i [heart] chicago

I signed up for the Chicago Marathon for a couple of reasons:  (1) the amazing 10.10.10 date, (2) the fact that I would be turning 26 in 10 (now 8) days so 26 miles seemed to fit perfectly, but most of all (3) my best friend Julie and her husband Matt live there!

Julie + Matt got married in December of 2008 and I still had YET to go up there and visit.  Plus, the Hubs had never been to Chicago, and I actually hadn’t been there since I was about 8 years old.  Again, why that Chicago Marathon was a perfect fit!

I took a personal day off work on Friday so we could drive up and get to J + M’s at a decent time, so we didn’t waste our entire Friday.  J + M bought a beautiful townhouse a little over a year ago and were wonderful hosts to us while we visited!  They even have running trails that back up right to their front door!  SCORE!

And of course, their baby…

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Hannah!  I was lucky enough to take this sweet girl for a short 2 miler on Saturday morning!

But, first, we headed out for some sight seeing and shopping!

Wrigley Field…

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So much smaller than Busch Stadium!  It was kind of like “this is it”?  It’s tiny!  Someday we will come back so the Hubs can actually seeing a game inside the stadium (I went when I was about 5 years old).

Lincoln Park…

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Beautiful area!  We did a bit of shopping and then headed to Karyn’s Fresh Corner for some raw vegan food.  Well, I had some raw vegan food… [I think everyone else was a bit too scared to try it!]

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French vanilla “ice cream” made with coconut and some other stuff I don’t remember.  It kind of had a almond extract flavor to it.  It was a little gritty for my liking, but still pretty good.  I think J, M, and the Hubs just thought it was OK.

Then off to dinner at this wonderful neighborhood up near J + M’s house called The Glen.

We went to a place called Yard House and it was fantastic!  I really hope they open one here in St. Louis someday.  There were a ton of vegetarian choices, amazing salads, AND you could substitute a Gardein patty on any of the burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, or pastas!  I ended up going for a Mediterranean veggie sandwich without any substitutes and some amazing sweet potato fries with maple syrup drizzled on top.  AH-mazing!  Plus, 118 beers on tap never hurt anyone!  Unfortunately, it was too dark to take pictures, but you will have to trust me that it rocked!

Saturday was an amazingly fun, long day!  We hopped on the Metra to head to downtown.  Our first stop was the French Market, where I got to try some more vegan raw food (a falafel sandwich that was pretty good, but left my stomach hurting a bit) at a restaurant called R.A.W.

Then, it was off to the Marathon Expo!  Picked up my race packet and walked around a bit, checking out several different booths, and of course, trying to find my name on the giant wall!

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The Ultramarathon Man himself, Dean Karnazes.  I have actually met + ran with him before when he was running across the U.S. and stopped in St. Charles.  [I beat him by 25 minutes on race day!]  

After the expo, we decided to huff it up to Grant Park.  Even though it was quite a trek, I’m so glad we walked because we got to get a behind the scenes look at the marathon!

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Soldier Field (right outside the expo)

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Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park

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Fountain in Millennium Park

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And The Bean!

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Favorite pictures of the whole trip!

Grabbed a cab and headed toward Navy Pier.  I have to admit, I wasn’t too impressed.  Yes, the view was spectacular, but I was expecting it to be more like Santa Monica pier in California.  It felt more like another street to walk down than a pier with the giant building on one side of you the entire time.

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We decided instead of taking an architectural tour that we would just take the water taxi back to Union Station.  I loved all the big, beautiful buildings!

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Chicago is ginormous compared to St. Louis.  It really puts our city into perspective.  There is so much to do and see in Chicago and we barely hit the surface.

We cannot WAIT to go back and visit when I don’t have a race planned so we can really enjoy the city as much as possible!

Thanks again to Julie + Matt for a great stay!  We are looking forward to our next trip back Chicago!

THE AFTERMATH
It’s 2 days after the marathon, and I am still pretty sore.  My calves are tight, making stairs difficult, but otherwise I’m feeling pretty good.  I am totally itching to run again, but 3 days of absolutely no exercise is just what my body needs right now.  But, I already have a fun run planned in about 5 weeks that I can’t wait for!