The Chicago Picture Fest Part 2

If you read Part 1, you’re probably thinking that all we did in Chicago was eat. Ok, that’s true. But we walked a lot too. I just want to put that out there so you don’t think we were hanging around outside restaurants waiting for the next meal time. Not that I’m opposed to that.

Saturday

In the morning, I went to the expo with Michelle and Melissa. After that, we parted ways and I walked back to the hotel by myself (didn’t get lost!) to meet up with hubs. The first order of business was getting hubs a Chicago hot dog. The man talked about his future dog for weeks before we left. The mere mention of Chicago put him into a hot dog frenzy.

We went to Portillo’s (another fave of mine) and I was very excited that our whole meal was only $12. That was basically free compared to our other tabs. Hubs had his dog and I had my pre-race bacon cheeseburger. Hubs said the dog was everything he imaged it would be, so I’m happy that one of my favorites did not disappoint.

After lunch, we were nice and carbed up for our walk all over creation, a.k.a, the Navy Pier. Hubs was particularly excited to ride the Ferris wheel.

We walked around the pier for a while and checked out a few shops. It was close to dinner time, so we walked back to the hotel area to find a place to eat around there. I was feeling pretty meh about all the places we were passing. Finally, we decided to give Gino’s East a try. Gino’s is Lou Malnati’s direct competition so I was a little apprehensive to cheat on my man, Lou. We’ve had a really close relationship for a long time and I didn’t want to jeopardize that. Hubs asked me before the pizza arrived if I was scared that I would like it better and man, I really was.

The verdict: meh. The crust was undercooked (maybe on purpose?) and tasted corn-starchy. Not my thing. I still ate it all so it’s not like I went hungry but Lou’s is so much better. Lou and I have decided to continue dating and I’m not going to mention that fling with Gino. It meant nothing!

After dinner, we walked to Firecakes for a donut ice cream sandwich. I spotted the sign for it a few days earlier and would not shut up about it until it was in my mouth.

Unfortunately, the idea of it was better than the execution. It wasn’t bad, but I would never get it again. We didn’t even finish it between the two of us.

I think you all know how Saturday night went. I won’t rehash that one.

Sunday

Of course, Sunday was race day. While I was running, hubs booked a harbor cruise we had been eyeing for a day or so. There wasn’t much time between my shower after the race and cruise time, so we had to fast track it if we wanted to eat. We took a cab over to the cruise area and then walked to D4 Irish Pub because it was the closest thing that wasn’t Subway. We sat at the bar and shared two appetizers in lightning speed. I was wearing my medal and as luck would have it, that got me a free mimosa.

I don’t usually drink mimosas because I’m not a big fan of orange juice but when free and alcohol come together, I can make exceptions. We made it out of the restaurant in less than 30 minutes and walked back over to the harbor cruise.

The cruise was all about the architecture and design of the skyscrapers. It was fun to learn how Chicago pioneered the skyscraper. The first one in the world was built in Chicago in 1884. Also, the Willis Tower (Sears Tower) was the tallest building in the world for 25 years after it was built in 1973. The cruise was 90 minutes long and really interesting. That was also 90 minutes in which I got to sit and that made me extremely happy. Plus, they had giant cookies.

After the cruise, we met up with everyone at Rock Bottom for a post-race celebration. I can’t even recall what I ate for dinner but I do remember a bunch of jalapeno bread sticks and beer, so we’ll just go with that. After dinner, everyone went back to the hotel except me, hubs, and Michelle. We were all tired but felt the need to stay out because it was 8:00pm and we had a strong desire to not be lame. We ended up at an Irish pub near the hotel. We made it an hour and a half.

Monday

On Monday, we wanted to check out the sky deck of the Willis Tower. Unfortunately, there was zero visibility so we decided to skip it. I swear the sun was out when we left the hotel.

That was a fun 20-minute walk for nothing. After that disappointment, we walked over to Ed Debevic’s for lunch. Ed’s is a diner that’s famous for having waiter’s that are rude to you. The waiters were more sarcastic than rude. I would describe them as that cool waiter you get every now and then at a regular restaurant. Unfortunately, the food was awful. I had the three-way chili, which was really greasy. I could see the grease separating from the chili. Apparently, the grease didn’t even like it. I also got a Cesar salad and sent it back because it had a lot of black, wilted lettuce. I did have an Oreo shake that was good. Except the whipped cream wasn’t good.

#neverhappy

Hubs had a chocolate shake that he liked as well but overall, I wouldn’t recommend it. I did think it would be good place for kids since the waiters stand on tables and sing. So if  you have kids, drop them off for the day. Just kidding, don’t drop them off. Unless that’s what you do with kids. How should I know?

After lunch, we went on The Untouchables tour. Hubs was really excited to learn about Chicago’s mobster history but the tour took a big dump on his dreams. The tour guides were pretty good but the tour itself was terrible. We didn’t learn where things happened, like the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, and instead were pointed to general areas. I feel like the guides also needed to kill a lot of time because they didn’t have enough material to cover, so they would play the Godfather theme randomly, which was a little weird.

I know that’s Scarface but I just don’t know how to segue to something that amazing.

To top it off, the bus got stuck in a construction zone and, while trying to 3-point turn the way out, hit an overpass. It took the driver a good 10 minutes to get us out of the area, which I think cut the tour short. They didn’t cover John Dillinger (who was captured in Chicago) even though he was on the brochure and they covered everything else on it up to him. It was just a big suck fest. After the tour, I really wanted to check the damage on the back of the bus but I chickened out. We left for the airport after that.

Lastly, here’s a picture I found that Michelle texted me at some point over the weekend. Thanks to her husband, I have been immortalized somewhere in Chicago.

The Chicago Picture Fest Part 1

While I went to Chicago for the race, I definitely planned an extended weekend around it. We packed a lot of fun into five days, so here are some of the things we did as told by my cell phone camera. Also, get ready for some food pictures. Hubs asked why I always take pictures of my meals because I never use them. Since I don’t appreciate being called out or other people being right, I’m going to use them now.

Thursday

We arrived in Chicago around noon. We took our first Uber to the hotel, dropped off our bags, and went to EPIC for lunch. After we sat down, we  noticed everyone in the restaurant was in suit and tie business attire and we were in jeans. It was awkward but they seated us so we owned it by putting our elbows on the table in defiance. We had the crab cakes as an appetizer and they were really good.

I also had a beet salad with a fried egg on top. Not something I would usually order because runny yolks = no, but I liked it. My taste buds are changing and that’s confusing hubs. He stared at the salad for awhile because he couldn’t believe I ordered it. I forgot to get a picture but I’ll make it up to you with a bunch of other pictures of food you don’t care about.

After lunch, we slept. For three and a half hours. It was glorious not being woken up by an alarm or needing to be somewhere at a particular time. Here is a view from our room at the SpringHill Suites in River North. (Super friendly staff there, by the way.)

Thursday night, we went out with our friend Roxie (far left).

Roxie moved to Chicago a year ago but we haven’t seen her in two years. She took the metra an hour into Chicago from Orland Park to see us because she’s awesome like that. We went many places and drank many drinks. But first, we tested the resilance of our arteries with a bacon mac and cheese burger from The Squared Circle.

The best burger I’ve ever had is here in Orlando and that burger rivaled it. It was ahhmazing and I felt like complete shit after eating it because I was so full. Although, that probably had to do with the fact that I also had an appetizer and pizza just before it.

Our first Chicago pizza was gluten free, because Roxie has Celiac, and I thought it was pretty good considering I like my pizza with extra gluten.

Toward the end of the night, we wanted to go somewhere else but weren’t sure where. I suggested The Ory and Roxie busted out laughing.

You know what, if you want your establishment pronounced correctly, don’t put a big O in the middle. That’s all I have to say about that. Anyway, we had a really great first night and it was a lot of fun catching up with an old friend.

Friday

Friday morning, hubs and I missed breakfast at the hotel by 12 minutes so we walked down the street to Lyfe Kitchen. Lyfe Kitchen has a super healthy menu which we were pretty happy about after the dinner we had the night before. I had the spinach and avocado frittata.

Hubs and I shared a banana kale smoothie because I figured I should probably eat a vegetable.

Both were really good. They also had your choice of water – ambient (??), chilled, or chilled sparkling. I felt fancy and confused all at once, especially since there was no charge for the sparkling.

After breakfast, hubs and I walked over to the bean. I just love this picture. Hubs hated the bean so much that his reaction to it was the best part of seeing it.

Hates beans.

We took another picture under the bean that hubs quickly pointed out looks like a vagina.

Can you find us in the vagina?

After our close encounter of the bean kind, we walked back to the hotel to meet up with my big brother, Tom!

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He and my SIL drove in from Cary (about 45 min away) to see us. Get this: I hadn’t seen him in 15 years. I don’t even know how that’s possible or how we could allow that to happen. He was supposed to give me away at my wedding but wasn’t able to travel because of many slipped discs in his back. Since walking isn’t the greatest on his back, we walked to lunch right by the hotel at Harry Caray’s.

I thought Harry Caray’s was going to be a pub. Nope. Super expensive steakhouse with table cloths. So I ordered off the super cheap lunch menu and got half a corned beef sandwich (that was still huge) and a wedge salad.

After lunch, hubs, my SIL, and brother sat in the hotel lobby for awhile chatting and catching up. It was nice to see them. It was the first time my hubs met my brother and the first thing he said after my brother left was, “well, now I know why you talk about your poop so much.” #truth

Friday night, we met up with Michelle and her family and Melissa and her family at Lou Malnati’s, aka, the best pizza IN DA LAND.

I grew up on Lou Malnati’s. My mother put me on diets because of Lou Malanti’s.

Hello lovah

The Lou’s in River North is a new location and it doesn’t have the ambiance of the other location I used to frequent. So I was a little disappointed that hubs didn’t see the Lou’s that I grew up loving. The pizza is amazing but it’s also about the atmosphere for me. Lou’s at Christmastime is the absolute best. They deck out the whole restaurant with decorations and anamatronics. I get warm fuzzies remembering the times I would go there with my Dad and how much I loved it.

After dinner, we went back to the hotel and took a nap that lasted 11 hours.

 

Inaugural Lake Nona Half Marathon

I ran a half marathon today.

I registered for this race maybe six months ago and was going to use it as my first training run after Chicago. Seemed like a pretty good idea at the time, only I don’t really use races as training runs – I run them faster – and who knows how I was going to feel after Chicago. So in retrospect, not my best laid plan.

A lot of friends were running this race too and I love running with friends, so it wasn’t all bad.

Next to Michelle is one of our friends/co-workers, Keith, and to the right of him is Tyler. Tyler picked Michelle up at Best Damn Race and they’ve been running soul mates ever since.

The race took place in Lake Nona, which is about a half hour South of Orlando. Lake Nona is a cute little town and I’m sure there’s got to be a lake in it somewhere, but I didn’t see it. The race took place on a pretty, long, out and back road. It wasn’t scenic but it gets pretty points for having well maintained shrubbery in the median.

The race started at 6:00am. I don’t think I’ve ever run a race that started that early but I liked it because the first six or seven miles were in the dark. Plus, the weather was a perfect 61 degrees. This is the time of year when I don’t want to kick Florida in the junk. I will not miss you summer.

The race went a lot like Chicago: my legs felt great; I didn’t feel the need to walk; my shoulder started to hurt at mile 2; and the top of my left foot hurt. That foot thing I didn’t mention in the Chicago recap because I noticed it after the race, but it’s still hanging around. Maybe my shoes were laced too tight? I also had to poop from mile 6 on. (Didn’t think you’d get away from poop talk, did you?) I thought about stopping at a port-o-potty but then just decided to power through it. I got my first negative split ever because of it!

Poop makes you run faster. My colon just keeps on giving.

Those aren’t the prettiest of negative splits, but it’s the closest I’ll ever come to them. My Garmin crapped out in the first mile and I didn’t notice it until almost a mile in, so that’s why the mileage is off. My goal was to finish the race in under 2:15 (my Chicago half time) and I came in with 2:08:36, so I’m really happy with that.

After the race, we all hung out for a few hours and chatted and waited for Keith’s wife to finish.

Tyler got third in his age group with a PR, Keith PRed, and Katy hasn’t run more than 4 miles since August and still ran a sub-2:00. Let’s hate her together.

Overall, I had a great time. The race was well done and my only complaint is that there was no toilet paper in the port-o-potties after the race. I know, because I checked them all. Some nice lady gave me two of her Kleenex. I shall forever be grateful to the Kleenex lady.

I really enjoyed the race. It’s a great course for a PR, so I might be back to run this one again next year.

 

The Year of the PR

I know I owe you all an update on the marathon and I swear I’m working on it (it’s half written). We just got back in town late last night and apparently deadlines at work don’t disappear when you’re on vacation like I thought they did, midterms don’t take themselves, and Pants is unable to drive herself home from the bunnysitter.

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Once I get all that sorted out, I will be back in a day or two with a recap that includes a lot of pain, even more poop, but also a close to six-minute PR.

Finish time: 4:37:50

Marathon #3

This morning, and maybe while you’re reading this, I’m running the Chicago Marathon!

I don’t want to forget the most important reason I’m running this race:

Dad

I’m running in memory of my dad by raising money for the American Heart Association. His birthday would have been tomorrow, so the race is also timely. If you’re new around these parts and didn’t read the story of why I’m running Chicago, you can check it out HERE. I’ve already made my fundraising goal thanks to a lot of you, but I’m still raising money. If you have the means to give and would like to or meant to and forgot, you can still do that HERE. Every bit counts.

I’ll talk to you all after the race. In the meantime, check out this thoughtful little gift my team at work put together for me. <3

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The gonna hold them to that bag of Oreos. And that second ear on the bunny being X’ed out is appreciated.

Last long run. Cue panic.

My last long run before the Chicago Marathon was on Saturday [deep breath]. While I know I *can* run a marathon, I don’t know how well I can run one. I skipped a lot of week day runs because [life] and [beer]. My long runs have been slow and I’ve walked a lot during them, like last week’s 14 miler that turned into 13.5 miles because my car was there and there was no way I was running farther away from it.

I did that run alone and it was miserable, but I did get a picture of this sweet piece of artwork (barkwork?) in someone’s lawn.

Obviously I’d have a giant, metal bunny with a carrot in the middle.

Going into training, I had the big idea that I was going to PR Chicago. A PR for me would be anything below 4:43:44, but I’d kiss Michelle right on the lips for a 4:30. Once my training runs hit the 11:00-12:00 minute mile range, I sort of gave up on that idea. Then, this past weekend was my last long run, an eight miler that was much faster than usual. So who knows what’s going to happen.

The highlight of that run, besides being faster, was this fancy water fountain with a spout for filling your water bottle. I stood there in awe for about a minute. Finally, Orlando gets nice things!

So what I’m saying is, who knows how Chicago is going to go. I want to enjoy it and not worry about my time, so I think that’s what I’m going to do. If that leads to a PR, then great. If not, then I still ran 26.2 miles and can eat a shit ton of pizza. Both would make me happy.

Oh, and a quick update on Jon Hamm: he’s feeling much better. I even took him to work all last week so I could feed him during the day.

Today, I took him to get his teeth cut since they were overgrown so hopefully he’ll have an easier time eating now. He’s not a fan of being force fed and now that he’s getting better, he likes to spit the food back onto my hand and bite me.

That’s the thanks I get.

He’s Still Alive

Thanks for all your kind words about Hammy. I know some of you are thinking, “it’s JUST a HAMSTER” but I can’t let that little dude suffer. I honestly didn’t think he’d make it through the weekend, but he did so I took him to the animal hospital this morning.

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Fatty got weighed.

There’s just something about sitting in a vet waiting room at 38 with a hamster on your lap.

Anyway, it turns out that he has a respiratory infection and his bottom teeth are overgrown (which may or may not have led to the infection). The vet wanted to cut his teeth so he could grab food better, but she thought that might be too much of a strain on him and he wouldn’t make it through. So that will need to wait. We are giving him antibiotics and critical care food to see if he shows any improvement. If he’s better in a few days, they’ll trim his teeth.

I left him at the vet for the day for observation and when I picked him up after work, he already seemed more active and his eyes looked brighter.

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Mmm. Syringe feeding.

The vet mentioned that after antibiotics, it’s common for hamsters to die anyway. Hubs read that online so it’s nothing I didn’t already know. I’m sure I just spent a bunch of money for him to die anyway but at least now I have a little bit of hope and I feel better that I did what I could for him. Plus, this is nothing compared to what I did for my guinea pig (rest in peace) five years ago. Why do small animals torture me so?

It would be nice if a hamster’s value went up when you put money into it, like a house. I’d have a little hammy gold mine.

That Time I Cried Over a $15 Hamster

Poor little Jon Hamm isn’t feeling so well.

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Ok, we call him Hammy or Hamms because we’re lazy (see also: Pants).

Thursday he didn’t eat breakfast (I give him a little piece of broccoli, carrot, and lettuce every morning). About 75% of the time, he waits for me by his food bowl but when he doesn’t, I don’t think anything of it. Thursday night, he didn’t eat his treat so I knew something was wrong. Friday morning, he was sleeping in a strange spot in his cage. He always hides in the back but he was sleeping up front by the door. When I picked him up, he let me hold him which he hates. I don’t know what it is with me owning animals that hate to be held but the dude will try to squirm away until you put him down. Then I noticed he wasn’t opening his eyes so of course I freaked out and woke hubs up.

While I was at work crying all day and worrying about a damn $15 hamster, hubs did some online research to see what was wrong with him. According to the internet, it could be anything (helpful). We think it could be old age (he was a rescue so we only know he’s at least 14 months old) or a cold or maybe cancer. Hubs went out and bought some baby food, yogurt, and saline solution. We used the saline solution on a cotton ball to wipe his eyes to see if we could get them to open again. It took a day, but they did! Since then, we’ve been feeding him baby food and yogurt 3x a day and giving him water with a dropper. He eats a little bit of his hamster food on his own but not much. If this little dude is going to die, it is not going to be of starvation or thirst on my dime.

hammy
In healthier times.

He’s overall better. His eyes are open and look better and he’s back to squirming away from us when we hold him but he’s still not normal Hammy. I’m thinking the outlook is grim. :-(  My heart cannot handle the death of adorable pets. I need an ugly pet. Or a parrot. Those will outlive me.

Anyway, that has been my weekend: worrying about that little jerk. Damn you for stealing my heart, Jon Hamm!

Four for Friday

I had big plans not to number this post. Big plans! But then I couldn’t think of a title and noticed I had four things to talk about coupled with the fact that I’m completely unoriginal. So here’s another numbered post.

1.  Have I mentioned how much I love Hannibal?

No? Well let me talk about it then! Not only have hubs and I watched both seasons of the show, but we have rewatched the movies Manhunter, Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal, and Hannibal Rising. And now I think I need to read the books. Or at least the first one to see how I like it. But, yeah. Hannibal guys. The addiction is real.

2.  I forgot to mention that when I was leaving for my 22 miler the other week, I opened the garage door to find this waiting.

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Hubs brought that home from a “friends” house and lovingly propped that up for me. You can imagine how much I liked it at 2:30 in the morning. Nothing like getting the ole heart rate jump-started before you even start running. Later in the day, I walked by (it was still sitting there because I’m not touching that thing) and it started shaking, the eyes lit up red, and a little girl’s voice said “you wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.” Although, she couldn’t have said that exactly because that’s what the Incredible Hulk says but it was something similar and it made me pee a little.

3.  I bought a tank top from Athleta that I didn’t need whatsoever because it was “on sale” and UNSTINKABLE.


$28.99 is not a sale but when I see unstinkable in all caps, it’s like a personal challenge. I needed to know! So now after all my runs, I’m sniffing my sweaty tops like it’s my job. I sniffed this top. I sniffed other tops. I’m just sniffing everything for comparison’s sake. So the verdict: I have no clue. All my sweaty stinkable tops smell just like this unstinkable top – like I came in from the rain. So who knows if it’s really unstinkable.  I’ll keep on sniffing though because these are the important issues.

4.  The Chicago Marathon is in two weeks and I’m totally cool with that. I’m so calm and ready and just super chill about it. Yep, that’s me. Suuuper chill.

October 12, Get Here Already

I’ve been meaning to talk about running more than I have been but [insert excuse here]. It’s four weeks until Chicago. Or less. I don’t even know anymore. Basically, it’s gotten to that point where I’ve gone from supercrazyexcited to uncomfortably nervous.

Shameless Hannibal plug right there. Someone start watching that show so we can talk. That’s Hugh Dancy if you didn’t know and he is so ahh-maze-ing. He makes everyone else who has played the Will Graham character look like amateurs.

Anyway, running. I’ve been really good at finding excuses to skip my Tuesday runs, which I’m sure is doing wonders for my overall training. While I am so over training, I still feel like I might be running too few miles but I’m not motivated enough to change that. My long runs have been going ok, but they’re slow. I know that’s normal, I know I’m running on the face of the sun down here, and I walk at least .10 of every mile which all factors into my pace, but seeing my pace at the end of a run still hurts my ego a little.

This past weekend, Brad and I hit our peak 22 mile long run which I ran with a cold, thankyouverymuch.

Even sick, it was still better than our first 12 and 14 milers, which was surprising. The “highlights” – Having Fools Gold by Fitz and the Tantrums in my head for 10 straight miles (I was not amused) and Brad describing a whole horror movie plot he made up involving runners who are systematically killed off. That was a fun story at four in the morning in the pitch black next to the woods.

Also making me nervous is the thought of 1.8 million spectators at the race. ONE.POINT.EIGHT.MILLION. I don’t even know how that number is possible. Spectators stress me out with their cheering and their happiness and their motivation. It’s the worst when all you need to do is walk but there’s a group of cheering people making you feel like an ass for it.

I’m trying to decide whether or not to wear my Camelbak during the race. I’ve run one marathon with it and one without. I wear it during all my long runs and fill it with a mixture of half water/half Powerade Zero but it’s empty around mile 18 and becomes this annoyance because it no longer serves a purpose. I thought about carrying a water bottle with my half/half mixture (I can’t drink the regular Gatorade on the course) but this past weekend I found that I kinda like the Hammer Perpetuem powder for running nutrition.

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That’s a problem because you mix it with water, which is something else I’d need to carry. It tastes like licking an old chalkboard but I prefer drinking to chewing. Chewing during runs makes me nauseated. If I want both drinks, I would need to carry a water bottle while wearing a Camelbak, which is a lot of weight and super annoying. Plus, I hate having anything in my hands while running.

My other option is no Camelbak, holding a water bottle, stuffing a bunch of PB&Js in my sports bra, and not using the Perpetuem. I don’t love that idea either. You know me, I’m never happy. What I need is for volunteers to be at specific miles of the race to hand me things exactly when I need them so I can be the snobby running princess I’m meant to be.