A Weekend In Chicago with the Girls

I’m just getting back from a girls weekend. I was able to spend several days with some of my best friends. We have been friends for 20+ years and we try to go on trips together about once every year or other year. This year, we planned a trip to Chicago – just us. No kids, husbands, pets, etc.

What does a girls weekend entail when you’re 30-something and have 2 kids? Well, it was pretty perfect. It included:

Some drinks.

Some delicious dining. Including deep dish pizza (of course!), breakfast sandwiches, homemade bagels and lox and birthday treats.

Some relaxing by the hotel rooftop pool.

Some exercise. We did one run along the lake, and one gym day with circuit training. We also took a rainy walk along the 606.

Some site seeing.

I even was able to sneak in a short visit with my friend Cuoghi who moved from CLE to Chicago last year. I was so happy to get in a quick visit with her! We enjoyed some cupcakes in the park.

I’m feeling so lucky and grateful to have such amazing friends. Despite many miles keeping us apart and many life changes over the past 20+ years of our friendship, we are still able to pick up right where we left off every time.

Some questions for you:

  • Do you have friends that you’ve kept in touch with for many years?
  • Where should we go on our next trip?

Weekly Running Recap: Girls Vacation

I’m currently writing this blog post from Chicago! I took a few days off and headed to the Windy City for a girls weekend with some of my favorite ladies. My bffs from high school, Jane, Melgar and Alisa. So, the beginning of the week was pretty much running/activity as usual – but the end of the week was a little out of the ordinary with travel, etc.Here is a look at my mileage this week:Some highlights from the week include:

Sunday – getting in a family stroller run! This is the second week in a row we were able to do this and it was amazing. I loved running with FW (in the stroller) while B pushed LM in the stroller. I typically run by myself in the morning, so it was nice to be able to run with the whole family.running with the BOB stroller

Monday-I got in a pre-work 10k! I didn’t sleep well Sunday night and woke up at 4 something unable to go back to sleep, so I was able to get out and start running early.Garmin Fenix 5s running 10k

Saturday: I even got in one outdoor run in Chicago! Running on vacation doesn’t always happen, but I’m so happy we made time for a short run during our travels. And since I wasn’t packing for the kids, I had plenty of room in my suitcase for my running clothes and sneakers! I got in a run along the waterfront trail with my friend Alisa on Saturday morning while my friends Melgar and Jane went to a yoga class. I love running outside in a new city and this one was fab!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you bring running clothes on vacation?
  • Do you prefer running alone or with people?

I’m linking up with Deborah and Kim for the Weekly Run Down.

The Fourth in Photos (My Long Weekend Update)

For those of you that follow me on Instagram and Twitter you probably noted I’ve been tweeting from vacation. That’s right, B and I spent the Fourth of July long weekend in a romantic getaway in tropical Milwaukee! It was a great time – we were there during their music festival, Summerfest, and had such a great time. I love live music. So. Much.

Instead of one long blog post about our trip, here are just a few highlights from our Fourth of July, with mostly photos (starting in Cleveland):

Wednesday night: We met up with some friends for the Orchestra’s free concert outdoors downtown and fireworks. We packed a picnic and enjoyed an amazing start to the holiday weekend.

Picnic on the mall

Picnic on the mall

Selfie during the Cleveland fireworks

Selfie during the Cleveland fireworks

Red, white and blue for the orchestra

Red, white and blue for the orchestra

fireworks over downtown CLE

fireworks over downtown CLE

Thursday: B and I hit the road to Milwaukee. Our first stop, however, was a night in Chicago. We met up with B’s sister and her boyfriend for dinner at a cute BYOB Brazilian restaurant. I ❤ farofa wayyyy too much.

awful picture but amazing food- feijoada and farofa

awful picture but amazing food- feijoada and farofa

view from our hotel

view from our hotel

Friday: We started off Friday morning with a 5 mile scenic run around Chicago. I love running in Chicago – I love the city and waterfront. Running along the water is so peaceful.

Running. On the beach with the Chicago skyline behind us

Running. On the beach with the Chicago skyline behind us

Then, we were on to Milwaukee! We enjoyed stopping off at my second favorite cheese place – the Mars Cheese Castle – on the way. Once we got to MKE, we hit up Summerfest! So much live music. Love it. The night ended with some more fireworks.

Cheese castle!

Cheese castle!

Goodies from the Cheese castle. Beer, cheese curds and meat stick. #healthy

Goodies from the Cheese castle. Beer, cheese curds and meat stick. #healthy

Corn on the cob at summerfest ... when in Milwaukee ...

Corn on the cob at summerfest … when in Milwaukee …

pretty gorgeous fireworks above the lake

pretty gorgeous fireworks above the lake

Saturday: We had a busy day! The morning started off with a run around Milwaukee. Again, loved running throughout the city and their lakefront. We also hit up some local coffee shops, the beach, Public Market, Historic Third Ward, and Summerfest again. We ended the night seeing Weird Al and Matt Nathanson. Matt Nathanson put on an amazing show, even doing covers – including Under Pressure!

Started the day with a run

Started the day with a run

Then we got some coffee and pastries!

Then we got some coffee and pastries!

Stopped by their public market

Stopped by their public market

Hit up the beach

Hit up the beach

grabbed drinks in the Third Ward along the water

grabbed drinks in the Third Ward along the water

#selfie

#selfie

hit up summerfest again!

hit up summerfest again!

Rocked out to Matt Nathanson

Rocked out to Matt Nathanson

Thanks Matt Nathanson for amazing Summerfest

A video posted by Melissa Koski Carney (@koskim) on Jul 4, 2015 at 9:39pm PDT

Sunday: After a quick trip to the hotel gym and my first day off running in 40 days (my running streak ended 4th of July), we hit up the local coffee shop again and then were on the road for the long drive back.

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last coffee shop stop before the road

Are you still there? Thanks for checking out this super long post. A few questions for you:

  • How do you take your coffee?
  • Scones – prefer them sweet or savory? Sweet all the way!
  • Have you ever had cheese curds? What do you think of them?

Linking up with Running N Reading and Her Heartland Soul today!

#TBT: Throwback Thursday – Travel Edition

As you probably know by now, B and I love to travel. We’ve gone to some great places – international and in the U.S. – together and had a great time trying out new meals, meeting new people and getting in as much of the local scene as we can.

We have two more trips planned this year – what we’re calling an “East Coast Foliage Tour” (which will include stops in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, Boston and New York) and a trip to Asia (Hong Kong and Vietnam for now). So as I started to get excited about what’s to come, I began to also think about all the great trips we’ve had over the past few years. Here are some old photos from past trips, 2010 through last year:

2010 – New York City to see my brother play at Carnegie Hall

NYC 2010 Carnegie Hall

2010 – Road trip to Pittsburgh – checking out the city for the first time and of course their Hofbrauhaus

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Not sure if this counts as travel … but we go to upstate New York quite often to see my parents. These pictures are from our engagement shots in 2010 🙂 (thus the cheesiness)

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2011 – trip to Chicago!  We tasted our way through local beers and deep dish pizza, and did a walking tour, tried the architectural boat tour and got in great views.

Chicago + 391 Chicago + 408 Hemmingway Lou Malnottis

2012 Cape Cod – we ate lobster, went whale watching, tried tandem biking and even walked on the beach (even with my boot :()

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Also in 2012 we went to Ireland and England! More hiking, local food and drinks, and siteseeing.

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And we ended the year in Montreal and Toronto. In a snowy winter wonderland! We still managed to walk around, check out some amazing food (crepes, poutine, Chinatown) and had a great time.

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2013 started with a winter surprise vacation in Miami – which meant sunshine, running along the beach, fresh seafood and fruity drinks!

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Also, that year we spent a week checking out another midwestern city – Milwaukee!

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And 2013 ended with a great trip to the West Coast, with stops in San Francisco, NapaSeattle, the Redwoods, Los Angeles and more.

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This year, you probably remember we started off with some travel to Costa Rica. And I can’t wait to see what the rest of 2014 holds for us for travel!

Some questions for you:

  • Do you like to travel or do you prefer to stay home?
  • What’s the coolest place you’ve been – I need more places to add to my travel bucket list!
  • Ever been to Hong Kong or Vietnam? Recommendations?
  • Ever been to Portland, Maine? What do you recommend we do?
  • What’s on your travel bucket list?

 

 

 

Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon Race Recap (part 2)

In case you’re ever in Chicago during St. Patrick’s weekend and looking to celebrate with a fun race, then check out the Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon. You’ll enjoy some free beer, lots of green and a pretty good start to your St. Patrick’s celebrations.

Here are a few thoughts on the race overall:

The good:

The swag: the sweatshirts we got in our race packets were pretty cute and not super cheap looking, as often happens when anything but a tech shirt is given out. The medals were fun, and even the race chips were branded with the Get Lucky logo.

post race swag- sweatshirt, medal and beer!

post race swag- sweatshirt, medal and beer!

The after race: It was pretty organized, and after you crossed the finish line people were handing out bags of bagels, bananas and yogurts. This helped the big slowdown that happens when you cross the finish line and people are struggling to pick out their banana, bagel, etc.  It was also easy to get our bags from the bag drop – no long lines and the people working the bag drop were super friendly. AND we got a free beer at the end!

The race course: It was a pretty flat course, with only a few minor hills here and there. For miles 2-5 you can see varying views of the Chicago skyline, which was nice, and I love running along water. Water+cityscape=some of my favorite types of runs.

The pacers: I ran near the 2 hour pacers on and off throughout the race and really enjoyed their company. By the time I started running with them I was too tired to make conversation, but they were fun, conversational, had water to share, and so on. They had no idea – because again, I was too tired to talk – but they saved me for miles 10-12.

The time: Since B and I didn’t get in town until around 10:30 p.m. and didn’t end up going to bed until after 11 p.m., I was really grateful for a later-than-typically half marathon start – 9 a.m. Also, we were going to be taking the train to the race start and didn’t know how long it would take to get to the train, so with a 9 a.m. race start we wanted to be on the 7:40ish train.  If the race had started at 7 or 7:30, getting up for a 5:40 train would have been miserable.

What could be improved upon:

Course location: B and I checked out the 2013 race course a few times before deciding that we would run and also choosing our hotel. We booked a hotel about a mile from the race start, planning to take a taxi or jog to the race start – and then leisurely walk home, catching the St. Patrick’s Day parade which was nearby our hotel as well. Anyway, they changed the race course this year and didn’t announce it until about 2 weeks before the race – and it was not near where we were staying at all. It was outside of downtown, starting south of downtown at Jackson Park and ran about 5 miles toward downtown and then back around to Jackson Park. So not only were we not running downtown, but we weren’t able to walk to or from the race. AND this meant there were very few people cheering us on along the course – sure, a few people had been standing around waiting for their friends but since we were on just a running/walking path outside the city, there really weren’t any crowds or cheering sections.

Course conditions: As we all know, winter has not been so kind to us in the Midwest and northeast this year. The race was on a trail that was along the river and some parts were covered in snow, or ice, or mud, or all three. Some parts were narrow and had runners going two ways – which meant that you’d have to jump of the trail into the mud or ice, or literally stop as another runner passed you. A little TLC to the race course could have prevented this.

Course markers: The course markers were a little off throughout the race – even the pacers were making note of how “wow that was a short mile.” And some were off – we ran miles 1, 2, 3, 4, and then 6. It was pretty awesome. Until we realized that the 5 mile marker had just been swapped with the 7 mile marker. Woops. Oh, and nowhere along the course did they have any time markers. If I hadn’t been running with B for the first 10 or so miles, and then with the pacers, I would have had no idea how fast we were going. A sign, or someone with a stop watch would have been appreciated.

Water/GU stops: The first – and only – GU stop was at mile 1. Yes – mile 1. Had I had known, I would have gotten some, but of course I didn’t want any at mile 1. Had it been anywhere after mile 5, I would have loved it.

The chip timing: There was something wrong with my chip, in that it activated before I even started the race and crossed the starting line. B and I started about halfway back from the race start with the 9 min/mile group and ran basically hand in hand – and we didn’t cross the starting line until about 1:50. But when I checked my time, it said that my clock time and chip time were the same – and I started at 0:00. I checked B’s time and his chip time was 1:51 faster than his clock time (which makes sense) and it said he started at 1:51. Anyway, let’s just pretend then that I ran 1:51 min faster than the “clock” time says – okay?

So there you have it – my first sub-2 hour half marathon is in the books! I can check that off my list finally. Hope everyone has had a good start to racing season!

just after crossing the finish line - B, me and his sister Katie

just after crossing the finish line – B, me and his sister Katie

Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon Race Recap (part 1)

Last weekend, B and I ran the Chicago Get Lucky Half Marathon. Overall it was a decent race, a pretty flat course and pretty well run. AND it was the first half marathon I’ve run in under 2 hours – my time was 1:57:31. But it wasn’t easy. Here are my first 10 splits:

These are times from B's watch - he and I ran together for about 10 miles.

These are times from B’s watch – he and I ran together for about 10 miles.

I’ll give some overall feedback on the race course and logistics tomorrow, but today, since I’m sure you were wondering, here’s what was going through my mind:

Mile 1: Wow, this is fast. But B is leading the way and has a GPS timer so we must be on pace. My feet feel funny.

there I am at the start in the yellow and vest!

there I am at the start in the yellow and vest!

Mile 2: Wow that WAS fast. 8-something per mile? But at least my feet feel better. Taking two days off from running was a good idea. Was that a GU stop? Darnit, should’ve taken some for later.

Mile 3: We passed the 2-hour pacers! Woohoo! Just gotta keep this up. Maybe my body is finally getting used to running outside again.

Mile 4: I wonder where the turnaround is. If it’s at the halfway point, then I’m more than halfway to the halfway point. Yay! Is B running faster again?

Mile 5: Why are we turning around now? Why does B keep running faster? I can’t keep this up for 7 more miles. Or is it 8 more miles? And why did the sign say 6 miles? Have we run 6 miles?

Mile 6: If I had run the 7k I’d be more than done right now. I really wish B would slow down. Or at least just let me run alone. He keeps running ahead of me and then motioning me to speed up. I’m running as fast as I can!

Mile 7: Just gotta keep ahead of those pacers. I need water. I need Gu. I can’t believe I missed the last water stop. It’s SO HOT. Wearing 2 shirts and a vest was a bad idea. Why won’t B slow down?

Mile 8: Thank goodness B slowed down to share his hammergel with me. But I’m SO HOT. Still. And why do those pacers keep getting closer and closer? How does B keep feeling so good? I can barely talk. Or think. Just gotta keep this up.

Mile 9: I am dying. I was so excited to run a sub-2 hour half marathon, but I went out too hard. Thank goodness I didn’t blog about running a sub-2 hour. Or did I? I can’t remember who I told. I wonder if I had gone out slower .. then I wouldn’t feel so awful right now. Why does B keep slowing down and then running ahead of me? It’s so annoying. Can’t he just leave me be?

Mile 10: Though I can barely talk, I finally convinced B to leave me. Now just gotta stay ahead of the pacers. Just gotta keep ahead of the pacers. Oh. Or just behind the pacers. They started ahead of us, so if I finish just behind them I’m sure to get a sub-2 hour time. I need water. How is my right hand so big? I swear my right hand has swollen up to the size of my face. It’s huge. If I’m careful, can I take my phone out of my pocket and take a picture? Nobody is going to believe me that my hand is this big. That would take too much effort. It’s so hot. Oh wait, we’re turning  and now facing the wind. Brr! Maybe my hand will get cold and shrink down. But now I’m running into the wind. Which is harder, right?

just behind the pacers

just behind the pacers (picture from B’s sister in law who had run the 7k – thanks Katie!)

Mile 11: Where. Are. We. Going? Why is everyone passing me? How has there been no water stop recently? Why are we passing the entrance to the finish? What did that guy say? One more loop until we’re done? Why is there even a loop? Why are people running toward me? There’s no room on the path for both of us!

Mile 12: Where is B? Where are the pacers? I wonder if I can just slow down and enjoy this last mile. But what if I’m close? At least this can be a PR. Just. Keep. Going. Now I’m running toward people. There’s no room on this tiny path for traffic going both ways! Splash. Yipes. Almost slid into that ice pit.

Mile 13: Oh that girl is not passing me. I got this. Oh my god I can see the finish line! And the timer! And it says 1:59! Ah! And I know I started at 1:50. Omgomgomgomgomg. I’m running under the finish!! Let me look up and get the worst race finish photo ever.

[insert worst race finish photo ever … what you didn’t actually think I’d let you see that, did you?]

St. Patrick’s Weekend in Chicago AND Meeting a Running Goal!

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Growing up in an Italian and Jewish household in upstate NY, I admittedly didn’t really know much about St. Patrick’s Day. I never wore green (and remember being confused about why everyone it seemed in my elementary school was), and didn’t try corned beef and cabbage until I was way into my 20. That being said, living in Boston and then Cleveland, both two very Irish cities that wholeheartedly embrace the holiday- and marrying into an Irish family- I’ve learned to embrace the holiday and enjoy everything about the celebration. Including the color green.

Anyway, this year, B and I had decided to check out the St. Patrick’s weekend celebrations in a city I heard knew how to party – as well as get in a half marathon – the Get Lucky Chicago Half Marathon (full recap coming soon).

It was an AWESOME weekend. For a few reasons:

1. I love Chicago and it was so fun to see the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebrations – including the river turning green!

2. We were lucky enough to spend the weekend and celebrate with a few of B’s siblings – his sister Mary drove in from Cleveland, and his sister Katie (her boyfriend lives in Chicago) and his brother John (who goes to school in Chicago) – and B’s cousin Tom who was in town visiting a friend.

3. I MET MY HALF MARATHON GOAL!!!

Yes, that’s right – I finally got a sub-two hour half marathon, coming in at 1:57:32. It’s been my goal to get this done for a while, and I really didn’t think that I’d make it this race. I hadn’t done enough outdoor runs thanks to the wonderful winter we’d been having – and the ones that I had done had been far from as speedy as I’d been running this summer. Like 30 seconds – 1 minute/slower per mile slow – oof!

Anyway, I’ll post more about the race later, but here are some highlights from a gorgeous green weekend. Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

We started Saturday off at the Get Lucky Half Marathon and 7k. There were 3 of us doing the half – B, his brother John and I – and 3 doing the 7k – his sister Katie, her boyfriend David and David’s dad.

B and me in a pre-race photo

B and me in a pre-race photo

After the race, we enjoyed our free beer and some sunny (but chilly) weather.

And then made it back downtown, cleaned up, and checked out the river. It was SO GREEN!

B and the water

B and the water

GREEN water!

GREEN water!

And of course we made time for some deep dish pizza! Giordanos FTW. We met up with B’s cousin, Tom and his friend and feasted. I gave up meat for Lent so while B and the rest of the guys were eating the pepperoni and sausage pizza, I got the veggie feast. It was amazing.

the guys' meaty pizza

the guys’ meaty pizza

Decked out in green and awaiting our pizza. Doesn't the race sweatshirt that B's wearing look awesome?

Decked out in green and awaiting our pizza. Doesn’t the race sweatshirt that B’s wearing look awesome?

Not photographed, but also fun: some shopping downtown, eating a delicious meal at a place called Naf Naf (it’s like Chipotle for Middle Eastern food … aka amazing!), and of course some St. Patrick’s drinks.

Some questions for you:

  • Have you ever been to Chicago for St. Patrick’s Day?
  • Have you taken a weekend trip for a race before? I have been wanting to do this for a while. Go to a new city, run a Saturday half marathon, and then spend the rest of the Saturday and Sunday just siteseeing.
  • When is your next race?
  • What are your St. Patrick’s Day plans?