Erica is originally from New Jersey and now lives in Chicago. Here she shares her thoughts and perspectives on the regional differences she's experienced while participating in the two running communities. (And wow, does it make me realize some of the things that I shouldn't take for granted. Who knew?!?!?)
Many thanks go out to Erica for this post. Enjoy!
One of the first things people learn about me is that I love running. I try not to be a “runnerd” (spewing splits, coaching advice and nutrition tips). I just love to run and am so energized about it that I have had many a friend or co-worker give it a try despite “not being a runner.” I have proudly helped many a friend train for and pace a first race (or first distance). I have many happy memories (and tons of friends) found on the run.
I have also run 200+ races in the last 18 or so years. Last winter, I was selected for a “real runner” campaign by Fleet Feet Sports for their inaugural Women's Half Marathon last June. They dubbed me “the Expert”! (I also got made up, put on cool posters and flyers, got free New Balance gear and shoes and 15 minutes of “fame.”)
That being said, I consider myself more of a blogging runner than a running blogger. I do write some posts on running including one this week.
Emily and I were chatting and she asked me a question that I have thought about, but that no one had asked explicitly before. Having always lived here, Emily asked, “What is the difference between runners here and in NYC? And other places you have lived or run?” I moved to Chicago from Brooklyn, NY in mid-2006.
I immediately started regaling Emily with stories and agreed to write this post.
Key differences between Chicago Runners and New York Runners (in no particular order):
1. In the rat race that is NYC, each runner believes that he/she should start at the front. (Read: Get out of my way.) In 2006, I signed up for the Chicago Distance Classic Half Marathon. It was a beautiful cool morning. I went to the starting line and there was NO ONE standing near the 7 minute mile pace signs. A while later, 2 people came up. They were also from New York City. This is a true story. Here, people are polite – even in races they “stay where they belong.” I noticed this again at the Egg Shell Shuffle this weekend. I once had someone in the New York Marathon start to try to get ahead of me in the first women’s corral. I was number 600-something and she was number 500-something (it was in the top 1000 female corral) – I kid you not.
2. It takes a long time to become “real life” friends with your New York running friends, but in Chicago people just want to be friends – full out from the start. I ran with a group in NYC for years before we started going for coffee, inviting each other to parties, etc. In Chicago, I met runners in Fleet Feet Boston Bound training in 2007. When folks learned that my husband is not a runner, they invited us to a BBQ or beers or something. And then introduced us to their social circles. This is a key difference between Chicago people and NYC people but I found it with runners especially. Please note: New York runners are some of my closest, dearest and most loyal friends. It just takes longer for them to let you in. Once they do you’re family. Note: the one exception to this is in races. See #3.
3. Ironically despite the rat race in NYC, I have found that runners in Chicago are more competitive and less likely to become race companions. Again, this is only my experience, but in NYC, I ran countless races with my running partners and we finished together time and time again. Occasionally, we’d split up if someone was having a great day or a bad one, but in general we were in it together. Here, despite folks being Midwest nice, folks like to come in ahead when they can. No offense intended to any Chicago runners – again – just my observation for me!
4. You may have noticed, there are NO hills in Chicago. People here have to drive out of town to run hills. It’s just strange! I am still not used to it.
5. Runners in Chicago are obsessed with the Boston Marathon and the Boston Marathon jacket.
|The Boston Marathon jacket|
6. Everything is more expensive in NYC than Chicago except races. Races here focus on premium giveaways and locations. The races here cost more (except NYC ½ and NY Marathon which both cost an arm and a leg.)
7. This may be a result of the advent of many more running blogs and sharing websites like Daily Mile, but runners I know in Chicago seem much more obsessed with the numbers. People share and compare stats of all kinds. How far? How fast? How much speed work? How many calories? How many rest days? What was your heart rate? How many rest days? And on and on. I have never been asked, “was that a PR?” more times than since I have lived here. “No, it was not. Not likely. Not anymore.” (In case you are wondering!) In NYC, in running as in life, people keep the details to themselves.
I will acknowledge that New Yorkers are generally known for thinking that they and their city are the center of the universe. Even former NYers like me can be guilty of that, so please excuse me Chicago friends if it happens! I met someone in the Egg Shell Shuffle who was also a transplant from NYC. We were discussing the differences between life and running in NYC and Chicago and we both agreed. Life and running are great in Chicago – especially after you stop comparing them to NYC!
What is your experience with running in Chicago versus other cities?
I love this post! As someone who loves NYC (and running in Central Park whenever I get a chance), I am so fascinated by this. I don't have experience living/running in NYC on a daily basis, but I will say that I do agree with the competitiveness and numbers here in Chicago. For someone who could usually care less about those things, I find it to be intimidating. That being said, the running community here is a strong and friendly one, and I wouldn't change it for the world:)ReplyDelete
Sigh, running in Central Park. I've only had the opportunity to do it once so far, but it is such a tranquil experience in the heart of the city. And I agree with you on the competitiveness - there is always so much talk about times, splits, paces, etc., and I do feel some "pressure" anytime I run a race to make the numbers as good as possible. But we are indeed blessed to have such a wonderful running community here in Chicago - yay for the Chicago Runner Bloggers group, which has had such an influence upon my running life!Delete
Totally agree on the strength and friendliness thing - there is a different vibe though. As "midwest nice" as folks can be, there is definitely a competitive edge here (maybe just the folks I know?) And lots of comparing... I do love both places and have made a zillion friends in the Chicago running community.ReplyDelete
I am really looking forward to the day that I get to run a race in New York. I'm already looking to run races in as many states as possible, so I'm excited to be able to experience first-hand someday what you mentioned about New York running!Delete
How fun! I love this guest post! I'm also really glad I live in friendly Chicago!ReplyDelete
I love living in Chicago, too! But I do absolutely love visiting New York. A few years ago when my firm announced they were opening a new office in New York, I have to admit I was tempted to make the move. But Chicago is my home, through and through!Delete
So interesting! I'm especially intrigued by the points about Chicago being more PR & Boston focused. I know many of the people in my running group are all about that. I...am not. I try really hard not to ask the PR question anymore because I know that for a lot of people that's not the reason they run.ReplyDelete
I totally see myself in the PR- and Boston-focus. Well, maybe just the PR focus (since I will never qualify for Boston). But I hear you about trying not to ask about race times because I hear you on it being a potentially sensitive issue for many!Delete
Wow, I have only lived in small towns so I cannot even imagine NYC or Chicago! Great story...thanks so much for sharing Erica!ReplyDelete
It's funny because even though Chicago is already a major city, NYC really is very different and so much bigger than Chicago. People compare the two cities all the time but they are so different! And I grew up in a small town so I hear you on the transition to big-city life!Delete
I totally dig hearing the comparison. So interesting! (Emily, you should find other people with running experience in multiple locations - make this a series!!!)ReplyDelete
I've done almost all of my running in Texas, except for the last few months when I was living in Germany. I can't really compare the two because my experience was so different. (In Texas I was in a running club, ran races constantly, visited my running store regularly. In Germany, there were no running clubs, no running stores, and sadly no races.) The biggest difference was the weather. I'm not a fan of running on snow, but the cold in Germany was fantastic!
Amy, what a terrific idea! On that note, I would love to hear more of your thoughts on the differences between U.S. running and running in Germany. If you are ever willing or have the time to do a guest post for me on that topic, I would be most appreciative!Delete
Again, welcome back stateside. =)
Very interesting post! I'm always curious about the ways Chicago is different from other places. I've lived in the Chicago area my entire life, and I'll be honest, I have no plans to ever move away.ReplyDelete
Likewise, I am fascinated about the details of everyday life in other areas, especially all the little things that you don't even think about like "soda" versus "pop." =D But I'm with you, Chicago is my home and I will probably never move away either. For me, the apple really doesn't roll very far from the tree!Delete
Very interesting! I never would have thought of it taking longer to make friends in NYC. The bloggers I know who moved to NYC seemed to have it happen fast. And they seem more stat and Boston focused too. But I think it's because they are just faster, overall.ReplyDelete
I think the race scene is really different between the two places. Seems like there is more options in Chicago, until they started NYC Runs last year in NYC.
It takes a lot longer to make friends in NYC - maybe blogging is a common link that helps. Once you are friends, as I said, friends for life. My NYC running friends are mostly faster than me, but not into talking about the numbers (though I know they keep track and will discuss if asked).Delete
Agree on the races, though it seems like now we have WAY to many here. Or is that just me?!
Kim - I was thinking about you when this post topic came up because I know that you basically consider NYC your second home and you visit there several times a year.Delete
It does seem that we have WAY too many races in Chicago. I try to be very selective now and only do the races I truly love - but it does get hard to find the temptation when there are a dozen options every weekend!
I just wanted to see if you were currently interested in additional guest bloggers for your blog site.
I see that you've accepted some guest posters in the past - are there any specific guidelines you need me to follow while making submissions?
If you're open to submissions, whom would I need to send them to?
I'm eager to send some contributions to your blog and think that I can cover some interesting topics.
Thanks for your time,