Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Spring has officially arrived in Chicago, at least on the calendar. The thermostat says otherwise -- it's not even 30 degrees as I write this. Authentic spring weather will be much appreciated once it arrives! 

I went to Chicago March 20 to chase the sunlight as it set downtown. Thanks to this post by Nick Ulivieri (one of many talented photographers I follow on Instagram) I learned about Chicagohenge. During the spring and summer equinoxes, if the weather cooperates, the sun will rise and set in near-perfect alignment with the "canyons" in the Chicago Loop. I couldn't miss that! 

I went downtown way too early in the afternoon and wandered around, visiting the Bean and popped into the Chicago Cultural Center, did some writing at a Corner Bakery, then went over to the Art Institute of Chicago. There's a pedestrian bridge that seems custom-made for photographers -- I've taken quite a few shots from that bridge. I got there way early, and was not the only one there waiting for the light to change. As it got later, more and more photographers congregated on the bridge. I'm sure anyone who saw us up there was wondering what the heck we were doing. It was pretty fun because I knew a few of the photographers from Instagram and 8x8 Gallery photowalks around Chicago. It's a big city but a small world. 

The sunset was really something to see -- the weather was perfect! I took some photos with my Galaxy S4 and more with my Nikon D3000. If you go on Instagram and search the tags #Chicagohenge and #urbancanyon_henge14, you'll find plenty more fabulous photos. 

Check out this Flipagram that shows the progression of the sunset. 

And a few favorite photos: 

My favorite because of the sunbeams. Nevermind the top of someone's hat on the bottom right Taken with Galaxy S4.

Alignment. The only way this would have been better? If there was a train on the El tracks and I had a zoom lens. And had the settings on the Nikon a little different. Taken with Nikon D3000. 

Another one I like because it has the flare, and because I got the plane in there, too. Not quite sure which camera this one is from, but I think the S4 because it's a bit grainy from zooming in.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Will Run for Pizza

My second 5k of the year is behind me. It's been a tough winter for runners -- especially if you have an intense dislike for treadmills like I do. We've had more than 77 inches of snow and seemingly infinite subzero days, which meant the snow just kept piling up. Here it is, past mid-March, and sidewalks have just begun to reappear from snowbanks. It's hard to believe that two years ago -- my first year in Chicago for St. Patrick's Day -- we were on the Chicago Riverwalk in short-sleeved shirts. This year, I ran a 5k in a sweatshirt, Smartwool socks, gloves and a headband. 

Despite not running much this winter -- maybe once a week if I was lucky -- I managed to get a personal best in Saturday's 5k. The secret sauce? Two things: a combination of mental trickery and cross-training. First, I know I can run 3.1 miles. Sure, it might be painful, depending on the running surface and how my body feels that particular day. Second, I've been cross-training a lot more this year. Running is hard on your joints. 

I don't always feel great (some days are better than others), but I do something every day. A broad range of activities keeps things interesting! I do yoga once a week, plus swimming, workouts on the elliptical, walking the dog (anyone who 'walks' an Australian cattle dog in the city knows this means a pretty brisk pace!) and strength training. When the weather was clear and it wasn't too icy, I'd run in a nearby park with Baxter or (if I wanted to be alone) at the Morton Arboretum. A couple times, I banged out interval workouts on the dreadmill treadmill. 

And somehow, I got faster. Not fast like a six-minute-mile, but I cut down my time and wasn't exhausted when I finished. Plus, I didn't get a migraine after the 5k, which was like hitting the jackpot. I've found that chugging water with electrolytes before & after runs makes a big difference in keeping the migraines away. I'm a big fan of Nuun electrolytes and keep a tube of the tablets in my gym bag and in the car. They're really portable and can be thrown in a bottle of water anywhere, anytime. It's a much better way to get hydrated fast without all the sugar or corn syrup in energy drinks! 

We're supposed to reach 53 degrees today -- I'll believe it when I feel that sunshine on my face. Planning on a short run at a nearby park that Baxter and I haven't visited since before it snowed. He's going to be so excited when he figures out that's the afternoon plan! 

Now to figure out which 5k to run next! 

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Green Saturday

Today wasn't officially St. Patrick's Day, but Chicago celebrated anyways. I kicked off the day by running a 5k in Naperville with a couple thousand other runners. (There was also a sunrise Instagram meetup at North Avenue Beach this a.m. -- if only I could be two places at once!)

I'm slow. I start toward the back of the pack!
It was a reallyfun 5k -- I may do it again next year. More on the run in the next blog. After the run, I rushed home to shower and change so I could hop a train to downtown Chicago to meet up with a friend at the Chicago Flower and Garden Show. I took a little detour on my way to Navy Pier to check out the neon-green Chicago River:

After the long, gray winter we've had, the emerald green was refreshing! Would you believe this part of the river was pretty much frozen last week? It was a whopping 33 degrees today; when I was here for my first St. Patty's Day two years ago, temperatures were in the 70s and we were wearing short-sleeved shirts! I was a little bummed by the weather because I found the funniest (at least to me!) T-shirt for this year's shenanigans, but it was too cold to show it off. Maybe next year!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday

Sometimes you have to adjust your perspective to see things you didn't realize were there all this time -- just waiting for you to notice. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Winter Wonderland

It's hard to believe it's March -- and that two years ago, we were in short-sleeved shirts in downtown Chicago for St. Patrick's Day! It's cold, it's another couple inches of snow, most people are way over winter...but you have to admit it's pretty.

I headed over to the Morton Arboretum to play with the camera. Here's a few shots from Instagram and my phone camera. (More photos from my "real" camera tomorrow!)

And this one's my favorite: 

Thursday, March 6, 2014