Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Chicagoland - Trip 2

It was another quick turnaround... got back from Canada just before Midnight on Sunday.  On Monday night, I was on my way out to Chicago/Wisconsin again.

Monday, Jan 19:
After landing and driving to my hotel, I got in a midnight run at the hotel.   I hadn't done the 14 miler that was scheduled the previous week.  I had planned on doing it after work and before the flight, but I wasn't able to get it in.  I decided that I'd swap weeks, and that the previous week would be the 6/6/6 week (6 miles, 3x that week), and that this week, I'd do the 5/4/14, instead.  5.0 in 41:28, 8:18 average, 2 degrees of incline = 7:58 effort.

Didn't run Tuesday or Wednesday.  Dinners out with colleagues.

Thursday, Jan 22:
55 min body weight strength session in the hotel.  Legs were too dead/not awake to run at 5am, but I felt like the strength session would give me decent cardio, and it was good.

Friday, Jan 23:
At 6am, got in 5.0 in 50:27, 8:30 average.  Last night, I had ambitiously thought that I may be able to get in 14 miles before work and woke at 5am, but no, haha... slept in a bit more, and only did 5.  Nose-breathed the whole time.  My head felt either dehydrated or oxygen-deprived afterwards, although I had felt fine during the run.

Later that day, I explored Milwaukee.  That took a while to learn how to spell.  Friday night was for Milwaukee, and the weekend would be reserved for Chicago.

I went to a Jelly Belly Warehouse (not factory) tour.  There was a train that made a loop around the building, with stops where they showed videos that taught you about the history and the making of Jelly Belly Jelly Beans.  I customize software [and therefore tour and ask many questions about and design processes] for Warehouses , so it was kind of interesting to see how similar warehouses for my company were, to a warehouse for a jelly bean company.  Afterwards, you got free samples, and you got to shop around for irregularly shaped reject beans at a great prices.  It was a cute, nice way to de-stress after a work week.

 (Beer-flavored jelly beans!  Nothing remarkable about the flavor, though.)

After that, I went to Lakefront Brewery, for a factory tour and the most sampling that I've ever done.  You got 4x tokens for 8-oz samples, plus a voucher for a free pint-full at a local bar.  I got there early, so that I could pace myself.  I ended up using only 3 tokens, and I saved the last one.  And for the pint, I only drank the tiniest bit.

Good­ beers, unscripted and funny tour.  After the tour and a visit to the gift shop, I jogged (to limit the cold) over to one of the local gastro pubs, where I got a kale and shrimp salad, and a pint.  After eating, I was determined to see the marina on the lake.  It ended up being too dark to see much, and the downtown had a lot of restaurants along the way, but there weren’t many large buildings along the waterfront.  

Saturday, Jan 24:

The next morning, after breakfast, I drove down to Chicago.  Since check-in wasn’t officially until 3pm, I parked close to the lakeshore and decided to do my 14er in the morning, and to hit the Lincoln Park Zoo at the turnaround point, since I had wanted to see that anyway.  A couple of weeks ago, it was snowy, and visibility was limited.  This time, it was bright and sunny, and most of the snow had melted.  The water was strikingly bright blue.  Same as last time, though, there were many fast-looking runners out.

I wasn’t sure what to expect at a zoo in the middle of a big city.  It was cold, too, so I wasn’t sure how they’d keep the animals out.  It turns out that they have a good mix of indoor and outdoor exhibits, and the animals didn’t seem to mind the temperature so much.  I was so happy that there were indoor exhibits and bathrooms.  They had different sections for primates, African animals, 4-legged mammals, and farm animals.  I’ve liked giraffes ever since I commandeered a stuffed animal giraffe that my mom impulse-bought at a grocery store (my mom’s so cute).  Their antennae are so odd.  Another odd animal, which I’m not sure that I’ve ever seen before in-person, is the camel.  They’re huge, and their humps are not as symmetrical and consistently shaped from animal-to-animal, as I expected.

The trip back felt much shorter than the outbound trip, although my legs were feeling much more fatigued now.  I picked up lakeshore pebbles at the beach and stuck them in a pocket in my backpack, as I neared the end of the run.  It turned out, though, that it was the same pocket that held my Go Pro Hero, and it took me a while to figure out that the sounds of the rocks banging against each other weren’t natural.  I remembered that my Go Pro was in one of the pockets, and I pulled out my now scratched up Go Pro outer case.  Ouch.  On the bright side, it was kind of out-dated anyway, and it was in the plastic casing.  But now, the pictures taken from within the casing probably won’t be the same again.  #regret

It wasn’t a continuous run because of the zoo visit, but in total, I got in about 13.3 miles in 2:16:46, 10:16 average.

I checked in at my hotel, then went out on foot to explore the Navy Pier, the Hancock Tower, and the Magnificent Mile shopping street.  I was glad to have found a relatively cheap hotel with free parking, because the rates in downtown were ridiculous.

It was cool to visit the Ferris Wheel from Divergent, and to visit the Hancock Tower from Divergent.  Between the two, I got hungry, and happened to pass by Bombay Wraps, which offered Indian Food in whole wheat Roti.  They had sweet potato fries, too.  It was fresh, healthy, fast, creative, very reasonably priced, and awesome. 

The sun was already setting, so I missed the opportunity to watch the sunset from the Hancock Building, but I headed that way anyway.  For $5 extra, I got a day-and-night ticket duo for the Tower, which allowed 2 visits within 48 hours.  The views were nice and well-worth it, even in the dark.  I ended up hanging out there for quite some time, soaking in the views from different sides of the building.  The east side faced towards Lake Michigan, and the only thing you could really see was the Navy Pier and the Ferris wheel.  Towards the South, you had the best views of the city skyline, including the Sears Tower, which is taller than the 100-story Hancock Tower.  To the West, I could see the Rock-and-Roll McDonalds, which is the 50th McD ever, and which has a 2-lane drivethrough.  It was right in front of my motel, so I could see that, too.  Then, towards the North, I could see where I had been running earlier that day.

I had hit some stores on Michigan Avenue along the way, like the American Girl store and the Garmin store.  On my way back, I stopped by the Water Tower, Ghiradelli, and Eataly (Mario Bartolli’s grocery + restaurant + brewery… a foodie’s paradise), where I bought some pesto, Nutella on bread, and Hazelnut spread.  

Sunday, Jan 25:
The next morning, I had a few hours before I’d have to head out for my afternoon flight.  I had wanted to see more of Grant and Millenium Parks, and given the parking costs, running was the most efficient way.  It wouldn’t hurt to get in a bit of a jog, either.  It ended up being raining… not snowing, which would’ve been preferable, but raining and cold.  It didn’t look like it was going to let up, and I was losing time, so I went out anyway.  I saw the Michigan Avenue bridge with lots of magnificent buildings around it, although visibility was limited due to the rain.  The Bean was remarkably deserted, since it was not long after sunrise, and it was raining.  I made it my goal to head to the Museum district at the far end of the park, then head back.  It ended up being about 7.4 mi in 1:13:23, 9:55 ave.  I debated on whether to log this as a run because it was slow, and because there was stop-and-go with taking pictures, but I did get in blood flow and cardio, so I counted it.

After a shower and checkout, I headed out on foot again, to hit Chicago Raw, a raw food vegan café.  Too many choices, too little tummy capacity.  I had a “Mock Tuna Pate” sandwich, where the tuna is replaced by ground almonds, and seriously, I wouldn’t have known that it wasn’t tuna.  It was very flavorful, too.  I noticed a Whole Foods across the street, where I did a bit of shopping (got a vegan cheesecake slice to save for later), before heading back to the Hancock Tower for another visit.  Because of the rain and the poor visibility, I was the only visitor up there for half of the time, and there were only a couple of others who came in later.  It was better at some times than others, but generally, visibility worsened.  It was still good to get a different perspective on last night’s views, though, and I also tried “The Tilt”, which tilts you 30 degrees forward, above the roads.  After getting my fill, I headed to the airport to go home.

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