Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Have you been lately?


They have some really sick ones right now. There's been about 3 pages of updates since I last checked. Some are SOOOOOO nasty!!

My submission of a Rolando's Super Taco hasn't made it yet but I will keep checking and maybe take better pictures the next time we go (which will be in about 2.5 weeks!!!)

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Soldier Field 10 Miler

I somehow procured part of this weekend off because I was originally planning on going to a Bachelorette Party that ended up being moved to a different date. I was fine with that because there was a cool race yesterday that I had been wanting to run anyway. The store that I get most of my running gear from is called Fleet Feet Sports and they, along with Adidas, were sponsoring a ten mile race that ended inside of Soldier Field (which is where the Bears play). Bazan and his family were also planning to run. We got up at the crack of dawn and headed to the field.

Our entire group before the start...

I started in the 11 minute mile corral because I think it's better, for my race ego, to pass people than the be passed during a race. There were a lot of people running and the race got crowded at times but it wasn't too bad. It was sort of frustrating because I think the 10 mile distance fools a lot of people into thinking that they can do it without any prior training, maybe becuase it's a little less daunting than a half-marathon? But I still think most people would need to either be super athletic or do at least a little training to be able to run that distance and if you are going to start in the 9 minute mile corral, please don't start walking at the one mile marker. (ok... mini-race rant over)

It was a beautiful day and we were running on part of Lakeshore Drive and the south portion of the Lakefront Trail. I wanted to finish in 1:45 and I DID! Woo hoo. My chip time was 1:48:01 but I had a 4 minute bathroom break in the middle of the race. As always, I learned a lot. Namely, not to forget to bring something (gel, race jelly beans, shot blox) for after the 1 hour mark. I think that is kind of my threshold for needing more fuel. I also ran in an Under Armour wicking shirt, which was fabulous for me but not so much for Adam, who couldn't find me at the finish line. I need to have a wicking shirt made from the BCI sponsored transfer so that I can be visible again.
The finish area was pretty cool. It just went by so fast because I was very concerned about finding the banana area and getting something in my system.

Outside the stadium after we finally found each other. Thanks to a random lady who let me use her cell phone!

Coach Amy was in the cheering section for this race.

We got sweet medals! All in all, I'd say it was a success and I'd do it again.

The never-ending saga of the bike

Because I realize that in order for me to have the motivation to get up and run/work out each day that it helps me to have an end goal in mind, Adam and I decided that we'd do a triathlon next summer. Here in Chicago they have what's called a sprint so it's less daunting than your typical Ironman and I have decided that I would probably be ok at it, given my former awesome competitive swimming background (nevermind that I really don't like freestyle and would much rather be butterflying or breaststroking) and the fact that running is not that big of a deal for me anymore (and hopefully after the marathon, a measly few miles will seem like a piece of cake). This leaves me with only one problem. The bike part. In the seventh or eighth grade, I was riding bikes with my neighborhood friends Shannen and Will (it might have been rainy... anti-smart) and Will somehow flipped over his bike and chipped his tooth. Since then, I have been semi-traumatized by bikes. I had one in college that I rode for maybe 2 weeks before I realized that the campus of Texas A&M is insanely crowded between class times and I was likely to hit someone due to my lack of recent experience. My mom also told my brother and I an extremely life traumatizing story about her childhood friend's experience with open-toed shoes and bike riding that isn't pretty. I might have some issues to work through here.

Anyway, I need a bike for said triathlon and just for life in general in Chicago in the summer without a car so my dad volunteered to be my benefactor for the purchase. Even though my very kind Dad is funding the purchase, I am still cheap and refuse to pay more than a couple hundred bucks for this crazy-Lance-Armstrong-leaning-over-all-crazy-shifting-gears-road bike that Adam claims I will "need" even though Chicago is so flat you can get away with pedalling for a minute and coasting for two minutes. Supposedly, I need to be aerodynamic to save my energy for the run. This all coming from my engineering boyfriend... ug.

None of this would be an issue except for the fact that I am short, I have short legs and MAJOR biking control issues that mean that I want to be able to reach the ground, not on tippy toes, when I stop. After searching the city high and low, Dad found and ordered a kids bike for me from target.com. It arrived last week and Adam and Bazan put it together on Friday night. It was an entertaining process because it literally did not come with instructions. Not kidding.

(I deeply apologize for the darkness of the pictures)

My maiden voyage (and only voyage) on the bike. It wasn't as scary as I thought.

Adam decided to see if the gears would shift and it all went downhill from there. The guys were trying to figure out what happened. I still don't understand why shifting gears is so important in the first place. Bottom line, after some hideous noises, some part is irreparably bent so we have to take it back to Target tomorrow and wait for a new one to be shipped. Sadness!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Water Station 101

I think everyone who regularly runs races should have to volunteer at least once at the water station. Last night, Adam ran in the Chase Corporate Challenge downtown and I got an email from one of my running groups looking for volunteers. They promised a free t-shirt, which I knew would be a nice one because these people are serious runners, and you know I am never one to turn down free swag. The original email said they were looking for people to do water station and finish line volunteering but it turned out we were doing the only aid/water station instead. I showed up at my assigned place, met the coordinator and started pouring.

With typical Chicago weather, it was so funny because you couldn't get too many cups lined up or they'd all blow off your table. We would fill the entire first layer of a table with cups of water and then put posterboards on top of that before starting a second layer. A really nice girl was helping me hold down my posterboards until we got enough cups set up to hold it down and I'd help her with her table. We kind of stuck together because neither one of us had ever done a water station before and we're both running the same ten-miler this weekend.

Now, the Corporate Challenge is kind of a big deal in downtown Chicago. The whole time we were filling cups for the 2 hours prior to the race, we kept seeing droves of people headed to the start/finish line. Adam ran it last year and he'd warned me that it's the kind of race where you are in a crowd the entire time and it never thins out. Kind of reminds me of the Trail of Lights 5K in Austin. It was cute though because most of the companies had team shirts made. Adam's company had fancy tech shirts.

After the starting bell rang, which we could hear faintly, is when it got scary. Imagine 25,000 people barreling toward you. It's a completely different way to experience a race. The "elite" runners just sprinted by us. Turns out the girl who won the women's division works at Adam's company. Then once some of the slower (and by slower I mean still sprinting) came by, they were looking for water. Women aren't so bad. They will usually make eye contact with you and slow down just a tad to take the water. Men. Not so much. They would run at me full speed and knock my arm and the water and you'd hear a splat as they spilled probably half of it. I got to the point where I would flinch when someone came to get water from me. Becuase there were so many people, the race spilled over onto the sidewalks so I had people coming at me from both sides. I learned a lot about being a little more courteous to the volunteers manning the water stations at my races.

After the last finishers passed us by, we were supposed to move what water we had left on our tables across the street where the second half of the race would again pass our aid station. At one point, we were trying to move (me and another girl, mind you) a table with three layers of water but the curb was actually about 2 inches higher than the side walk and the corners of the table got caught on it. It took a very timely rescue from one of the guys or we would have spilled the whole bloody table and hundreds of glasses of water. I even heard one of the racers shout, "Oh, I've GOT to stop and see this." Haha. I'm proud that I was comic relief for a small group of runners. Round 2 of handing out water went much better except for the one girl who threw hers and it went right up my legs and all over my crotch. You just have to expect things like that when you are a water station person, I guess.

All in all, it was pretty fun. I have to say that I normally prefer to be on the streets and running, it was great learning experience. There are 5 (woo hoo- 5!?!?) water stations at the 10 miler on Saturday so you better believe I will be thanking them as they cheer us on.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

I've been a bad, bad girl...

The Wii Fit officially hates me. I haven't done a weigh-in in over 10 days. My mysterious illness and a visit from Dad and Mikey have seriously thrown my routine. After this weekend, I think I also need detox both from alcohol and bad food. My stomach is very angry with me.

I have to get back on the fitness train now because I have the Soldier Field 10 miler this weekend. I can't wait, you get to finish on the field that the Bears play on and have your name in lights on the jumbotron. They also promise nice Adidas shirts.

As soon as I get pictures ready, I will post about the Cubs game we went to on Saturday. It was awesome, the Cubbies won and the weather was absolutely perfect. I love Wrigley.

Chicago has officially given birth to spring and soon we'll be into full-force summer. It's a blast to walk down the street because nearly every bar and restaurant is open and you can sit in the window and people watch. I love it because it's as nice as eating outside but you also get that fun bar feel and can watch sports games on TV.

After my friend Tracee gets married the first weekend in June, I'm going to officially start a marathon training program. I'm still in the research phase but I will probably end up doing one from Runner's World. That will be the 16 week mark until my race!! YIKES!! :) I am also going to get back into my tracking on Gyminee. I've been very neglectful lately but I figure you have to have the "bad" weeks now and then to give yourself something to work toward. I hope everyone had just as much fun on their weekend as I did!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Yummy Sushi (or whatever the fishless stuff I eat is)

In Japan, I went with 3 of my flying partners for dinner at a local sushi restaurant. It involved a rather precarious hotel bus ride over to the mall in Narita, where the restaurant was in the parking lot. After a 12.5 hour journey and the previously mentioned quarantine experience (which was featured in Monday's Red Eye newspaper, I saw my friends in the Outbreak suits, ah memories), I was starving! The other girls didn't know if I'd actually be able to get "fish-less" sushi but I figured there was a Hard Rock Cafe and a Big Boy within walking distance so I'd find something somewhere. After eating all sorts of breads and junk on the plane ride over, I was just in the mood for some yummy veggies.

I tried to find pictures of what I ate but after googling "japanese vegetables" I got nothing. I had my normal kappa maki, which is your basic cucumber roll. We tried to order an avacado roll but they only had them with the imitation crab. Eh... no thanks, I prefer my crab real, please. Next think I know, Yuko, who was one of the Japanese speakers on the crew just started pulling things off the rotating sushi bar and handing them to me. My favorite was the fermented soy beans roll. It was a longer roll so you had to take it down in 3 bites but it was so good. The girls just kept telling me how healthy everything I was eating was. I also tried a roll that I can't remember the name of now but it had a Japanese veggie in it that looked kind of like a small carrot and had that kind of texture to it but it actually tasted more citrus-y. That roll also had Japanese basil in it, which has a mint flavor. It was all delicious. Slightly out of my comfort zone, but that is always a good thing when you are one of the pickiest eaters in the world.

I've never seen one here in the States but this was the kind of sushi place where you sit at a bar and it rotates around and the sushi chefs are in the middle, constantly putting food out and you grab what you want. The chefs kept chanting "Welcome. To my restaurant." in Japanese. I couldn't understand a word of it but it sounded awesome. Y'all, this sushi was CHEAP! Most of the rolls were around 150 yen, which is a little more than $1.50. The Sapporo I had was so cold and so delicious. Three veggie rolls and a beer was about $9. And in Japan it is an insult to tip. I had forgotten that little gem until we got on the van to the hotel and the pilots asked me why I was fishing for a dollar.

It's raining right now but I hope it clears up. I have about 15 errands to run before the dad and brother arrive (hopefully on time, blasted weather!) tonight. This weekend is my first time in the bleachers at Wrigley Field. I will have lots of pictures and fun to share after the weekend!

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Lies! All Lies!

So strange things happen in my life sometimes. I had forgotten the amazing effect that working holidays can have on my schedule. Saturday morning the phone rang bright and early with a call to go to Narita, Japan. I'm not gonna lie to you (despite the title of this post) and tell you that Narita is my favorite trip, because it's not. Normally Asia means very long layovers and lovely hotels (oh, Renaissance Hong Kong). However, our union made a deal with the devil a long time ago for our Japan trips to be really short (i.e. 24 hours flight time in a 52 hour away from home span of time). And our hotel more resembles a college dorm room on move in day than any hotel I've ever seen. But I digress, it's the first time I've been away from North America for work in ages and I was a little bit pumped about that.

My first thought that morning went to something I had read in our paperwork about quarantines in Japan and China because of the H1N1 virus. If you will recall, I spent most of last week lying on the couch with a mystery illness. At briefing we had a minor discussion with our purser (aka boss flight attendant, as there are 14 of us on the big honkin' plane to Japan) and one of our trusty supervisors about the quarantine process in Narita upon arrival. The supervisor said something about traveling to Mexico in the last two weeks but since that didn't apply to me, I mentally cleared myself for the trip and told myself it would all be ok when I got there, despite the fact that the purser mentioned being in quarantine for 2 hours the other day because one passenger had a sore throat. Glorious.

12 hours and 260 coach passengers later, we were sitting at the gate in Narita when we were given bags of face masks for every person onboard to put on (almost 400 people). I am so sad that I wasn't allowed to take any pictures because it was one of the funniest things. Here's me modeling mine for you...

And about 10 people in Outbreak-style suits busted on the plane with all this high tech stuff to take everyone's temperature with infrared technology. Even though I was afraid that they'd find out about my secret sickness or that some other passenger would show up sick, it was still one of the funniest things that's ever happened to me in my line of work. We ended up passing our quarantine inspection and they gave everyone one of these little passes to get through customs and immigration.

I may or may not have mentioned that I had been ill within the past 10 days to pass the inspection. Oops.

Tomorrow, look for a fun post about sushi!

Friday, May 8, 2009

On the Mend?

Today I'm actually feeling a little bit better. I started off yesterday thinking I'd be OK but I had a pounding headache after my three blocks walk to mail back Bride Wars (eh, it was alright, definitely not a DVD I'd buy) and go to Walgreen's.

It's been an utterly pathetic week. I probably slept 15+ hours a day for the past three days. I have graduation and mother's day cards that I haven't mailed yet. I just started doing some laundry as I have completely wasted my two days off doing absolutely nothing and now I have to face my hell tomorrow. I have been on the most annoying pattern of flying lately and it seems I'll be continuing on it again in the morning. I probably face an early morning stand by, which means I get to waste 4 hours of my life at the airport, waiting for a last minute misconnect or sick call. It's my least favorite assignment. In a perfect world, there will be a happy little four day trip waiting for me tonight that I can go on and not have to deal with being on call for the next three days. Is that too much to hope for? Scheduling gods, can you throw me a bone here?

I'm looking forward to hopefully flying so I can get back into my old habits and working out. My gym membership has expired and I'm in a quandry about how to handle that. I had been working out at a rather bare-bones gym that just happens to be steps from Adam's apartment. Turns out the place isn't the best deal around and I really want to find a gym that has my favorite Precor stretch machine. I have to come up with a game plan.

I promise I will have some more interesting blogging soon. The rest of May is going to be busy! Sabrina comes in town early next week, I'm going to try to meet Grandmother and Auntie in DC on Wednesday, and my dad and bro come next weekend for our first Cubs game of the season! Not to mention, it will be my first time in the famous Wrigley Field Bleachers! The following weekend, I run a 10 miler at Soldier Field and we have 2 weddings on the last weekend. I'm so glad I got my sickness out of the way at the most opportune time. Happy Spring to you!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Cinco de Sicko

I've been bedridden for the past 2 days. I'm bored but I have been sleeping A LOT. Tomorrow Bride Wars is coming from Netflix so of course I will be completely recovered by then since I will have an awesome diversion.

This was my Cinco de Mayo dinner:




I don't think I have the swine flu and I feel like I'm on the road to recovery so all will be well. I hope you all got to enjoy some Coronas, Dos or Tecates for me. I was sad to miss a day of delicious Mexican food.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Fantastic Weekend

The stars actually aligned for me this weekend. I made it home (ON TIME!) from my trip on Saturday a little before noon. When I came up the stairs from the train tunnel and stepped outside, I was so happy. The weather was awesome! It was probably around 70 both Saturday and yesterday and perfectly sunny and beautiful.

Watching the city come alive is truly amazing. Trees are blooming, plants are turning green again, restaurants have their entire front wall windows open, bars have their patios open... it's impossible to be sad. Just walking around in the neighborhood on Saturday night, there are times when I think I could live here forever (which, that feeling will last until, oh... next December when we have the first of our few fabulous days where the temperature never gets above zero). Even sitting around the house with all the windows open is just nice. I'm even appreciating the smell of fresh fertilizer and mulch, haha!

Saturday was a Chicago sports day of the ages. The Cubs played in the afternoon (and won!), the Bulls were playing in a Game 7 versus the Celtics, the white sox played (not that we really cared), and the Blackhawks had a playoff game vs. the Vancouver Canuks. We had an adventure trying to find a good bar to watch the Bulls and Hawks in. It ended up being so perfect though, we sat so close to the patio and the entire area behind our table was open so it felt like being outside, complete with the roar of the L every few minutes. We went 1 for 2, with a Blackhawks win and a Bulls loss. There's something really cool about actually getting to spend a peaceful Saturday night with your boyfriend. For those of you with "regular people jobs", don't ever take those normal weekends for granted!

Adam's dad was in town so we got to have a couple of really nice meals and some fun shopping time with him. We got Mario Kart for the Wii, which I really suck at, that dang wheel is a piece of work! I need practice. We even watched one of the Netflix movies together for the first time in a really long time! It was such a great weekend that I was really sad that it was over.