Chicago Trip

I wasn’t planning on putting a post together but I’m awake this morning already and Finley is sleeping. One can only check Facebook so many times!

This weekend happened before Cincinnati, so we had two big weekends in a row.

Our main purpose in going to Chicago was to have Finley attend her first Blackhawks hockey game that Friday night. Brody bought the tickets months ago, and we didn’t have high expectations for seeing much of the game as it started at 7pm…which is Fin’s bedtime.

We had lots of fun through the first period of the game. After that, Finley was getting close to melt down mode, so we took off. She sure looked cute in her Toews jersey!

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We spent the rest of the weekend at Brody’s high school friends’ house, Sean and Nina. They have a 4 year old son and a baby on the way. They were awesome hosts, and we had our own living/sleeping space in their basement.

On Saturday after Finley’s morning nap, she and I met a few of my college friends for brunch. It was great catching up with these ladies!

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Because Finley’s bedtime makes going out at night difficult (and expensive), our hosts had invited friends over for dinner Saturday night. Lots of basketball was watched, (no surprise) including one of the Wisconsin games. Sean made a fantastic dinner of coconut shrimp, mustard greens, rice and beans, and mango avocado salsa. Nina baked a ridiculous chocolate cake with caramel frosting. I was so full!

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Sunday morning we relaxed with our friends and their son until Finley was awake from her nap. Then we packed up, said goodbye to our friends, and drove to meet another one of my college friends for brunch on the way out of town.

Although it was a crazy long wait (at least an hour!!!), it was a nice brunch and so good to see Carrie and her husband, and to finally meet their little girl.

Brody and I have lots of friends in Chicago, so we always love to visit. But as with any weekend away, it’s nice to get home.

Weekend Wedding Part Two

I realized that I dislike dividing up the recap of this wedding in two parts like this with the Indian portion of it and the non-Indian portion.  Unfortunately, because of the break in the afternoon on Saturday (when I took a nap), it made sense to split it up.  However, what I saw this weekend wasn’t two separate families with different beliefs and traditions, but two families and friends coming together and to celebrate love.

After said nap, we boarded the shuttle buses to the Bridgeport Art Center about four miles out of the city.  It’s an old warehouse that they’ve converted into usable space, often for art galleries and weddings.  The view of the city was incredible.

The ceremony completely reflected the couple and had lots of personal and more casual touches, in particular their music choices (see program below), the second reading (also see program), and their vows (it was obvious they wrote them together).

For the cocktail hour, guests were transported back down to the first floor of the building into what used to be the loading dock.  Being a converted warehouse, the elevators are massive and can hold ten thousand pounds.  This classy joint even hung a chandelier in the elevator.

Brody and I enjoyed mingling with our friends, drinking (red wine for me), and sampling some of the incredible hors d’oeurves.  On a large white backdrop that took up the entire height of the room, which was VERY high, Bollywood music videos played.  This kept the mood light and joyful; I mean, how can you not smile when watching people dancing like that!

Cocktail hour finished and elevator-loads of people made their way back up to the room for dinner and dancing.  I had taken a few pictures of the rooms before the ceremony in better light – isn’t it amazing?  It could’ve easily been in a wedding magazine.

The groom had told us there would be a surprise coming up.  The surprise arrived right before the couple was announced to their reception: pink and white glow sticks!  Kids and adults had so much fun shaking the glow sticks around as the newly married (for the second time) couple arrived for dinner.  These glow sticks were also SO much fun to dance with; it made dancing feel a lot more club-like.

No pictures of food were taken, and sadly, I only have this one picture of Brody and I from that night.  Too bad it’s a little blurry, but you can see another angle of the room we were in and the pink glow stick by my left hand.

We had such a fun time dancing (which is likely why I have no pictures from here on out).  The groom is really into music and electronics and has lots of “connections.”  The DJ they hired was legit and not some run of the mill wedding DJ; he was positioned on a platform, blended the songs perfectly, and played a great mix of new and old music to keep the crowd going.  I haven’t danced that much at a wedding for a long time.

Brody and I had such a fantastic time seeing more friends tie the knot, and it’s always great to have groups of friends who are now spread out get back together.  Although we sometimes gripe about all of the weddings we have, I know we’ll be both sad when they stop.

Questions:
  • If you are married, what do you remember most about your wedding day?
  • Do you have a lot of weddings this summer?

Running in Unfamiliar Cities

One of the best ways to explore a city is to run around like one of the locals (literally and figuratively). If it works with our schedule when visiting a city, I try to fit in a run. Or if I am training for something, I don’t really have a choice.

Running in an unfamiliar city can be fun but a little nerve wrecking. I have the worst sense of direction ever and worry about getting lost. Most of my runs in new cities involve out and back paths to avoid losing my way, and I often utilize Map My Run. I also don’t have a Spibelt to carry extras like a phone, so my “getting lost plan” is to ask for help. Luckily, I haven’t needed to put this plan into action (yet).

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I am starting with this run because it was probably my favorite run ever. Brody, JP, and Bridget were gone for the day to go canyoning and I had the day to myself. My right knee had started to hurt the day before after a long hike (which ended up being runner’s knee) but I still decided to head out. I planned on doing three miles but I felt so good after a mile and a half out, I kept going.

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This is the view I had running. It was so incredible; I am positive I had a smile on my face the entire time even though my knee ached. I ran along a paved road for a while and then a hard gravel trail. The run ended up being about six and a half miles.

Scottsdale, Arizona
This run was hot, hot, hot! I needed to do ten miles because I was training for a race and thank God I brought my water bottle along. One mile in and I was already sipping lukewarm water.

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This photo makes it look a lot greener than it was when I was there.
Miles and miles of green (although not much in AZ is truly green) space stretched only a mile from the hotel we were staying at. There was very little shade, and I ended up refilling my water bottle three times. Despite drinking lots of water, I was barely sweating; my face was coated on salt crystals already at mile four. It took me over six miles to get into the running “flow.” I also failed to put on sunscreen and was embarrassed for the rest of the day because of my horrible tan lines. Wow – recapping this run makes it seem terrible, but it really wasn’t that bad.

Minneapolis, Minnesota
Brody and I have said for years now that if we were to move out of the Madison area, we would go to Minneapolis. With both of us having friends who live there, lots of lakes, and a bigger (and very accessible) downtown, it would be an easy transition. We love to visit Brody’s high school friend and his wife (and son Carter), and this past fall when I was training for the Haunted Hustle, I had to fit in a six mile run Saturday morning. Our friends’ house is close to some of the lakes, so I mapped out a run. I ended up getting a little lost and ended up at a different lake than I had planned but I was never overly anxious about my new route.

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The loop around Lake Harriet is just under three miles, and the trail from our friends’ house to the lake goes through woods and along a stream. It was a lovely fall run with lots of active people out and about.

Chicago, Illinois
Back in January when my marathon training had just started, we went to Chicago for the weekend. Brody’s high school buddy lived fairly close to Humboldt Park and ran around that area to fulfill the five or six miles on my schedule. It was cold but refreshing. Because I was worried about getting lost, I actually brought my phone along with me. My lululemon pants have deep pockets that kept the phone tight to my body.

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I detailed this run in one of my first blog posts titled Windy City Weekend.

One tip I have read (probably in Runner’s World) is to contact a local running store to see if there are any planned runs. Then you’d really be running around like a local, you wouldn’t have to worry about getting lost, and you’d have someone to talk to. Maybe I will try this when I go to Maryland in May and need to run twelve miles.

Before I check out for the day (and begin grading my butt off), I want to give a shout-out to my running buddy Mel who ran a PR yesterday: half-marathon in 2:06!!!! Nice job!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Questions:
What cities have you run in?
How do you plan runs in “new to you” cities?

Windy City Weekend

On weekends when I am home, I don’t mind Sundays. I’ve had Saturday to get stuff done (dishes, laundry, grading, etc.) and prepare for the upcoming week. But on weekends when Brody and I travel, I despise Sundays. I become grumpy, easily frustrated, and lazy. I am fighting all of those adjectives by making minestone soup, doing laundry, sending Brody to the store, picking up around the house, and writing this. I also have plans to run a few miles at the gym and do some grading while Brody plays hockey across the street in his Sunday night league.

I shouldn’t really complain. We had a fantastic weekend in Chicago visiting all of our friends who live there, and it was totally worth it.

In the last two years, we’ve realized that driving into Chicago on a Friday night can be miserable. Depending on the traffic, it can take more than three hours, and we end up annoyed and stressed out. Enter the Metra. For $7 – $8, you can pick up the train in Northern Illinois (Harvard normally for us) and take it right into the city. Not only do you avoid traffic, but you also do not pay tolls, do not have to deal with having a car in the city and finding parking, and both you and your significant other get to relax. Once again, though, we forgot to bring drinks for the ride. We felt kind of lame when a pretty 20-something sat down by us and pulled out a Coors Light tallboy. Oh well – next time.

After arriving in Chicago a little after 7pm and freshening up, Brody, myself, our friend Clark, and his girlfriend headed over to Irazu. We saw this on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives and were super excited to try it. The wait was forty minutes, so we headed back to Clark’s condo across the street to have some beverages. An hour later and still no call from Irazu. It was after 9pm, and we were hungry. We gave up on Irazu (next time hopefully!) and ended up a Cafe con Leche, a cute little Mexican restaurant.

This restaurant does not have its liquor license; gotta love BYOB! So much cheaper.

For my entree I ordered the vegetarian burrito, Clark’s girlfriend Megan got the chicken burrito, Brody had the chicken with mole sauce, and Clark had tacos (not sure what kind). My burrito was tasty with crunchy veggies and not too much cheese. The black beans, rice, and guacamole on the side were good compliments to the main dish.

It rarely happens that I don’t dig into Brody’s food as well, so of course I tried his mole sauce. I thought it was a little heavy on the cumin, but I don’t really like cumin. Brody ate it all, but later said he agreed with me on the cumin.

Dinner was fun and the company was lovely. The bathroom at the restaurant, however, was neither fun nor lovely. Megan brought my camera into the bathroom with her. Some images (all appropriate) for your viewing pleasure :)

Yes, that is a fire extinguisher in the bathroom, and yes, there is a chunk cut out of the door so that it can open past the sink. All four of us agreed this bathroom would not pass city code regulations.

By the time we finished dinner it was already 10:30pm, and after working a full day, no one was looking for a crazy night out. We headed to Floyd’s, a local bar, and I ended up having a pale ale while looking up info about The Beauty and the Beast tv series on imdb with Megan on her phone. Good times reminiscing about 1980s television. The four of us were home and sleeping by 1am.

When I woke up at 8:30am, I knew I needed to get by butt going. Humboldt Park was calling my name and I had breakfast plans with two college friends at 10:30am. I quickly devoured a banana and an Emerald snack pack and chugged water. Everyone thought I was nuts for running outside but I was excited.

The six miles went by surprisingly quickly. The snow and ice patches on the sidewalk kept me alert. I had expected to see more runners, but I only passed four people. The sun was shining and despite being 25 degrees, I was sweating after a mile. Overall it was a great run and made me feel more confident about running outside in the winter.

Time to talk about food again :) Two of my senior year college roommates, Steph and Carrie, live in Chicago (not together). I don’t get a chance to see them as often as I’d like, and I was thrilled when I found out they would both be in town. Steph suggested Lula in Logan Park. The three of us had so much fun catching up and eating amazing breakfast foods.

While we waited for a table, we had coffees and split a pear rosemary scone. YUMMY! It was buttery, flaky, and paired perfectly with the strong coffee.

For my meal, I ordered the sweet potato galette with ricotta cheese. On the side was a mixture of lentils, golden raisins, pomegranate seeds, and slices of a hard boiled egg. It was delicious and a great recommendation by the waiter.

We also all split a sticky bun after seeing multiple tables with them (see above…only a few bites left). I really enjoyed Lula and would go back again. It was very trendy and “hipster” but not pretentious.

Steph and Carrie dropped me off at Piece (where Brody, Clark, and other friends Ben and fiancee Lindsay were for lunch) and we said our goodbyes. I had just eaten, but the pizza looked and smelled amazing. I tried half a slice of pepperoni and it enjoyed it thoroughly.

The next part of the afternoon is unlike our normal Chicago excursions; we went shopping! Patagonia was having a 30% off sale. I bought a running jacket and Brody got a winter hat. Just down the street was lululemon, and I have been wanting to try on the TaTa Tamer after reading about it on either Tina‘s blog or Caitlin‘s blog. And the verdict? I don’t think this sports bra is for me. It’s weird to not be all smushed together, and I’m worried it would not be very supportive.

(Ummm…longest post ever!!!!)

Ben, Brody’s friend from Toledo, said he had a surprise for Brody. We drove to The Anthem, a new sports bar. The surprise was inside: a bubble hockey table! Growing up, Brody had a bubble hockey table in his basement, and he, Ben, and Brody’s dad used to play all the time. The boys had a great time reliving their younger years! Ben (in the black jacket) was even wearing a Blackhawks sweater from 9th grade. He wore it just for Brody.

We made it back to Clark and Megan’s place and got ready for a dinner party. Brody’s high school buddy Sean and his wife Nina were having everyone over for dinner, and coq au vin was on the menu. I unfortunately forgot to take pictures of the appetizers and the meal, but trust me – it was spectacular. Sean is a fantastic cook. Nina baked a carrot cake, and we had homemade ice cream alongside. Good food, lots of wine, and wonderful friends. It was a great way to spend a Saturday night in Chicago.

Brody and I caught the train a little before 11am and got into Woodstock where our cars were by noon. We stopped at a McDonald’s for a bathroom break and a little caffeine.

Caramel Mocha latte with skim milk

That, folks, was my weekend. I’m sad it’s over but happy to be home. Now I’m off to the gym to sweat out some of that wine I drank this weekend.

Hope you had a nice weekend as well!