What length would you go to, to write send a love letter? For me, its easy. 46 miles.
My wife is about 33 weeks into her second pregnancy. As a husband, and really a spectator,its not easy to watch her go through it, since the absolute best thing I can do is be supportive and empathetic. Support has its limits. No amount of me doing chores, taking care of our son, or running family errands will make her more comfortable. When she is wide awake at 3:00AM and a total zombie at 9:00AM, there is really nothing I can do. When she feels full and hungry at the same time, I can’t really provide any relief.
Lately, she has been really generous with the ‘hall passes’. I lead a busy life, and I participate in a lot of different organizations that like to meet on the evenings or weekends. I am also a runner, and I thought there might be a way for me to use my free time to do something special for her.
I found Where People Run, a website where someone took the GPS information for thousands of runs in different cities and plotted them over maps. I thought they looked beautiful. In Chicago, unsurprisingly, people run by the lake. When I run, I use the Nike+ App. I knew that I generated GPS data while I was running, but I mostly used it to keep track of my miles and speed. When I saw Where People Run, I thought that I could maybe put my GPS information to good use and instead use it run various shapes, like letters. Then I thought I could write a simple letter to my wife while I was running.
I started this project in April 2014, and I finished it in the middle of June 2014. In total I did 37 different runs, adding up to 46.5 miles. It took a little more than 6 hours of running time to complete. I did most of it in the early morning hours before my wife and son woke up.
There were a lot of great things about this project. First, I was able to give my wife the world’s largest love letter. Second, I was able to run and get some exercise (which is a real challenge with a full time job and a 3 year old). Third, I got to see parts of Chicago that I would never otherwise get a chance to see. As a runner I am a local tourist, but I am also a creature of habit. This got me out my comfortable 4-7 mile lakefront workout, and into the streets. I love my city, and I loved watching it wake up as I ran through various neighborhoods. My letter starts in Humboldt Park and ends south of Bronzeville. It includes Pilsen, Bridgeport, West Loop, Austin, Garfield Park, Ukrainian Village, Tri-Taylor, Lawndale, and Little Village among others.
Soon, I will post all of the instructions for doing this, and I hope more people can get out, tour their city, and make use of their own data.
I have more to say to my wife than my city has miles to run. But for now, I will just say “You are a beautiful wife and mother. Love, Mike”.