My kind of town

(Chicago is.)

Well, it would be if it wasn’t raining and 45 degrees and icky.  Nonetheless, I’ve returned to the motherland for a brief jaunt.

I woke up early.  I am not one of those bat-shit crazy bloggers that gets up at 4:30 for 20 mile runs.  Getting up at 6 for work is pushing it for me, and left to my own natural devices (like unemployment) I drift to a nice 1 a.m. to 10 a.m. sleep schedule.  Anyway,  I got up at 5 a.m., beautified myself, walked the dog, had a bowl of cereal and was out the door to catch my 6:50 a.m. flight.  Barf.

Although I am technically a business traveler, I refuse to understand that this means I have to be uncomfortable in lined wool suit pants on the plane.  I would much rather take 5 minutes to change in a public bathroom than feel icky while traveling.  Clearly:

Traveler tip: I always wear a long-sleeved zip up hoodie over a t-shirt on planes because they are either freezing cold or sweltering hot.  This way you’re prepared for both!

Upon landing at Midway, I knew I was home:

While rushing to get my luggage from baggage claim, I ate this Whole Wheat Chocolate Banana muffin that I made last night with a little almond butter.  I was not impressed with this recipe when I swiped a mini muffin right out of the oven last night, but they are quite good cold.  I think I may have overbaked the mini muffins a tidge, but the big ones were just right:

Except next time I make them I think I’ll add a little bit of applesauce or a bit more oil–they’re a little dry.

Anyway, after various rental car related delays, including one that had me crying on the side of the road to the Thrifty telephone operator (the car they gave me apparently likes to slip from “Drive” into first and second gear), I made it to my alma mater.  Awesome!  Here are some pictures.  I love this place so much.

This is where I worked for four years.  Oh, the memories:

Perhaps it’s silly, but Northwestern is a really emotionally fraught place for me to be.  I was a totally different person in college, and I view a lot of it wishing I’d been smarter.  In college, I was in a really bad relationship.  I was with a guy for two and a half years that I worshipped…but he didn’t worship me back.  He also had a policy of “brutal honesty” which included telling me things like “I’m embarrassed to be seen with you in a swimsuit next to my friends’ girlfriends who are all thin and in shape.”  Lovely.  It was exhausting.

BUT.  I do love the school.  I got an absolute top notch education that opens doors for me all the time, and I made great friends that I love dearly.  And now, I’m replacing all those awful memories with great ones because we’re going to be getting married there.  As soon as I’m out from under my piles and piles of student loan debt, I will be donating to them regularly!

After I was done with work, my mom and I got a pedicure!  I made sure they didn’t shave off my running calluses.

It smudged.  😦

Then I checked into my hotel:

Which I picked because they give you one of these at check in!

Chocolate chip cookies.  Warm.  I saved mine for later, though!  They are so good.

Then I went to dinner with my mom and sister.  YUM.  The place we went is also a famous bakery.  Of course I had to purchase a souvenir:

Who brings bread on a plane?  Yup, me.  It is pretzel bread and it is heavenly.  Honestly, it is taking a whole lot of self control to not open the bag right now and rip off a big piece to eat.  Nobody does food like Chicago!

Anyway, now I’m home from dinner and blogging from bed and watching Glee.  Tomorrow will be some likely uninteresting training for work, then a flight back home to KC.  I’ll be blogging late again, I predict.

And, sigh, no blog-nouncement today.  Soon!  I’m just as excited as you are.  (Okay, probably more.)

What’s your favorite city for food? Mine is definitely Chicago!  You can’t beat deep-dish pizza, hot dogs, and Rainbow cones!

I’m back!

Phew.  That weekend was absolutely nuts.  I don’t even know where to start!  I’ll probably chunk this into two posts, so it doesn’t get too long!

Friday

I will keep this short–nothing too exciting happened Friday, except we drove 9 hours to get to Chicago.  We stopped at the World’s Largest Truck Stop in Iowa, and arrived at my mom’s house (she lives elsewhere because of her job) to find several dead smoke detector/carbon monoxide detector batteries chirping.  We took down two smoke detectors and a carbon monoxide detector before the annoying noises stopped.  Then I gave T a fashion show of my old prom dresses.  Look, it’s too big!

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I still kind of like this dress, if I ever had anywhere to wear a florescent orange/pink gown.  T thinks it’s hideous.  But, whatever.

Saturday

T and I woke up bright and early for our sisterly 5K.  My sister and I exchanged texts before she came to drive over with us and I believe they involved the words “cold as balls.”  It was!  When I woke up, it was 28 degrees, and only warmed up to 32 by the time the race started.  Brr.

T kindly served as race photographer.  Here’s me and my big sis before the race, numbers 7 and 8:

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I have to say, I was super impressed by this long sleeved running shirt.  As usual, it’s C9 by Champion from Target, and I LOVED running in it.  When we were waiting for the race to start, it really kept me warm, but it was nice and cool along the race.  Gear-wise, my only regret was that I didn’t wear a pair of gloves.  My hands were frozen by the end of the race, especially after I spilled water all over at the only aid stop.  I didn’t run with an iPod, either, for the first time!

Here we are at the starting line:

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I can’t really break this into miles, per se, because there weren’t mile markers along the route.  But chronologically speaking…what I assume to be the first mile was pretty standard.  My sister told me her plan was that we’d pace together for the first 20 minutes, and then she was just going to sprint it to the finish.  (She’s generally a bit faster than me.)  We both regretted not starting more towards the front of the pack, because the race was on a fairly narrow trail and we had to pass a lot of people.  Anyway, the first third of the race was nice.  We ran on a trail full of pretty fall foliage and a bit in a quaint downtown suburban area.

The second mile, or what I think was the second mile, was a little tougher.  My sister and I broke away from most of the runners and were in probably the top third.  It started to get windy and hilly.  The path was kind of boring but it was fun running with my sister.  At one point, she saw a hot guy on a bike and started to sprint!  It was really funny!  She was also laughing at all these old men in skintight running tights.  I wish I lived closer to her–she’d be a great running buddy.

The last third of the race was a little frenetic.  Since there were no mile markers, I had no idea where I was.  At 20:00, my sister asked if it was okay and sprinted about 100 yards ahead of me.  I stayed within her sight line for most of the race, but right before the finish I lost her.  She’s speedy!  I started panicking because I couldn’t see the finish line when my watch was at 29:00 or so–I started it with my chip, and I was really shooting to finish in under 30:00 if I could.  Anyway, I got a nice burst of energy after passing a guy who looked young and in shape, and finished strong.  Or…well, whatever this is:

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My official chip time was 30:14!  My public goal was to not walk (I didn’t!) and finish in under 31:00 (I did!).  My not-so secret goal was 30:00, and I’m honestly surprised I didn’t get that.  My sister finished in 29:20, I think, and we both felt it might have been a longer course than 5K. (Edit: mapmyrun.com and a running forum both confirm that the course was actually 3.25 miles long, meaning I did actually run about a 29:00 5K.  Boo, hiss for the course setup.)  Given the effort level we were exerting, I would have guessed we were running 9:20 miles, but my official pace said 9:45.  Still, that’s a :30 better pace than my last race!  Yay!

We then rushed home and showered and went to our food tasting.  YUM.  We decided on:

  • Appetizers: stuffed mushrooms and bruschetta
  • Salads: spinach and Italian tossed
  • Pastas: Rigatoni D (marsala sauce, chicken, rigatoni, mushrooms) and ziti with meat sauce
  • Entrees: beef braciole and chicken marsala
  • Desserts: Still TBD!

Then I went and met with a hairstylist (I liked her, so that’s taken care of) and the pastor (he’s nice, and will be great.)

Here’s where we’re getting married, again, because I love it so much:

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There was a wedding going on, which kind of gave me butterflies.  So exciting!

We then drove home and had a lovely dinner with my good friend and bridesmaid and her husband, and her sister and mom.  We all grew up together, so it was so comforting and awesome to spend a night just eating great Italian food together, drinking wine, and catching up.  (Wine recommendation: Foxwood Cabernet.  I LOVE cab and this was awesome.)

Anyway, part two will be up later.  We hit a snag in our dog adoption with our landlord (they misrepresented some stuff to us, we’re bargaining and waiting for a phone call) so we don’t get to pick him up tonight, but we are both hoping and praying it will work out.  Send more vibes!