Monday, July 30, 2012

Out of the city... to the beach!

Gross Point Beach
Similar to my trek several months ago to Oak Park, this weekend, I took to running out of the city, this time to Evanston.  It's a little farther away than Oak Park, so I didn't run round trip, but I did put a long 13 miles in to get there. 

By the way, I'm currently training for Le Marathon du Medoc, which takes place in the Bordeaux region of France this September.  I know, I know... It's not one of the 50 states, but this race just seemed too cool to pass up.  I'll be running it with fellow RUS blogger, Miri Frankel, although I am using the word "run" pretty loosely.  We have no intentions of running it fast as we want to take in all the beautiful scenery and the costumes that many participants wear.  (This year's race is history themed, so if you have any costume suggestions let us know.)  Plus, I hear that there might be a bit of wine and/or oysters here and there at aid stations, especially towards the end, so running fast may not mesh well with that.

This grand idea of running to Evanston was the brain child of my boyfriend's friend, who felt like a beach day.  I realize there are great beaches in the city, but he's a big fan of the Gross Point Lighthouse beach.  It's apparently been named as one of the best beaches in the world by Travel & Leisure magazine, which also called Evanston one of the coolest burbs.  I mapped it out and it was just the distance I needed to run.  So I sent my swimsuit & flip flops with my boyfriend and headed northbound.  Oh, and I made sure to have some cash with me, as it's $8 to use the beach up there.  I'm sure the ticket guy was excited about my sweaty-ass-pocket cash.  Which reminds me of something that I know my roommate will appreciate.  So I paid my $8 to the money guy and was handed two tickets that looked like raffle tickets.  One ticket read "Ticket."  The other read "Keep This Coupon."   I then walked approximately 3-5 steps and then handed a ticket to another person to gain entrance to the beach.  Yep, only a few steps away, to hand a ticket to a person who just saw me purchase the ticket.  Ahh...brings me back to Vietnam! (GB, I know you are loving this part!).   Ironically, the ticket taker took the ticket that read "Keep This Coupon" and I was given the "Ticket."  Weird...

OK, back to the run... Some of the route was my usual route, but as I got farther north, I started to feel like I was no longer in the Chicago-land area, but instead, in some coastal town.  I ran past a couple of  huge universities with gorgeous old buildings (Loyola and Northwestern).  Northwestern had some seriously nice fraternity houses.  I mean, they looked like mini-castles.  Compared to the old apartment building turned Chi-Omega sorority house I lived in at Illinois State, this was pretty impressive.  I wonder what the annual dues are for going greek at Northwestern, sheesh! 

Gross Point Lighthouse
I also ran by the Calvary Cemetery, and while I do love cemeteries, I was too busy looking out over the beautiful rocky lakefront to my right to pay much attention to the huge cross gravestones in the cemetery to my left.  The cemetery was pretty close to Loyola, and I couldn't help wonder how many college pranks take place in that cemetery. 

If running along rocky shorelines didn't make me feel like I was in Maine, the Gross Point Lighthouse surely did!  Although, I think this lighthouse might have actually been bigger than the one I saw in Maine (refer to the disappointment expressed in my Oct. 2010 post Most Scenic = Most Hilly).  Tours of the lighthouse are available, which claim to have city skyline views, but we didn't make it up there. 

The boys and I had arranged a time that we would start looking for each other at the beach.  I was running a little faster than usual since it wasn't nearly as hot as it has been, and felt much easier to pick up the pace, so I beat them there.  It truly was the perfect summer day.  Sunny, not too hot and humid, but warm enough you wanted to get in the water after sitting in the sun for a short bit.  And the lake was even a perfect temperature; cool at first, but after a minute, felt nicely refreshing. 
Evanston Arts Center

Next to the lighthouse is the Evanston Arts Center.  True to the theme of the day, I felt, again, like I was far away from the city just by looking at the building.  It looks like a place that would be fitting in the English countryside, doesn't it?

No complaints about my training run this past weekend.  In my book, any run that takes you away, literally or figuratively, is a good run.  It's better than Calgon, that's for sure!