31 October 2012

October's Top Picks

Planning for our Christmas holiday...here's a not-so-subtle hint!

These father-daughter photos are incredible...what a lovely and hysterical idea!

Great pub on the South Side.

On my bookshelf right now are Chrissie and Daniel.

Winter boots!

This soup is delicious...thanks for the inspiration 101!

Great coffee, great people, great surroundings...if you are in Estes Park, just go Kind.

Airport greetings are the best!

The new season of zombies has begun...


Heading out for the last loop of the 50K
All...it's been an incredible week and then some.

Since running the marathon, I've been a bit all over the map.  However, after returning from Massachusetts and Nevada last week, I had a big weekend on the books.

On October 27, 2012, I was running the Chicago Lakefront 50K.

Here's the thing, I wanted to do this before my next birthday.
My birthday is on October 28.
This was no small thing.

I landed on the 26th at O'Hare from Vegas and met Dave after his flight landed from Moose Jaw.  Yup,  he was coming down to support me on the race and to help me move (more on that later).  We hugged and then made our way back to the apartment.  We ordered in my traditional pre-race meal, a veggie spring roll and a veggie sushi roll and then were off to bed for a very early start the next morning.

We woke and it was...COLD!  Temps weren't expected to climb out of the thirty's until well after the race was done.  We grabbed a taxi and headed down to the start.  

I have this thing where I don't like to show up late, however, in this case, we were REALLY early so we scouted out a place to get warm.  That's when we found Robust Coffee Lounge.

Robust is a gem on the south side of Chicago.  The staff were great, the space warm and the spicy soy hot chocolate just the ticket to take my mind off the race.

After sitting there for a bit, we wandered back over to the start.  The 50-milers had already been on the trail for a while and at 8:30 AM, our start was to happen.  It was such a difference from the marathon!  There were maybe 250 runners, everyone super-nice and jazzed to be out there on a chilly fall day.  The whole aura of the race was relaxed and supportive - everyone hoping the person next to them would have a good day out there.  I loved it.

The run was three just-over-ten mile loops along the lakefront.  Heading north was tricky due to really cold and gusty winds, but the awesome part was that then those gusts were at your back coming back south to the next turnaround!  I had a blast out there!  I just focused on the other runners, handing out high-fives and telling everyone to keep going!  

Dave...FINISHER...of helping put up the sign...
Dave got some company along the way when our friend Deb showed up to help cheer me on.  I didn't have anyone on the sidelines for the marathon, but having Dave and Deb (the Double-Ds!) on the course was such a motivational boost!  

I finished the 50K in 5 hours and 27 minutes!  

Dave snapped this just after I finished.  Official time - 5:27:43!

Better than any medal!
I got across the line, looked at Dave and Deb, started to tear up and said "I can't believe I just did that!"

*Don't tell anyone, but I think I'm hooked!*

Since then, I've had a great time with Dave here...it's just so much more fun when my better half is around.  He is helping me prep to move to a new space in Chicago this week.  We are going to make dinners, talk and just enjoy each other's company.  We are also doing lots of planning for our Christmas vacation...I'll tell you more about that later!

On a final note, I've been running my races in support of Women for Women International this year and I want to thank everyone who took the time to donate to the cause.  It means so much to me and I couldn't have done this without your support!

22 October 2012

A Lovely English Breakfast

I love a good breakfast...not too sweet, not too savoury...just right.

It's a lovely little British pub in Chicago that serves up a mean pot of Earl Grey on a cool fall Sunday morning.
The decor is fantastic (you MUST see the bathrooms!), the crew that man the kitchen and bars are friendly and welcoming and the atmosphere is complete with a fireplace and classic teacups.  By day, it's a good place to grab a bite and relax while watching a game, by night, it boasts a boisterous and welcoming pub scene.

If you are in Chicago.  Go.  Just go.

My friend Mark and I headed there last Sunday to soak in the goodness and catch up with one another after not having seen each other for months.
Mark is a great friend...he genuinely cares about everyone in his life and always has great advice to dish out.  In short, I'm lucky to have a friend like Mark.
He's got a great way of pulling out blinding one-liners that put everything in perspective.  
I often find myself just nodding in response with a smile knowing that he just cleared up a lot of questions.
Mark is a cheerleader for the loved ones in his life.  I hope I'm good enough at returning the favour!

I hope everyone has a Mark in their lives.

Hope you had a great weekend!

20 October 2012

Favourite Time of the Year

It's no secret that I adore fall...and winter.
Needless to say, this time of year has me in good spirits.
Anytime I can walk outside with a sweater, jeans, boots and a scarf on is a good day.

It's also the time of year when my mailbox gets flooded with holiday cheer in the form of catalogues.
I don't buy from these companies, nor do I hear from them during the rest of the year, but somehow they find me around mid-October and tempt me with cozy knits, furry boots and outerwear that makes me swoon.

I'm a sucker for this stuff.

Because of my work, I have been on the road quite a bit meaning that getting back to cooler climes this time of year takes on new meaning.  Fall can look very different in Las Vegas than it does in Boston.  Seattle has a different shade of fall colours than Charlotte.

It's always an adventure.

What doesn't change are the sights and sounds in the windows of shops...pumpkins galore; deep oranges and reds; and sparkling lights that twinkle into the night.

This is also the time of year that means my running training is nearing it's payoff.

A couple of weekends ago I ran in the Chicago Marathon.  
The day started off great with friends...we headed to the start in the chilly air as the sun began to climb higher in the sky casting its pale light on nervous faces and twitching muscles.
The Chicago Marathon queue is like no other.
They position you according to your expected finish time and the masses all jostle for position near Millennium Park.  Getting into the queue is a feat unto itself and once you are there you are standing for  minutes (what seems like hours) before you get to the start.  I was grouped with the 4h 30m finishers.  
Things start when you toe the starting line...we were off!

Unfortunately,  I couldn't warm up during the race...I remained pretty chilly throughout.  We crossed through the Loop, hit the streets of Wrigleyville and then into Boystown.  We crossed by North Shore before heading back into downtown.  Then it was out to UIC, Pilsen and Chinatown (which for me always go by in a blur).  It's only when I'm heading back along Michigan Avenue toward the finish that I regain my senses and really soak in what I am about to accomplish.

Here's what I love about that race.
The spectators.  The people along the way that cheer you on.  
They are incredible.
They hand out candy and oranges and hope.
They offer water and Gatorade and smiles.
They rattle their cowbells, shout your name and give up high fives by the dozen.

THAT is why I love that race.
I had a good day out there and had a personal best of 4h 7m.

It was awesome to finish in that time.

I've been taking it easy since trying to mentally prepare myself for October 27 when I will be running the Chicago 50K.  I know that race will be much more of a mental battle than a physical one.  I'm excited to give it a go!

For this moment, though...I'll enjoy looking at those catalogues that have been stuffed in my mailbox... I see a great pair of boots I must would like to have!

15 October 2012

Artist's Saturday - Older Post!

NOTE:  This post should have originally gone up on September 15.  
Silly Blogger.

Sarah is a great friend.  Strike that...she is an awesome friend.
We both agree that new things are always worth trying and that when you try those new things, it's best to do it with a friend by your side.

Sarah obtained a Groupon to check this event out and we just finished painting our way into a lovely Saturday afternoon.  The gist is this...a local artist will come, share a sample of their work with you, show you a little technique inspired by the piece and then you get to strut your own stuff on the canvas.

Today's event was hosted at a little bar and restaurant called Revolver.  A perfect site for a bunch of unskilled and skilled artists to strut their stuff and throw some paint on white paper.  While Sarah and I didn't partake in any spirits, we had a great time sipping water, catching up with one another and encouraging each other with each brushstroke.

It was a great way to spend a Saturday.

Everyone should find a friend like Sarah...she's pretty amazing.

Happy Saturday!

Artist's Inspiration
My painting's start...
Sarah painting

Sarah's finished product...awesome!!!

My finished product

Add caption
ps.  Wish me luck...I've got a 20-miler to tackle along the Chicago Lakefront tomorrow!

A Month and a Day...

Let's recap the last little bit...

Moose Jaw, SK
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
2 red eye flights
Babysitting for friends
Spending a day in the city with my brother-in-law
Long Beach, CA 
Albany, NY
Johnstown, PA
A surprise birthday party for my godmother
Two conferences
Lots of meetings
The Chicago marathon
Estes Park, CO
Moving all my furniture out of my apartment
Dave visiting for a too-short weekend

There you have it.  The past month in a nutshell.  It's been a little busy and when you throw in a nasty cold and all the marathon and ultra-marathon prep...well, somethings gotta give.

And readers, you know what that is...

le blog.

I want to be better and not have to apologize for not writing.  But, sometimes it's just enough to keep up  with the day to day.  

I do what I can.

It's been a whirlwind of work and missing home.  I've been quite homesick lately...especially from being on the road so much.  I feel caught between Chicago and Moose Jaw and everywhere in between.

I miss friends and quiet time with the ones I love.
Lucky for me, things should slow down considerably in 2013.

Yup...happy new year to me.

It's never to early to celebrate!

I'll keep you posted.
More often.
I promise.