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Ha. I bet you thought I was done with recaps!
As if. In fact, my weekend in Chicago was so jammed packed, I am going to have to break this one up into two parts. Trust me, you’ll thank me.
Let me just start out by saying that Chicago, just like all the other traveling I have done as of late, was the bomb. What a cool city. It is really big and overwhelming, but once you kind of familiarize yourself with your surroundings, it gets easier. Now, I only had to familiarize myself with a very small part of Chicago, but still. With the help of my good friend Alexis, I even learned to take the train.
Everything just seems so big here. Good things about Chicago, there is literally a Starbucks on like, every corner. The views from almost anywhere are pretty awesome, and everyone is so fashionable. I love it.
This is a view from our hotel room. My friend and I booked our hotel on Expedia Unpublished deals and got a sweet deal on the Dana Hotel and Spa. It was a modern art deco hotel and had all kinds of sweet furnishings. We got it for a great deal, had a super comfy bed, and were right in the action.
On Friday when I arrived, I met up with Alexis and our friend Ruth to walk around some of the great shopping areas and head to the Expo. Everything in Chicago is like Cleveland on crack. The Walgreens here is huge, 2 stories, and sells food and liquor. The Old Navy is like, 3 stories and awesome. I won’t even start talking about the Target, I will never stop.
(Chicago at night and the outside of the Dana)
Before hitting up the Expo, we enjoyed some complimentary wine at the Burnham where Ruth was staying and then walked to the free Expo shuttle provided for participants only several blocks from the hotel.
The Expo was a short ride away and it was nice not having to take a taxi. The convention center where the actual expo was held was huge. And thus, a huge expo. There were big stations set up for some big names in fitness including Brooks, Saucony, Mizuno, New Balance, Nike, and Northface.
I grabbed my bib and then we weaved our way through the Expo. I of course wanted to hit up the Brooks booth but ended up buying something from Saucony. I also picked up a flower at a booth called Fellow Flowers. Each flower was a different color and that color represented a piece of yourself and what running a race or putting one foot in front of the other meant to you. I chose white and sported the flower for the next 3 days. I saw many women doing the same thing, all different colors with different meanings. It was really cool.
I signed up for runner tracking and and then signed up for a pace team for the first time ever. My race goal was to finish in 5:15. But there was no 5:15 pace group. There was a 5:10 pace group so I figured that would be good enough, if not better.
After that we hit up dinner on Hubbard Ave at a place called Sullivan’s. It had some great food. And some great wine, too. I know that drinking before a race is not a good idea, but I figured since I had Saturday as a buffer day, and if I kept it all in moderation, a couple glasses of wine wouldn’t hurt anyone.
We had some blue cheese chips, some edamame hummus, that sadly wasn’t not that awesome, so we filled that hole in with some banana pudding and vanilla bean ice cream – to DIE for.
After dinner I was pretty tired. Suffering from the 1 hour time change, though not terrible, did kind of give you a hit around 11:30 or so as soon as your body realizes that in Ohio, its actually 12:30 in the morning. So we headed back to the hotel and hit the hay in the most comfortable bed ever.
Saturday in Chicago meant shopping. Alexis and I hit up one of the 7,000 Starbucks coffee shops downtown before grabbing the train and heading to Lincoln Park. Once we got there and hoped off the subway, there were tons of cool shops and restaurants. We had brunch at a little cafe before continuing our stroll.
I got a really cool necklace and a couple of handmade hats from a small boutique called Viktoria’s Closet. The owner explained that most of her items were custom made and that she works with designers in Chicago, most had come from other countries to pursue their fashion careers and she usually only gets 1 or 2 pieces of each item. The necklace I got was a total “must have” and was the only one of its kind in the store.
After walking a few blocks I saw a fitness store of some kind I wanted to stop in. Once inside I started looking at all the tank tops and yoga pants and half zip running shirts. It wasn’t long before something caught my eye. I turned to Alexis and said, “Oh my god. We are in a LuLuLemon.” I had completely overlooked that famous logo.
I have never been to one before but kind of made it a goal, if you will, to own one Lululemon item some day. Today was my day. I could feel it. And I found a hoodie I LOVED. Of course, they didn’t have my size. Sad. So what did I do? I ordered it. And it is on its way right now. It’s like a little piece of Chicago will be showing up at my apartment very very soon.
On our way back to the train we passed a small cupcake shop. I got excited and pointed out the cupcakes to Alexis. We walked past to make a pit stop and I let Alexis know that I would just be lying to myself if I didn’t stop in for a cupcake. I can’t help myself sometimes!
We stopped into Swirlz Cupcakes and tried a sample of the Pumpkin before I chose the Bitter Sweet Chocolate cupcake. I am a sucker for some chocolate. Don’t you just love the 26.2 frosting?
After Lincoln Park we relaxed our legs for a while before hitting Quartino next to the hotel for a Pasta Dinner. The place was packed but Alexis and I got right into the bar and ordered. However, the food never came. And its not like the service sucked, the bartender was really cool. The kitchen was just an epic fail. Once we finally got all our food, the meal was free. Can’t beat that.
Then it was bed time.
Race morning was so exciting. I was up, I was moving, and ready to go. I almost can’t hold in the rest of this recap. But then it would just be a painfully long post. So we will get into to all the pain and all the joys in round 2. So stand by!