Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Chicago Half Marathon 2015

I signed up for the Chicago Half Marathon earlier this summer when I had grand plans to finish in a personal-best time. 

Then summer happened. I lost motivation. I still ran but my runs were about half the lengths I used to run. I half-assed my training, so I knew I wouldn't get a PR, but I felt good going into the race Sunday. 

I started with about a 10:30 pace and maintained that for the most part. When we passed the Mile 7 sign, a runner sang, "Oh, we're more than halfway there ..." And the runners around me erupted in cheers. I had been losing steam but somehow got a power boost from hitting a spectator's poster that said: "Hit here for power!" Thanks, stranger. Turning around on Lake Shore Drive also pumped me up. 
At Mile 9, I stopped for a restroom break. I paused for a minute to take a picture of a sign, too.

Earlier in the race, I  saw the men's and women's leaders on the other side of the highway, and I was moved. I held the tears in, though, because who cries during a race? For a moment it was hard to breathe because I could feel the lumps in my throat. 

Along the run, I saw about five posters that said, "Run faster, I just farted." It was a little overdone. There was also the Christopher Walken poster that said, "No time for Walken." But my favorite poster said, "I don't know you, but I believe in you." So nice.

My time was 2:22:15. My running app said I ran 13.32 miles, not 13.1, but that's typical. It was not my best time, but it also wasn't my worst. I was actually quite pleased with my performance, and I didn't feel sore after the race. It's not all about time, anyway. 

Chicago Half Marathon 2015
I liked this race because it was run well. I was in and out of the expo in 10 minutes. I walked in, waited a couple of minutes for my bib, then walked into another room for the rest of my packet and my T-shirt. I appreciated that. I was a little annoyed that the last shuttles were scheduled to leave from the Belmont CTA station at 5 a.m., so Graham dropped me off at the race instead. I know that moving the shuttle schedule up was probably necessary, though. The race was on the south side of Chicago, so it's quite a trek. 

After the race, we received chips, pretzels, bananas, a wet towel, water, Gatorade and pizza. (The bib had a beer ticket that I didn't take advantage of.) By the way, the pizza was delicious. It was so unlike me to only grab one piece, even though I saw other runners get two. Cell service was spotty in Jackson Park, so I wasn't able to get in contact with my running group friends. I decided to head for the shuttles and found myself walking another half a mile to get to the front of the line of buses. The bus left promptly as soon as it filled up, and we found ourselves riding down the bumpy streets of Chicago to the Belmont CTA station. From there I took the L home. It was quite the journey, but at least I didn't have to take the train the whole way to Rogers Park. 

My favorite part of the race? The medal. It was a 6-inch gorgeous piece of metal. I loved it.

The difference between this race and my last one was night and day. The temperature was in the 60s and 70s, it was overcast, and I only saw one runner need serious medical attention versus several at the last race. I would highly recommend the Chicago Half. 

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Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My First Fall in Chicago

I wasn't ready to let go of summer. 

It still felt like summer even yesterday. By that I mean it was too warm and muggy. I immediately regretted wearing jeans, booties and a long-sleeve top when I walked out the door to the Cubs game last night. I was late, so I had to roll up my sleeves and deal with it.

Today, it's in the 60s, cloudy and windy. You always keep me on my toes, Chicago. I'm usually awakened by sunlight sneaking through the curtains, but today the bedroom was darker than usual. The gloominess made it 100 times tougher to climb out of bed.

I guess now's the time to switch to a hot caffeinated beverage in the mornings. I swapped my usual iced drink with the cinnamon chai latte with coconut milk. Might as well go with the flow, I thought. 

This is it, my first real fall at the traditional fall time. In Arizona, it's still summer and it will stay that way until late October. (That's why I think the white-after-Labor-Day rule doesn't apply.)

You can see hints of fall everywhere. The leaves are beginning their transformation. I'm ready to see the colors morph into those classic fall hues. I'm ready to stop using the window AC unit during the day in favor of opening the windows to feel that cool, crisp air.

What I'm not ready for is winter. I'm ready to enjoy the now and forget about what's coming. I have never lived in a place where is snows or gets significantly cold. People love to remind me that I'm in for a treat. 

But I'm a planner. My mission lately has been to stock up on cold-weather clothing. I even invested in rain boots. I was so trigger-happy about buying shoes for the first time in a long time that it didn't occur to me to browse Toms' selections. I later found some adorable rain boots and booties, and they have the added benefit of helping others! Win-win. 

My approach to buying is this: "Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." -William Morris

And so, I let myself spend a few bucks on decor from  where else?  Target. It's starting to look and smell like fall in my apartment. And I don't hate it.

A little sign from the Target dollar bins.

Oprah Cinnamon Chai Tea Latte with coconut milk. (I'm just not a pumpkin flavor kind of gal or I'd be all over those pumpkin-spice lattes.) 

Hello, fall. It's nice to meet you. Please stay forever.

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Linking up with the Fairy Princess Dairies and the Blush Blonde for Tutu Tuesday!


Monday, September 28, 2015

Why Not Me: Lessons from Mindy Kaling

I took notes in my journal as I read the book.
I finished Mindy Kaling's "Why Not Me?" in two sittings. I laughed, I cried and I learned a lot. I admire Mindy for her success, confidence and humor, so I knew I would take away some gems. I felt inspired after reading her book, and you will, too. At one point, I laughed hysterically on one page and cried (also hysterically) the next. I highly recommend it.

My favorite quotes from the book:

"What's so wrong with effort, anyway? It means you care?" I have always tried hard at anything I do. The way you do one thing is the way you do everything. I also try hard to be liked, and I care about what people think, maybe too much. I completely agree that there isn't anything wrong with trying hard. 

"Haters are just more people paying attention to you." Mindy learned this from Kim Kardashian, of all people. 

"If you believe in yourself and work hard, you have a fighting chance at having your dreams come true." This echoes a famous Conan O'Brien quote from his last episode on the "Tonight Show": "If you work really hard and you’re kind, amazing things will happen." 

"I cannot imagine a life more boring and a more time-consuming obsession than being preoccupied with watching what I eat." Amen, Mindy. I am a fan of eating what I want and sometimes cutting back, but mostly just eating what I want.

"And the scary thing I have noticed is that some people really feel uncomfortable around women who don't hate themselves. So that's why you need to be a little bit brave." That's their problem. Love yourself, always.

And most important:
"Work hard, know your shit, show your shit, and then feel entitled."

Thank you, Mindy, for the laughs, the honesty and the advice.

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Friday, September 25, 2015

Lake Michigan Sunrise

It only took me six months of living in Chicago to wake up early enough for a Lake Michigan sunrise. It was well worth it for the gorgeous skies. 

I ran to the beach with my camera, only to find I had forgotten my memory card. Great, I got up early for nothing. I could have tossed and turned in bed for at least another hour. I wasn't about to waste the opportunity, so I ran back home to get my memory card and made it back in time.  

Rogers Park, sunrise, Chicago, Lake Michigan, Floradise

Early bird catches the worm, right?

Rogers Park, sunrise, Chicago, Lake Michigan, Floradise

Mindy Kaling once wrote, "There is no sunrise so beautiful that it is worth waking me up to see it." This is one thing I disagree with her about.

Rogers Park, sunrise, Chicago, Lake Michigan, Floradise
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I wasn't alone on the beach. Dog walkers, runners and coffee drinkers joined me.

Rogers Park, sunrise, Chicago, Lake Michigan, Floradise

Rogers Park, sunrise, Chicago, Lake Michigan

Rogers Park, sunrise, Chicago, Lake Michigan

Rogers Park, sunrise, Chicago, Lake Michigan
Graham has begged me for months to get up early with him to watch the sunrise. I can now see why. Will I do it every day? Maybe not. I'll try sometimes though. Have a beautiful day!
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Thursday, September 24, 2015

There's Something About Wrigley Field

I spent last weekend at  you guessed it — Wrigley Field. I cheered on the Cubs as they took on the St. Louis Cardinals in what was by far the most exciting baseball game I've watched at Wrigley, and maybe my life.

There's just something so special about baseball games at Wrigley.
That ivy  it's full of secrets. Oh, the stories that scoreboard could tell. That history combined with the buzz surrounding this year's team makes me so grateful that we moved when we did. It feels like we are part of something special with our new city (well, at least the north side).

I'm not going to speculate about how far the Cubs will go. I'll instead appreciate how fun they have been to watch this year.


It was a sea of red, white and blue in the stands. People were on their feet for most of the game, and the crowd erupted in applause after every Cubs play.

Something I wonder: DID SHE SAY YES? At every game you see a proposal on the screen, but the couple is never shown. I just want to know the outcome!

Of course, the seventh-inning stretch is always a highlight. Everyone and their mom has their cellphone out to record it. I look forward to seeing who the conductor will be.

I won't recap the game because this isn't a sports blog, but let's just say things got a little tense. But at the end of the day, the W flag was waving over Wrigley — and in the stands.


Sunday was equally tense. Again the crowd was on its feet. I sat near the cutest 2-year-old who knew all the players last names when quizzed. He was with his perfect little family, all decked out in Cubs gear. It was the epitome of family goals.

Afterward, we watched adorable little kiddos run the bases before trying to escape from the ballpark. The only complaint I have about Wrigley is how difficult it is to get out after the game. Sometimes it's better to just wait as long as possible before trying to leave.

Thanks for the memories, Wrigley and the Cubs!

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Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Weekly Workout Recap: Sept.14-20

Last week was about fun over working out. Actually, this whole summer has been about play over fitness. I have a half marathon in six days, and I'm really not sure how I'll do. My training has been better than it was for the last race I did in July, despite my general lack of focus. I have no regrets, though, because this has been one of the most memorable summers of my life. Thanks, Chicago!

Monday: 45 minutes of yoga at home. I used Yoga International's "Complete Daily Practice in 40 Minutes class with a few more poses added. Note: This class had no warm-up. I would recommend several rounds of cat/cow, downward-facing dog, low lunges (anjaneyasana) on each side, half splits on each side (at least) before taking this class. Steps: 4,971. 

Tuesday: 1.32-mile run around the neighborhood to force myself out of the house. It was a bit warmer out than I would have liked. Chicago decided to try to be summer for just a bit longer, minus the humidity. Afterward I did some ab work as I watched reality television. Steps: 7,667.

Wednesday: 1 mile run/walk. Graham wanted to run next to the lake and then jump into the water. We made it up to our thighs. It still felt like summer. Steps: 9,540.

Thursday: 1.5 miles. The thunderstorm cut my run short. I had planned speedwork at the track. Steps: 9,896.

Friday: Yoga at home. I tried a Level 3 class from Yoga International. I liked that this class actually offered pigeon variations that I have never been taught in yoga class. If grabbing your big toe and moving into side plank is not in your practice, this class may not be for you. Instead of urdhva dhanurasana a few times I did some crunches. I only did 40 minutes of this 1-hour class. Steps: 7,987.

Saturday: It was a fun but tiring day that consisted of a Cubs game and Farm Aid 30. No other workout except for walking and standing for long periods of time. Steps: 14,852.

Sunday: 3 miles. I was going to skip this until I saw unflattering photos of me that gave me a little motivation to do something active. But then I ate fries and nachos at the ballgame, so ...  Steps: 16,323.

Week's mileage: 6.82. Oops!

#1800MinuteChallenge: 639.


It's time to taper, but I took it a little too slow. I'm loving the cooler weather on my recent runs; it's making it much more fun. Will I devote more time to fitness in the fall? We shall see. I see people training for the Chicago Marathon all the time. It's inspiring, and for a minute I think, "I want to do another marathon." Only for a minute though. I imagine I'll be doing a lot more yoga in the colder months, so I'll need to finally replace my old, worn yoga tops. I'm thinking about adding some color in the workout attire to deviate from the grays and blacks I usually wear. What do you think?
Happy Wednesday, friends!
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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Pura Vida

The adjustment to living in Chicago was rough at first. Our future plans pushed me through those difficult couple of months. The hard work Graham and I have both put in over the past six months to save money means that we can have another epic adventure soon: We're going to Costa Rica in January! 

My heart might burst out of my chest right now. I've wanted to go to Costa Rica for years and it's happening at last! I can finally get some use out of my passport. Now we just need to figure out where exactly to go in the country. We love outdoor activities: snorkeling, ziplining, hiking, kayaking, you name it. I daydream about relaxing on a beach, too. Do we want to see the Caribbean or the Pacific side? 

I advocate living in the moment as much as possible, but I just can't help wanting time to move a little bit faster when I have a trip coming up. 

If you need me, I'll be researching Costa Rica. 

  So, my traveler friends, send me your tips! 
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P.S. Linking up with Blush Blonde and Fairy Princess Dairies for Tutu Tuesday!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Farm Aid 30

The word that comes to mind most often for this summer, and most weekends, has been whirlwind. That applied to Saturday, when I went to both a Cubs game against the St. Louis Cardinals and the Farm Aid 30 concert at Northerly Island.
Graham and I didn't get the FirstMerit Bank Pavilion until almost 7 when Imagine Dragons was playing. My friend had given me a ticket to Farm Aid to accompany him during his visit, and I had purchased Graham's ticket separately. Both were lawn tickets, but mine said to enter through Gate 3, and his said Gate 2. I didn't think it would be a big deal that our tickets had different gates because they were both general admission. I was wrong. Apparently the tickets won't scan at the other gates. We had to walk around to opposing sides of the venue to enter separately. We planned to find each other, but as soon as I walked in I knew it would be a challenge. It was Mud Fest 2015. Lesson 1: Wear rain boots if it has rained recently. Every inch of the ground was occupied with muddy revelers. I told Graham to stay where he was and I'd make my way to him. I carefully stepped through the crowd, stopping midway to listen to Imagine Dragons. 
We were pretty far from the stage, but look at that skyline!
A couple stopped next to me to take a break. They gave me a sympathetic look and I said, "I just want to give up." I was a bit dramatic. I finally found Graham. We decided to get into the ATM line because he was hungry. The ATM we were in line for malfunctioned after we had waited for about 20 minutes, so we were forced to switch to the next line. Lesson 2: Bring cash. 
Things got a little better once we bought food. Organic veggie corn dogs? Sold! I ended up eating two that night. Funnel cake? Yes, please. We found a section next to the food booths that wasn't as muddy to stand and watch the show. Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds were on by then. The music was amazing, as expected. Dave went on and on about a spider spinning a web on his face. 
We people watched and listened to John Mellencamp and Neil Young. Highlights of people-watching:
  • A drunken girl decided to do interpretive dance/ballet through the mud with a beer in hand. She fell in the mud, spilled her drink, and ran away.
  • A guy stumbles over out of nowhere, crashes into the mustard and ketchup table next to the corn dog booth, gets up and stumbles away.
  • A woman stumbles along in the deep mud, sees the corn dog booth and heads straight for it. She stumbles away with corn dog in hand and nearly falls twice.
  • A couple argue about the guy wanting to walk through the mud and his lady friend refusing to walk through it. He went ahead to try to find the areas safest to walk. But she refused to move.
  • A woman eating her corn dog drops it in the mud, shrugs and heads to the ice cream truck.
I enjoyed the music and came away with a deeper appreciation for the artists. Lesson 3: Let it go. If you didn't wear rain boots (like me), get over the fact that you have mud all over your feet and/or shoes. People who had worn flipflops had taken them off and just walked barefoot. People who wore white  you're so brave!  didn't seem to care. It was still fun!

Lesson 4: Learn more about the cause. Farm Aid is not just a concert; it has a message. It aims to help family farmers and promote changes in farm policy. I want to become more knowledgeable about how our food is produced and more mindful about what I put in my body. (Says the girl who ate funnel cake and veggie corn dogs ...)

Overall I had a great time at my first Farm Aid concert. Have you ever been to one?
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Sunday, September 20, 2015

Our First Anniversary

It's Sunday morning and Graham has been at work for hours. He's the hardest-working person I know, and he does it for us, so we can have fun and plan for the future. I am immensely proud to say I've been married to this loving, generous person for one year now. 

Graham is my Number 1 supporter in anything I do, including writing this blog. He pushes me to be a better person, reminds me often that I said in my vows I would be more affectionate, and surprises me with doughnuts regularly. He calls me out when I'm being a brat, and he reminds me how special I am when I need to hear it. As cheesy as it sounds, he's my best friend.

It's been a wild ride. We've done it all in this first year: We laughed, we cried, we bickered, we made up, we danced, we sang  we even moved across the country! 

To commemorate our first anniversary, and our new life in a new city, we asked Abigail Joyce Photography to take some photos of us. We are so grateful she worked so hard to get these back to us quickly. 
Abigail Joyce Photography, Chicago
Abigail Joyce Photography

Abigail Joyce Photography, Chicago, Fourth Avenue Beach
Abigail Joyce Photography
Abigail Joyce Photography, Chicago
Abigail Joyce Photography

Abigail Joyce Photography, Chicago
Abigail Joyce Photography

Abigail Joyce Photography, Chicago
Abigail Joyce Photography
Abigail Joyce Photography, Chicago
Abigail Joyce Photography
I love you, my loveliest lovely. 
Because words are failing me, I'll borrow some from Johnnyswim:
We don’t need calligraphy
To write a fancy story
Kings and queens return to thieves
To find what we’ve been holding
You and me
We can take the world.

Oh sweethearts give sweet compliments
But our love goes without saying
Though you make it hard not to spill my heart
Every time I see you swaying
Darling you and me
We can take the world. Darling...

Cause they can write stories
They can sing songs
But they don’t make fairy tales
Sweeter than ours
They can climb mountains
High into the sky
But they can’t take the world
Oh, like we can take the world

Oh I can see
The future you and me we last forever
In the rising tide
No fear or fight
That we can’t face together
Darling you and me
We can take the world

Cause they can write stories
And they can sing songs
But they don’t make fairy tales
Sweeter than ours
And they can climb mountains
High into the sky
But they can’t take the world
Oh, like we can take the world, the world, the world.


Ain’t it just like love to find us
Ain’t it just like love
Ain’t it just like love to find us
Ain’t it just like love
Ain’t it just like love to find us
Ain’t it just like love

Cause they can write stories
They can sing songs
They don’t make fairy tales
Sweeter than ours
Oh they can climb mountains
High into the sky
But they can’t take the world
Oh no, no ... like we can take the world.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Heartland Cafe, Rogers Park, Chicago

Any day that I get to spend exploring Chicago is a gem, especially if I have Graham as my companion. Last weekend we had the rare ability to go out to breakfast together. I finally had the chance to try out Heartland Cafe on Glenwood Avenue in our Rogers Park neighborhood.

I've seen the quaint shop/restaurant on the way to yoga and during the Glenwood Arts Fest. It seemed like a perfect spot to grab breakfast or lunch. Breakfast on the patio was the best choice on that crisp, cool morning after a rainstorm. 

I chose the Heartland Panhandler scramble with eggs (instead of tofu) and veggie sausage ($9.50). I have never been a fan of sausage, but I was curious. It also had broccoli, cheese, mushrooms, onions and Jack cheese. The menu said potatoes, but if it had spuds they were reduced to mush. The dish was tasty and filling, but the sausage was a little much after a while. Believe it or not, I also ordered a side of potatoes that never came, but by the time I was done with my scramble I didn't want them anymore anyway — at least that's what I told myself.

Graham went with the chocolate-chip whole-wheat pancakes ($8), continuing the trend of him ordering a sweet breakfast while I stick with savory. He devoured every bite (minus a few bites that I stole). 

I get the worst case of buyer's remorse all the time when I try something new at restaurants. I wondered if I should have ordered the dish without the veggie sausage. On my next visit, I may opt for the breakfast pie, described on the menu as "baked eggs and cheese delivered between two golden-brown sheets of puff pastry, served with our savory sauce." Sold! For dinner, the vegetable gratin is on my list. 

Afterward, we admired the murals along the L train tracks on Glenwood Avenue. They cover both sides of the tracks.

According to this mural, President Barack Obama began his senate campaign at the Heartland. 

Happy Friday! What breakfast spots are you hitting up this weekend?

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