the many magnificent miles of Chicago

When you start checking real estate online it’s a true sign you love a city… if only Chicago didn’t have winter.

As promised, here is a recap of our week in the windy city (and I will barely mention the marathon)! I did not take a ton of pictures with our Nikon but my iPhone came out a lot.

Wednesday: We arrived mid-afternoon and rode the blue line 29 stops to Austin station. We decided to stay in Oak Park, which is a 30 minute subway ride outside of the city, in an airbnb. It was a much more affordable option for 5 people X 7 nights and the place was great. My mom (who drove down and hiked Mount Washington!) greeted us with supper.

IMG_3615We’re off… never pack your running shoes when you fly to a race

Thursday: I had an 8 km run in the morning so I made a route on mapmyrun.com and marked off all of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes. I am a big fan and he has 8 homes on one street. (I also ran by Ernest Hemingway’s birth home because it was only a few blocks over.) We spent the day riding a hop-on hop-off bus around the city and had lunch at Navy Pier and at the end of the day we went way up to Skydeck on the top 103rd floor of the (Willis) Sears Tower. Mom and I left the boys at made our way to West Elm for a book signing by Young House Love. Fan girl. My mom was very confused to learn that some bloggers have actual fans. Ha!

IMG_3630Running tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Oak Park

IMG_3643 IMG_3634DSC_0457 IMG_3637 IMG_3661Riding around on the hop-on hop-off bus with a lunch stop at Navy Pier

IMG_3659 DSC_0461On top of the city – views from the Skydeck

IMG_3665As luck would have it … when I was at the front of the line, Nicole from Making It Lovely popped in to say hi to John at Sherry of Young House Love. Double score!

Friday: Mom and I went the race expo and the boys spent the whole day at the Shedd Aquarium, which they loved. That evening we went back to Oak Park for Friday night pizza (including the famous deep dish) at Giordano’s.

DSC_0469 Shedd AquariumIMG_3667 IMG_3674Agora: a group of 106 headless and armless iron sculptures at the south end of Grant Park + mom
IMG_3678Deep dish. Obviously

Saturday: We drove (I was trying to stay off my feet) to the Lincoln Park Zoo where we saw lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Plus giraffe, rhinos, monkeys, gorillas, zebras and kangaroos… etc. It was free and fun. Afterwards we made a pitstop in Wrigleyville to see the Wrigley Stadium and buy some souvenirs. Saturday night, we relaxed at home – mom made a lovely pasta dinner.

IMG_3703 IMG_3707Lincoln Park Zoo
IMG_3714Wrigley Field – Home of the Cubs

Sunday: Marathon (see here). As soon as the race was over we walked to Cloud Gate. Apparently everyone else who ran the marathon had the same great idea. Because the Art Institute of Chicago was next door, we decided to spend the afternoon there… what’s a few more steps? I changed and cleaned up in the bathroom and shuffled around the museum. Totally worth it.

IMG_3734Cloud Gate
IMG_5479DSC_0450The Art Institute of Chicago

Monday: We headed into town early for a 10:30 am Chicago Architecture Foundation River Cruise. This was my favourite part of the trip (besides the run) – the buildings and urban planning in Chicago are out of this world and I loved every bit of information she threw at us. I also loved sipping my mimosa on the deck of the First Lady. Afterwards we went to the Field Museum of Natural History.

DSC_0510 IMG_3759DSC_0509 DSC_0511 DSC_0512 DSC_0513 DSC_0514 DSC_0515 IMG_3742 IMG_3743 IMG_3750 IMG_3760The Chicago Architecture Fundation River Cruise on the First Lady

IMG_3762Rodents of Unusual Size (ROUS!!!) at the Field Museum
IMG_3763Field Museum of Natural History

Tuesday: We went to the Museum of Science and Industry. This is a must do if you are in Chicago! They have the legit German U-505 Submarine that you can tour plus many other fun things to do and see. Afterwards went finished the vacation off at a sports bar eating burgers and beer and watching the Cubs win.

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Wednesday: My parent left in the car and headed towards my sister’s house in New York state and we made our way to the Airport.

As I’ve said many times, there hasn’t been a city in the states I haven’t loved and Chicago kept true to my word. We spent most of our time in museums but the neighbourhoods were lovely (I ran through 29 of them) and was overwhelmed throughout the whole week by how friendly the people were and how much they respect their city!

I may be an east coaster who thinks she’s a California girl but Chicago got to me.

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run, there are bears in Chicago!

So many people, so many great signage but my favourite was RUN, there are bears in Chicago!

Marathon 4 is done. Sorry this is long but so is a marathon…

357082_208083846_XLarge(Photo by race photographer about one minute after the finish)

I am going to write all about the fabulous city of Chicago in another post but today it’s all about the run. The training seemed a little off all summer; I never had a fist-pump-that-was-awesome long run and felt like everything was a struggle compared to last year. As the tapering approached I had these knee and ankle pains that I hoped were just phantom problems but part of me was worried. Perhaps that’s why I didn’t go into this race with big expectations and just wanted to have fun and enjoy the craziness of the event. After all, 45,000 runners and +2 million spectators is something to get excited about.

My goal was to finish with a negative split. Ha, that didn’t happen but to be fair, it was a hot day and with the promise of sun and temperatures reaching +24 by noon, I decided it was better to run faster before the heat kicked in.

We arrived in the city on Wednesday, giving me many opportunities to see parts of the course. There was definitely hype building and a lot of fit tourists roaming around. The energy was awesome (probably because the Cubs are HOT right now and the city is going nuts) #gocubsgo. After a great 8 km run around Oak Park on Thursday morning and a ton of sightseeing, I decided to skip my last 5 km run on Friday. I was nervous I was putting in too many steps and not resting enough. On Friday, mom and I went to the expo. It blows my mind how well-organized such a big event can be. We caught a free shuttle and the ease of picking up my kit was great. Although it wasn’t that busy when we were there, we didn’t stay too long. I bought a visor because I was worried about the sun when they sent out a weather warning.

IMG_3617 IMG_3669 IMG_3672(iPhone photos: Subway ticket, weather alert, race expo)

Fast forward to Saturday night – one of the perks to staying at an airbnb is homemade food. My mom made spaghetti and I tried to go to bed early. My alarm was set for 5:00 am and we were out the door by 5:40 am. I have never mastered eating a lot before or during a run – gels and power bars are not my friends and I can only drink a little bit of water and Gatorade so had a piece of toast and peanut butter plus a swig of coffee before I left and sipped on water. I went into the city with my Mom and it was great to see more and more runners boarding the subway at each stop. It was a beautiful morning and not too cold but I layered up and decided to check a race bag for the fist time ever. My mom got off before me and made her was to our first planned spot on the course where she was meeting Mike, David and Dad and I went to the start.

Once I got off the subway I quickly saw what 45,000 people looks and feels like. There was a mob of people flowing through security and I had a quick moment of panic when I realized it was 6:30 and I only had 50 minutes to get through security, check my bag, line up for a porta potty and get to my corral before 7:20. However, what amazed me was how smooth everything went and I was standing in Corral D with 10 minutes to spare. I wasn’t too cold and only wore my arm-warmers but what concerned me was my stomach was growling… I was hungry and knew it’d be a long time before I’d be eating again! After the American anthem and wheelchair start, the race started at 7:30 and we herded our way to the start. I passed though at 7:41 and quickly thought, this is it, go time!

357082_207371364_XLarge 357082_207447805_XLarge(Photos by race photographer)

IMG_5452(Photo by my mom of the leaders)

We started inside the park, where there were no spectators allowed, and flew through a tunnel. It was filled with echoes of cheering and men pulling over to pee then we funnelled out on to the street and the crowd erupted. I couldn’t hear my music and thought this is insane! What surprised me more was it stayed like this the whole way through the race. It honestly felt like you were at a finish line every 5 km and the signs, high-fives, music, dancing, and noise can really move you along. I saw my mom at 4 miles and was feeling great.

IMG_5458(Photo by my mom near mile 4 – I pulled one of my arm warmers (aka cut up nylons) down and kept it to wipe my face)

DSC_0476(Photo by Mike about 4.5 miles into the race, I didn’t see them but they saw me)

At 10 km, I began to question a slight pain in my left knee and right ankle and decided to only think about one at a time to distract each part from bothering me. At 16 km I started looking for my family and sure enough, there they were. A high-five from David pushed me on and before I knew it, I was back downtown and approaching the half-way mark (still feeling pretty good). We passed over timing mats a lot and knowing I was being tracked by my family and friends near and far kept me motivated.

DSC_0486(Photo by Mike near 16 km – I was very excited to spot them)

The second half – this is when I always slow down and struggle. I stopped for my first sip of gatorade and water at 23 km and was feeling weak (remember how hungry I was at the start). The 3:50 pacers passed me and I was mildly discouraged but I focused on PILSEN knowing my family would be near the 30 km cheer zone. Sure enough, there they were. I stopped and popped one energy bean in my mouth and said I was okay… which was mostly true. I felt weak and was hurting but at this point, I thought 12 km… no biggie and kept going.

357082_207703877_XLarge

I stopped at almost every gatorade stop and started drinking gulps and pouring water over my head. The 3:55 pacers passed me and I was very discouraged but decided to keep them on my radar. The last of major turn onto Michigan ave. was tough – I could see the city in the distance and knew the end was close but those 4 kilometres dragged on… my watch was reading more distance than the course markers were and I tried to pick up my pace a bit. I couldn’t see my family at the last turn but knew they were there so gathered the last bit of strength and pulled myself up the (only) hill and through to the finish. Official time: 3:56:20 and my watch read 42.9 km! My first thought was damn I could of had 3:55 had I made the 30+ turns more efficiently but then I smiled because it was so much fun.

357082_208490732_XLarge 357082_207813927_XLarge(Photos by race photographer not sure when but at least after 25 km because my sunglasses are on)357082_208513374_XLarge(Photos by race photographer near 35 km – I think the jazz hands are my attempt at looking happy and positive…) 357082_208006978_XLarge(Photo by race photographer at the finish – my first ever fist pump finish)

What amazes me is how fast this race flew by. Sure, there were hard and painful parts but overall, it never felt like I hit a wall! I had a lot of fun and smiled more than I ever have during a race. The crowds and volunteers were amazing and I can’t say enough about how beautiful Chicago is.

357082_208206862_XLargeScreen Shot 2015-10-13 at 6.56.04 AM

My only criticism would be the finish. We finsihed back in the park and unless you pay big bucks, spectators were not allowed. It is a bit of a let down for family and friends to not see the finish. I walked for what felt like 100 metres before finding water and I really wished there was chocolate milk. As I kept walking and gathered more and more loot (a bag of food, my race blanket, a banana, a cup of Gatorade… it was getting to be a handful but then there was beer. Free cold beer. Sure, chocolate milk is awesome but a cold beer… I think I said I love you to the beer lady. With all of my stuff I kept walking to bag check and then on to the family reunite area. Although it was incredibly organized, it felt like I walked another few miles. I finally got to the “R” sign where I found my family right away. We stayed for a bit longer and then made our way to Cloud Gate (da bean).

IMG_3719 IMG_3726 IMG_3730 IMG_3732

Looking back, I am thrilled – I got a personal best by 2 minutes despite some pain, hunger and weakness. The flat course is fast but not as easy as I expected. I can’t believe I am saying this but I think I missed the hills – there was never a point in the race when you could climb then fly down an I think 42 km of the same gradation is hard on your body because every step you pound down feels the same. Even though there were 45,000 runners, it was never too crowded – very little congestion and unlike PEI, I never felt lonely. Chicago, thank you – it was such a great experience!357082_207447654_XLarge

I’ll be back to write about everything not-running we did in the city.

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chi town

I’m at the point in marathon training where I need to spend less time thinking about the training and more time actually training… The long runs are creeping in and it’s starting to get serious.

I am so excited for this race… It’s the CHICAGO MARATHON!

giphy

A (hopefully) sub-4-hour sightseeing tour of the city should give me a nice peak at what Chicago has to offer but my list of other things to see and do is growing.

14 CM Course Map

We are arriving on the Thursday before the race and staying until the following Wednesday – David is coming, which means less nightlife and more chicken-finger-friendly establishments but I think it will be an awesome adventure for all of us – including my parent’s too! With the race on Sunday, I plan to squeeze in most of the sightseeing afterwards to avoid fatigue and blisters prior to the run, making for a lot of things to see in a small amount of time however, not to worry, planning is what I do best. The number one item on my list is the CAF River Cruise  so I already booked our tickets for the morning after the race – I think an architectural boat tour will be all my aching legs can handle. Other items on the list include:

Let me know if you have any recommendations – I have never been to the Windy City!

Chicago

A. Silver Bean necklace / B. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off / C. Catstudio Chicago Pillow / D. Ork Chicago Poster / E. Chicago Flag bowles / F. Chicago Cubs patch / G. Chitown Chicago T-Shirt / H. Chicago Skyline Socks / I. Chicago Blackhawks hat / J. Chicago Style Hotdogs / K. Deep dish pizza / L. Chicago Art Print by Rifle Paper Co. / M. Chicago Bulls Sunglasses / N. Chitown Chicago Beer Koozie / O. Garrett Popcorn / P. Chicago is Always a Good Idea Print

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meanwhile, elsewhere

It is pretty incredible how a change in weather can readjust your mental state of mind in a matter of minutes. We’re back on Anna Maria Island and the palm trees and good company have made me happy.

Friday’s online finds: Inspirational, educational or just silly. Here is what I found this week…

meanwhile_1 meanwhile_2 meanwhile_5 meanwhile_3 meanwhile_4 meanwhile_6

When on vacation, I like to google local real estate and wonder why I don’t live here

Anna

And then I like to book the next holiday… a (hopefully) sub four hour tour of Chicago on footBank-of-America-Chicago-Marathon

Have a lovely weekend! I know I missed this week’s Wedding Wednesday but, Jodie and I plan to check out the Anna Maria Wedding Festival this weekend and I will report back next week!

psst. If you like what you’re reading, please subscribe and share. xomeg