Thursday, August 30, 2012

Chicago Rock N Roll Half Marathon

Five weeks ago :) my friends Leah, Sue, Megan & myself ran the Chicago Rock N Roll half marathon.
This was my first Rock N Roll race experience and I wasn't sure what to expect.
Much to my delight, I had a great time!!

I flew into Chicago Saturday afternoon and took a cab straight to the Expo.  The other girls had gone earlier in the day, so I was playing catch up.
The expo took place at McCormick Place.  It was spacious and easy to get around.  I was personally annoyed because I was dragging my luggage through it, but otherwise it was great.
All the typical vendors and really everything you would expect at an expo.  A comparison to a Disney expo... a lot more free stuff here.  I also really like the ladies cut tech shirt we got.

After the expo, I took a cab and met up with everyone else at our hotel, the W on Lakeshore.
We just laid low on Saturday with a yummy pasta dinner at Coco Pazzo.

Sunday morning we cabbed it over to Grant Park for the race and were there in plenty of time.
Bag check, porta potties, start corrals... everything was super organized.
The only thing bad about the day was the heat and humidity.  Ugh!

The race started on time at 6:30am.
I thought the course around town was really nice.  I don't feel like Chicago has as many iconic landmarks/streets, etc. as a place like, say, NYC, so the night before at dinner we had asked Sue's friend, Maddie to kind of explain what we would be seeing along the way.
Mostly it was running through different neighborhoods like Greek town or the ghetto :)
We did see the famous Chicago Theater...

There were people cheering us on pretty much the whole way and the bands were pretty good.
There was a lot of water, ice and in the later miles, sponges available on the course.  All were very much needed since it was so darn hot & humid.

As far as the running part, it wasn't great.
The first 3 miles seemed to last forever... like forever.
4 to 7 were awesome.
7 to 10 I starting cramping up.
At mile 10, I heard a very strained "Heather"...  it was Leah coming out of a porta potty.
Her hips and back were done, and I just felt soooo hot, we walked the last 3 miles.
She puked up some water.  A stranger gave her a sponge and water (so nice).
We pretended to run and act stupid when we saw the photogs (Leah have you checked those pics yet?  I totally haven't)
I asked her if she wanted to run the last 100 meters or so to the finish line.
She gave me a look that said "Not on your life".
And then we were done, right back where we started.
Here's our medal (we didn't finish on a beach, Sue took this picture the next day):

There were popsicles at the finish line and I could not have been happier.
Wow, that tasted so good.
Bag pick-up was quick and easy.
The post race concert featured Cobra Starship.
It was great to just sit out in the park, listen to music, relax and drink a beer.
While I have heard horror stories about other Rock N Roll series events, based on my Chicago experience, I would totally recommend this race to anyone.
I plan on doing the Miami Rock N Roll half in November and I hope it is just as well done.

After the concert, we walked over to see the Bean.

Then we attempted to walk back to our hotel.  We ended up in a cab.
Did you know that downtown Chicago has multi levels?
Well it does and it was a little too confusing for us :)

After getting all cleaned up, we went out to lunch at Lou Malnati's for some deep dish pizza!
It was so, so good!
Drinks at Navy Pier were next.
Followed by a drink at the top of Hancock building.  Great views of the city.
Dinner was at Girl and the Goat, which I cannot recommend enough - incredible!

Monday was more touristy adventures.
Lunch at The Purple Pig - so good!
Then we enjoyed an architecture boat tour along the Chicago River.
Chicago is a really beautiful city, the architecture is gorgeous and the weekend was such a fun girls getaway!

Next up, the Disneyland half marathon this weekend!
Can't wait to get out to the West Coast!!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Time to Change the Channel

I don't know about any of you, but I was glad to come home from work last night and change the channel off of NBC.  The two weeks of Olympics were so much fun to watch, but change was good.
Until I realized there was nothing on summer TV except for reruns and reality shows.
Now I miss the Olympics again :(

This was the first time I have really watched the summer Olympics since 2000.  In 2004, I was tour directing in Alaska so I was on the road those two weeks.  I just watched the Opening Ceremony that year.  In 2008, I watched the first week of Beijing and all the Michael Phelps swimming excitement. Then I left for Italy for work that first Saturday, so I missed the second week.  Yes, my life is tough.  I was sad to miss the Olympics, but touring Venice, Florence and Rome really took my mind off of missing them :)
One of my co-workers was able to attend the Olympics this year, so for about 30 minutes today I was IM-ing with her asking all about her trip.  It sounded incredible, 'a trip of a lifetime' is how she described it.
Attending an Olympics (summer or winter... errr, maybe summer AND winter) definitely on my 'to do' list.  How about you?

Speaking of 'to do' lists, on another blog I saw a list published by Budget Travel for the 20 places every American should see.  Here's the list:

  1. Grand Canyon
  2. Yellowstone National Park
  3. Highway 1, California
  4. Magic Kingdom (Orlando, Florida)
  5. Times Square, New York City
  6. Las Vegas Strip
  7. Hollywood Walk of Fame
  8. South Beach (Miami, Florida)
  9. French Quarter (New Orleans, Louisiana)
  10. Gettysburg National Military Park
  11. Nashville, Tennessee
  12. National Mall, Washington, D.C.
  13. Independence National Historical Park (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
  14. Taos Pueblo, New Mexico
  15. Fenway Park (Boston, Massachusetts)
  16. Civil Rights District (Atlanta, Georgia)
  17. Architecture in Chicago, Illinois
  18. Pearl Harbor
  19. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City
  20. Ellis Island, New Jersey

How many of these have you been to?
Where would you want to visit?
Do you think anything was left off the list?

I've had the chance to visit them all except for  #s 11, 14, 16 & 19
Amazing, must-see locations (IMO) that were left off... Golden Gate Bridge, Mt. McKinley, maybe Key West or The Keys in general, Mt. Rushmore and maybe also Arches NP.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

WTF is going on?

Up until Ryan, Michael & team won the gold in the 4 x 200m relay last night, the whole world felt topsy turvy.

Phelps wasn't getting it done old school.
Lochte wasn't getting it done new school.

It didn't seem like anyone in London was even attending the Olympics.

Empty seats?  Uh why?

People are calling a female swimmer from China the "Mandarin Mermaid".
I am thinking "teenage boy" is a better descriptor.

Mitt Romney thinks it is 2002 and he still belongs at the Olympics.  Can someone please tell me why he was on an international trip to "observe and learn"?  The only thing I got from this trip is he likes to say weird things like "Anglo-Saxon" and "hand of providence", the Brits call him "Mitt the Twit' and his press secretary supposedly told the press to "kiss my ass" for trying to ask Romney questions.

WTF.  So embarrassing.  Can't America just keep him hidden like a dirty secret until we would actually have to expose him to the world should he become elected?  Aye.

Also, can someone please explain to me why people are so mad about NBC not airing the Olympics live on television?  An actual thought out response, not just "Well I want to see... blah, blah, blah"
Absolutely everything is being shown online.  Hop on your computer and the (Olympics) world is your oyster. I want to see the swimming live, so I hop online to view those heats and finals.  Awesome.  

Are people mad that you can see results on Facebook or Twitter or (or other news site)?  Don't look.
Social media and the internet is what it is.  These events are happening when they happen and there is no reason in the world why people shouldn't post, comment or tweet about it.
Do people say "Don't spoil the Super Bowl"?  No. 
Everyone has two choices:  See it live online or as part of a highlight reel each evening.
I mean really, that is all NBCs primetime coverage actually is anyways... a highlight reel. 
Perhaps your job, life, whatever does not afford you the chance to see the events live online, but as the saying goes... such as life.  The events are still happening.

So now that I am done my little rant, I'd like to end today on a positive note.

Team USA women's gymnastics... um, wow!  What a bunch of tough bitches.

They absolutely rocked it last night!  Can you even imagine doing what they do?
The cutest thing was this morning on Twitter when they were all excited that Justin Bieber tweeted and followed them.

Last night they became Olympic Champions.
Today... bam, they are back to the sweet teenage girls they are.  So cute.