Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Pre Game - Time to Burn

Kid related stuff gives me more of a chuckle than it ought to these days.

On that note, here's an idea on how to gain some credits for your upcoming Thanksgiving meal.

Happy Thanksgiving!  I'm taking the week off from posting, so I'll see you next week.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

The Skinny Model Law

A brief "deep thought" for today.


A few months ago I came across this article talking about how a scandalously thin model was used in an Gucci ad campaign:

Rightfully so, the article mentioned that: the Advertising Standards Authority of Britain ruled that the ad was “irresponsible” and that the model looked “unhealthily thin”.

Shortly thereafter, the ad was forcibly pulled by the British standards group and the model's image was removed from the ad campaign.

Interestingly, just a few days prior, I had read about France's skinny model law.

Here's the law:

The new law calls for models who want to work in France to present a doctor's note attesting to their overall health and proving a BMI of 18 or over. (In the BMI system, 18.5 is the cutoff between underweight and a healthy weight.) Agencies and brands who break this law could be looking at a six-month prison sentence of 75,000 euro fine. Another proviso notes that advertising images that have been digitally altered — whether that means making the models appear smaller or larger — must contain the words "retouched photograph," or risk a fine of at least 37,500 euros.

To put the above into perspective, using the current exchange rate:
75,000 euro = 81,675 dollars
37,500 euro = 40,837 dollars

To further quote the skinny model law article, I particularly liked reading this:

There is some precedent for this kind of government action, at least abroad. Italy, Israel, and Spain have all passed similar "skinny model" legislation, Denmark is considering doing so, and the U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority has cracked down on images of what it deems to be too-thin models, notably in a recent Saint Laurent ad.

When you pair the above with the post I put up a few weeks ago about Tim Gunn and the plus size clothing industry, it makes for an interesting time in the fashion world ...  no?

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

An Open Letter to Men from Female Runners

We are about to enter an interesting time in the United States.  As a woman, I am concerned.

For anyone who says I shouldn't be ... maybe you should read a letter like this and think twice about what kind of world we live in. 

Because I had already been taking precautions like the below, and that was before someone who openly admitted to sexual assault was elected into office.


An Open Letter to Men from Female Runners
By Dorothy Beal

On the surface, the question was relatively benign, aside from an abrupt delivery: “Do you know what time it is?” he asked.

“No, I'm sorry I don't,” I said as I picked up the pace a bit.

I could tell he didn't like my answer. I was wearing a watch and holding a phone, after all. I could check the time if I wanted to, but that's just it—I didn't want to.

“You can't check on your phone?” he said, with an agitated tone to his voice. No, no I can't, I thought.

Still, the part of me that was raised to do as she was told and to be polite to everyone ignored my inner voice and forced a reluctant glance at my phone before shouting back the time. Simultaneously, I picked up the pace even more.

I'm not sure what his intentions were. Maybe he did need to know the time, but the fact that he noticed I had a phone didn't sit right with me. Was he trying to catch me off guard? Was it just an attempt at getting me to stop? Thoughts swirled in my head over a seemingly innocuous interaction.
Then I got mad—mad at him and mad at myself for the way I felt.

I don't like judging others by looks, their gender, or even a few words. I don't like thinking about whether you really are lost and in need of directions or if you see me, a lone female out running—miles from any help—and think that this is your chance to have your way with me.

It makes me sick to think about but, as a female runner, this is the world that I live in.

I've been called vile names after not returning a hello to a passing male runner. I've listened as a male volunteer at a marathon pointed out another woman’s “camel toe.” I've had stuff thrown at me out the window of a car by a man. I've been whistled at, cat-called and objectified by men. I've had to call the police on more than one run because of a man.

So, here's my open letter to the man on the trail—and to all men, really. I'd like for you to run a mile in my shoes.

That time you asked me for directions and I said, “No, sorry, I'm not stopping,” I wasn't being a jerk. I was worried for my safety. These days I worry about my safety more than ever, as stories of women being attacked, raped or even killed while out for a run continue to surface. I worry that if I don't take extra precautions, I will become a victim. I need to be extra careful around people I don't know.
I think I know you are probably harmless, but there is also a part of me that doesn't know. Men sometimes react in ways I don't understand.

One day, a man yelled at me out of his car window while I was pushing my three children in a running stroller. Regrettably, I reacted in the heat of the moment. I didn't know that showing him a certain finger would unleash the beast inside him. I didn't know that he would turn his car around and chase me down. I didn't know that morning when I went for a run that I would fear for my children's lives.

But back to you.

The day I saw you walking along the dirt trail, it was hot. Do you remember? You were dressed in black pants, a long-sleeve black shirt, and a hat. It seemed like an odd choice for such a hot day. You turned around and we made eye contact, making it more difficult for me to decide what to do. I didn't want to offend you by turning around but I was also afraid to run past you.

When you said good morning, I didn't respond because I was out of breath. I was running fast—as fast as my legs would carry me, actually. I wanted to get around you and away from you, just in case. I'm sorry I didn't say good morning. I hope you understand.

The day you came up behind me on your bike, you were just being friendly. I know that now. When you said “nice” as you passed me, a thousand thoughts went through my head before the next word followed. In that moment, I wished I was a huge football player with the strength to push you off your bike. I wanted to make you feel fear and pain. I was ready for your words to make me feel gross for wearing tight shorts that day. Then you said “pace” and instantly I felt remorse for wanting to hurt you.

Thank you for that compliment. I was running fast that day, wasn't I? I didn’t mean to be, but I began to worry that I’d gotten too far from home and I was low on energy. When I get low on energy, I worry—not because I'll have to walk, but because I'm concerned that, should things go south, I won't have what it takes to fight someone off.

Remember that day you were out running, blowing off steam? You saw me up ahead, your eyes never leaving me, so I averted my gaze—something I do often when I pass men. You said hello and I didn't respond. I should have said hi, but I was worried that if I did, it would seem inviting. I wasn't sure why you were staring at me.

You cursed me out because I was quiet. When people are silent, it's often for a reason. I didn't deserve those words. I wonder, do you speak to women you know like that? Or just women you don't know? Either way, you scared me that day. I wanted to tell you that you were frightening me, to leave me alone, but the car incident I mentioned above taught me to run from people like you.

Then there was the day I fell off my bike. Thank you for asking if I was okay. You looked friendly and I thought it was nice that someone cared enough to pause and check on me. Here's the thing, though: Even if I was hurt, I would have told you I was fine. I immediately texted a friend, not to tell her of the fall, but because I wanted you to see that I had a phone. I know it sounds crazy, and it is, but the world is a crazy place and sometimes even offering help can seem threatening.

My husband understands, but only because I've taken the time to explain to him how men can make female runners feel. He doesn't approach women when he is out running. If they appear to need help, he asks and offers assistance from a distance. When running past them, he announces his presence while he’s approaching. He doesn't want to startle them. He says hi with no expectation of a response.

He's a guy—a good one—but he also knows how some men think. One morning, as I walked up my driveway after a 4 a.m. run, he jumped out and scared me. I was angry, and rightfully so. He said he wanted to teach me a lesson that morning beneath the moonlight—and he did.

“Don't let your guard down when it's dark,” he said. “You felt safe because you were close to home, but you aren't safe until you are inside your home.”

I don't like always feeling the need to be on guard, I want to get lost in the moment and just run. But he was right.

So, man on the trail, as a mother to two amazing boys, a sister to a wonderful brother, the daughter of a loving father, and the wife of a strong husband, I don't hate men—nor do I think that all of them are evil and out to get me. I worry for my safety, mostly for my children's sake. I don't want them to grow up without a mother.

I don't want to stop running, either.

You are one of the good ones, but don't forget that the woman you see out there running doesn't know that. Unfortunate as it may be, she—like me—has to consider whether or not you intend to hurt her.

Her life literally depends on it.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Touring Paisley Park

Unless you've had your head in the sand, you know this year has been kind of a big deal in the realm of the Minneapolis music scene ... specifically related to Prince.  Yes, sadly, he did pass away earlier this year. 
But, the silver lining to his passing is that his legacy is living on in an interesting (and surprising, to me at least) way.  Which means that over the past weekend, this happened:

Ok, if you're not a Prince aficionado, that picture might not mean a WHOLE lot to you.  So maybe this will help put it into perspective.

If you're still not getting what's happening here, then today's post may not be the blog for you, because any Prince fan would know that the above is an aerial view of Paisley Park - also known as Prince's abode, located in Chanhassen, Minnesota.
OK - now that the above is out of the way ... if you ARE a true Prince fan, calm down! 
Yes, it's true!  Prince's estate has officially opened to the public for touring ... at least on a limited basis (meaning, you have to book tickets in advance and you only get to see select areas of the building).  Originally, the city of Chanhassen had only allowed a provisional license for Paisley Park to do limited tours, I think simply because there wasn't time to approve a full blown license.  I make that guess because within the last month, final sign off took place to allow for full time museum operation ... and everyone who is a true Prince fan collectively wet their pants. 
Now, I mentioned above that I was surprised about how Prince's legacy is living on.  I want to clarify that statement before I go any further in this recap. 
Since Prince was always a very private, and almost secretive person, the fact that this estate is now open to the public just blows me away.  I still kind of wonder if he would have approved of this but ... according to all the news I've followed and what staff said on the tour, Prince had been planning long term to make his estate into a museum (and had even tried to open Paisley as a museum back in early 2000 but got shut down?!  Really?!).  So ... I guess ... ?!
Whatever.  I'm not going to bite the hand that feeds me.  I hope that Prince is truly OK with his home being treated this way.  And in all due respect to him, I write this post today in celebration of all he did for music, for Minnesota, for charity, and for the legacy he has left behind.
With all the above being said - the below is a recap of the tour.  Yes, it includes spoilers.  Duh.  That's the point of a recap.  If you want to take the tour and NOT know what's coming, stop reading here.
Also, one last thing.  Out of respect to Prince, I want to make it very clear that I would NEVER take photos in areas of his estate where that is not allowed.  In fact, phones and cameras are NOT even allowed to be used on the tour.  If you show up to Paisley Park with a cell phone, it will be secured so you cannot access it during your visit.  (I personally didn't even want to deal with the question, so I left my cell phone locked in my car during my tour.) 
Therefore, the below photos are all courtesy of Google and various media brands.  As you will see in some of the pictures, there is reference to local and national media personalities, etc.  Since these media chains all publicly posted the photos on their websites, I assume they had media permissions to do so.  I feel confident in this assumption because security in Paisley Park is crazy good, and "ain't nobody takin' no photos in there without gettin' busted" (my words).  Heh.
Alright!  The above has been said.  Let's see what Paisley Park has to offer!
To put the tour into perspective, I'm going to start by posting this map.
As you can see, the tour I took covered the main floor of Paisley Park.  It was the standard/general admission tour ($40 plus service fee), and did not include any VIP upgrades or special services.  We also did not get to see any of Prince's private living quarters.
The areas we visited included:
(1) Main entrance, lobby/reception area
(2) "Little Kitchen", offices converted into costume displays, Prince's office
(3) Hallway to studio A and Studio A itself
(4) Hallway mural and Purple Rain display
(5) Displays for Graffiti Bridge and Under the Cherry Moon
(6) Hallway display and "concert" area
(7) Lounge/VIP "concert" area
(8) Fence display and Super Bowl video exhibit
(9) Gift shop and exit
I'm starting my tour recap with the main entrance and lobby/reception area which is (1) on the map above.  Including the reception area in my recap may seem strange, since who really cares about reception, right?  But, I'm including the entrance because ... well ... this:

I mean, that ceiling and wall paint!  That desk!  That celestial carpeting!  If I didn't already know this was Prince's' estate, I would ask someone if he designed it.  LOL!
Getting back on topic - I'm sure it goes without saying that when you arrive to Paisley Park, and finish parking your car, you go inside to the reception desk to present your ticket.  After doing so, you are told to stand at the desk to await your tour.  Then, eventually your group is migrated over to the record wall to wait longer to admire the various awards there, as well as the reverse view looking out the front door (and the murals painted there).

True to Prince style, although my tour slot was for 10:30am, it seemed like we stood by the record wall for quite some time ... and of course ... we started late.  My suspicion for the late start: I think we were combined with the next tour slotted behind us (11:10am).  I say this because there was no other group behind us touring, and when my tour ended close to maybe 12:15, my car was one of the last ones left in the lot. 
To be fair, I'm not surprised by this tactic at all.  I mean, I can't imagine with tours being offered twice every hour (at the :10 and the :30 mark) that all the tours are filling to capacity right now anyway.  Hello - it's almost winter in Minnesota, and who the heck wants to come here when we could be hit with 12-24" of snow at the drop of a hat?!  So I totally understand the logic behind the delay, and quite honestly was totally fine with it.  Extra time inside Paisley Park to gawk?  Well, ok!
Once our tour guide finally made it up to the front to retrieve us, we were walked into an atrium of sorts, see (2) on the above map.  Here is an approximate photo of what our first "inside" stop looked like, but note that the furniture and wall hangings have changed or moved around some since this photo was taken. 

Here, the tour guide started with a brief intro about Prince and spoke a bit about how this atrium was Prince's favorite spot to hang out in Paisley Park.  I could totally see why, as the pyramid glass ceiling windows let in a tremendous amount of light and really just made for such a peaceful feeling. 
As we were being introduced to Prince's legacy, the tour guide gave a brief overview of what we'd be seeing on the tour, and then he paused his narration and asked us to look at a miniature model of paisley Park that was placed in the middle of the room (not shown in the above photo, but it was basically at the V of the Prince symbol above).  When we all turned to look at the model, the tour guide explained that once Prince was cremated, his remains were placed in an urn ... that was inside the model we were looking at.
I'm not kidding when I say this hit me like a ton of bricks.  It took everything in my power to not let out an audible "oh shit".  I had no idea his remains were on site.  Knowing his ashes were right there ... it was powerful.
The tour guide was tremendously respectful about the way he spoke to Prince's remains, and even gave us all a moment to sit in stunned silence to process the information he just gave us.  Then, he did something that I thought was terrific.  I'm paraphrasing, but essentially what he said is "I know there's a lot of emotion to be had in Prince's death.  It's ok to feel that and process it today.  But remember, we are here because we want to celebrate Prince's life.  While you're taking this tour, remember his contributions.  Celebrate his legacy.  Rejoice in his life rather than find sadness in his death.  That's what he would have wanted anyway."
And with that, we were redirected to the tour at hand, and given some time to check out various costume displays as well as Prince's office, which has remained completely untouched since his death (as is all things at Paisley Park at this time, aside from a few minor modifications for standard museum control - i.e. stanchion ropes, glass display cases, or gates ... things of that nature that protect displays and keep people out of private areas).
Here's an example of the costumes that were on display, though not all of these were at stop (2).

After finishing up at stop (2) on the map above, we walked down a hallway towards Studio A.  During the tour, each hallway we passed through had some sort of information to absorb, and this one was no exception.  Appropriately, the hangings in this hallway told the story of some of the musicians who had recorded in Studio A and the resulting album sales records that were achieved.  I was particularly tickled to see an REM record on the wall.  Something about Michael Stipe and Prince together ... seems like a funny and odd mix.

Studio A, marked with a (3) on the map above, was a little over my head.  While it was cool to see where "the magic happened", I am by no means a sound technician.  So the technical aspects to this room and the significance of all the equipment present was beyond me.

What I can say is that the room looked somewhat like this (no piano in the center, it was just totally empty), and that the sound system in the recording booth looked like the second picture that follows.

One thing of interest to me was the different surfaces that the studio utilized for sound purposes.  Refer to the drawing below.  The section marked Studio A was all triangle/pyramid shaped wood on the walls and ceiling, while the rooms on the left side of the drawing were fully covered in flat granite tiles.  I don't fully understand the acoustical reasoning for this, but it was fascinating that sound recording was optimized in each room for various instruments simply based on the materials used on the ceilings and walls.
Studio A also lead to some discussion about how Prince really was a musical genius, as he mixed all his own music, prepared vocals ... all of it.  And from scratch, too, meaning with real instruments and NOT digital simulators.  In the era of computers, he was still a true artist.
After Studio A, we took another hallway and started heading to (4) on the map above.  In the hallway was a mural of Prince.  On his right side - photos of many of the musicians who influenced him (like Stevie Wonder, Chaka Khan and Sly & the Family Stone).  On his left side - photos of the musicians who were influenced after him (like Shelia E, The Revolution and Sheena Easton).


The mural wall lead into the epic room ... Purple Rain.  There are no words.
Next we entered room (5) on the map above, and saw props from the other Prince movies - Under the Cherry Moon and Graffiti Bridge.

Understandably so, I was in a little haze at this point in the tour having just seen all the Purple Rain stuff, so I can't remember exactly where this hallway was.  I THINK it was after room (5) above.  Basically this was another hallway of Prince photos in order by year, and a collection of his various awards (MTV moon men, Soul Train Awards, Grammys, etc.) 
Next stop on the tour was room (6).  Try as I might, I haven't been able to find pictures on Google of this room.  So instead - imagine a giant black room, no windows, that is 12,500 square feet.  Yes, I said 12,500 square feet. 
My house is something like 3,000 square feet, or maybe even slightly less.  It could fit inside room (6) over 3 times.
This room is where Prince did all his Paisley Park rock concerts.  Now, the room is set with various props and costumes from his tours, including this little purple piano and the red costume you saw in the costume picture above, as well as other items.
Stop (6) fed directly into (7), which was set up to be a VIP lounge and concert area of sorts.  Apparently this is where Madonna and her crew hung out after her Minneapolis concert tour stop last year. 
Not that I'm jealous of that or anything.  *ahem*
I particularly liked the random car grill and headlights on the stairwell, so I'm glad I was able to find a picture of that online.

By now, the tour was starting to wind down, and appropriately this is where the curators added a nod to the overwhelming fan homage that was paid to Prince after his passing in April.  You likely remember seeing photos like this in the news:

Well, it turns out what was able to be preserved off those fences was actually taken into storage by Prince's Estate.  Room (8) has a small fence segment where they will rotate out the preserved pieces and display them as part of the museum.

Just opposite of the fence display was one last Prince video clip, this time highlighting his Super Bowl performance ... in the rain, no less.  It was every bit as amazing as I remember it being.

And with that, we were directed to room (9) - the souvenir shop.

Because what's a tourist experience without a take home shirt?!  (Also for sale?  Prince logo ping pong balls, guitar picks, and necklaces ... I kind of regret not getting the necklace.  You can also see in the picture above they were selling real tambourines with his symbol on it, which was super tempting until I saw the $80 price tag.  PS: Prince's chef created a menu that is available for purchase/consumption in the gift shop as well, in case you need some eats before you go.)

Excuse my tired mom eye bags.  Good thing I opted to also purchase the coffee cup, no?

And that was it.  Almost two hours and endless starry-eyed looks later, our tour was complete.  Just before we left, the security staff very kindly offered to take our photos out in front of the building, and then it was time to go.


So in the end, what did I think? 

Well, first off, I highly recommend this tour.  For a $40-50 general admission ticket, you get close to two full hours of entertainment, which includes admission to one of the most protected/secretive locations that exists in Minnesota.  Plus, that money is well invested in the staff (many of whom seemed to be employed by Prince prior to his passing, which is nice to know they have an income after his death).  Additionally, I think some of that admission money will benefit charities Prince supported during his life - I do know for a fact that some of it will go to children's music education programs, since the tour guide said they're working on establishing that program long term in the Paisley Park studios. 

Second, the tour right now is already pretty amazing and the museum has only been operating for a few weeks.  So when you consider that they are going to continue to polish the presentation and (probably) offer more things to see in the future ... it's going to be one heck of an experience in the next 1-2 years.

Now, for any of you Debbie Downers who will say - well you just put all the info and pics of the tour up there, so why would I pay $40-50 to see it all over again?  Well, to that I say: you are dumb.  And then I say - I intentionally left out a lot of the stories and details of the tour above so that you also learn something new when you go ... which you really should.  Because - duh - Prince!

So what are you waiting for?!  Go sign up for your tour today!


In closing, I leave you with a few of my favorite Prince video clips:

Kevin Smith's Prince Documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XK6Gb8RY2NY

Dave Chappelle's Prince & Pancakes: http://www.cc.com/video-clips/e748yj/chappelle-s-show-charlie-murphy-s-true-hollywood-stories---prince---uncensored

Prince's response to Chappelle's skit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gp9EL3asrPQ

Jimmy Fallon plays Ping-Pong with Prince: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o9iVXxFt1Wg

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

The "Maybe Some Day" Conundrum

Last week I happened to read this article and thought it was interesting enough to share.  Enjoy!


If You're Still Holding Onto Clothes That Don't Fit, Here's Why You Might Want to Reconsider

Are you holding onto or buying clothes that don't fit? You might be doing more harm than motivation. Our friends at Shape share how holding onto your "maybe someday" clothes might be taking emotional and physical tolls on your body.

You know those jeans you keep folded in your closet that are too tight to button but you swear you'll fit into again someday? You're not alone. Yahoo Style recently surveyed over 1,000 women and found most of us have four or five pieces in our closets that are just like that.

One out of every 10 women (and one out of every seven millennial women) even report they've bought clothes that don't fit but that they hope to squeeze into down the line.

The thing is, holding onto too-tight clothing could be doing a number on your self-esteem. "When the goal size isn't realistic, healthy, and sustainable, the end result could be poorer body image, guilt, and shame when that goal isn't reached," says Samantha DeCaro, Psy.D., the assistant clinical director at The Renfrew Center of Philadelphia.

Dieting and working out like a maniac before your friend's wedding so you can squeeze into that *one*dress can backfire if it doesn't zip on the big day. Eventually, that lack of self-love could lead to serious issues with food.

Here's why: "Holding onto clothes that don't fit sends the clear message to yourself that your body isn't acceptable the way it is," DeCaro says. "This kind of negative self-talk only promotes shame, and shame can be a powerful fuel for an eating disorder and other self-destructive cycles." Depression and social anxiety, for instance, could be right around the corner.

Maybe you've convinced yourself it's OK to hold onto those jeans or that dress from college since they motivate you to get fit. That way of thinking seems logical, but it still suggests there's something wrong with your current shape. And that's a problem. "Motivational strategies should never involve shaming the body you have right now," DeCaro says.

A better approach is to find motivation in the way eating healthfully or hitting the gym makes you feel, rather than the number on a clothing tag, DeCaro says. And if those clothes in your closet are bringing you down, toss 'em. "Those reminders, more often than not, make us feel worse about ourselves," says Karen R. Koenig, a psychology of eating psychotherapist, author, and blogger. "Our best bet is accepting our bodies as they are now and working toward making them healthier, not slimmer."

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Uno Carrera de los Muertos 5K 2016 (Yee-haw!)


Carrera de los Muertos 5K (3.15 miles)
Average Pace 11:54/mile

A little over two years ago, I started off a Chicago race adventure in Chinatown like this.

So I suppose it's only appropriate that I started a new Chicago adventure in a similar way.

Too bad that Emmers was out of town, so unfortunately I went into race day knowing we would not be able to meet up.  But, no worries - nothing can rain on this parade.  Carrera de los Muertos - it's on.  Let's go!


A lot of people have asked me why I chose to run this race, since it's kind of in a non-famous neighborhood in Chicago and not terribly well advertised (unlike the Hot Chocolate 5K, which took place the next day, and was all over the news).  But, if you go check out the race organizer's Facebook page, my reasoning for why I've been lusting to run this race over the last 3 years should be pretty obvious:

That shirt and finisher's medal are right up my alley, no?

Actually, that shirt is somewhat coveted amongst the running community, and has become a bit infamous.  Uno even has a place on their race website where you can post photos of the shirt in various locations around the world.  They call it "El Camino", and it has it's own interactive map where you can click on the location to see the photo posted. 

Case in point to the awesomeness?  Check out last year's shirt, which I bought post race for a friend:

Yeah, that's some amazing print design, folks.  So amazing, in fact, that I actually folded and bought the hoodie that was made for this year's race.

I also debated buying this shirt for someone I know in Chicago that likes to run, but the gear tent was kind of a sheet-show with no posted price info at the table I was purchasing from.  Making matters more chaotic, staff didn't know how much things were, so finally I just said ... skip it.

Oh well. More money in my pocket, I guess.

Anyway, back to the race.

On race morning, I was fortunate enough to have race packet already in hand (thanks to a family member who lives in Chicago), so all I had to do was get my family fed, dressed and out the door.  With the race starting at 8am, I was shooting for a 7-7:15ish departure, but was running a tad behind and ended up catching a cab to the race around 7:25am or so.

Thankfully traffic around the event area was minimal, and street closures weren't so bad that our cab couldn't get into the approximate area of the race start, so we had a seamless drop off and transition into the park where pre-race festivities were taking place.  Overall the park was extremely jubilant, and we arrived just in time to hear the ever popular "Percolator" song that seems to be played non stop at this race ... with a dancing crowd to accompany it.

Since we basically arrived right on time, just as we walked into the park the DJ's on stage announced it was time to line up for the race. 

Well, ok!  We'll do as we're told!


As you can see in the above pictures, the crowd was a healthy size for this race and included a fantastic mix of serious runners, social walkers, and families - as well as tons of stroller runners like me.  My husband had never run anything aside from a few local 5Ks with me prior to this race, so he was impressed by the turn out ... but was a little challenged by the crowds, too.  I say this because once the gun was fired (pretty much on time, might I add), he was totally unprepared for how much weaving we would need to do to navigate the course.
I myself wasn't totally surprised that we spent a good half mile or more weaving around groups of walkers.  I had read online through other recaps that many people seed incorrectly at this race, so I was anticipating some congestion - though to be honest, I wasn't expecting it to be as bad as it was. I say this because of course, I had a stroller and courteously self-seeded at the back of the 12 minute mile ... and many walkers with LARGE BACK PACKS self-seeded at 10.  Sigh.  Frustrating when they were all walking 5 people wide and staggered maybe 6-12" apart in their individual packs. 
No matter.  I steered the stroller like a champ through the crowds.  And much like Moses, the waters parted for me.
Despite the clogging on course, as we bobbed and weaved through the crowd, I enjoyed a few of the things this race is known for - vibrant murals, costumed runners, on course entertainment, and the overall jubilation.  Really, the congestion was second fiddle to all the fun surrounding me, so I couldn't care less that I had to zig-zag a little. 
I mean, it's not a like a mural or crowd like this could let you get down, anyway.

Fun aside, by mile one I found myself struggling a little and decided to take a break.  I told my husband in advance that my goal was to make it at least that far and walk a bit, as I was finding the effort challenging (since I haven't been putting as much into training as I ought to and wasn't in shape enough yet to support a continuous 3 mile run WHILE pushing a stroller).  After I said that, I looked at my son and said "I can't imagine why that might be, can you?" and smiled. 
Amazingly, he smiled and cooed back a sarcastic sounding "hmmm....". 
Ok, OK!  I know 6 months old can't really talk yet but ... the timing was uncanny.
As we continued on, there were various points of entertainment and groups of spectators cheering for the runners.  My husband put it best by saying "this is definitely the most happening race I've done".  I had to agree, it was definitely exciting!
Speaking of excitement, even without the various DJ stands, costumed dancers, and cheering spectators, the runners on course were really something to see.  Almost everyone was wearing something festive, even if it was just the race T itself.  I particularly liked the runner who RAN past us during our walk break who was wearing a cotton t, cut off denim shorts and cowgirl booties. 
Yes, she was RUNNING in ankle height cowgirl boots.  And not tennis shoes modified to look like boots.  They were standard boots with heels, hard soles and all. 
In the heart of Chicago. 
Yee-haw!  You go, girl!
Just after we were passed by the cowgirl and I decided I had enough of a walk break and started to run again, we came upon a water stop.  Of course.  Not knowing what else we'd have at the finish line and being a bit thirsty, my husband and I both decided to grab a cup and continue on.
From there on out, we ran/walked as needed.  Ideally, my goal was to run out the last mile as well, and I mostly adhered to that goal.  Within the last quarter of a mile, I debated if we could come in sub 36, as I really would have liked a 35 and change finish ... but, as I saw the dancers at the finish line I realized ... no dice.

Not that I can complain, as I still managed to "run" my fastest race of the season, and only 6 months post baby, with minimal training, and on a somewhat "hilly" course (though, not really, since the hills were really more like some minor repetitive inclines / speed bumps to keep people slow in the neighborhoods).  But ... good enough!

*Oh hey, look at that!  A negative split.  Nice!
At the finish line, there were several volunteers handing out finisher's medals.  I noticed that the medals had various colors of neck ribbons, so I opted to snag a tennis ball yellow/green one. 
My husband took a medal with a red ribbon.  And then ... without us even asking, a volunteer says "and here's one for you little guy, for going along for the ride" and puts one around my son's neck. 
LOL!  Not that he would know the difference but, OK!
The finish line dumped us out into the park where we started.  There, runners were offered water, a small sample bag of "natural" cookies, and some various Hispanic looking drink options (one stand was giving out what looked like sour and tonic bottles, but I'm sure it was some sort of Mexican soda, another stand was giving out what looked to be a Mexican type of Gatorade or something similar - I don't really care for soda or energy drinks, so I declined both and therefore didn't see what they actually were). 
Oh!  In case you are wondering what I mean by "natural" cookies - they were some sort of non GMO blah blah blah cookie that was made from beets, oranges, and chocolate.  Yes, they were about as good as you would imagine.  So they were interesting to try, but my husband and I didn't even want to finish the single sample bag between the two of us.  Hahaha!
Our race bibs did entitle us to additional post race snacks, including a churro, but the line for that was easily 100-200 people plus.  Not being THAT hungry, and having a waiting baby in the stroller, we opted to skip the line.  Ah, the sacrifices of being parents, huh?
After passing through the refreshments area at the finish line, we continued on into the park to check out the post race party area.  I was pretty excited for this part as I had heard various vendors came to the after party to sell their crafts and food.  And you know me and skeleton stuff - I was ready to shop!!
Unfortunately, while the music and overall atmosphere was fun, I don't know if I missed something, but ... I didn't see much for crafts, which I was really disappointed about as I had two $20 bills burning a hole in my pocket.  The only things I noticed for sale were a few what looked to be handmade clothing items that were cute but not my style, a handful of food tents, and a couple of vendors offering to do your face paint to look like a sugar skull (needing a shower post run, I wasn't exactly in a hurry to get my face painted).  Oh well.  This wasn't a deal breaker.  Plus I left $40 richer.  So ... win?
As I mentioned above, I did end up spending some additional money at the gear tent on the hoodie.  But because that process was so disorganized, I sadly passed on the mini skeleton shadow boxes and sugar skulls they had for sale.  I REALLY wanted to look at those and make a purchase or two, but I didn't want to stand in a second line of 50+ people just to do that (I was in a separate line to make the shirt purchase as I was using my card).  Ideally, if I were king anyway, I would say next year they should put the more crafty items on a third table and sell as "cash only" so people can shop them better.  As it was, everyone was focused on clothing anyway, so the crafts were totally lost in the push of the crowd.  Besides - I mean, who wouldn't want to take home a mini version of the sugar skull awards they give out to the top runners?  Those things should be cool enough to stand alone!
Speaking of, here are the top finisher awards.

Amazing, no?  If only I was a faster runner!  I especially like the one that appears to be Cubs themed.  Very appropriate given the World Series was happening that weekend as well.
After making my gear purchase, since I had already spent a considerable amount of time at the race running and shopping, I decided I better be a responsible mom and get my little boy back to our hotel.  He had been fighting a nap the entire run because he was too excited being an on course spectator, so I knew it would be ultimate disaster if we didn't get him into a nice and comfortable bed ASAP.
Of course back at the hotel, I couldn't resist one more selfie, though, before I took off his costume.


And that's the story of how race bib #77 joined my collection.  Here's to another race soon ... which I actually already said this last time, and here I am again running, but ... I don't have anything more booked for 2016.  This might be the end of my race season this year.   I guess we'll see!