1. I hit up TWO hidden pretty spots in Chicago this weekend! Take that, former self concerned with not appreciating the city’s parks enough.
I was in Lincoln Park (the Park) again on Saturday (crushing it in the visiting Lincoln Park the Park department this month. Saturday was my fourth time there in September. I’m pretty sure I made intentional visits to Lincoln Park maybe four total times in my previous six years in Chicago, haha). I was on the north end of the park this time, and decided to finally explore the Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool. I’ve heard that this is one of the most beautiful, peaceful areas certainly of Lincoln Park, if not of the entire city itself, and I’ve wanted to visit it for years but never had the chance. I did on Saturday, and boy, was I impressed.
It was every bit as quiet and tranquil as advertised, and it was so pretty. For the millionth time this migration season, I regretted not having my SLR with me, because the bird situation was out of control. I saw one bird I had never seen before (and failed to identify, womp), along with plenty of other normal birds (cardinals, chickadees, etc.), but I also saw my second juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron of the week!
I can’t believe how many times I’ve seen these birds in the past five weeks! This is my fifth Black-crowned Night Heron since mid-August! Prior to then, I had seen exactly one in the city, ever. The more I see them, the more I love these birds. I think they’re so interesting to watch.
2. As I mentioned in my race recap on Tuesday, I’ve developed a serious obsession with Jackson Park courtesy of Devil in the White City, and since I had already made the trek down to run the race on Sunday, I couldn’t not visit Hidden Pretty Spot #2: the Wooded Island.
It was everything I hoped for and more. Like the Lily Pool, it was so quiet. Over the past year or so, I’ve really come to appreciate–nay, long for–quiet spots in the city, so to visit one this secluded and peaceful (and historic, to boot!) location was quite the treat. Plus, of course, once again the bird situation was out of control. I obviously didn’t have my SLR with me for the race and didn’t even bother messing around with iPhone photos, but I definitely say a Great Egret (!) and two Catbirds while I was there, along with plenty of other birds I couldn’t identify.
I also stopped by the Garden of the Phoenix while I was on the Wooded Island, and it was stunning.
There are signs outside the garden specifically indicating that it’s a quiet zone, so it was somehow even more peaceful than the rest of the island. I wish I could’ve spent all day in the garden and on the island, watching birds and reveling in the silence. The mosquito situation on the island was just as bad as it was everywhere else in Jackson Park on Sunday, but it was more than worth offering up myself as an all-you-can-eat buffet to the bugs to be there. I’m so, so glad I got to see it. Enjoying nature is one of my favorite things to do these days, and the Wooded Island (and the Lily Pool) were both A+ destinations to do so.
3. I CAN. NOT. believe how many people I’ve seen wearing the Nike Chicago Marathon gear for this year’s race already! I saw people wearing it at the 20 miler a week and a half(ish) ago. I saw someone wearing it while running (they were running, not me) last Saturday. I saw multiple people wearing it at the Chicago Half/Life Time 5K.
Do you people have no fear?? I don’t necessarily think it’s a running sin to wear race gear before race day, but it just seems so bold! My assumption–perhaps incorrect, and based on my own habits when it comes to wearing race-branded gear–is that if you own and wear gear from a race, you have successfully completed that race. Wearing it prior to race day feels like staring in the face of Fate and saying, “I DARE YOU to find a way to derail my race plans with 21-14 full days left until the race itself!” I guess I also see race gear as a way of advertising that you have completed a race, not that you are going to complete a race, which no one has done yet when it comes to this year’s Chicago Marathon.
Obviously it doesn’t really matter. Everyone’s free to wear what they want in terms of race gear whenever they want (though I will still maintain that wearing the year’s race shirt during the race itself, particularly if that race is a marathon, is dumb. You don’t know how that shirt’s going to rub!! Why would you risk unspeakable chafing horrors during a marathon?!), and if “when they want” is “two to three weeks before the actual event,” whatever. Do what makes you happy. I’m glad to know you’re not even half as superstitious as I am. It’s just surprising to me to see so many people fall into this camp, especially I’ve never seen anyone wearing official race gear prior to race day for any race at all before this year. (My first instance of this was this past April, when I saw someone out running in a Boston jacket the week before Boston. That seemed like an even bolder move than wearing Nike Chicago Marathon gear prior to the actual Chicago Marathon.)