Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Running Trails

Moving to a new city means discovering brand new running routes and trails.  The past two weeks I have been doing just that.  Luckily my apartment is near some great running locations which is a big plus in my book!  
A hop, skip, and a jump from our building is a track.  This place is always busy.  Soccer games happen every night and looking out some of our windows we see people running or walking the track every day.  When you see that it kind of encourages you to go out and run yourself.

There are also a couple of parks nearby that have run and bike trails.  I haven't explored the whole park, but what I have is really nice.  There are even some hills in the park, which is quite different than what I am used to.  There were literally only two hills that I ran on in Orlando: one was a small hill and the other an overpass.  But hills are good, right?  I think it can only make me a stronger runner.  

Right now the grass is green and the trees are full.  There are tons of birds, geese, and giant squirrels (seriously the squirrels here are the biggest I have ever seen!) everywhere too.  Although the weather has been quite strange here - warm and sunny one day and then windy, rainy, and cold the next - I want to take advantage of the pretty scenery while it is around.  I know that once winter comes it will be different. 
Little goslings
Of course just running down all the neighborhood sidewalks is a new adventure.  There are many cute tree lined streets with plenty to see.  

I have also joined a kind of running club at the local Fleet Feet store.  Every Wednesday night they have a Chick's Night run where 20-30 ladies show up to run three to six miles.  Women of all levels and paces show up.  I was really nervous about going and checking it out all by myself, but it has been OK so far.  It is free to join and you record the miles you run each night and are awarded prizes depending on how many miles you accrue.  So at 25 miles you get a free tech t-shirt for example.  Also after the run there is usually some kind of seminar, trunk show, or giveaway. 

I get nervous putting myself out there and meeting new people sometimes.  I feel like I don't know what to say.  I am kind of quiet person in general and it usually takes some time before I feel comfortable.  I am trying to put myself out there though.  The coordinator of our group is friendly and I ran a mile or so with another lady in the group.  Most everyone there knows each other and has their own groups that they run with, so I feel like a bit of an outsider.  Plus I'm not a very fast runner.  (However, I have had two pretty speedy runs running with the group.)  I am going to keep going and hopefully meet some more people.  I am trying to convince Kristin (my roomie & friend) to join because she is a bit more extroverted, so I am hoping she can help me meet some new people.  

I have found that I am also running faster here than I was in Orlando.  I don't know if it is the weather, the city, or I am just pushing myself more.  I am still not very speedy by any means, but it is exciting to improve my speed.  Chicago has proven to be good a running place for me so far!  Plus there are lots of race possibilities here.  I have made a list of some I am considering, and hopefully I will be able to do at least a few.  Money is certainly an issue, but I am willing to make a few sacrifices to get in a good race because they are fun!

In fact there was a Groupon deal about a month ago for the Champions Run 5K.  I got about half off the race registration fee so decided to sign up.  I originally wanted to go for the 10K, but it sold out.  I think the race will be good, plus we get a nice tech t-shirt and a pint glass!  The race isn't until August, but it is the one race I have on the schedule right now.  Hopefully I will get a job soon and sign up for one that is sooner too!

There is lots more exploring to be done!

Do you ever just go out and run to see where the road takes you?  Any advice as to how I can open up a bit more with my new running group?      

Monday, May 23, 2011

Self Magazine's Workout in the Park

I have been in my new city, Chicago, for just over a week now.  I have started making and understanding a map of the city in my head, but there are just so many things here it that it still is growing.  I have been doing lots of walking, busing, and L-ing (the city train) through the city.  I am still on the job hunt, but it looks like some things are going to come through this week, so I am staying positive.  Hopefully I will have good news to share soon though!

One of the great things about living in a big city is that there is access to cool events.  One of those cool events happened this weekend in Grant Park.  Self Magazine tweeted about their Workout in the Park event happening in Chicago, so I clicked to check what it was all about.  Essentially it is a day full of workout classes, giveaways, music, and swag that takes place in the park.  It sounded interesting to me so I asked my roommate and friend, Kristin, if she wanted to join me.  She was game so we bought our $20 tickets to the event.  (The price included a year's subscription to Self Magazine and the other half was donated to Cancer and Careers and Susan G. Komen For the Cure.)  

The weather forecast called for cloudy weather and possible rain, but the event would go on anyway so we headed over to Grant Park.  Part of the park was blocked off with tents from all the sponsors around the edges, a big main stage area, and two smaller workout zones.  There were over 600 people in attendance and the energy for the whole day was really upbeat, with lots of power music blasting through the speakers.  As we walked in we were given a Self reusable shopping bag to collect all of our swag.  

Kristin and I headed over to the Quiet Zone to start the morning with Sunrise Salutations.  Lovely orange Self yoga mats were organized in the field for us to use (we did see them clean everyone after each class).  This was a simple 20 minute yoga class that really stretched out our muscles and got us ready for the rest of the day.  The session was sponsored by lucy Activewear and everyone in the class walked away with a great fitness tote bag!

We decided to walk around the booths and check out what all of the sponsors had to offer.  There were tons of free samples and giveaways to enter so we stopped at everyone!  Garnier had a wheel with twelve spots where you could spin to win a Garnier branded gift, Garnier product, or an iTunes card.  
Kristin spun first and grabbed some styling mousse.  I was up next and was lucky enough to land on one of the two giftcard spots and won myself $10 iTunes cash.  I was pretty excited!  

We browsed the activewear at the lucy, Asics, Athleta, and Jockey tents as well.  Soon our bags were pretty full of free samples of Popchips, Coconut Water, Luna Bars, lotions, perfumes, and coupons.  
Check out all the swag!
Next we got wristbands for the Core Strength class in the Reebok Toning Zone.  It began to drizzle just a tad, but thankfully the rain stayed away.  This was an intense 20 minute class. We did lots of standing crunches, planks, leg lifts, and squats.  I had really had to power through the last circuits of some of those!  

Then back to the Quiet Zone we went to try BodyART.  It was a fusion class of cardio, yoga, dance, and Tai Chi moves.  I was a bit unsure about it to begin with, but my body felt good doing all of the moves and poses.  The instructor told us that the class was designed to do just that.  We really got some great cardio and stretching done.  
Wristbands for the day
After a quick snack of popchips (which were really tasty) and an orange I brought from home, we joined the Retro-Robics workout happening on the mainstage.  This was a classic aerobics style class, but with great 80s music.  I am not the best at picking up some of those moves right away, but had a good time working up a sweat to the music.  
After that heart-pumping class we stopped back at the Garnier tents for a free facial.  I had never had one before and although this wasn't the full deal it was both relaxing and refreshing.  We got to lay back in comfy chairs while someone massaged our faces with moisturizer. 
Fresh faces post facial!
As the event was coming to an end the MC came onstage to announce some of the giveaway winners.  Kristin and I both listened intently to catch our names.  And guess what?  I won something!!  I won a $100 giftcard for lucy Activewear- how cool is that?!  I had never heard of the company before Saturday, but after seeing some of their clothes at their tent I am excited to have some myself!   

Finally it was time for the last class of the day - Glee Club!  Kristin and I are big Glee fans and were excited about this class.  It did not disappoint!  We rocked out to seven or eight Glee songs with the four fitness/dance instructors.  I was singing loud, dancing crazy, and smiling like a fool, I'm sure.  It was great end to such a fun day in the park.  

I am so glad we had the opportunity to check out Workout in the Park.  The event was really well organized with great fitness instructors, sponsors, and volunteers.  We had an awesome day!

Have you ever been to a big fitness event like Workout in the Park?   

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Journey to Chicago

I am here!  It has a been a busy week, with a few trip-ups, but overall an interesting journey.

The adventure began Wednesday as I packed my car.  Everything had to be organized just right so that it could all fit.  My car was stuffed, with just enough room for my mom and me and a small bag of food, for car snacks.  We left in the early evening so that we could arrive midday Thursday.  We took turns napping and driving throughout the 19 hour trip.  After our first stop, mom was in the driver's seat.  I took a short nap and when I woke up we realized that we were back in Florida!  We had gone the wrong way and lost an hour of driving time.  It was bummer, but we turned around and got back on track.  I am not sure why my mom didn't realize we heading back to Florida, but at least we didn't go too far south. By the time the sun was rising the next day we were driving through the mountains of Tennessee and heading towards the hills of Kentucky.  

At a gas stop in Kentucky, my nine year old VW Passat began to make some funny noises.  My car was not in great condition, but I had never heard a sound like that.  I checked the oil, pumped some gas, and hoped for the best as we got back on the highway.  I took a 30 minute nap and woke up to my mom saying that the car wasn't accelerating.  The strange clicking noise started again and we looked for the closet exit.  As we pulled off the highway and headed toward the gas station, the car just shut off - the engine completely died.  Thank goodness we weren't in the middle of the highway, but we did have to push the car into the gas station.  Luckily a guy stopped his car to help us out.  After trying to start the car again with no luck, I called AAA to get some help.  A tow truck was scheduled to take us to a car shop within 45 minutes.  

While we were waiting for the truck we saw the Delivering Happiness Bus.  Mom was interested in what it was about so she checked out the website and saw that it was a tour for the Delivering Happiness book by Zappos.com CEO, Tony Hsieh.  (The book is on her list to read, so she was pretty interested.)  We certainly need some happiness and before we knew it the driver, Steve, walked over to our car with two of the books for us.  

A good luck thumbs up for going to Chicago!
One of Zappos.com's distribution centers was just down the road and he was stopping by the gas station to grab a sub.  He was a super nice guy and tried to help us figure out what was going on with my car.  He invited us to check out the tour bus which was pretty cool.  It was like the busses you see on TV with little bunk beds, a lounge area in the back, a bar, and a big screen TV.  We sat in the air conditioned bus and had good conversation with Steve about the tour, the book, the company and other things.  Finally the tow truck arrived and we said our goodbyes to Steve and were off to the car shop.  
The shop began to look at my car as mom and I tried to figure out what would be our next step.  I was just going to sell my car in Chicago anyways so I didn't want to spend a ton of money getting it fixed and soon decided that it would just be best to rent a car and sell my old one somewhere nearby.
Back on the road.
The receptionist found us a place to rent a car one way, they offered to drive us to the airport to pick it up, they helped us moved all of my stuff out of my car and into another car, and the owner bought my car from me right there!  The people we met in Kentucky were so friendly and helpful, it was almost unbelievable.  I am so thankful for all of their help.  After a few hours we were in a new car and back on the road to Chicago.  As we passed through Indiana we got to see a huge field full of windmills.  There must have been hundreds of them - it was neat to see.  
We pulled up to my apartment around 8 PM.  With the help of my roommate Kristin, we unloaded the car and got all of my things up the steep, curvy, four flights of stairs.  After dropping the car off at the airport we picked up some deep dish pizza and finally got back to the apartment around 11 PM.  Mom and I were exhausted and just ready to get to sleep after being up for two days.  We quickly made my bed and passed out.  The next morning I think we both woke up in the exact same positions that we fell asleep in.  

The next day we got some some grocery shopping done.  One great thing about living in Chicago is being able to shop at Trader Joe's.  Now I get to have lots of wonderful Trader Joe's goods in my apartment!  We spent the rest of the afternoon cleaning and organizing my room and the kitchen.  
Later that evening the three of us, Kristin, my mom, and I headed out to Bucktown for a tasty dinner.  Even though it was a cold night, we hit up iCream for a frozen creation.  This place was awesome!  We got to choose what kind of ice cream or frozen yogurt we wanted any flavors or mixins.  Everything is mixed together in liquid form and poured into Kitchen Aid mixers.  Then it is mixed and frozen with liquid nitrogen, which was pretty cool (literally!).  Super fresh, amazingly delicious ice cream was made.  I enjoyed white chocolate ice cream with strawberries and chocolate chips.  I cannot tell you how wonderful it was!  

 From this to that
Saturday we went on a bike tour.  It was a cold and windy morning for a bike ride.  We each got big comfy bikes with a helmet.  Mom and I volunteered to be the caboose, which was not really the best spot because we got stuck behind the slow pokes, but it was a interesting tour.  We got to explore some different areas of the city.  
It was a rainy day so we didn't stay out much longer and soon it was time to take my mom to the airport.  It was really hard to say goodbye to her.  We have always had a good relationship, but we have become so much closer since I moved home last year.  After lots of tears, I had to force myself to say goodbye for now and walk away.  I am really going to miss seeing her everyday, just to talk to and hang out with.  

So, to say the least, I have had quite the adventure already.  I am still trying to figure everything out, unpack, get organized, and get used to my new place.  Although I am nervous about being on my own, I have hope that good things are to come! 

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Girls on the Run Final Celebration - I-Drive 5K Race Recap

Girls on the Run is amazing!  The lessons, the girls, the running, and fun make it such a fabulous program and our run Saturday was just a cherry on top of it all!  We participated in the I-Drive 5K Run at Pointe Orlando and had a great time.

It was an early morning that began around 5:45 AM.  I made sure I had all the race packets and my gear and headed off to Pointe Orlando.  I ate half a Clif bar and had some water on my way across town.  Everyone met around the GOTR table and pinned on their race bibs, D-tags, put on some tattoos, and got ready to run.  Victoria, over at Running Peanut, volunteered to be a Running Buddy today as well.  She is super friendly and it was great to meet her!  (check out her blog for some great race photos too)

After a big group photo we got to the start line just in time and hopped into a free space.  All of our girls had Running Buddies (mostly their parents) so Victoria and I just ran together and encouraged the girls.  We stuck near one of the girls in our troop and ran with her the whole time.  

The weather was perfect for running!  The course was a pretty standard loop with one hairpin turn.  The turn made it easy to spot the other girls in our team though, which was great because we got to cheer each other on! 

Check out that GOTR race bling!
We kept a pretty steady pace throughout the race with a walk break or two each mile.  The three of us chatted as we ran and helped our runner finish strong.  She is great sprinter and flew through the finish line.  

Once everyone had finished we met up and all the girls received their finisher's medal.  Everyone really pushed themselves and had times ranging from 25 -39 minutes!  Amazing right?!  I am so proud of all the girls; they are awesome.  

Some of our 5K finishers
A few group pictures and lots of congratulations later it was time for us to part ways.  It was sad to say goodbye.  I truly enjoyed the time I got to spend with the girls this season.  The program is for the girls, but I learned a lot from them as well.  It was a spectacular way to end the season and we all had such a great time!  
Girls on the Run is so much fun!  Woo!  

Thursday, May 5, 2011

One Week to Go & Lots to Do

I have been busy trying to finalize all of the details for the big move to Chicago.  I am moving to a big, new city far away from most of my family.  This is really a huge deal and consciously I have know this since I made the decision, but it is really starting to hit me as the days grow closer.  I want to do this.  I need to do this.  Chicago has a certain energy and charm that appeals to me.  I am nervous, but excited to see what happens next!

I have a countdown on my dashboard until moving day and it is telling me I only have 6 days left.  Time has flown by because I swear it just said 41 days left the other day.  I will be packing up my VW Passat with my stuff to take the 18 hour drive to Chicago with my mom.  I looked at several different options in moving such a long distance, but driving ended up being the cheapest and easiest.  I won't need a car living in the city so the plan is to sell my car soon after we get up there.

I have a big to do list written up and am slowly checking things off it.  Here are a few of the things I have done:

The upstairs living room is full of my stuff.
  • I have been going through all the stuff that I had in my college apartment and weeding out the things I don't use or need.  
  • Washed all blankets, towels, and sheets to pack.
  • I sold a few things on ebay to make some extra money. 
  • Donated lots of books and clothes to Goodwill that are too big for me now. 
  • Went through my huge pile of magazines and recycled the rest.
  • I got all the trash out of my car, cleaned all surfaces, and vacuumed it.  Plus I got my tires rotated - I want to make sure the road trip will be as smooth as possible.
  • Called to have car insurance end next week.
  • Set up appointment to have my car appraised.
  • Began packing up some of my clothes.
  • Packed plates, cups, silverware, pots, pans, and bakeware in boxes. 
  • Ordered a new bed from IKEA and had it delivered to the apartment (my roommate Kristin is already in Chicago.)
  • Set up internet service.

I still have a good bit left to do but it is mostly all detail work like,
  • Getting the measurements for the windows so I can bring the right curtains.
  • Change my mailing address for magazines, bank, and credit cards.
  • Laundry.
  • Finish packing the rest of my clothes.
  • Make sure to bring cleaning supplies.
  • Send some e-mails and apply for some jobs.
  • Print out driving directions.
  • Musics, books, magazines, food and drinks for the car trip.  
  • Figuring out how I am going to organize and fit everything in my car so there is still room for me and my mom.  I might need to ship some things if I don't have enough room.  
I am sure I am forgetting something, but at least I have five more days to figure it out.  Plus there is all the unpacking and shopping to do when I actually get up there.  
I am kind of overwhelmed, not just by my to do list, but the fact that I am actually moving to Chicago.  Fingers crossed everything goes well!   

Our Girls on the Run Final Celebration 5K is this Saturday at Pointe Orlando as well.  This is the last race I have on my schedule right now.  Once I get settled in Chicago I know some race will catch my eye!  For now I am just keeping up with running three days a week and cross-training two.  I know we are going to have a great time this weekend and it will be a nice distraction from the tedious job of moving. 

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Food Trucks!

Sunday night Mom, Andy (my step-dad), and I went to check out TheDailyCity.com's Orlando Food Truck Bazaar #2.  It was such a cool experience and we had a great time.  About 15 trucks participated in the event.  Food trucks usually let customers know where they are through social media, but this was a well organized event to get them all in one place.

Well, what is a food truck?  It is pretty much what it sounds like: a truck (really a RV or trailer) that sells food; it is a restaurant on wheels!  I have only ever seen food trucks on TV and honestly, was kind of unsure about the whole thing, but we had some really great food.  

We got there right when it started because I heard there would be long lines.  The trucks were lined up across the mall parking lot and the lines were already getting long.  I checked out the list of trucks that would be there before so we could get an idea of what places we were going to try.
Excited to try some food! 
Right away my mom got it line for the Yum Yum Cupcake truck, because we love a good cupcake (I mean who doesn't) and we were told they sell out fast.  We ended up trying all of the flavors.  For small cupcakes they were pretty pricey ($2.50 each) and were just OK.  Honestly, they didn't live up to my expectations.   (The from-scratch cupcakes my mom makes are way better in my opinion, but maybe I am biased.)  But they were nice guys with a cute looking truck and business was booming - they sold all the 1400 cupcakes they brought!

While my mom was in line for the cupcakes I headed over to the Travelling Gourmet to grab their Pork Lettuce Wraps. Ohmygosh.  So.  Darn.  Good.  They had a simple truck design, but there concept of organic, fresh, food appealed to me right away.  The wraps had tender shredded pork, black beans, corn salsa, and cheese drizzled with an amazing honey lime dressing all piled into a green crisp lettuce leaf with a small side of plantain chips.  The flavors were just spot on.  In fact, while waiting in a longer line later on I went back to Travelling Gourmet to get another order.  They had one of the shorter lines of the evening, but were definitely one of the best trucks there.
Next up was barbeque from the Red Eye BBQ truck.  Andy headed there first and got in the long line.  We went back in forth between a few items but decided on the Big Daddy which consisted of a cheeseburger topped with BBQ pulled pork and homemade macaroni and cheese.  What a combo right?  All three components were delicious on their own but together it was crazy tasty. 
Holey Moley Delicious.
I then walked over the the Wing Commander to try some wings and chippies (a mix between fries and sliced potatoes).  The simply designed truck was run by a small family.  I waited about 20 minutes and $10 later ended up throwing most of it away.  I was disappointed.  

As we walked around a little more we noticed a truck that wasn't listed online, but sounded too good to pass up - Melissa's Chicken & Waffles.  The line was crazy long for this truck, so mom hopped in line after getting the cupcakes.  This was their first time.  They had a lot of things on the menu, which all sounded great.  All the combination possibilities just led to slow service though.  We spent the rest of our time in this line, but chatted it up with some other awesome foodies.  We talked about what we had tried, what we liked, the food truck experience in general, and how crazy long the line was.  
Mom waiting for Chicken & Waffles.
We waited over two and half hours for these waffles.  As we got to window we found out they were out of gravy, bummer, but waited long enough that we got the food anyway.  We got the Chicken & Waffles and the Berry Good Waffle.  The waffles were gigantic and very good.  Although we didn't have the gravy the chicken had great flavor to it.  The berry waffle was super tasty as well.  The combination of fresh berries, powdered sugar, waffle, and whipped cream was perfect.  We will certainly get this food again.  Yummy indeed!  (We were so happy to finally get the waffle that we dug right in and didn't get a picture of the chicken one.)
Check out that berry goodness!
After we enjoyed our waffles it was past 10:30 PM and we headed back home.  It was quite an experience for a Sunday night.  We really had a great time at the Food Bazaar.  I would have liked to try some of the other trucks but I was sufficiently satisfied with what I ate.  So if there are any food trucks near you I would encourage you to check it out because there is good food to be had!