There is a very old saying: If you are out late enough that you see the early morning runners out, it's time to go home.
Or, maybe there ought to be.
It's late summer in the city, and Chicago's lakefront last week during the pre-dawn hours was the site of some good times. And I'm not talking about the "wow, what a great tempo run!" or the endorphin-fueled "I love you, man!" kind.
Last summer I wrote about skunks and drunks encountered early summer mornings. This summer, there's been a close encounter with just one skunk so far, thank goodness, no coyotes, (yay) and lots of drunks last week. As night bleeds into morning, things can get interesting.
Last Thursday morning we started at 4:30 a.m., running south on the lakefront as we do. Uneventful. On the way back north, we found skinny dippers reveling in the balmy air and calm Lake Michigan waters. They frolicked like my kids at the neighborhood splash park.
We passed a large group of young guys, all shapes and sizes and tattoos, who cracked us up with cat calls and proclamations that we were crazy to be out running.
At the nearby water fountain, a young woman solemnly told us how in awe she was of us for running, or running early, something like that -- as if we were curing cancer or something. Then she broke into a little dance and refrain from Taylor Swift's "22" -- which I would not have known until she said who the artist and song was. I would not know a Taylor Swift song if it bit me in the ass, so here's a link for folks like me.
The following morning, our run began at 4 a.m. (marathon training makes you do really crazy things like run at 4 a.m. Be warned.)
The waves and wind were the loud, rowdy ones, the partiers few. Until we got to North Avenue Beach to hit the water fountain and realized a pre-dawn version of "Afternoon Delight" was going on in the bushes on the other side of the path. We debated whether there were just two people or three in that tangle of love, and decided well, let's just get moving.
I will miss summer. And I'll miss the lakefront becoming boring again. Keep it interesting, lakefront party animals. There's still a couple more weeks left.