Groupon should hire us

The last post I wrote I told you that Paul and I broke a world record and crossed something off my bucket list. I know the anticipation has been killing you…

Paul and I had tickets to see The Blues Brothers at Wrigley Field.

Groupon did the event last year but showed Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I wasn’t sure what to expect but the set up was awesome and there wasn’t a bad seat in the entire place. They also let you bring in your own food and drinks which was a huge plus.

We got there early so we had time to walk around and take pictures. Paul is a huge Cubs fan so even if they didn’t show the movie, Paul would have been happy with just being able to walk around on the field.

I thought it would be a really cool picture to do a cart-wheel in front of the scoreboard. Boy, was I wrong. I could not look more unathletic.

We took a bunch of pictures and then played catch to pass the time. Paul was so excited to be able to say he played catch on Wrigley Field, even if it was velcro…

That night they handed out glasses to everyone and we set a world record for the most people wearing sunglasses at night!

Paul looks so Italian in this photo.

We had a great time and we are looking forward to finding out what movie they will play next year!

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On Saturday, Paul surprised me with a Groupon for a semi-private sailing excursion. He knew it was on my bucket list so I was super excited! As you can tell, Paul and I love Groupon deals.

We were on the boat with two other couples and as we were leaving the dock, the captain informed us that the ride was probably going to be a little rocky.

The couple next to us asked if we had ever been on a boat before. Umm yes, who hasn’t? They hadn’t. Little did she know, her stomach wasn’t going to be able to handle the 2.5 hour ride. She was miserable and sat with her eyes closed the entire time. Paul and I on the other hand had a blast. There were pretty large waves but it could have been worse. And now that I think about it, eating our lunches and drinking margaritas and beer right next to her probably didn’t help. Opps.

It was a beautiful day! Thanks again Paul!

Have you ever been sailing? Do you have a bucket list? What’s on it?

Red, White and Willis

Last week was such a weird week. On Friday I kept thinking that it was Monday and I caught myself saying it multiple times at work. I’m still not convinced 4th of July was last week.

On TUESDAY after work Paul talked me out of my run for a trip to Target. We both need helmets for our bikes and I never pass an opportunity to go to shopping when Paul offers.

I picked out this one but they didn’t have my size.

I sent my mom the picture because she always says she wants to run a race where she can wear a crown (high maintenance) and she was not happy I didn’t get it. Mom, it’s for toddlers.

Trips to Target are exhausting so I found this really simple recipe on Pinterest for shrimp for dinner and it was really good. Quick and simple. That’s my kind of meal!

On WEDNESDAY, 4th of July, Paul and I were planning to go on a bike ride but we couldn’t get Paul’s tires inflated and it was way too damn hot anyway. So I went for a four mile run on the dreadmill and then met Paul for brunch at Elly’s Pancake House. We heard awesome things from a lot of people about this place and I have had it on my lists of places to go for a while…and let me tell you, we were not disappointed. Paul was watching the Food Network before we left which was featuring fried steak so he was craving that healthy goodness. Paul’s fried steak came with four eggs, hash browns and toast. He ate every last bite! I got pancakes, eggs, bacon and sausage. The pancakes were so good and the orange juice was freshly squeezed. If you are in Chicago, I highly recommend Elly’s.

We decided to be awesome citizens by spending America’s birthday helping Chicago’s economy and acting like tourists in a place we have lived for more than 20 years. So we went to the Sears Willis Tower Sky Deck!

I was a lot more nervous on the ledge then I thought I would be which makes me think I will never have enough guts to go sky diving. And if I do, I will just be bawling the whole time. So, who wants to go with me?

Yes, this is a photo of a $20 photo. Conveniently sized 6×9 to fit no frame ever made.

The ledge was really scary and I didn’t trust it but faked the excitement for a fast photo. I was tiptoeing around. Yea, that will save you when this thing collapses.

The views were incredible!

Paul and I went back to my apartment and Bethany was having a BBQ so we stuffed our faces and then fell into a food coma. Best nap ever. 100 degree weather will wear you out. I dragged Paul to fireworks at Navy Pier by bribing him with a Slurpee from 7-11.

We were really far away but it was nice to not have to deal with a huge crowd.

What did you do for the 4th?

This past weekend Paul and I broke a world record and crossed something off my bucket list! Any guesses?

25 Years Young

Tuesday was Paul’s 25th Birthday and we had a week of activities planned! After work on Tuesday, we went to Blokes and Birds in Lakeview for dinner before the Cubs game. I had heard of the restaurant but we had never been and wanted to try something different. The atmosphere and décor was very hipster and the service and food was outstanding. We ordered  the devils on horseback (sausage stuffed majool dates wrapped in bacon with a piquillo pepper sauce) for an appetizer and they were out of this world!

Once I realized I didn’t take a picture, there was only one left. We are fatties.

Paul had Portillo’s for lunch and his coworkers also got him cake so he wasn’t very hungry and decided on the chopped salad (mixed lettuces, eggs, ham, bacon, blue cheese, true blue cheddar, pasta, tomatoes, avocado & goat cheese) which was huge.

I got the Scottish salmon (autumn root vegetables & colman’s sage mustard) which was the best salmon I have ever had. The sauce was really rich and the fish had just the right amount of crisp. Highly recommended!

We then headed to the Cubs game and it was the perfect night for a baseball game…and the Cubs got a W which doesn’t happen a lot!

This picture is refusing to rotate.

I got Paul a bike for his birthday and it shipped in pieces…good luck with that.

Paul’s best friend Aaron got in town on Friday from Canada and we met my friend Joanna at the bar with two of her friends visiting from St. Louis.

It was a late night that ended at Cheesie’s. Grilled cheese has never tasted so good!

A bunch of our friends came into the city for the weekend on Saturday to celebrate. We spent the day at the beach, Paul had a playoff softball game, we grilled out and then had a party at Paul’s favorite bar, Nisei Lounge.

Pics from the weekend:

Happy Birthday Paul!

This pic pretty much sums up the night!

It was a great weekend and thanks to everyone that came out! Monday came way too fast and I’m exhausted! I need to find some motivation get back into half marathon training this week!

Confessions of a Shitty Blogger

I haven’t written in decades! I have a terrible tendency to come and go on here as I please and I wish I was a more consistent writer. Thing is, when I don’t feel like writing, I think my writing sucks so I’m trying limit the amount of times I embarrass myself with typos or things that just don’t make any sense at all. I’m trying to get better and now that I’m back running, I will have more to write about!

Now…where were we?

The doctor went in (as in into my leg) for the second procedure and removed all the bad cells so I don’t have to go back to the dermatologist until the fall.

swell much? where is my ankle?

They are totally going to miss my smiling face but I could not be happier to not have to see theirs.

I have been working my way back into running and it’s nothing short of a struggle. I find myself getting really frustrated with how fast I fell out of shape that I forget to be thankful that I’m back running. So my main focus now is to build my base back up and then work on getting faster.

My friend Joanna and I are debating running the Chicago Women’s Half Marathon on June 24th but it seems a little too close for comfort considering six miles is the most I have run since the April 1st half marathon. If we do “run” it, it will probably kill me.

The only other race I’m signed up for is the Chicago Half Marathon on September 9thwhich I am really looking forward to because I enjoyed it so much last year.

My mom is trying to talk me into running a full marathon in October and just the thought of it makes me want to puke.

Is anyone running any fun races this summer? Any mud runs? I wanted to do the Color Run but it sold out so quickly!

I’m back!!…for four days!

Two weeks ago the nurse from the Dermatology office called to update me on the test results from the moles I had removed. All three moles are benign and I could not be happier about that! Unfortunately though, the mole on my calf has melanoma characteristics. The nurse did a terrible job of explaining what that means. I told her I had never had something like this done and can she please explain it to me. She repeatedly answered, “It has melanoma characteristics.” WTF lady!

I called my mom and she explained that a benign mole can have melanoma characteristics which means there’s a chance it will turn into melanoma. I had no idea. I thought that once it’s benign, it stays benign. My mom then explained in the simplest terms what was going on with those cells and why they want to remove more. Moms are the best.

So I am going in again this week to have more removed from my calf. They are going to take out all of the cells that have melanoma characteristics (I think that’s scientifically correct). At the end of the day, the mole could stay benign but there is a chance it could turn into melanoma so we are playing it safe and having it all removed.

Since the cut will potentially be deeper and/or wider, I am expecting the doc to tell me I have to take even more time off running. So I decided to get a gym membership because I was going stir-crazy after the first procedure. I hadn’t been to the gym for a while and forgot how entertaining it is to people watch…and people wonder why there are stereotypes…

Yesterday I went for a four mile run for the first time since the procedure. It felt awesome! I’m going to try to run everyday this week before the “surgery” on Thursday afternoon to get in as much mileage as I can before taking time off again.

Since you are dying to find out what else I have been up to…

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Rainy day in Chicago. After leaving the Shedd Aquarium.

Hot dogs and…

a fried Twinkie. As you can tell, I have been watching what I eat since I’m not running as much.

Mother’s Day in the suburbs. Hanging all 6 pieces in the middle of the wall with the same amount of space in between was a HUGE pain…but at least they look awesome! Shout out to my Aunt Katie who painted them!

My dad cooked breakfast on Mother’s Day. It was interesting to say the least.

I finally bought a bike!

Golfing with Paul and his family (and by golfing I mean throwing the ball half the time instead of hitting it).

Paul’s sister Maria and I had a blast goofing around in the cart.

I hope everyone had an awesome weekend and a Happy Mother’s Day!

Tantrum Tuesday…Pity Party

I have been dreading writing this post but I know I need to keep the hundreds of people who religiously read my blog up-to-date (insert sarcasm). I’m “injured”. I went to the dermatologist on Tuesday for my yearly check-up and they found three moles (such a gross word) that they wanted to remove because one was new and the other two changed shape.

For those of you that don’t know my family’s’ health history…when I was in 8th grade my mom was diagnosed with skin cancer. She is cancer free and has been ever since but she has to be extra careful in the sun. My grandpa has also had melanoma. So I am always extra careful when I’m in the sun and I rarely ever go outside without wearing sunscreen. My friends will tell you that I never have sunscreen that is below SPF50 and I obsess about reapplying every 30 minutes. Us pale, Irish people need to watch out for that large star in the sky. It’s out to get us.

At first I wasn’t worried because removing small spots on my skin seems quick and easy, and people get it done all the time,  until the doctor said something that made me want to punch her in the face. “You won’t be able to work out for two weeks.” Ummm…excuse me? It’s three small incisions! I quickly questioned her 20 years of schooling hoping to prove her wrong but she wouldn’t budge. I have to take two weeks off of exercise until I get the stitches removed. Unfortunately, one of the moles was on my calf and since it is a high tension area, I can’t run for three weeks.

The “procedure” went fine and I was only in some pain for about two days after. You don’t realize how much you use your back when you are doing everyday things. I’m frustrated that I can’t workout because four days later, I am in no pain. I’m also pissed that I am basically going to have to start over with my training. Two weeks ago, I was feeling awesome and couldn’t wait to start pushing myself even harder. I had a good base and was planning on running the Chicago Spring Half Marathon. That’s not happening anymore. My next race will be the Chase Corporate Challenge on May 24 which is only 3.5 miles and hopefully my next half marathon will be the Chicago Women’s Half Marathon on June 24 (seems so far away!).

Alright, the pity-party is over. I’m sure that’s more than enough bitching and half-naked pictures from me today.  I need to remember to be thankful for my health and that maybe these weeks off are what my body really needs.

Chi Town Half Marathon Race Recap

So weeks later, I’m finally writing a post about the Chi Town Half Marathon.

The race didn’t start until 8:15 a.m. Sunday and it was only about a mile from my apartment so could sleep in compared to other races we have done. We got to the start with plenty of time and checked our bags at the gear check. Like I said, the weather was making me nervous because it stormed early morning and it was still pretty cold. So I wore a rain jacket and leggings under my shorts but decided to take them off before the start because the sun started to come out. I was glad I did because I would have been way too hot.

The race started and ended in Lincoln Park. The course was an out and back on the Lake Shore Drive Path.

At the starting line thinking, “Why the hell are we doing this?”

It was a smaller race so there were not many spectators and the only entertainment on the course (from what I remember) were two bucket boys and two guys playing instruments, which was disappointing.

The run was going smoothly until about mile 5 when my mom said her knee was bugging her again. When we were training in the winter, we went for a long run on a path that wasn’t shoveled and we think that’s when something got messed up But she powered through it until about mile 10-11 when she had to stop to stretch. I could tell my mom was in a lot of pain but she powered through it. I wanted to stay together the whole race but then my mom got angry and told me to go ahead. I refused but then she started to get really mad and I know she is not someone to mess with when she is mad! So I kept going and picked up the pace.

I have no idea why I’m smiling so much.

I guess my arms were too tired to be lifted any higher. Such a half-ass attempt.

So I finished and then went back to find my mom so we could finish together.

The race was very organized and we quickly got our stuff from gear check which can sometimes be a disaster. They had cookies, pretzels, fruit snacks, bananas and bagels (which were gone when we got there). The only complaint I would have is that you were only given little cups of water after the race instead of bottles which makes it hard to hydrate unless you are planning on standing by the cooler the whole time. I also was pretty disappointed with the course. It changed from the original course they had planned. It seems like they couldn’t make it long enough on the path so they sent us back and forth for a couple of loops which I didn’t like. The weather turned out to be a little chilly but it didn’t rain!

The camera on my phone is outstanding. I really like the half-zip shirts and the medal is also pretty sweet.

Overall, it was a good race to start off the running season! 2012 goal: finish a half marathon in 2 hours.

My mom and I enjoyed burgers and beer at Butcher and the Burger before my mom headed back to the ‘burbs!I joined a basketball league and we had a double-header that night which I was planning on sitting out because I knew my legs would be dead, but I wanted to at least go to the gym to meet my team. I got there and my team didn’t have enough players so I ended up playing two games with no subs. By the end of the second game my legs started to shut down. I had a breakaway, wide open lay-up that I missed and almost fell over because my legs gave out on me. I think the girls wanted to reassess having me on their team.

I spent the rest of the night in compression gear with my legs elevated! Just another day in the life of a runner…I know you are jealous.

I don’t take carbo-loading lightly

Last weekend my mom and I ran the Chi Town Half Marathon. I was looking forward to running with my mom but needless to say, neither of us was really looking forward to the race. The night before the forecast showed that at the start, it would be 50 degrees with a chance of thunderstorms (Do races get cancelled or postponed when it’s lightening?). Both terrible things but we put on our big girl pants and did the damn thing.

Now let’s rewind to Friday.

Paul and I have made it a tradition to go to Angelina’s to carb-up on Fridays before a Sunday race. Paul doesn’t run but he was loading up for his 18 hour road trip to Augusta, Georgia for the Masters…makes perfect sense. Since I gave up cheese and it was a Friday in Lent, I couldn’t have my typical pre-race meal of ricotta cheese gnocchi with sausage so I had penne pasta with shrimp in a tomato sauce…talk about boring. Paul had the shrimp scampi with creamy polenta in lemon and garlic herb butter which he gets every time. Man, are we exciting or what? I obviously felt the need to stuff myself beyond comfort so we got ice cream after dinner.

Since Pinterest has allowed me to no longer have to think for myself, I found a recipe for Banana and Nutella Stuffed French Toast which Paul made on Saturday. It was AMAZING and now I’m obsessed with Nutella.

Two meals later, I have had enough carbs for the month…and I wasn’t stopping there.

My mom came into the city (my dad couldn’t make it because my parents are renovating the upstairs of their house and let’s face it, he would have been bored to death) that afternoon and we walked the mile to Universal Sole for packet pick-up. There was a line out the door but it moved fast. When we walked in we received a 20% off coupon for the store and then the line continued to weave through the merchandise. They knew exactly what they were doing! Unfortunately, we were only given our bib and race shirt (we even had to bring our own bag). No free samples which I was disappointed in since the race was $60. I’m glad I loaded up on SWAG at the Shuffle expo.

After some relaxing, we met Paul at Pasta Palazzo for more pasta. I don’t remember what everyone ordered but we all loved it and I clearly have been forgetting to take pictures again.

Sunday morning my mom and I were off to run the Chi Town Half Marathon!

Next post: Race Recap

Chicago Running Bloggers Meet-Up

This past Saturday I met up with a group of ladies from the Chicago Running Bloggers group! We met at The Bean in Millennium Park and went for a three-mile run.Great minds think alike and my Blackberry takes professional-style pictures.

Some better pictures that I stole:

Left to right:
Katie – Live Half Full

Kim – Ilax Studio

Erin – Eri-thon

Bobbi – Zero to 26.2

Kelly – Running Kellometers

Maggie – Mag Mile Runner

Yours truly

We stopped for a quick picture at Oak Street Beach

It was the week before the Chi-Town Half Marathon so I wanted to run at least 10 miles for the day. So I did something crazy, I got up at 7 a.m. on a Saturday to run eight miles before running with the group! I am not a morning person but it was really nice to have my long run done with before 10 a.m.

Unfortunately, it was a really crappy day. Where is the skyline?

Some of the ladies were running the Shamrock Shuffle on Sunday so after the run we went to the expo at Navy Pier and met up with some other bloggers!

The expo was huge but didn’t have a large amount of free stuff (which I shouldn’t complain about because I wasn’t even running it). The Nike area was awesome as always.

I want one of these in my apartment.

I was starving after the run so I ate every flavor of sample Cliff Bars they had. I even got a free Clif Crunch Bar which I’m obsessed with. If you haven’t tried these, do it now because it will change your life.

We ate at the Navy Pier food court and then went our separate ways. It was great meeting everyone and I’m look forward to another run with them!

Left to right:
Kim – Ilax Studio

Katie – Live Half Full

Sara – Run, Gingerfoxxx, Run

Kelsey – Ready Set Feast!

Bobbi – Zero to 26.2

Kelly – Running Kellometers

Me
Maggie – Mag Mile Runner

Not pictured: Amanda – Too Tall Fritz, who we met up with at the expo

Sunday is the Chi-Town Half Marathon which I do have to admit, I’m a little nervous. I really don’t have any expectations for the race because I used it as a way to get in shape during the winter. My mom and I are running it together and it’s along the lake. I’m most worried about boredom because I run along the lake every day but I’m sure my mom and I will be chatting away the whole time to keep ourselves distracted! My dad is planning on biking around to see us which distracts me because he bikes next to us and tries to motivate us by looking ahead and telling us what person to pass. My mom doesn’t think it’s all that funny but it works because we are both competitive.

It has been pretty cold in Chicago this week and since the weather here is so unpredictable, I have been checking it daily.

Right now it’s supposed to be a high of 73 with thunderstorms…awesome. I checked yesterday and it was a high of 80 and sunny so hopefully it changes. I’m praying for no wind because if it’s raining and windy, I will not be happy!

What do you think is the perfect running weather? I think it’s 70-75 degrees, sunny and of course no wind. Enjoy your weekend!

Trip to Nashville

Last weekend Paul, Bob and I went to Nashville to visit Drew and Tiffany who got married in November. Their wedding was only kinda fun…

I taught Paul everything he knows about dancing.

Bob and I left bright and early Friday morning. Paul wasn’t coming until later that night because he couldn’t get the day off work. I am not a fan of country music and I knew I was in for a rude awakening the second I walked in the Nashville airport…cowboy hats and boots, framed guitars and country music EVERYWHERE.

Once we got to their apartment I had a couple of hours of work to get done. So we relaxed and hung out with Tootsie. 

We made a trip to the grocery store and more importantly, the liquor store. Tiffany was an awesome host and already had planned for the meals she was going to make. Crock Pot = best invention ever. We had chili, buffalo chicken, and chicken and dumplings.

I wanted to get one long run in for the weekend because the half marathon is two weeks away so I headed to the gym in their apartment complex and ran 8 miles on the treadmill. I don’t remember the last time I ran on the TM and I was reminded why…so boring.

We picked up Paul from the airport, grabbed some frozen pizzas and headed back to the apartment to play card games. Drew taught us hearts which I still don’t understand…probably because I have the attention span of a five-year-old.

­­­­­Saturday morning, St. Patrick’s Day, Tiffany and I went to the gym to get our sweat on. Our only goal was to be there for a half hour. The guys tried to convince us to stay for an hour so they could play more Halo. Typical.

Paul made breakfast sandwiches and it was a beautiful day so we headed to the pool!

Drew, Paul and Bob

Me and Tiffany

Drew, Paul, Tiffany and Bob

After getting some much-needed sun, we got ready to go to the bars on Broadway Street.

The whole group at Broadway Brewhouse for Bushwackers!

Bushwackers are basically milkshakes with alcohol in it…AMAZING. Paul has one in his hand here:

After Brewhouse we went to Honky Tonk, The Stage, Tootsie’s and Legends. It was such a great time and it felt like we were out until 5 a.m. but we were home by 11 p.m.! Here are some pictures from the night:

This is normal.

And it’s getting later…Paul – pointing at the camera is really cool.

My friend Lindsey was visiting Nashville the same weekend!

I really wanted his glasses. He wasn’t letting that happen…

They have live music at every bar. Paul was really excited about it.

To say I was struggling Sunday morning is an understatement. There was no way I was going for a run. Bob made his specialty banana pancakes and then we went to the pool to sweat out the alcohol relax. It was a great weekend and it was really hard to leave! Tiffany and Drew – Thank you so much for your awesome hospitality! Such a great weekend filled with friends, food, drinks and great weather!

This past weekend I met up with some great Chicago running bloggers! Next post coming soon!