Sunday, January 29, 2012

Lululemon Warehouse Sale and a Blogger Get Together

On Thursday after work one of my twitter friends told me there was a Lululemon Warehouse Sale going on in Rosemont.  I was intrigued and checked online to see how far it was from me and if I could get there easily.  It ended up being a 50 minute bus and train ride over to the convention center, so I planned to go Friday.  

I woke Friday morning and went on a great 5.4 mile run.  Since I finished Unbroken on my last run I started listening to a new book.  I decided on 11/22/63: A Novel by Stephen King.  I have never read one of his books before but the idea of time travel and trying to stop the assassination of President Kennedy intrigued me.  So far so good!  

After the run I took the bus and train over to Rosemont.  I only own two pieces of Lululemon clothing, some great running crops and compression socks, both of which I purchased at the outlet in Orlando.  I think they make great things, but it is expensive, so I was looking forward to getting some good deals.  I had heard that the lines might get kind of long so I was prepared with my iPhone for entertainment.  I arrived around 2:45pm and the volunteers were saying the line was shortest it had been all day.  The line kept a moved pretty fast and I was inside the room within 45 minutes.  There was a DJ blasting music and the large convention room was organized into rows by size.  There were shirts, tanks, shorts, pants, and accessories.  I tried to take a picture, but it didn't really turn out.  I thought it might be kind of crazy in there, but it wasn't really.  There was enough room to look through the racks and people weren't packed inside.  I grabbed some things to try on and went to the dressing room which was just a large, open room with a few mirrors around the perimeter.  I was wearing leggings so I just slipped the clothes on over.  I decided on a two items and made my way to the checkout line just in time to get an extra 10% off my purchase!  

I thought the prices were pretty good, not as cheap as Target (which actually has some great workout gear), but good for Lululemon.  I ended up getting the cute Run: Speed Skirt and the Run: Swiftly Tech shirt for $65 total, which is more than 40% off.  There were plenty of ladies, and gentlemen, walking out with two or more giant bags of gear, but I was happy with my purchases.  I can't wait for the warmer weather so I can wear them!   

Saturday evening I met up with some local bloggers for yoga and dinner.  A few weeks ago Marisa and Diana emailed asking if I was free for another blogger get together.  We had fun last time so I was totally game.  We got two more Chicago bloggers to join in as well: Alexandria, who I met briefly at the Rudolph Run, and Katie who I met up with twice last year.  Thankfully I got the weekend off work and could join in.  

We all met at the Lakeview Moksha Yoga Center where they offer a free community yoga class.  The class was good.  It was the longest I have ever done yoga (an hour and half), but the time actually went by quite fast.  It was a level one/two class that focused on balance in the poses.

Afterwards we made our way just down the street to Native Foods Cafe.  It is a completely vegan restaurant that has quite an assortment of meals.  It initally opened in Los Angeles and has recently popped up in a few more cities with three built in Chicago within the past year.  Diana has written nothing but goods things about the cafe, so I was excited to try it.  I am not a vegan, but was up for trying something new.  A few things on the menu sounded really good, but I decided on the Portabello and Sausage Burger with Seasoned Native Fries.  
The burger was seasoned seitan, which is a wheat, meat like product.  The presentation was nice, but the look of the actually seitan threw me off a bit.  The seitan was well seasoned and had a meat-like texture.  It was different and had a good flavor (I really liked the mushrooms and pesto), but I'm not sure I would get the sandwich again.  I will go back to Native Foods to try something else though.  The other ladies food looked delicious.  Everything that came out was so fresh and colorful! 
It was a nice little get together and we had a good time chatting and hanging out.

Sunday I got up and ran a relaxed 3.75 miles.  There was a light dusting of snow, but the run went really well.  My mom was running the inaugural Tinker Bell Half Marathon at Disneyland, so I was cheering her on virtually.  After my run I picked up some tasty doughnuts at Dinkel's Bakery (they are the best) and made a homemade pizza while lounging around and catching up on some TV shows.

Are you a fan of Lululemon?  Have you ever tried seitan or a vegan meal? 

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Quick Five for Friday

I am joining the Five for Friday crowd this week for a quick update of what's been going on!

1. I just finished off a six day work week and am happy to have the weekend off.  There is a Lululemon Warehouse Sale in town this weekend that I plan on checking out and a few local bloggers are going to get together for yoga and dinner Saturday. 

2. Last Friday a little snowstorm hit Chicago which covered everything in snow.  It was really pretty.  I couldn't resist walking home through it.  About 5-8 inches were on the ground by the time it ended.  The weather since has included rain and warmer temperatures so now there are only a few piles of snow left...
On my way back home from the store Friday afternoon.
My party outfit. (sorry for the blurry picture...)
3. That same night there was a big holiday party for the whole hotel at work.  I am more of a quiet person and was a little unsure about going.  My coworkers have been talking up the party, pretty much since I started, and made me promise that I would come and dance.  Because of the snow there were some delays and problems with public transit, but I ended up making it downtown.  Some people who live in the suburbs couldn't make it through though.  The party had a 1920s theme and the grand ballroom was fully decorated.  There were prizes and  food and dancing.  We all had a fun evening!  

4. I recently finished listening to Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand.  I like to listen to books when I run and this was such a good one to run with.  It tells the story of Louis Zamperini who went from being a rebellious kid to a runner at the Berlin Olympics to an airman for the United States to a prisoner of war in Japan.  The book is the story of his life and all the experiences he went through.  It reads like a fiction book, but is all factual.  It is almost unbelievable everything he went through and a truly amazing story!  I can't recommend this book enough. 

5. Registration for the Chicago Marathon is Wednesday.  I'm excited to register for my first marathon and am crossing my fingers I get a spot! 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

A Last Minute Trip Home

I just wanted an easy trip home for the weekend to spend some time with my mom, see the cats, and relax at home.  I have been feeling homesick recently (even though I was just home a few weeks ago, it was just too short) and when I noticed I had three days off from work I thought I would check what a flight home would be.  I checked Wednesday night and it was good deal so I bought them.  I packed my bags and made plans to leave right after work Thursday to fly home to Orlando.   
Unfortunately, a bit of snow storm hit the midwest and caused delays.  Initially the flight was delayed 15 minutes.  Then 30 more.  Then we were told our plane had been diverted to St. Louis and we would not depart until 11:35.... Ugh.  I found a spot on the floor and laid down, waiting for the flight.  It had been a long day.  I randomly woke up at 5:45am and couldn’t get back to sleep.  When the plane finally arrived it still took awhile to actually get off the ground, because of the storm, and we didn't end up leaving until 12:30am CST.   I tried to sleep on the flight, but think I only got in 15 minutes.  I was really tired when the plane landed at 4am EST.  My mom picked me up from the airport and as soon as I got home crawled into bed and  slept until about 10:30am the next day. 
I was glad to see these furry faces this weekend! (Callie, Daisy, and Marbles)
Friday we made a plan for the weekend and went to the grocery store.  After our stop at Whole Foods we made sure to grab some Jeremiah's Ice.  I only discovered the deliciousness of this place a few months before I left Orlando and was so glad my mom thought to stop there after the store.  I got the gelati with cookies and cream ice and swirl ice cream - oh so good!  
I was still pretty tired from the night before and ended up taking a nice nap on the couch for a couple hours.  Afterwards mom and I headed to the gym to get in a workout.  I haven't been to an actual gym for months, so it was a nice change of pace.   We spent about 35 minutes there.  I did the rowing machine, a mini circuit on the weight machines, and ended with the elliptical.  

We came home and enjoyed homemade Mexican pizza for dinner, which was very good.  Since I don't have a cable or a TV in my apartment I settled in bed and watched some TV before falling to sleep pretty soon there after.

Saturday morning mom and I got up to run through the neighborhood.  She left a little earlier to get in 8.25 miles.  (She has the Disneyland Tinkerbell Half Marathon coming up in two weeks!)  I went out for 4.25 miles.  The weather was perfectly sunny and cool.  The last mile or so I really sped things up, and ended up running a 10:30 mile!  I'm pretty sure that's the fastest I have every run before.  I ended feeling great!  

After a quick shower, mom, Andy (my step-dad), and I headed to Bananas for brunch.  Andy had purchased a Groupon so we decided to check it out.  I had heard good things and after our runs we were hungry for some good food.  Everything on the menu looked pretty good. Andy ordered the Chicken and Waffles, I got the Crab Cakes Benedict (with scrambled eggs) and mom got the Caprese sandwich.  Mine was OK, the hashbrowns were no good though.  Mom's sandwich wasn't that great either, honestly, we could have made something better at home.  The Chicken and Waffles was really the best.  We're glad we tried it, but probably won't go back (maybe we just got the wrong things). 

While in town I wanted to check out the Outlet Malls to shop so we headed there next.  We are having a Holiday Party at work for the whole hotel next week and I needed a dress.  I ended up finding something at Banana Republic.  We shopped around some more, but I didn't end up finding any shoes to go with it.  I did find some good shoes for commuting in the city though. 

For dinner that evening mom and Andy made these fabulous corn cakes with shrimp.  She has told me several times about how good these cakes were and she wasn't joking.  They were served with a tomato, avocado relish and homemade ranch dressing, so tasty!  

We ended the evening with another delicious homemade treat: triple coconut cheesecake (from this recipe), which was amazing.
Sorry, not the best picture, but it tasted great!  I drizzled some dark chocolate on it too.
Sunday morning we had waffles, hashbrowns, and eggs at home (a much better breakfast than the day before).  My plan was to just have a lazy Sunday at home and that's pretty much what we did.  We Skyped my brother Patrick and watched some TV.  I wanted to get some kind of exercise in that day, but was feeling kind of lazy.  After going back and forth we ended up taking a nice walk around the neighborhood, which I'm glad we did.  After enjoying some leftovers for lunch, mom and I sat down to watch the DVD of Adele Live at The Royal Albert Hall.  A few years ago one of her songs was the free download on iTunes and I have been hooked ever since.  It was really cool to watch her show.  She sounds exactly like she does on her records, which is the mark of a talented singer for sure.  

By the time we finished the DVD, it was time for me to catch my flight home.  Saying goodbye is always the hardest part about going back.  I really like my job and living in Chicago, but being away from family is tough.  I always enjoy spending time at home.  After a tearful goodbye I made my way through security and to the terminal to catch my flight.  

When I got back to Chicago it was cold and snow was all over the ground.   It was a bit of struggle to haul my luggage through, but the snow made everything look really pretty.

Hope everyone enjoyed the weekend and has a good week ahead!

Thursday, January 5, 2012

A Look Back at 2011 and Looking Forward to 2012

I have to say that 2011 was a pretty great year.  Here are some of the highlights:

Ran my first half marathon in January at Disney World
Volunteered at the Disney Princess Half Marathon.
Was an assistant coach for Girls on the Run.
Discovered I really like listening to books while running.

Completed my second half marathon, the IronGirl in Clearwater.
Reached a milestone of losing 100 pounds.
Volunteered at the Chicago Marathon.
Met some local bloggers.
Ran my first 15K and ran with my mom for the first time.
Had an active holiday with my family.

Over the year I have also become a faster runner and joined in some group runs with Fleet Feet, even becoming a member of their FF Cheer team.  I completed seven races this year and set new personal records at a 5K, 10K, and half marathon.  I even found a job that I enjoy and have also met some great people here in Chicago.  

I feel like I have grown a lot this past year and half since graduating college.  Losing weight and becoming healthier has really changed my whole outlook on life.  I never imagined that I could feel the way I feel about myself now.  I am excited to continue my journey!

After such a good year, what will 2012 have to bring?  More of the good stuff I hope!  There are always new things to try, new foods to eat, new places to go, and new people to meet and I am open to all of that.  Here are a few things I am looking forward to doing:
  • Keep a positive outlook on life.
  • After volunteering and watching the Chicago Marathon I know that I want to complete one myself this year.  I am leaning towards Chicago, but am open to others. 
  • Move to a better apartment that is closer to the city.
  • Get my own domain name.
  • To continue my healthy lifestyle.  I am going to figure out and reach my happy, healthy weight this year.  I am so close to being there! 
  • Keep learning.
So here's to the start of a wonderful new year!!

Source: via Cate on Pinterest

How was 2011 for you?  Do you have any goals or resolutions for the new year?  Any advice on what should be my first marathon?