Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Birthday Weekend in Chicago

I had so much fun in Chicago this past weekend! Despite being attached to my phone to get updates from Sourabh about how recruiting was going ("How did your interviews go? What callbacks have you gotten? Are you eating enough?"), I spent plenty of time with my Uncle John's family and Katie.

This was sort of my "birthday weekend celebration," although my birthday is actually today. Yep, I'm a lucky 13th birthday celebrator!

My Thursday morning flight was unfortunately extremely bumpy, so it was wonderful to finally land and see my Uncle John waiting for me! I grabbed an iced tea to try to soothe my nausea and we headed to his house. I hadn't seen his family in over three years, we realized, and it was so nice to catch up. I can't believe how big my cousins have gotten!

I even got to see my youngest cousin, Hazel, perform in her day camp's adaptation of Mamma Mia. She was great! I was pretty impressed at the snazzy dance moves she threw down.

I was planning on doing speed work in the afternoon, but I had a bad stomach ache (which unfortunately continued for much of the weekend) so I decided to postpone the speed work to Friday. Instead, I helped my aunt and uncle make a delicious dinner of baked salmon, wheatberry salad, corn on the cob, and roasted sweet potato wedges.

Friday morning I got out and ran in the Sculpture Park first thing. It was pretty neat because each half mile was a block, so I had a visual endpoint for my 800 repeats. The Sculpture Park has a ton of sculptures along the paths, so it was a nice distraction to the pain of speed work.

Katie picked me up around noon on Friday and we headed to Wicker Park for some killer tacos at Antique Taco. I'm always a Mexican fan, so I had to have some Mexican in Chicago, where they excel at good Mexican food. And seriously, these tacos were good.

I got the mushroom tacos. I wish I knew how they made the mushrooms, because they tasted like carnitas (my pre-pescetarianism favorite taco).

We walked around Wicker Park for a bit, then headed to Lake Michigan for some lakeside rambling, before killing another hour trying on ridiculous shoes at DSW. Okay, maybe I was the only one trying on ridiculous shoes... but how can you not try on a pair of animal print and striped seven inch heels? Katie tried to take a picture of me in them but couldn't even fit my whole body in the photo. Because with 7 inch heels on, I am 6'4". 

We were killing time because Katie had made reservations for her birthday dinner at Balena, and I got to attend her family birthday dinner! It was a truly lovely evening -- the food was fantastic and I got to meet one of her aunts and catch up with her brother and parents.

I spent both Friday and Saturday nights at Katie's house on the South Side of Chicago. Katie had planned a weekend full of food for me, so Saturday we headed to The Bristol for brunch. I had a tasty salmon dish and she had some incredible looking pork chilaquiles. I realized that Chicago is less pescetarian friendly than NYC, which makes sense since NYC is on the ocean and Chicago only has easy access to a fresh water lake. 

We spent the rest of Saturday lounging around her house, finalizing our road trip plans (more details on that in another post -- I have an epic road trip coming up!!), and grilling in her backyard. Grilling might sound normal to most, but living in NYC, getting the chance to grill was fun! We made some tasty salmon, grilled vegetables, and a light potato salad. 

On Sunday, my last full day in the city, Katie and I ate lunch at The Gage, where we split an enormous coffee cake. To say the size of the coffee cake was unexpected is an understatement.

After lunch, we visited Chicago's Art Institute to see the Impressionism, Fashion, and Modernity exhibit. I've always liked impressionism (my favorites are Renoir and Lautrec), but hadn't realized the extent of the impact fashion had on the artists. My favorite part of the exhibit was that they brought in clothes from the time period so you were able to see the actual dresses and suits then turn and see how the artists interpreted them. Sadly, no photography was allowed in that particular exhibit so I couldn't snap pictures to share, but if you're in Chicago, make sure you go see it!

The Art Institute is smaller than the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, but I think that makes it more manageable, and there's no shortage of fantastic art. My favorite artist is Marc Chagall, whose windows hang in the Art Institute. When I went with my uncle a few years ago, they were renovating the museum so I couldn't see them, but I got to check them out this time and they were incredible.

My uncle picked me up after the artistic outing. Finally, it was time for my long run! My aunt was sweet enough to keep me company by biking alongside me on the lakefront path through downtown Chicago. Although it started pouring rain partway through the run, she stuck with me! It was a lot of fun to catch up and get to know her better. I see my relatives so rarely that it's really special to have quality time like that.

We came home soaked and exhausted, but thankfully an Indian takeout feast awaited us! My uncle had a giant spread of Indian food ready, and the night was capped with some blueberry pie that my aunt had baked. Can they please move to NYC and make me all the food all the time?

It was a wonderful weekend, and it left me so excited to return in just two months to run the Chicago Marathon! 

Have you been to Chicago? What's your favorite art museum? 


  1. Happy happy Birthday!!! I hope this next year if full of fantastic memories and steps towards your dreams. I've been to chicago a lot- usually a few times a year. I love the city!

  2. Happy birthday Jen! I'm so jealous of all your traveling! :)

  3. Happy Happy Birthday!!! I am going to live vicariously through your traveling since work has put the kabosh on ours until October!

  4. Happy birthday, Jen!! What a fun weekend in Chicago--family, friends, and food. :)