicago were starlings, pigeons, sparrows, and robins, but just in the past 10 months, I’ve learned that if you keep your eyes and ears open, you’d be astounded by what kind of avian life makes its home or passes through here.

2. Speaking of surprising nature sightings, I saw the WEIRDEST thing on Sunday, and I’m wondering if anyone can help fill me in on what I saw.


I was waiting for the El when I happened to look up and notice what kind of looked like a rainbow, but with some pretty major caveats, namely the fact that it hadn’t rained in…days? Weeks? so the conditions didn’t seem right, and, perhaps even more confusingly, the fact that it seemed to be going in a circle around the sun rather than in an arch across the sky. Additionally, I couldn’t see the rainbow at all with my bare eyes. When I took my sunglasses off, the clouds that the sun was lighting up were too bright to even look at, never mind see color. My sunglasses filtered out the brightness, though, so I was able to see the color. My phone also, apparently, could see the color just fine, hence the pictures.


I tried to Google what I saw on Sunday evening, and the only thing close to what I saw that I could find online was called a glory (named because it resembles the glow you see around saints’ heads in old paintings). There was a pretty major distinction between a glory and what I saw, though: glories are viewed from above. Your best chance of seeing one, from what I gathered, would be if you were in an airplane flying above clouds and your plane cast a shadow on those clouds. Then, you might see a glory around the shadow. You also might be able to see one if you were on a mountain above the cloud line. While the El is, what, 20 feet above street level? Thirty feet? it is most certainly not mountain high, never mind airplane high. To see a glory, the order of objects, from highest to lowest, should be the sun, you, then the glory. My order of objects was the sun, whatever light phenomenon I was seeing, then me.

This, then, leaves me with a burning question: what on earth did I see?? It obviously was some sort of refraction something or other caused by the clouds (that’s the other thing: the thing I saw was only visible on the clouds, not on the blue sky patches between the clouds), but I have no idea what it was! I would’ve thought maybe it was just something funky on my sunglasses, but if my sunglasses alone were the issue, I wouldn’t have been able to take a picture of it. I’m really curious, so if there are any amateur, uh, rainbow studiers out there, please let me know!

3. Well, I suppose we should chat a little about the elephant in the room, huh? The marathon is on Sunday, and after days of wildly varying forecasts (seriously, on Monday you could’ve taken your pick between a high of 82 and a high of 71, depending on which outlet you choose to believe), everyone seems to be reaching a consensus that it’s going to be in the high 70s and sunny. Fabulous. 😐

I have spent the entirety of my past two therapy sessions prattling on about my extensive array of feelings regarding this marathon training season (physically and socially), the marathon itself, and my future in marathoning (fear not: you, too, will be subjected to the written equivalent of a two-hour monologue from me regarding all of these things in the coming weeks). Needless to say, I have a lot–A. LOT.–of feelings about all of this, very few of which I’d file under a “positive” header. Because my feelings, of which there are so many, are primarily negative, it’s been difficult, to say the least, to come up with any meaningful goals for Sunday. The disappointing forecast certainly doesn’t help in that department, either (though to be fair, the high in Chicago on the day of the 2015 Chicago Marathon was 79 [and sunny], and the high in the Fox River area the day of the 2016 Fox Valley Marathon was 80 [and sunny], so at least I’ve been through this twice before. Heck, I even PRed in 2015. And then spent close to an hour in the med tent, but we’ll ignore that small detail 😛 ).

So, I’m heading into Sunday with no expectations, no hopes and dreams, no real desires other than to finish and not have my worst time ever. Really shooting for the stars over here, folks. Honestly, I kind of just want all of this to be over so I can get out of the marathon mindset, take a step back and really evaluate what I want to do moving forward. I have spent a significant portion of the last 18 weeks asking myself a lot of difficult questions (the root of which, every time, is why am I doing this?), and I need some time to really mull things over…and likely subject my therapist to more hour-long monologues related to these things.

Who’s running on Sunday?



5 thoughts on “Thursday Things

  1. I am!!

    I’m not thrilled about the weather forecast, but honestly, I also feel like it could be a lot worse, and while I don’t like it I’m not terribly worried about it either. Granted, I’m fortunate to start in the first wave, and all the hourlies are saying that it will be 59-71 degrees during the time I’m running. That’s not TOO bad. For reference, the starts of my last two marathons were 62 and 58 degrees with 86% humidity – and, while I did benefit from cloudiness, they were spring marathons so I wasn’t nearly as acclimated to those 60+ degree temperatures. I felt fine at both – so fine, in fact, that I PRd both times and never gave the weather a passing thought while I ran.

    The sunniness does suck but I’m hoping shade from the tall buildings will help in many areas, and that with all the adrenaline and crowd support, the forecasted humidity won’t seem noticeable or bother me. Remember, we’ve been training in worse than this all summer long. I think it will be okay as long as you start slow. The people who struggle the most in hot races are the ones who don’t adjust and insist on still starting out at their original goal pace. Keep it easy, stick to your fuel/hydration plan, and I think we will be fine. It may not be pleasant but, it will be okay. And then it will be over, and you can move on!

    I’ve been having a lot of the same thoughts about the future of marathoning. I’ve already decided that I’m taking all of 2018 off from marathoning. My relationship with this distance has become unhealthy and I need a step back. I need to get stronger and more consistent as a runner before I can tackle another marathon training cycle. I’m probably only going to do 2 or 3 races next year at all. I really want to work more on my overall fitness and get into other activities like bootcamp classes, hiking, winter sports, riding my bike, weight lifting, etc. A friend of mine just got back from a 2 month thru hike in Colorado, and ran a marathon this past weekend on no running. She smashed a 16 minute PR and finished in an impressive 4:16. It kind of inspired me, honestly. Obviously the hiking made her fit as hell, but, I will probably barely beat that time on Sunday and I actually trained!

    • Yeah, I think I’m in a pretty similar boat to you in the worrying-about-the-weather department. Knowing that I’ve run two marathons in almost identical conditions before definitely helps. And at least it’s probably not going to be 90! Better than the 20 miler! Haha. As for shade, there are definitely some shady sections, but they’re pretty much all downtown at the start of the race :/ I mean, obviously it’s not like cornfield full sun for the rest of it, but you’d be surprised. The last three miles are almost all full sun. Yay. 😐 Although, that’s just for me – you’re faster than I am AND are starting earlier than I’ve ever started, so maybe there will still be shade on Michigan for you, since you won’t be running up it around 12:30/12:45 like I historically have. Of course, if they would just run the course backwards like I’ve been suggesting for years, THEN we’d get to run through downtown at that time of day and could benefit from the shade. But no one asks ME how the Chicago Marathon should be run. Rude. 😛

      I don’t know that I’ll necessarily back off on racing next year (but for me, “racing” is almost always “event participation.” I usually “race” maybe one or two of the events I run. Everything else is just to give me an end goal to my training, because I like end goals.), but I do really need to evaluate this marathon thing. I mean, who knows what’s going to happen on Sunday. I want to wait until after that before I start making any declarations. But this whole season has been an enormous disappointment from a lot of standpoints (my group wasn’t what I hoped it would be, my training wasn’t what I hoped it would be, my times haven’t been what I hoped they would be), and I can only handle so much disappointment related to one activity before it starts to feel maybe not worth it anymore…or at least at the moment. I have a lot to evaluate before I can commit to doing another marathon next year, I think.

  2. Aww, what a beautiful find in that birdie! I am happy he flew off and was okay!

    That thing you saw kind of reminds me of a sun dog… or whatever those are called. It’s not though, lol.

    I hope you have a fun time Sunday. We do this for fun, right?! And if it’s not fun anymore, why ARE you doing it?! Also, you might want to tell Hanna that shade from the tall buildings is not really a thing on this course. That is one of the few tips I give people about Chicago – if you see shade, run in it, cause there is not much of it.

    • Isn’t it such a pretty birdie?? I actually think the female is a little prettier than the male, which isn’t how it usually goes with birds. Regardless, I’m really excited that I saw one 🙂

      Ugh, I know. I have given that same advice about not doing hobbies once they stop being fun to so many people, and yet here I am, apparently unable to take my own advice. I need an attitude adjustment before Sunday, THAT’S for sure. And oh man, I know about the shade! I always think the course is going to be shadier than it is, and inevitably I end up annoyed at how much sun there is. I still maintain that if they’d just run the course backwards like I want them to, we could maybe not *solve* the shade problem, but at least *improve* it. But alas, the Chicago Marathon has yet to read my blog and realize just how onto something I am with that idea 😛

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