Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Exploring Chicago

The Chicago Marathon was a goal race of mine. If you haven't read my race recap yet, feel free to check it out HERE.

Seeing as I had been training for a PR {personal record}, I wanted to avoid racking up the mileage on my legs prior to the race. With that said, I decided to plan my trip accordingly and schedule at least one post-race day in the city.


Although Chicago has plenty of public transit (if you know you, you probably know I big puffy heart public transit), I decided to walk as much as possible to try and keep my legs loose and moving after my race. I guess you could say I succeeded because by the time I got to the airport later that afternoon, I had racked up over 21 miles of walking.

By the time I got to the car in San Diego I had over 22 miles on my feet.

But I'm getting ahead of myself... Let me back up about ten hours and share the sights I saw while exploring Chicago.

I was lucky enough to stay with friends who live near Belmont Harbor (Have you seen the prices of hotels when a World Major Marathon rolls into town?! This kind act alone saved me probably upwards of $900.). They have an amazing condo near the Lakefront Trail so I decided I'd wake up early to watch the sunrise on my walk into the heart of the city.

It's so weird. In San Diego the sun SETS over the water. In Chicago the sun RISES over the water.

You can see Navy Pier and the Ferris Wheel to the left of the city - STOP #1!

Apparently no one has to worry about a "drought" when you live next to Lake Michigan...

My first stop of the day was Navy Pier. It was about 4 miles from my friends' place, so I was already able to rack up a decent amount of steps. Since I got there before 8am nothing was open, but there were still plenty of people exploring.

An eight-ton anchor from the USS Chicago which is at the end of Navy Pier

P for Padot?!

Then it was time to head over to Millennium Park. Although I had stopped by The Bean for the #WeRunSocial meet-up on Saturday morning, I wanted to snap a couple pictures with my race medal and explore more of the area. Thankfully it wasn't super crowded (guess all the runners were still sleeping/ recovering).

I mean, you can always use a #MedalMonday picture, right?!

"Life's short, Run fast." My motto for the Chicago Marathon! {Thanks Sarah Marie Design Studio!}

Buckingham Fountain

And how can I forget the fact that I found McClurg Court?! I mean, it's my hubby's last name (and the Mc to my McDot)!

Someone had told me the Lincoln Park Zoo was free and suggested I hit it up. At this point it was about 10:30am and I figured I'd pop in. There weren't a ton of large animals (maybe they already went "a-courtin'" for the season), but it was still fun to walk through. They had a Fall Fest going on which included a pumpkin patch, hay rides, corn maze, etc.

This is creepy, right?!

The views from the boardwalk at the zoo were STUNNING!

Next to the zoo was the Lincoln Park Conservatory which was also free and open to the public. You better believe I went! Think of it as a large greenhouse with different rooms for the different gardens (a fern room, an orchid room, etc).

Some of the rooms were hot and humid... but beautiful nonetheless!

It's hard to capture the true beauty of all the flowers on your iPhone camera...

By this time I was hungry so went to a nearby Chipotle to scarf down a burrito and call the hubby to give him an update.

"I know guac is extra..." (actually, when you get a veggie item they will give it to you for free)

I wanted to get a picture of the Chicago Theater (it reminds me of the Fox Theater in Detroit or the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor), so I kept racking up the miles and made my way over to the Loop. Well, I forgot it was Columbus Day {to be completely honest, I think this "holiday" is pretty despicable and don't celebrate or acknowledge it} and there happened to be a parade going on. With that said, my picture was less than stellar, but at least I was able to see the marquee.

The roads were closed and there were marching bands and floats going by when I snapped this shot.

On my flight to Chicago I finished the book I packed, so while tooling around town I found a used book store and grabbed a new one. I decided on Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (and sat in a park to read a few pages).

Can you believe I've never read anything by Mark Twain?!

It was definitely a beautiful day to explore the city (they were originally calling for rain on Monday so
I am so glad that when my trip got closer the rain got pushed back to Tuesday)

I had remembered that Niketown had complimentary medal engraving so made my way there, only to find that the line was 45 minutes to an hour (which I thought would cut it a bit too close to when I needed to get on the train and head to the airport). I was able to snap a fun "Run Chi" picture while in the store though so all was not lost.

I realize I'm not amazing at running tangents, but I'd have to assume the extra distance was due to the tall buildings messing with my GPS

By this time it was about 3pm (remember, I left my friends' place around 6am) and I thought I should make my way to the train so I could head to the airport (my flight was at 7pm but the walk to the station was about 30 minutes and the train was another 45 minutes or so). Although there was much more I wanted to see (I had heard amazing things about the architecture boat tours of the city but they didn't start until noon), I decided to save it for another trip and call it a day.

Peace out Chi-town... It's been real but my legs were tired and my hubby and pup were calling!

I've gotta say, I'd consider my Chicago trip a MAJOR success. Not only did I run a HUGE PR at the Chicago Marathon, but I was also able to save my legs by doing my sightseeing the day after the race (and got in a crap-ton of sights!).

PS My #1 Travel Tip - Pack an EMPTY reusable bottle and fill it once you go through TSA security!

Is there anything you think I missed while in Chicago and would suggest for my next trip?

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