Tag Archives: Chicago

My busy Thursday – sorry no pics!

11 Jul

I have a lot of posting to catch up on, specifically my trips to Charlotte, New York, and my big fourth of July festivities, but first I have to talk about what happened yesterday.

My morning started off better than ever. My 10:00 on-site meeting got changed to a call/webex so I was able to sleep in until 8:00 and take the call from home before going into the office afterwards. That extra sleep and WFH (work from home) time allowed me to do three loads of laundry, some dishes, straighten up and pack for my post-work activities. It was so relaxing and glorious. Plus, I rode a Divvy to work at 11:00 when the sun was shining and everything was a little less hectic. Finally, the best part was arriving at work at 11:30 and realizing it was almost lunch time!

After work I did the unspeakable. Actually, if I would have known how bad this was there’s probably no way I would have gotten through the day anticipating what I had to do.

Since my Lake Zurich Triathlon is in three short days, I had to get some open water swimming in. Last Tuesday I tried to go to the Chicago Triathlon open water clinic, like I did last year, but they were out of wet suits when I arrive so I had to face the 68 degree (at its warmest) water in just a swimsuit. Needless to say I was cold and only got in a half mile swim. Yesterday I was determined to get a full mile in since I’ll be racing at 0.93 miles on Sunday.

I wore my Craigslist wetsuit (which some onlookers pointed out is a jet ski wet suit, but it was 100% warmer than no wetsuit) and spent over an hour in the water. It was cold, but not bad (Tuesday was bad), but the water was ROUGH. I can’t believe how difficult it was to swim in that wavy water.

Anyway, I made it. And for anyone who lives in Chicago you know there’s no easy way to get home from Ohio Street Beach. It’s a good third mile walk to Michigan Avenue (to get a bus and connect to another bus to get home) and well over a half mile to get the el. Also, I was carrying a wet wet suit. So, as soon as I climbed the steps to make my decision I saw a Divvy station and decided to Divvy home. (Triathlon training…amiright?)

I made it home and had less than five minutes to change out of my swimsuit and put on fresh clothes before my friends picked me up to meet for dinner before my ukulele class. We went to Bad Apple in Lincoln Square and I got a mushroom and goat cheese sandwich with truffle oil fries. YUM. Then, I showed up about 30 minutes late to uke class (food took a while) and was surprised with a fun jam session in the Old Town School of Folk lobby with guitarists, banjo-ists (?), harmonicans (?), etc. It was fun.

Why am I telling you all about my busy day? Mostly because I’m afraid I’m going to grow a third limb from exposing myself to Lake Michigan for so long without showering right away(I showered after I Divvy’ed home from uke at about 10:30 pm). So now you guys know, if I end up with extra body parts and stop showing up in your instagram feeds, that’s why. I’m ashamed of my new lake body.

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Le Tour de Shore 2014

25 Jun

Ever since I bought my road bike in August I have been addicted to cycling. There’s something about a road bike that makes you feel lighter and go faster (oh yeah – it’s the wheel size and overall design). I loved my fall 2013 Bubbafest tour of the Florida Keys and I wanted to continue my touring rides. I saw an ad for Le Tour de Shore in my copy of Adventure Cycling that I am trying out as a result of Bubbafest but I didn’t think anyone would want to do the two day, 100+ mile ride with me. Jamie and Kayla had plans for that weekend and I didn’t think I knew of anyone else with a road bike. Luckily, my friend Gracelyn who really introduced me to triathlons, had a group of cycling friends that had signed up for the ride independently and I was able to tag along with their group.

Friday morning I met the group of riders along the lake shore path around 6:40 am and we rode down to Millennium Park for the start of the event. It was chilly but perfect for riding. Gracelyn had told me she didn’t want to go “too slow” but wouldn’t be “holding 20 [mph]” which she translated to mean 17 mph. I saw that as a challenge but as it turns out she and two cycling friends really held 20 mph for a lot of the ride which left me cycling by myself, which was actually kind of nice.

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The ride was split into two days. We rode ~65 miles the first day and camped in the Indiana Dunes Friday night and conquered ~45 miles the second day finishing in New Buffalo, Michigan.

The SAG stops (I think SAG stands for stop-and-go, but no one I ask really knows) on this ride were amazing. The first one was about 20 miles into the ride and had Chris Cakes pancakes – this guy holds the world record for highest pancake flipped in a frying pan), fruit, granola bars, water and Gatorade. I love pancakes and loved this stop. The next stop, right around noonish, had PB&J sandwiches and chips – heaven! I didn’t feel guilty about eating a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos AND a bag of Fritos because – hey – we just rode for 40 miles. The final stop before arriving to the camp site was just fruit and granola bars but I’m still really appreciative of the stops. Saturday morning’s SAG stops had Dunkin’ Donuts and coffee (mile 76) and fruit and granola bars (mile 96) before ending at a big barbeque on the beach.

The scenery for the ride was incredible. We rode along Lake Michigan for 60% of the ride, through corn fields, past beach houses and even stopped at a winery/brewery/distillery. The thing I loved most about the ride was how short and sweet it was. I’m not saying 100+ miles on the bike is short, but it was nice to be done riding after two days. I also liked the idea of riding one way and not having to turn back and see the entire route again. After our BBQ in Michigan we hopped on coach buses and headed home. The funny thing, though, is that the route that took us more than six hours on the bike took about an hour and a half to reverse on bus.

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The weather couldn’t have been better. I did end up with a nasty sun burn, but I attribute that to the fact that the temperature was so crisp that I didn’t realize how strong the sun was. It actually got cold in the evening while camping. I slept in sweat pants, a hoodie, a bed sheet and a sleeping bag and was still cold. Saturday morning was chilly but I had a sweet jersey shrug that kept me comfortable until the first SAG stop. This is where I should have re-applied sunscreen (or applied for the first time to the previously covered areas). I have a sweet bike jersey burn on my back that hurts like heck.

I’m so grateful that I got to hang with Gracelyn and her friends. They were great. There were eight of us total and Gracelyn and I shared a tent Friday night. Other expert campers suggest we not keep our food in our tent because raccoons will actually rip through the tent to get it while we’re sleeping so we put everything we had in a bag of Gracelyn’s and inside the cabin at our camp ground. That actually turned out to be a pretty bad idea because the raccoons snuck into the cabin and had a smorgasbord of food throughout the night. We actually caught them sleeping on the bag in the morning!

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My butt hurt for the next day but the ride was totally worth it. It is actually a fundraiser for the Maywood area fine arts programs, which I think is great! This ride is definitely worth the money and the day off of work. I can’t wait til next year!

My 27th Birthday

20 Jun

As an only child the thrill of my birthday will never cease to be the highlight of May. I love the attention but most of all, as I discovered, the feeling that all of my friends (there were about 15 people in total!) came out to celebrate with me/for me. It’s a humbling and exciting feeling. And it made me drink. A lot.

My weekend started out how it usually does – hitting the Mt. Prospect community garage sales during the day with my parents. After a few hours of scoring goodies (including a $0.50 JED lunch box from the 80’s that I sold on eBay within a week) I packed up and headed back to the city to get ready. My friends started arriving for pre-dinner drinks and at 7:00 the whole group headed to Renaldi’s, one of my favorite pizza places in Lincoln Park. My friend’s husband, Brad, ordered Fireball whiskey shots (followed by the manager buying a second round) and I think that was the beginning of the end.

After pizza and drinks we followed my very-strict schedule of dive bars along Lincoln Avenue near my apartment (so people could easily grab their cars and head home if they needed to).

We went to the following bars (I can’t tell you much about the experiences at most of them because it’s a little fuzzy):

Rose’s Lounge

Atlas Brewing Company

Patsy’s Place

JP Burke’s Patio & Tap

The night ended (for me) around 1:00 am and luckily my friend Kayla was staying over so we got each other home safely. I wasn’t feeling the best so I did what I always do when I don’t feel well and drew myself a bath. The bath felt great. So great, in fact, that I found myself still in there at 8:30 am (thanks Kayla and Marc for checking in on me!). Don’t worry – it’s not as dangerous as it sounds. I am a pro at taking baths and it’s almost physically impossible for me to drown. The way I position myself/the size of the tub does not allow for my head to get beneath the water level unless I’m in a funky, uncomfortable yoga position.

The next day (my actual birthday) Kayla and I had our second-to-last wood working class at the Rebuilding Exchange. That was pretty rough for us hungover party animals. I headed home to the suburbs after that and visited my neighbor’s soccer game, sorted through my treasures from the day before, and picked up an ice cream cake for myself. Around 5:00 my family and neighbors went out to Portillos for a birthday dinner celebration followed by ice cream cake at my parents’ house. It was the perfect weekend!

My parents bought me a paddle board as a present. More on that to come!

The Bike that un-broke my heart and Movie in the Park

16 Aug

Well, it’s Friday, which means I got ice in my water cup even though I got in at 8:55 again. I came in at 7:45 yesterday, though, so I got my share of ice no problem. Our friend at work, Jessy, is practicing to become a yoga instructor so I’m one of her test subjects. It’s amazing to do yoga overlooking Michigan Avenue at 8:00 am.

Last night was a very exciting night! I bought the bike and am officially over the bike that broke my heart. I test rode it Wednesday, pretended like I was going to play the field all weekend (you know, searching for more bikes), but decided I wanted to have one and get this process over with. I was debating between buying used and buying one on clearance from a bike shop, but I don’t want to wait until the end of the season to get a new bike so I decided I’ll use a used one for a year, understand what I’m looking for in a new bike, understand how low the end-of-season prices go, and then purchase a brand new beauty. The plan works for me, so I’m sticking to it. I ended up getting a 2007 Trek Pilot 1.2 and was able to negotiate it for $400 because I still need to get it tuned up. Plus, it came with some aerobars, which I hear are good for triathletes. I’m excited to ride it around!

2007 Trek Pilot 1.2

My new Trek Pilot 1.2

After I brought the bike home I packed up some watermelon, blueberries, Twizzlers, and Baked Lays and headed over to Wrightwood Park for my second movie in the park! I thought it was at the park that’s right by my place but it turns out that’s Jonquil Park and Wrightwood Park is a few blocks west at Ashland. Oh well. Gracelyn and Blair came so it was the same ‘ol Movie in the Park gang and Gracelyn brought her dog, Jess Bob. The movie was The Amazing Spiderman (2012) which I loved the first time I saw and could live without seeing again. But I do love Emma Stone, girl crush. Did you know they’re coming out with the Amazing Spiderman 2? Just saw that when I pulled the link for Emma Stone.

Movies in the Park Wrightwood Park

Movies in the Park Wrightwood Park

Anyway, it actually got pretty chilly last night to the point where we had to cover ourselves in a blanket. Boo! It’s August, I want to be sweating.

Tonight we’re having a Chicago Canes football kickoff party and tomorrow I’m heading to Lake Geneva (I’m planning on testing the water temp for the tri while I’m there) and Sunday I hope to take my first ride with the Mt. Prospect Bike Club, so stay tuned for a weekend wrap up on Monday!

Chicago Tomato Blast 2013

29 Jul

Saturday started out like any other day… I went for a 4.5 mil run/walk. OK, let’s be real, that’s not like any other day. I am proud of myself, though, because with the August 11 triathlon as a goal I have been extra dedicated to working out. In fact, with that being said I can officially announce I’m signing up for the Lake Geneva triathlon, too! (Does anyone have a discount code to share?) It’s a month later, September 14, and I am pumped because I love Lake Geneva.

I digress. The rest of the weekend started getting crazy around 11:30 am when my friends Joe and Steven arrived to head to the Tomato Blast at Soldier Field. We thought it’d be a great idea to enjoy the unseasonal 65 degree weather and ride our bikes to Soldier Field using the new Divvy bike sharing that are popping up around Chicago. Luckily the Northern most bike station is right at the corner of my street, so we hopped on and rode South to the event. We got pretty tired along the way so after we checked in the bikes we picked up classic Chicago hot dogs and ate them on the steps of the Field Museum. I should mention that I wasn’t Divvying because on Friday night I installed this awesome basket from Detours all by myself so I saved the $7 and took my own bike.

Detours Basket Bag

Detours Basket Bag

After we ate our hot dogs we ventured to find the Tomato blast site. Contrary to popular belief it wasn’t really in Soldier Field as much as it was in the Soldier Field parking lot. Nonetheless, we got there and met up with my friends Jamie, Brian, and Ryan, and stood in line for about 45 minutes to get checked in. The event officially started at 12:00 but upon our arrival at 1:00 they were so unorganized it was taking forever to get in. We finally got in, grabbed a beer, and listened to some music before they opened the gates at 3:00 for the fight to begin.

The Tomato Blast is modeled after La Tomatina in Valencia, Spain. It’s the world’s largest food fight and dates back to 1945. The idea is to throw overly ripe tomatoes at each other for a fun, regulated food fight.

Tomatoes to be thrown at Tomato Blast

Tomatoes to be thrown at Tomato Blast

The Tomato Blast website says the tomatoes are supposed to be spoiled, overly ripe tomatoes that are perfect for throwing, but as we raced into the center of the “arena” we were pelted with tough produce. I felt like they needed a bit more ripening to be enjoyable. The result was some aches and bruises and Joe even got a swollen eye. The fight was supposed to last an hour, but at 3:11 I was already done. At one point I had made my way into the tomato pit, where all the tomatoes waiting to be thrown were sitting, and I put a box on my head as a shield/helmet.  Bad idea. The fact that I was wearing a box on my head made me a human target and I was getting pelted from all over. I finally stepped away from the fight when I took a hit to the ear/neck area that made it no longer enjoyable.

Tomato throwing at Tomato Blast

Tomato throwing at Tomato Blast

Jamie & Me at Tomato Blast

Jamie & Me at Tomato Blast

Steven, Me, and Joe at Tomato Blast

Steven, Me, and Joe at Tomato Blast

Overall it was an interesting event, but I’ll probably sit it out next year.

Cheesie’s food truck, one of my favorite restaurants in the northern Chicago area, was at the event but we were too gross/uncomfortable/cold/sore to grab a post-tomato snack, so we rode our bikes back (ouch!) to my apartment, showered, and headed to Cheesie’s for dinner. More on Saturday evening’s festivities next.

Would you ever do a tomato fight?

Movies in the Parks: Jurassic Park

26 Jul

The cold front from Tuesday that ruined my open water swim is still lingering around Chicago. Last night I met my friends Blair and Gracelyn, both fellow Hurricane alum, at Wicker Park for Movies in the Park. We had perfect 74 degree weather – almost unheard of in July. Movies in the Park is part of Chicago’s Night Out in the Park offerings, which I think are pretty cool. I’m not usually one to venture west to Wicker Park, but Blair tempted me with Big Star tacos to bring to the park, and I was sold. Plus, they were showing Jurassic Park which I haven’t seen since its release in 1993.

Friends at Jurassic Park

Friends at Jurassic Park

If you’re going to check out a Movie in the Park for yourself, which I recommend, there are probably a few things you should know. Similar to my Ravinia Do’s and Don’ts post, I’m going to suggest a few tips for you to consider:

  • DO arrive early. The movies start at dusk (usually 8:45-9) and we had plans to meet at 7:30 thinking we’d be early. Not the case. We arrived at 7:30 and plopped our blanket (actually, I brought a spare bed sheet) tightly between two other groups. They announced that over 1,500 people were there.
  • DO bring food/drinks stuff to do. Not sure if alcohol is legally allowed, but people had it. Be conspicuous and you’ll be fine. I mentioned that planning on getting tacos from Big Star, but just like we weren’t expecting the crowd we got, we weren’t expecting the Big Star walk-up line to be over 50 people long. We opted for Flash Taco across the street and it didn’t disappoint. Wicker Park is home to lots of good food places you can grab & go. Besides the aforementioned, I recommend Piece pizza and Glazed & Infused donuts (inside Francesca’s Forno)
  • DO have enough space to lay down. While chairs aren’t appreciated, your back might get tired and you might want to shift positions. Make sure you have enough room for that. While you’re at it, I suggest wearing comfy clothes.
  • DO get into it. It was hilarious hearing everyone cheer for Samuel L. Jackson, boo the bad guy, and gasp/laugh at the ‘scary’ parts
  • DON’T sit next to a group of smokers (if you don’t like being smoked on). I’m not exaggerating when I say the group next to us smoked 100% of the movie. There were about eight adults and at all times one of them was smoking a cigarette. It really dampered my nice, summer experience. Of course smoking outside is allowed, but when you’re so close to so many people, I wish they would have been more considerate.
  • DON’T bring your dog if it likes to bark and run around. We were in really close corners and it made for some difficult dog situations. Unless your dog likes to lay down for about 3-4 hours straight, consider leaving him at home. (If he does like to chill, though, bring him! How cute!)

    Jurassic Park in Wicker Park

    Jurassic Park in Wicker Park

Overall I had a great summer night with my friends. I loved the movie — I hadn’t remembered a thing so it was completely new (again) to me.

I’m hoping to get out to at least one more Movie in the Park this summer. Have you been to one? Which park? I’d love to hear about the experiences at the different parks. By the way, they made one free bag of popcorn for every person! How sweet!

Jurassic Park in Wicker Park

Jurassic Park in Wicker Park

Espirit de She 5k

20 Jul

Thursday night all of the Chicago weather stations warned us to stay inside! The temp was a balmy 93 degrees with a heat index close to 100! Despite the warnings, my friend Jamie and I suited up to complete the first ever Espirit de She 5k in Lincoln Park.

Why are we crazy enough to do a 5k in the heat? Well, the answer might stem back to the fact that we’re crazy enough to be doing our first triathlon in August and we figured a 5k would be good practice for the running portion of the race. We rode our bikes to the start, too, to get in that extra triathlon feel.

We were extra prepared, so we got to the race well over an hour before the start time. It turned out to be good planning, though, as were some of the first to take advantage of free mini-spa services offered by LifeSpa — the spas inside Lifetime gyms. I got my nails painted purple (one of the official race colors) and then got back in line for a mini massage which actually wasn’t that relaxing.

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I had been excessively drinking water all day so I was feeling a little bloated at the race start, but we started off well. We ran through some misters that were actually cold feeling! I was excited to use my new Garmin watch to measure my pace and distance, and it was so accurate! We got the water at the one mile stop and my only complaint was that the water was luke warm. Maybe that’s a scientific thing — the water is supposed to be warm as to not shock your body — but it doesn’t feel good when its almost 100 degrees outside.

We ran through one other mister ant the wind was blowing it so no one actually got the mist. That was disappointing.

I didn’t run as fast as I could because of the heat, but I thought the racing technology was cool (but not as cool as my new Garmin Forerunner!!). Here’s a snapshot of my results:

racetime

All in all we finished the race safely and were greeted with icy cold towels and fruity Popsicles at the finish line. Plus, there was yummy, healthy food and more sweet treats (read: wine) in a little lounge. I’m proud of us for doing it and surviving!

Only 23 more days til race day!