Monday, July 20, 2015

Chicago Trip 2015

You know my family is hockey obsessed, but you might not know HOW hockey obsessed.  Nicholas has two dream locations that he wanted to visit and they're both hockey related.  Chicago and Canada.    So this summer I decided I would make one of his dreams come true and planned a mini vacation to Chicago.  We drove to Indianpolis Wednesday to pick up my dad and my niece to go on the trip with us.  We left for Chicago Friday morning after spending the day in Indy on Thursday. 

I was nervous about driving in Chicago, but it didn't wind up being that bad.  The traffic wasn't horrible and I never felt like I was going to die.  ha!  

Our first stop was the United Center to see where the Blackhawks (and Bulls) play.  We knew we wouldn't be able to get in, but the boys wanted to see it anyway.  It was HUGE.


The statues where all behind fences so that part was kind of lame.

So we posed for a couple pics and that was it.  We were out of there.  

We had some time to kill before our scheduled bike tour, so we decided to go over and shop on Michigan Avenue.  First stop was the Blackhawks store.

This store was pretty insane.  There was so much stuff and the boys were in heaven looking at all the stuff.

They managed to find something to buy as you can tell by the BIG bag Jack is holding.

We then decided to walk (this will be the theme for the day) to get some lunch.

All Nicholas wanted was some traditional Chicago style pizza.  We opted for the highly recommend Giordano's.

We had to wait 45 minutes for this pizza and it was totally worth the wait.

I'll admit it was quite tasty.

It was crisp on the bottom...

... then layered with ooey gooey cheese and sauce.

Nicholas thought it was the best pizza he's ever had and he is a huge pizza aficionado.

After lunch we headed out on our guided bike tour.  

I'll admit at first I was really nervous as we were riding through the city streets, but after the first few miles we were on less crowded streets and trails and I was able to relax.

We saw Abe!

We rode through "Old Town".

We went to Lincoln Park and walked through the Zoo on our break.

 We had so much fun, but it was sooooo very hot outside and it was very tiring.

 Despite the heat, the ride was both informative and beautiful.

Our last stop on the tour was at the lake.  I was so surprised about how clean the water was.  I'm a Pittsburgher and used to murky, dark water.  I felt like we were in the Caribbean.

 The bike tour was definitely the highlight of our trip and we all loved it.

I promised the girls that we would hit up the American Girl store after the tour and it did NOT disappoint.

They both have dolls already so I let them both pick out an outfit.  Clearly they are happy.

After we hit the American Girl store, we headed out of the city and made our way toward South Bend where we'd spend the night.  We all agreed we could have spent sooooo much more time exploring in the city, but we say goodbye to Chicago... for now.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Friendly Frolic Race Recap 2015

So I never posted about my vacation in the OBX.  I suck at life.  Trying so hard to be a better blogger, but life is so in my way.  That and my laziness.  Nevertheless, I'm here to blog about the Friendly Frolice, which is the 2 mile race that occurs at my sister's and mom's lake community over the 4th of July.

All my family comes in from near and far and we celebrate the 4th at my sister's lake house.  ALL my siblings and ALL my nieces and nephews made it.  With significant others even.  It's an awesome time.  The "party" started on Thursday and the race was on Saturday.  On Friday some of us partied a little too hard and this is who showed up to the race.

Back: Tony (BIL) Sara (sister)
Middle:  Amy (sister) ,Amy (SIL), Dad, Emily (niece), George, Moi
Front:  Jaclyn (niece), Ella, Jack and Nicholas 
I had high hopes for this race.  I've never been able to break 17:00 and I thought this year would be my year to do it. Well that is BEFORE I started drinking on Friday afternoon.  I just started having tons of fun with my family and the beer flowed and I'm not really a drinker.  So come Saturday morning, I did NOT have high hopes for the race.  I was dehydrated, tired... well you know hungover, but I wasn't going to NOT go to the race.  My kids were so excited to run.  All but Nicholas that is.  Nicholas wanted to beat his last year's time (16:xx), Ella wanted to break 22:00 and Jack had a goal of 23:00 (he was going to run/walk with my sister Amy).

Sara has just started running and is almost to her one year anniversary of quitting smoking.  Emily has been running with her and Tony decided to join in the fun for the race.  He doesn't ever run.  Just golf!

My sister in law Amy has lost 22 pounds and was looking so healthy.  I'm so proud of her!  She and Jaclyn didn't have a goal in mind, but to just run and finish.

How cute are Ella and Jaclyn in their matching outfits?  Red, White and Cool for sure!

Ok so my approach for the race was to keep up with my dad.  Yes my 72 year old father!  I knew I had to run an 8:30 pace.  I didn't know if I could do it, but I wasn't going to not try.  We started off soooooooo fast.  I kept looking down at my garmin and it was registering a pace of 7:xx.  I kept  thinking it was wrong because I seemed to be feeling ok and it didn't feel THAT hard.  Well, that was just the beginning of the race talking.

I was behind Nicholas and he seemed to really be struggling.  I ran by him and told him not to worry about pushing himself.  He said he had a cramp.   I felt bad for him.  I kept moving and at the turn around I was at an 8:47 pace.  I thought it was still doable (not impossible).  I'd just have to pick up my pace on the back end (which I've been known to do).  I still had my dad in my sights.  I just needed to push to catch up to him.

Um no!  Turns out my body rejected itself at the turnaround.  I felt like crap and got a HUGE side cramp.  It was so painful and I just stopped and walked.  LAME!  I know it's lame.  Knowing I wasn't going to make it for my goal, I gave up.  Ugh.  I hate even saying that.  I walked until my cramp felt better and mostly went away and started running again.  I wound up walking one more time before the end and Nicholas passed me.

It turns out Nicholas had a bad cramp too and actually barfed two times.  I really think we were all under hydrated going into this race.  So both he and I had a disappointing race.  My dad didn't, however.  He was the first of our group to finish clocking a 16:58 finish!  Nicholas crossed the finish line in 17:48 and I completed the race in a VERY disappointing (for me) 18:33.  Whomp Whomp.

I missed Tony crossing the finish line when I was grabbing water, but he ran and impressive 20:50.  I mean I really just missed him.  I barely even caught Ella and George and snapped this pic from about 100 yards.

Ella pushed really hard to make her goal.  George said he had to push her at the end to give it all she had and make her goal.  She wound up exceeding her goal and stepped on the finish line in 20:52. The poor girl pushed herself so hard.  She wasn't pleased (at that moment). 

Jack and Jaclyn wound up running with my sister, as did Emily.  My sister said Jack kept asking her when he could sprint to the end.  She kept having to hold him back until the last corner.  We he finally got "let loose" he bolted to the end with Jaclyn tailing not far behind.

Jack was so happy and proud of himself.

He didn't quite make his goal of 23:00, but finished right at 24:00 (official time) even though the clock clearly says 24:01.  Ha! Jaclyn was literally 3 seconds behind him.

Amy and Emily were right behind them and the amazing thing is that my sister was soooooo happy.  Normally she looks like she wants to kill us all for making her run and this year she was actually smiling.  I couldn't' believe it.  She and Emily clocked an impressive 24:20 finish.

We saw my sister Sara coming and she didn't look happy.  George yelled at her to sprint to the end and she started smiling a huge smile and took off.  It was so darn cute. I'm proud of my sister for quitting smoking and getting healthy and I'm proud of her 26:22 finish. 

My sister and law Amy was walk running and she looked happy as she rounded the last corner.  I ran up to meet her and run her on in (so I don't have a picture). I was proud of her for coming out and doing this race with us even though she's not a runner.  She finished in 28:52.

I've said how proud I was of everyone, but it's true.  Each runner has a different story and a different pace, but everyone went out and gave their best effort and that's what means the most.  I'm so happy to do this race every year with my family.  Next year I think I'll let the festivities start AFTER the race.  Cheers to the Friendly Frolic 2015!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

MS 150 Escape to the Lake 2015

(As per usual, I'm behind in blogging.  This ride took place the second weekend in June)

So the annual MS 150 came upon us.  My training was lackluster to say the least.  Training consisted for one 24 mile ride and two 13 mile rides.  Yea that'll get you ready for 150 mile over two days.  If you're interested in my training plan let me know and I'll get that right over to you. 

I was definitely nervous about the ride, but I knew I would make it through even if it was slow.  I had my friends by my side (oh and my husband).  

Kelli, Jaime, Tracey and Myself 

We were worried about the weather because it looked like rain for most of the weekend, but it was scattered and off and on.  At this point I can't even remember if it rained on day one (I've slept many times since this ride) but I think it did for a bit.

I pulled into the second rest stop of the day and realized my cleat was falling off my shoe.  Without it, I wouldn't be able to clip into my pedals.  Luckily it hadn't affected anything thus far and I was able to have a guy from a bike shop, who was there volunteering his time, fix my shoe.

I was actually surprised how well I felt the whole first day.  My neck and butt hurt, but I wasn't doing to bad as far as the biking went.  Yes we were slow (13 mph) but we were making it.

I was heading into another rest stop and there was a huge hill leading up to it.  I felt like my back tire felt funny.  I thought I was having a mom moment where I think I have a flat tire (my mom ALWAYS thought she had a flat in the car).  I laughed to myself and thought, "Nah, it's not flat."  Then some guy drove past me and said, "You're looking a little low there."  Yep I had a flat!  I had to walk my damn bike up the hill into the rest stop. Again, I used a volunteer bike shop guy to fix my tire.  Thankfully I know how to time my "events".  

Ok no more "events" please.  I was REALLY happy to be finished with my first day.  No matter how well I felt, being on my bike for a LONG time was taking it's toll and I was glad to be at our last rest stop for the day.  

The lady said to make a funny face, I was the only one who listened 
George and I opted to stay in a hotel room this year instead of the dorm.  So we dropped out bikes and headed for the shuttle.

OMG the hotel room was the best decision of my life.  I was so happy to be sleeping in a nice comfy bed and to take a good shower.  It made getting up the next morning not quite as bad.

The thoughts of getting on the bike day two is always a little daunting, but I did it and even managed faked a smile.

We got off to a fast start and were ready to tackle day 2.  Nate was just behind me on a bridge when I heard a large pop.  I turned and asked, "Was that you?"  He responded, "Yep."  1.3 miles into our ride and we had a flat.  Again, we got lucky and there was a SAG vehicle on the corner who gave Nate a pump so we didn't have to mess with canned air.  The only thing is, once he got in the tube and started to pump it up, the tube was pinched and busted.  So he had to change the tire AGAIN.  It wound up being at least a 20 minute process.

The rest of the day was just getting from rest stop to rest stop and trying to beat the rain.  We made it to the last rest stop (about 10 miles before the finish) before we get held up due to rain. It had been raining pretty heavily and we were soaked, but there was a major thunder storm rolling through and the race officials wouldn't let anyone leave the rest stop.  We hung out under a dripping tent for the 20 minutes or so that it took to pass.

By this point we are all tired and just done.  Ready to be finished, there was nothing that could stop us.  Nothing but a flat tire that is.  5 miles from the finish, Tracey had a flat.

Again, the SAG saved us with a pump (so much easier than compressed air) but we had a bad tube this time.  So AGAIN it was a TWO change process.  We really couldn't catch a break today.  

After what seemed like an eternity, we made it to the finish line.  Yay! After 2 days of riding and almost 150 miles (it was 143 or 147 something like that) we were D.O.N.E. DONE!

Luckily the clouds cleared up and we enjoyed lake Erie and some food in the sun instead of the rain.  

Another MS 150 complete.  I honored to be able to ride for such a great cause, flat tires and all.