Tales From the Back of the Pack

Tales From the Back of the Pack

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The real reason I love running?

My Dodger par'ner / running buddy Val texted me about our planned run on Sunday morning. I've been very inconsistent with my running lately and when I confessed this to him I could tell he was disappointed in me. UGH! I hate to be a disappointment.
When I'd first approached Val about pacing me for the SF Half next month, he hadn't been running in months. He very generously agreed to pace me and has been genuine in his training. Unfortunately I can't say the same for myself! So off we went on Sunday to tackle the Greenway Trail for 5+ miles. 
 Everything went smoothly until we came across a barricaded section of the trail. Good news: Whittier is finally getting a dog park! Bad news: we had to trespass through this section because we were not motivated enough to find a way around. (What fence?) 

SO, the results at the end of the run were not too shabby. I just scrolled through some archived Garmin & RunKeeper records and it seems I haven't lost any speed during this recent June hiatus. Hooray! 

Afterwards we went very nearby to have breakfast at Rocky Cola Cafe. 

Val's breakfast of champions-eggs, hashbrowns, bacon, extra butter: 
My breakfast of calorie-counters--veggie egg whites omelet, dry wheat toast
 This helped a lot though:

It is becoming more and more plain to me that perhaps the real reason I run is so that I can hang out with runner friends and then go out to eat after we run together. I'm superficial a lot. 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Chicago Day 2

This week I was lucky enough to be able to check off some bucket list items in Chicago. A recap of Day 1 here. 

After partying on Clark St til 2am (#worthit), it was a little difficult to get up in the morning to get a run in. But since this was an entire half of the reason I came to Chicago in the first place, I got my butt up and went East on Addison toward the Lake. Michigan, that is.
I don't want to keep sounding like an ad for Airbnb, but the place I booked  was literally 2 blocks from Wrigley Field in one direction and a few blocks from the Lake in the other direction. How perfect is that?

I was on the path for a couple of miles and snapped a few pictures and thought it was great. Lake Michigan, whoo hoo and all that. THEN I turned a bend and saw the Chicago SKYLINE. OMG, that was sooooooo cool:
I ran 3.5 miles but it took me a total of 58 minutes because of all my stops. My phone wasn't auto-pausing when it should have. Weird.

Anyway, I was enamored with all the neighborhoods and the entire vibe of Chicago. Everybody I know who's been to Chicago can't rave enough about it. I GET IT, I GET IT. To say Chicago is a great town is like saying the Great Wall of China is a cute fence. Chicago is an AWESOME town.
We don't have this in drought-ridden SoCal
After my run, I showered & got dressed & packed up my things. By now it was almost 9am. I let my host know I would need to keep my bags in the room until around noon, but that they could go on in if they needed to get the room ready for the next guest. FYI, on Airbnb when you're searching for a place you always read the reviews of that place. Conversely, when a host is thinking about allowing you to stay in their place, they read YOUR reviews as well. So don't do anything that will get you a bad review by a host.
Made my way over to the Sears Tower after a breakfast of champions from Dunkin Donuts.
The Sears Tower would be the only thing I'd have time to see today before heading back to the airport
Up up up 103 stories.... You know what, that really is high!
Once you get to the 103rd floor, there are window boxes that jut away from the building that you can step out onto and stare straight down 103 flights. You know, just to freak your self out.
Stepping out onto that ledge was no joke! I was rolling my eyes (I can be a jerk a lot) at people who were being skittish at the edge of the window box/building until I got up right next to it myself!!! And then I was being that dork who couldn't step out onto the glass.

After the Skydeck/Sears Tower/Willis Tower, I was worried about making it back on time via the trains so I grabbed a cab instead. From downtown Chicago to Wrigleyville the cab cost $13. HELLOO! OMG, if i'd known how cheap it was to take a taxi I might have cabbed it all over town instead of taking the train. We don't have a lot of cabs in LA and they are super expensive. Ah, well, live and learn.

My goals for this 24 hour trip to Chicago were to: see the Bean, eat deep dish pizza, visit the Art Institute, see the Sears Tower, go to the game, have a Chicago dog at the game, run on Lake Shore. I only missed seeing the Art Institute so no big deal. That just means I will have to come back to Chi town very soon.

Because of the fact that I was traveling alone & had befriended a stranger during the game I had to be overly cautious about the crap that only women have to worry about: being roofied or taken advantage of in some way. For that reason I didn't want to eat or drink anything that I didn't purchase myself and wasn't in my possession from the kitchen to my mouth. For example:
(no you can't buy me a beer)
My new friend was really nice and we'd had TOOONNNS of fun, but still, the entire time I was thinking I didn't want to end up on some 20/20 episode. 
So the Chicago dog was eaten at the airport instead of the game, which may not have been as authentic but was still absolutely delicious. It is now my new favorite hot dog. 

I will be posting my Yosemite week soon even though it happened before Chicago. I dropped my phone in the river while rafting and have had to do a bit of legwork to get those pictures. 

Saturday, June 27, 2015

Bucket List: Check & Check, Chicago Day 1

I love ticking items off a list. This week I was able to check TWO items from my bucket list (which is the best kind of list to tick): 1. watching a Dodgers game at Wrigley Field and 2. running along Lake Michigan / Lake Shore Drive in Chicago.

Chicago, Day 1
I'd initially had plans to join a girl friend who would be working in Chicago for a week and camp out with her in her hotel room. But she ended up having to back out at the last minute. Since I'd already purchased my airfare, I decided to book an Airbnb and go ahead with my plans

I had some trepidation about taking a RANDOM mid-week trip for NO real reason to a city all the way across the country where I would be staying with STRANGERS. Who does that? Well, I guess I do.

I landed in O'Hare around noon & made my way out to the trains area & hoped for the best.

 Stopped in the bathrooms.....have you seen these toilets that change their own seat covers? AAaaak! How wasteful and lazy.

Along the way out I saw a car service holding up a sign for JAY MOHR. I wondered if it was the real Jay Mohr so I took a chance & waited. And then Jay Mohr showed up! He was super nice & invited me out to a show in LA when I was back in town. What a great way to start my trip!
The trains were initially confusing but in true mid-west style, everybody was super helpful and friendly. Even in their gruff Chicago accents. This guy stepped right in front of me and took over the controls to get me an awesome all day pass for all the metro/buses in Chicago. I used the hell out of that little blue card. Thanks CTA employee!
Took the Blue Line train (and then the Addison bus) all the way from O'Hare to my Airbnb to drop off my bags. This was the longest commute ever.

When I finally arrived, my Airbnb was absolutely delightful. The brownstone I booked was in Wrigleyville just a couple of blocks from Wrigley Field. I had a bedroom and bathroom to myself and a semi-private entrance using the back door of the brownstone which was right outside my bedroom. Super ideal.
My temporary Wrigleyville neighborhood 
My back steps three flights up

The view from the backdoor

walking between the buildings to get to the back
The lovely brownstone
If you've never used Airbnb & are thinking about trying it out, a private entrance is IDEAL especially if you'll be staying in the house where your hosts actually live. This was my first time sharing a house with the hosts and since I was traveling alone, it gave me a sense of security. Plus it was a great place in an awesome neighborhood.

After dropping my bags off, I headed downtown to tour around. I only had a few hours before I had to be back in Wrigleyville for the game and the trains ate up a considerable amount of that time.

After walking around a LOT, I was directed (by locals) to a place called Giordano's for some true Chicago deep dish pizza. DEEP DISH PIZZA IS BOOOOOMMMBB! OMG. I've had pretty bad imitations of Chicago pizza (I'm looking at you, BJ's Restuarant) and now I know how great this style pizza really is!
The Pizza takes no less than 40-45 minutes to cook. It was explained to me that if I were to be served a Chicago deep dish pizza any faster than 40-45 minutes, I could be assured that it was NOT true deep dish pizza. It was worth the wait.
 Overall the mass transit system was super convenient and cheaper than renting a car, but the trains weren't very speedy. I wasn't able to do everything I wanted to before I felt I should head back to Wrigleyville to get ready for the game. I'm used to being able to drive to exactly where I need to go and getting to within a few feet of my destination, hopping in and out of my car. Not quite so with mass transit.

Some of the old train stations were beautiful and well preserved. Others were rusty and crumbling and showing their age. I loved BOTH!!
After donning my Dodger wear back at the Brownstone, I made my way over to Wrigley Field, soaking in every footstep. The stadium was everything I thought it would be and more. I purchased a ticket in the Bleachers section and sat surrounded by Cubs fans and next to one Dodger fan that I had actually met on the train from the airport (aka Chris who had flown in from Phoenix for the game just like me! We went our separate ways after the train but made loose plans to meet back up in the bleachers).

 The old socreboard is still manually operated! There were 3 men sitting in there changing numbers all throughout the game (wonder what that job pays?).
We got a lot of friendly ribbing from the Cubs fans but since I wasn't sitting in my Dodger gear all 
alone (although my new Dodger friend Chris was really a complete stranger) it was fine. At the end of the game--Dodgers lost--I hugged all the Cubbie fans I had sat with and said goodbye.


Afterwards Chris and I hit up the scene on Clark Street. There's not a single thing to do in LA after a Dodger game, but Wrigleyville was JUMPING!

Chris had already scouted some places on Clark St while I was downtown being a tourist. We went to the Irish Oak and played a super fun game of BINGO. Afterwards went dancing til 2am at another place (Slugger's, I think) with tons of Dodgers & Cubs fans. It was a great time! Unfortunately my phone died right after the game so I didn't get pictures. But if you're ever in Chicago for a ball game, definitely do NOT miss Clark Street after the game.

I was planning on heading straight to bed after the game, but it was worth it to YOLO-it and try something new! #Noregrets

Chicago Day 2 on deck!