Thursday Randomness

Ok, I know it’s been a while. Let’s not be all awkward about it.

But don’t think of it as a decrease in blogging. Think of it as an increase in my social calendar activity.

Glass half full, yes?

And as proof that I haven’t just been super lazy (ok, so there’s that, too), here’s what’s been going on around my ‘hood:

Dinner with my friend Annie:

Seasons 52 is a neat place in the suburbs where every menu item is under 475 calories.

Cool concept. And you’d be amazed how expansive the menu is for such a restriction in calories for typical restaurant fare.

We needed the girl talk session and I personally needed a pretty low-key night due to the volunteering experience I was signed up for the next morning.

I think we all remember how I felt about that.

Afterwards, I went straight to Oz Park- a destination on my list of things to do that I was finally able to drag someone along to see.

An old coworker humored me as we walked through the spot in Lincoln Park and caught up on each other’s lives.

The 8-year-old in me nerded out.

Ok fine, the 27-year-old in me did, too.

We also swung through the zoo.

Because you can’t be that close to the zoo and not go. Don’t be silly.

Then there’s always more dinner to be had with even more friends.  And being as how I seem to have a friend who’s a boy who happens to live next to some of my girlfriends, I get to see them all at once.

And also become very familiar with the metra.

Which can get weird when you’re one of maybe 2-3 people left in the car (or, as seen above, the last person) and one guy across the aisle seems to be taking pictures of you on his phone.

But it beats being crammed onto the el and smelling the coffee breath of the 5-6 people you’re surrounded by.

Anyway… something shiny… what?

Mon joined me Monday night at a hole in the wall near our old apartment complex.

It’s maddening we never went there before I moved. I had a sandwich, fries, and a bit of a buzz for just over $10.

Yeah. $10.

Which is good. Because I had to fit painting my hair into the budget.

Processing…

The summer sun did a number on the color of my hair. And I was bored and feeling impulsive.

So yeah… it’s not you. It’s me. I’ve been busy.

Let’s try to make this work. We’ve come this far. And I love you. I just need some space sometimes.

Please cue some Al Green, “Let’s Stay Together”.

Happy Thursday, kids.

A Lil’ Sweaty “Glow”

It’s not glamorous by any means, but that’s the best way to sum up the last few days spent with my friends.

Or, if we’re being lady-like, we’ve been sporting a nice “glow”.

Like at Old St. Pat’s Block Party.It’s one of the biggest street festivals I’ve ever been to! And the ticket we bought not only got us into the fest, but also gave us 5 drink tickets and access to the stage where The Barenaked Ladies were playing.

By the time they played “One Week”, I was having fits of excitement. You can’t deny they don’t bring you back in time…

Good stuff.

After that, I also introduced them to the Mexican restaurant that stays open until 4 in the morning.

When I show friends the city, I REALLY show them everything. :)

Although, the late night did not go without consequence. Three hours later I was back out of bed to be picked up to cheer on this sassy lady as she “glowed” through the finish line:Annie came down to run the Fleet Feet Women’s 5k in Montrose Harbor yesterday!

I also decided to insert my shadow into the picture. Heeeeeyyyy-o!

I didn’t run (obviously a smart decision given my late night shenanigans the night before), but instead got my nails done for free at one of the tents at the race (best idea EVER, by the way).

And totally took advantage of the tradition of post-race breakfast.Because who really turns down breakfast?

After that, and an hour nap, we headed over to Lincoln Park to enjoy the sights and sounds.

Even Bailey joined. Which is awesome. Because nature hates her. And she was really pushing her limits- birds have pooped on her twice since we moved in together so I feel like her willingness to go was really just asking for it.

There was no incident. Thankfully.

I tend to go to the zoo often, but this was the first time the hippo really hammed it up for the camera.Hilarious.

This morning, after getting a full night of sleep (for once) and a night of deep dish pizza (tradition- obviously) and movies, I snuck out early for a neighborhood run. It was refreshing, but after consuming a pound of cheese deep dish and the sticky heat, 2.8 miles were about all I could handle before walking my way back home.

Besides… there was breakfast to make:We have another day of exploring downtown in front of us. So we had to make sure and start the day out right…Oh yeah… those muffins are still making their rounds… :)

But anyhoo, I know this post is random and scattered but it’s only because we’re rushing out the door to beat the rain and hit those city streets.

So glad my friends love Chicago. And me. And come to visit me as much as possible. :)

Even if it means we’ll be sportin’ a sweaty glow in about 30 seconds after leaving my apartment.

Run for the Zoo 2011

Annie and I had our game faces ON.Grrrr….

After running a 5k and an 8k together, we were ready to tackle the Lincoln Park Run for the Zoo 10k race yesterday. Yes we were. Sure, we were both a little nervous. Me being semi-undertrained and Annie was doing her first 10k ever. But that’s ok. We had our cheer squad with us:Mon actually got up in the early 5:00 hour and joined the caravan to the race!

She also makes a great bag holder.

Even though we were more happy to have her along for the moral support. Not just to hold our bags.

I swear…

Anyway, it couldn’t have been a more perfect day in Chicago yesterday. At about race time (8:20), it was warm, but not disgustingly humid. A win in my book.

Annie and I are different paces, so we separated pretty much right away. I was on my own in the dreaded first mile:A look of concentration as I swerved back and forth trying not to tackle anyone. And to also get around my biggest pet peeve- a line of 5 or 6 people jogging it together. Really? Can’t you pair off? Because this isn’t a road race- I can’t get by you. The 1,000ish people behind you can’t either. Be considerate. And don’t get mad when I accidentally hit you (and apologize) as I try to slink through a small opening you somehow let happen. 

This is why the first mile is one of the miles I hate the most. And the reason the first mile ended up taking me over 9 minutes to complete.

What??? I gotta pick this up! And I did. The second mile (as guesstimated according to the clocks at the mile markers) took me less than 8 minutes.

What??? I gotta slow down my roll.

And I did. My pacing was awful. My splits were pretty much back and forth the entire time. Granted, some of this had to do with the conditions of the race itself. I love that part of the race ends up winding through the zoo. It’s cool. However, I wish they’d wind us on the narrow trails past the animals in the second half of the race- not the first half. Because, by making it the first half, the pack has very little time to thin out. So it’s a cluster of madness. Annie also mentioned that she felt like she was practically jogging in place at various points because there really wasn’t anywhere to go.

Other than that, and the fact that a few stray vehicles somehow made it through the closed streets and were threatening to run some runners over at street crossings, I don’t have too many complaints. Quite a few of my races have been in Lincoln Park and I really like the trails and scenery there.

But back to the end of my race…

Somehow, after two steep inclines in the last mile and a half (which were an unexpected surprise to me being as how I’ve never encountered them in a race here before), I was ready to be done. But once the mile 6 marker was in sight with only .2 miles to go, I just started to haul azz.

As in, my legs were working faster than the rest of my body was mentally prepared for. Had it been any more than .2 miles left, an accident may have occurred. I can see it now- “RUNNER FLIES OVER FINISH LINE- falls and gets trampled by hundreds behind her…”

My final time was 53:45- an 8:41 pace. Clearly this was 3 minutes slower than my PR, but whatev- I was thrilled!

That put me 372/1505 overall and 47/290 in my division.

I hurried through the lines to find Mon and set ourselves up to watch Annie finish:Someone totally photo bombed. But do ya see her?  Weeee!

As she ran by, she had the energy to look at me and shout “I’m never doing this again”.

Fair enough. 6.2 miles is no joke.

However… 20 minutes after that? “Yeah… I think I’d do it again.”

That’s my girl. ;)

It goes without saying how lucky I am. Not only do I have someone to share my love of running with, but I also have someone who just loves to come along for the crazy antics:Seriously… Mon was everywhere- camera ready.

She was where’s waldo in yellow shorts:Because we had plans for a birthday dinner later that night, it was decided to pass up the traditional breakfast after a race (I know- crazy!). However, when I got home, the thought of dinner still didn’t keep me from eating my weight in cereal.

Some things never change…

Impromptu Trip to the Zoo

Yea for Sunday Funday!  :)  The sun was shining and the weather was the best it had been all weekend!  So when I picked up my lovely Ashlee, I said, “instead of going back to my place, do you want to go do something?”  She said sure.  Where did we go?

Lincoln Park Zoo!The animals were having a lazy Sunday, too.  Almost all of them.  Sleeping… Except the bears.  I was really excited to see the bears!  Although I felt kind of sorry for one of the sun bears we saw.  The sign said she had some sort of surgery done on her jaw/mouth area and as a result, her tongue constantly hangs out.  That’s gotta be awful.  Poor thing was just walking around with her tongue dragging along… grossness. 

My favorite exhibits are those that include large and scary for some reason… I like the gorillas, lions, tigers, and bears (oh my!).  Not a lie.  Favorite exhibits anyone? After we were done walking around the zoo for a while, we were a bit hungry.  Ashlee had already hit up quite a few good spots over the weekend, but hadn’t done Chicago hot dogs yet.  So I took her to Chicago Dog House!  (thanks for the suggestions guys- and I’ve been there before and loved it!)

Obviously Ashlee’s very excited as well!  She got the Mayor Daley.  And we split this basket of awesomeness:I got the T-frank:The avocado and bacon were what sold me.  Clearly.  I’m not a huge hot dog person, but every once in awhile, they’re delish!  :)

Such a good day!  We got back to my house and I cleaned up to go to Jaime’s shower- cupcakes in hand!  Check out the prize I got for knowing Jaime and Scott better than everyone else:Coffee!!!!  Score…  I’ll be using it soon.  Like this morning.  Like right now. We’ve got another day of Chicago tourism…  I took the day off of work to spend time with Ashlee (and the mental health break never hurts).  Not sure our plan of action, but I believe we have settled on finding a fun breakfast spot before hoofing it around the city again (which will really take it out of you!). 

Have a good Monday!

It’s Beginning To Look A Lot Like Christmas

Hooray! I finally got off of my spot from the couch this weekend! Yes, I know I need to keep off the leg. But sometimes a girl has got to go play.  And it’s not like I didn’t get stuff done.  I read some of the book I borrowed from Jaime.  She’s got a huge collection and is like my personal library!  I got a good majority of my Christmas cards taken care of- until I ran out and realized I’d need to get more soon.  I cooked for myself every meal (yea me!).  I slept.  Did Laundry.  Watched a couple movies.  Did ab work.  I would have lifted weights, but my arms are dying from all the work they get when I’m doing my crutching around.

Either way, I needed some socialization in my life.  So I went over to Annie’s.  We iced some sugar cookies (and ate a couple) before we left to put us in the spirit.  Then, we drove down to Lincoln Park Zoo to see the Zoolights.  It was so gorgeous!  My pictures that I took (below) do not even do it justice.  I think it would help if I learned a little more about the settings on my camera… woopsies.  Here’s a few things we enjoyed while sipping yummy overpriced hot chocolate:

Annie also gave me my Christmas present a little early!  The reasoning was- it’s a Christmas tree!!!  Every year I talk about how I’m going to get one during an after Christmas sale, but never do.  And she said she knows Iwouldn’t have done it this year either, and I really need one.  It’s true.  My only holiday decorations up to this point were a couple dish towels, a coffee mug, and a candle.  And maybe the Christmas cards I get in the mail because I set them out – does that count??? 

Here is my decorated apartment as of right now via Blackberry pic:

Only issue is I’m going to have to track someone down to carry it up the stairs to my place.  I have no problem cheating a little to carry a grocery bag up the stairs… but this thing is heavier and would be a clumsy thing for me to bring up by myself.  Now that I’ve spent so much time off my leg, I’m alot more aware of when and where it’s sore.  And I don’t think carrying a six-foot tree would make it feel better.  So it’s hanging out in my car at the moment.

I really am excited to put it up.  I was having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit, so maybe this will do the trick!

What Bus Are We Looking For Again?

And so begins my weekends of visitors.  Sarah and Beth flew in Wednesday morning from Springfield, Missouri.  Luckily, their arrival was at about the same time as I usually take lunch, so I picked them up.  Unfortunately, I still have another four hours at work… so I pretty much had to drop them off in Park Ridge to entertain themselves until I was done.  They watched a movie, so it worked out.

I cooked that night and we had a little family dinner around my coffee table.  Not having a table hasn’t been much of a problem until now (I’m still in search for the perfect pub-height dining room table).  The cocktails were being made almost as soon as we walked through the door, so they looked at me for what we should do next.  I wasn’t sure what their energy level was going to be, but apparently they wanted to go out.  So I took them to Gatsby’s- a favorite of mine (of course) and where a couple of my guy friends were.  It was a standard night there for us- pretty laid back, lots of liquor.  People there were amusing as usual- got stuck in the parking lot for an extra 15 minutes because this older gentleman couldn’t stop going on about this History Channel documentary on how great Harry S. Truman was.

I had taken Thursday off because I have quite a few unused vacation days and I wanted to go roam the city just as much as they did.  We slept in- which was an amazing feeling in the middle of the week.  After a quick work-out and showers, we were on our way to catch the metra.  And we barely did.  I was nervously glancing at the clock as I searched for an open parking space.  We got out of the car and were walking to cross the tracks just as the bell started ringing and the gates were going down to keep cars from passing.  I just said, “ok, we’re running” and we took off.  We may or may not have ducked the guards and slid past them to cross the tracks in time.  Don’t try that at home, kids…  But we sprinted and made it just in time.  Good thing- the next metra wasn’t coming for another two hours.  We would have been screwed…

I do not claim to be an expert on Chicago Public Transit.  Nor do I think I will ever be.  But I discovered Google Transit and think it may be the best invention since the Bump-it.  I do not use them, but consider them genius nonetheless.  So it helped us find our way around from metra to bus stop to destination.  We managed it pretty well.  I’m still a newbie to the bus system, so I was pretty proud of myself.

Chicago Dog House

Our first stop was the Chicago Dog House on Fullerton in Lincoln Park.  Hot dogs and deep dish are always on everyone’s list.  Thought I’d knock one of them out right away- and I was intrigued by all the variations of hot dogs they had.  Mine was the T-Frank.  It included cream cheese (what???), avocado, a random sauce I do not know, and bacon.  The bacon is what sold me.  Yummmmmm.  They both had the Snoop Dog.  Beth swears it’s the best hot dog she’s ever had.  Damn straight it was.

Lincoln Park ZooWe actually made the trip down Fullerton all the way to the zoo by foot.  Figured it might be a good idea- the fries were greasy.  And we all know the nutritional value of a hot dog.  And, in my case, bacon.  It was a nice, breezy 76 degrees.  We stopped in the park for pictures and then spent a few hours at the zoo.  We were on a quest to find the bears when the sky started to look a little questionable.  Then we heard thundLincoln Park Zoo, Chicagoer.  We had plans to also hit “Chic Chicago”, the exhibit at the History Museum that I was dying to see, so I suggested an early exit.  I didn’t want to get poured on the entire walk to the museum.  So we left just as drops started to come down.  We got a little wet on the way.  Turned out to be a wasted trip- the museum closed 15 minutes before we got there.  Apparently they recently changed hours?  I was soooo sad.

One thing they really got a kick out of- we passed some news vans and wondered what they were doing.  Then, we passed a guy on his phone saying Obama was getting ready to land.  I knew he was making a trip in town, but had no idea we were going to be so close to all the action!  Unfortunately, it was raining and we really had no desire to stand out in the rain or try to search him out.  So we ducked into a Starbucks to try and figure out our next move.  We decided we were tired and it was time to head home. 

A quick bus ride and trip on the metra later, we were back in the ‘burbs.  The trip was quick- the wait for the Chicago Deep Dish and a Moviebus was not.  Maybe because it was raining, but it felt like we had to stand forever for #73.  Blah!  Rosati’s was a call I made on the way home.  Beth had never experienced true Chicago deep dish.  And it had been awhile since I’ve had pizza- I had no problems calling it in.  Pizza and a movie were the best way to end a long day.  *Sigh

In a Nutshell

This is my week in a nutshell. Hence the title.

I took my first ride ever on the L on Sunday. It was a whole two stops.  It wasn’t so bad.  But I learned I should carry more exact change (as if the tollways didn’t already teach me that). Now I have a CTA card with $8 on it. I wonder how long that’s going to sit in my wallet untouched?

I was out on my balcony last night and one of the units across from me had their blinds open. There was a large dog that humped the couch for pretty much the entire time that I was out there. Not that I was purposely looking, but a large gyrating figure in my direct line of view catches my attention pretty easily.  Don’t judge.

Two of my guy friends are coming up this weekend for the Cards/Cubs series. At first, I was just “normal excited” for this weekend. Now, I am SUPER excited for this weekend. I love it when Adam comes up because he gets everyone he knows to come out, no matter how much he has to talk, and is pretty good about making sure that every single person is having the same exact amount of fun he is. And I haven’t seen Cisco in almost a year since he went off on his little Argentina excursion. Hooray!

In an attempt to be less wasteful, I have eaten oatmeal for dinner or breakfast or both for the last four days. I needed milk at the grocery store and they happened to have a sale on the gallon size. Now, I’m not a big milk person (I eat my cereal without, believe it or not), but it didn’t make sense for me to buy the smaller size when it would actually cost more than the gallon. But now I’ve got this stupid gallon of milk that just won’t end. The “sell by” date has come and gone, so I smell the damn stuff everyday. I think I’ve started getting disappointed that it hasn’t gone bad yet because I think to myself, “Really? Oatmeal again?”.  But I’m trying to be more economical and I can’t get myself to let it sit there and go bad because I just didn’t feel like using it.  It’s a freaking recession, people!  Blah. I haven’t really had the time to make anything else that would require it. I don’t like milk on my cereal. I like oatmeal. So it makes sense. And I add other stuff to it to make it a little less boring. But this is getting out of control.

You know what else is out of control? An entire rant about oatmeal.The Obama Dog

I do not have an opinion about the Obama family’s new dog. None whatsoever. 

I still have not seen “I Love You, Man”. I do have an opinion about this- and it bugs me.

Apparently I need more sleep.  I skipped the gym this morning and slept an extra hour.  At work, the comment was made that I look well-rested and perkier than normal.  I don’t really feel any different- just carrying a little guilt for not going to the gym.  I don’t think I look any different.  Do I normally look exhausted?  I’m concerned…

My cousin and I have decided on the next 5k that we are going to do.  Niki found another good one and it’s called “Run for the Zoo”.  I believe a theme is surfacing- we like to run for the benefit of animals.  The location is in Lincoln Park again, but this time we get to run through parts of the zoo.  It’s not until June 7th- which is fine because I have plenty of time to recover from the whole wisdom teeth thing and be lazy for awhile.  I know, I’m treating it as a mucRun for the Zoo - Lincoln Parkh bigger deal than it is…  Anyways, it starts at 8:00 on a Sunday morning.  I am positive that during that run I will be reminding her that this was her idea and not mine.  She picked it. 

Run for the Zoo

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