Over the past fourteen weeks I have run about 150 miles. With one foot in front of the other, at a pace just slightly faster than a brisk walk, I’m creeping towards my goal of running the Mini Marathon. My feet, to my great amazement, have carried me through snow and rain, over hills, under bridges, across busy intersections, along quiet trails and triumphantly across finish lines both real and imagined. With just about a week to go until the big show, it’s time to leave the struggles of training behind, and reflect on all of those little supporting factors that’ve been like a wind blowing me forward. I won’t bore you with the details about the clinch songs on my iPod, my snazzy new running shoes, or the discovery of some stuff called GU. What I would like to tell you about is my favorite mile…
To find some extra motivation for my long runs, I signed up for a Mini Marathon training program with a local runners’ organization. What I didn’t realize at the time is that the training run they sponsor each week uses the White River Tow Path which runs right through the IMA campus. Bonus!
I’m always a little nervous for the long runs; I worry about not being able to run the full distance, getting attacked by geese, or tripping off the path and falling into the Canal (it could happen!) What I never have to worry about, thanks to that interlude between Michigan Road and 38th Street, is being bored. The view of the IMA campus from the Tow Path feels like a little secret that not many people are in on. That little stretch of path is witness to one of the most alive places in the whole city!
On the west side of the path, I’ve been watching the construction in 100 Acres Art Park really start to heat up. In January and February the Visitor’s Pavilion started to take shape, a shape that for me conjures thoughts of Amazon stilt houses. A few footfalls further south along the path I could see a major excavation and mysterious wall being put it. I solved the mystery by going to the 100 Acres web page and looking at the proposals for the art installations, confirming my suspicion that the work is for Alfredo Jaar’s Park of Laments. I can’t wait to meditate on Jaar’s work when it is complete. To be honest, thoughts of laments while attempting to endure my very first ten mile run were a little heavy, it’s better to keep positive…
As winter’s bareness melted into spring, my view of the 100 Acres action became obscured in green. I shifted my attention to the east side of the path. I’ve been watching in wonder as the Oldfields-Lilly House and gardens come to life. I love imagining the amazing parties that might have taken place on the back patio of the Lilly house. In my mind there is always live music, tons of lanterns and comely ladies in pretty dresses. I like thinking about young couples getting wedding pictures taken with the spring brilliance as their backdrop.
My own memories come to mind as I look up at the main building. I fondly recall watching a movie on the terrace with friends on a hot Friday night a couple of summers ago, and an electric kiss I once received in the contemporary glass gallery on the third floor. Usually I visit the museum to make memories, but when I run by I feel as though I’m visiting my memories.
Now I’ve been to the IMA countless times, as a student, an art lover, shopper, and even as a movie buff. I’ve seen artist talks, gone to special exhibits, been on romantic dates and have picnicked in the gardens. The key thing about all of my past experiences is that the IMA has been my destination. On my training runs I am merely a passer-by, and a sweaty, tired, half delirious passer-by at that. It turns out that novel perspective has become an experience all its own.