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bike

How to ride your bike from Chicago to Joliet [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

Last Sunday I wanted to get in a long bike ride but I also wanted to see Jason race his car at the Route 66 Raceway in Joliet. “How many miles is it from here to the track?” I asked.

“About 45,” Jason replied.

Hmm, I thought. I was hoping to ride 45 miles with Live Grit anyway.  Their route would take me almost exactly half way to Joliet. Was there a way I could keep going after the halfway spot?

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After some Googling and asking around, I came up with the following route which I’m going to detail for future reference:

This first part is the typical Live Grit route leaving from the store on Monroe in the West Loop.

  • Southwest on Ogden
  • South (left) on Ridgeland
  • West (right) on 41st
  • Stay on 41st and cross Harlem Ave. 41st will turn into Historic Route 66/Joliet Road and then into 55th Street
  • South (left) on East Ave which will turn into Santa Fe Dr
  • Turn right at 75th when Santa Fe Dr ends
  • South (left) on Willow Spring Road
  • Right (west) on 79th
  • Stay on 79th and end up at the Shell Station in Burr Ridge. Fuel up with Gatorade, water, and salty snacks.

At this point I broke off from the Live Grit group and continued onto Joliet.

  • Head back north and turn right (east) on 83rd Street
  • Right (south) on Madison St
  • Right (west) on Jeans Rd. Take a left when it forks.
  • Cross Kingery Road/83 and get on the sidewalk on the west side.
  • Take the first right onto the ramp down to the Centennial Trail.

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The Centennial Trail is lovely

When you get to Romeo Road, stay on the trail and take a left. Cross the bridge and then take a left at the bottom. Go under Romeo Road and get on the Gaylord Donnelly Trail. Note: this trail is crushed limestone and not paved!

You will end up in a small park on 2nd Street. At this point you can continue on the Illinois and Michigan Canal Trail or you can switch to surface streets. I would HIGHLY recommend switching to surface streets. I would recommend Hamilton Street to Woods Drive to 171. I didn’t, and, other than a stretch of paved path in downtown Lockport, the trail was HORRIBLE. More mountain bike than road bike territory. I almost took a picture but I was trying too hard to navigate where the heck I was!

Once I finally got out of this weird section where the path went underneath 171 and basically turned into a hiking trail, I got out onto 171. It’s a busy road but you’re only on it for about a 2 miles before you turn left onto Woodruff Road and then take the right right onto Harrison.

Unfortunately, either the super rough trail or something on 171 did in my back tire and I ended up with a flat shortly after turning onto Harrison. This means I was unable to finish my ride since I’m still a beginner at tire changing. Thankfully Jason was able to come get me and my bike during his rest period.

And, I did technically  make it to Joliet city limits! I even got to ride past the old Joliet prison.

However, since I didn’t make it the additional six miles to the actual raceway, I want to try this ride again! After I practice changing a flat tire first, though

 

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SIA: The Homecoming

Style Imitating Art

Hey there! It’s Monday and I’m feeling soooo behind! I had a wonderful weekend that included a run, a trip to the dog park, an epic nap, a bike ride that I’ll tell you about on Friday, and getting a ton of sun (while lathered in SPF 100 so don’t worry).

Oh, and eating an entire medium thin crust pizza and then some. Cue the beached whale noises.

Anyway, I’m also behind in taking blog photos so this week might be light. One photo I will take, though, is the one where I interpret this week’s Style Imitating Art piece chosen by Jen.

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The Home Coming – 1905 – Bertha Lum – woodblock print

Jen’s got some interesting information about this piece in her post today that I highly recommend you go read. Turns out this piece might not even be the final version!

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How to finish a triathlon with no training [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

As I mentioned in a previous post, I signed up for the Esprit de She Sprint Triathlon in nearby Naperville at what was basically the last minute. Well, okay, I signed up 6 days beforehand.

Last year I spent every Monday night in January through May swimming laps in a pool and then most Saturday mornings starting in May swimming in Lake Michigan. I did long bike rides of 45 miles and ran once or twice a week. I was FREAKED OUT about swimming half a mile and had to do deep breathing exercises at the start of the 2015 Esprit de She triathlon.

This year? I hadn’t done a stroke of swimming since last August. I’d been out on my bike exactly once. Granted, I rode almost 60 miles, but still. But, I have been lifting weights 4 days a week and doing one or two days a week of cardio. I’ve run two half marathons since January 2016 and several shorter races.

And on race day this year I was completely calm. I let out a few curse words when I realized I’d forgotten my fuel that I wanted to take on the bike, but I figured I’d survive. I’d packed an emergency peanut butter and jelly sandwich and I had a leftover Clif Shot Blok in my bag and those would just have to do.

While waiting for the swim to start I ended up chatting with a girl I went to high school with. We were on the dance team together our senior year and apparently we still look close enough to how we looked in high school to recognize one another even in triathlon gear! Crazy, right?

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The first few strokes of the swim felt a little awkward and it took awhile for my arms and shoulders to warm up. Swimming is way more of an upper body workout than I remembered!

Still, I finished the swim only 31 seconds slower than 2015.

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My first transition was soooo slow. I’m definitely out of practice there. Of course, I think it’s partly because I stopped to scarf down some of that PB&J.

Out on the bike I caught up to my high school classmate and we leap-frogged one another for a bit. She definitely helped me push it when I was flagging because of the ridiculous headwind we had to ride into for half of the course. In the end, I completed the bike course almost a minute faster than in 2015. Thank you, squats and deadlifts.

My second transition time was almost identical to 2015 and I think the only reason it’s 9 seconds slower this year is because I actually remembered to put on my race bib number belt. I totally forgot it in 2015!

The run after riding always feels super weird and this year was no exception. Hilariously, I’ve probably done less than 10 “brick” (bike-run) workouts in my life. And this year my run time was one second faster than 2015. So, I’m definitely consistent there!

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When I signed up, one of the Live Grit coaches said that it probably wouldn’t be my greatest race but I’d definitely finish. Well, finish I did and only 1:14 slower than in 2015!

So, if I had to tell someone how to do a triathlon with no training I’d say the following:

1. Make sure you’ve done at least one triathlon before so you know what to expect. Preferably the same event so you REALLY know what to expect.

2. Lift a lot of weights. I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: lifting weights will keep you in amazing shape. Especially if you’re lifting heavy.

3. Don’t have a goal time for anything. Be pleasantly surprised when you do better than you thought you would.

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Stamped Out

Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Summer

Normally I write my blog posts in the evening but lately I’ve been writing them in the morning. The tough thing about that is that I am NOT a morning person. Never have been and I doubt I ever will be.

My alarm goes off at 5AM but I don’t usually drag myself out of bed until 6AM. And the first hour of so of my workday is just lost time as I start at my computer screen trying to wake up.

Of course, I don’t want to come to work later because that would mean having to stay later. Such a dilemma.

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Jacket – Velvet c/o Shopbop (same) | Tee – Out of Print Clothing (same) | Jeans – LOFT (same) | Shoes – Sperry (same)

It’s also a dilemma to figure out what to wear this time of year. You have to check the weather everyday, plan for air conditioned offices and possibly sweltering outdoor temperatures. For some reason I’ve been avoiding wearing my utility jacket like a cardigan even though it’s definitely light enough to do so. But last week I decided that I wanted to wear my new library due date tee and needed something to throw over it when in the office. Hence the utility jacket.

This tee is super soft but, warning, it runs SMALL! I’m wearing a medium and probably could have gone up to a large. It’s much more fitted than some of my other tees so that’s probably why I’m not used to the sizing.

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Jason asked if the numbers and dates mean anything but I don’t think they do. They’re just an homage to the days when libraries stamped the due date on the card in the back of the book. Now most libraries use little printed out slips of paper. Which, I suppose, is nice since it gives you an automatic bookmark. But I fully admit I miss the stamp.

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SIA: Outfit of Roses

Office Appropriate Outfits - Summer · Style Imitating Art

This weekend was a series of ups and downs for me. Originally I planned to take this outfit photo on Saturday but I couldn’t find the attachment I needed for the tripod. Plus, it was a gazillion degrees outside and I had to drive out to the suburbs to pick up my race packet for the triathlon I was doing on Sunday. And, of course, run errands. In the end, I didn’t take photos. Thankfully Jason was nice enough to do it on Sunday evening.

IMG_4906Top – Le Tote (same) | Necklace – Le Tote (same) | Pants – The Limited (same) | Shoes- Express (similar)

I created this outfit from this week’s Style Imitating Art inspiration piece. Originally I had it on with olive colored shorts since the temperature was in the 90s but when I couldn’t find the tripod attachment I put the outfit back, changed into denim shorts and a white tank top and flipflops and saved this one for work.

After running all my errands on Saturday I ended up passing out on the couch for a nap before watching Touching the Void while I ate dinner. If you ever needed a story of perseverance to remind you to keep going when it feels like there’s no hope, this is it.

I think that’s particularly appropriate today, don’t you? It also kept me motivated yesterday when I needed a little push during my triathlon. Which I finished in almost the exact same amount of time it took me last year.

I then got to have lunch with my parents before running a few more errands and then relaxing for the rest of the day.

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Sometimes I let the little things get to me and make me irrationally upset. I think this weekend was a reminder that, really, my life is pretty good. It may not always be a bed of roses but when my biggest irritant is that I can’t find the tripod attachment or figure out what 2x4s to buy I have to admit I live a privileged life.

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My Furry Running Buddy [Fitness Friday]

Fitness

Two years ago this week we brought Chewie dog into our lives. He was 8 months old at the time and I was dying to take him running. Of course, you’re not supposed to run with dogs until they’re a year old plus it was summer and it was hot. So, I waited until October and then off we went.

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People ask how I taught him to run with me and not stop every five feet to sniff or pee or chase birds. Well, he’s not perfect but he definitely knows when we’re on a run that we’re working and not playing. He only pulls on the leash when he see a squirrel (or a bird) and even then it’s only for a second.

He gets super excited when I ask him if he wants to go for a run. He’s always up for any distance  and we’ve even done a few 10 milers together. However, he’d never run an official race since most races in the Chicago area don’t allow dogs. Plus, he’s not always the most well-behaved on-leash when there are strangers around so I wasn’t sure about bringing him somewhere full of people. But, I decided to chance it for the inaugural Top Dog Division at the Super Sunny 5K.

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He was SO well behaved! He only barked at one person (sorry, Emily!), let strangers pet him and give him treats, and even made friends with the women at the Pet Supplies Plus tent. And, of course, he ran the 5K with no problems.

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I, however, did not have the best race of my life. That’s okay, though. I got to run an official race with my furry running buddy! We didn’t win an award, sadly, but now we have goals for next year.

 

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Matching (and drinking) all the things

Office Appropriate Outfits - Summer

When I picked out items for my latest Le Tote I didn’t have anything on my calendar that would require a cute dress, but I added one to my shipment anyway. Turns out I then added the Pump Room summer menu preview event at the Public Hotel to my schedule and, voila! A place to wear a cute dress.

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Dress – Le Tote (same) | Jacket – Langford Market (similar) | Necklace – New York & Co (similar) | Shoes – Vince Camuto (similar) | Purse – Le Tote (same

When this dress arrived I realized that I had the perfect shoes to go with it. And I was happy that I’d added the clutch to my Le Tote at the last minute, too. It all went so well together. And, yes, when we took this photo we made sure I was holding the Strawberry Royale since it matched my outfit, too.

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Strawberry Royale on the left, Curious Satisfaction on the right

I also tried two other drinks and all were so different! The bartenders at the Pump Room are super creative and come up with some awesome concoctions and were excited to show us how they were made. We also had some wonderful food but, let’s be honest, I’m really just there for the beverages. Although, their Salmon on Crispy Rice with Chipotle Aioli might be my favorite appetizer in the city. I could eat my weight in those. So good!

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Anyway, I made Jason take a few more photos when I got home since I was too busy chatting with Emily and Kit while eating and drinking all the things to really get photos.

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I’m very lucky to not only live in a city that has so many great places to try but also to belong to a blogger collective that affords us these opportunities.

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Almost Interesting

Office Appropriate Outfits - Summer

I’m sitting here trying to think of something to write and I just can’t come up with anything interesting to say. Is it because I’m tired and my brain’s not functioning at 100%? Is it because I just really don’t have anything interesting to say?

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Cardigan – The Limited (same) | Top- Marshall’s (similar) | Skirt – LOFT (similar) | Shoes – c/o Alterre NYC (same

I can tell you that Jason and I took these photos on Hubbard Street between Green and Ogden in Chicago. The side of the train trestle is adorned with a series of murals known as The Hubbard Street Mural Project. So there’s a little bit of interesting Chicago information.

I can tell you that I ran a 5K with Chewie last Saturday and planted flowers on my balcony on Sunday.

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I can tell you that I signed up for a triathlon taking place on Sunday even though I haven’t swum a single stroke since August 2015 or done any triathlon-focused workouts. My wetsuit is probably still full of sand.

I can tell you that I’m trying to stick to my June goals and come up with date night ideas for Jason and I that don’t always involve going out to eat or spending money. Or, really, being outdoors or in crowds for long periods of time. Suggestions?

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And I can tell you that I attempted both a squat and a bench press personal record (PR) on Tuesday. I managed a 15 pound PR in my squat but failed at getting a bench press PR.  Win some, lose some.

So, I don’t know. Did I have interesting things to say after all? You tell me.

 

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Hot outside, cool inside

Casual Friday · Office Appropriate Outfits - Summer

Last week I had the opportunity to take Friday afternoon off work and attend a Chicago Cubs game courtesy of my VP. When I showed up to work on Friday in jeans and a t-shirt (my go-to ballpark wear) one of my coworkers mentioned that I seemed dressed down. “You hardly ever wear just jeans and a t-shirt,” he said.

Okay, well, what about just jeans and a sweater?

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Sweater – Ann Taylor (similar) | Jeans – Old Navy (same) | Shoes – Sperry (same

Seriously, though. I came up with this outfit when it was warm outside but chilly in my office. I thought it was a nice alternative to a tank top with a cardigan. Instead we’ve got a tank top with a mesh sweater over top.

This sweater does tend to give me fits, however. It snags and since it’s not three-quarter sleeves I spend a good chunk of my day rolling the sleeves up and then back down which stretches them out. Still, the concept is a good one.

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SIA: Roses

Style Imitating Art

Welcome to Monday! And welcome to this week’s edition of Style Imitating Art. Salazar wanted to pick something summery and what’s more summery than roses?

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The Roses of Heliogabalus

Although, if I’m being honest, Japanese iris are my favorite flower. But they’re kind of pointy so having a bunch of them dumped on you would probably not be the most fun thing in the world.

Anyway, there’s a lot of pink and green along with some neutrals in this painting. I have a top coming in my next Le Tote that might be perfect for this so we’ll see! Maybe white jeans, a blush top, and some green jewelry?

Remember, if you want to participate just snap a photo of an outfit you wore that was inspired by this painting and send it to Salazar at 14shadesofgreyblog@gmail.com by next Monday, June 13th. Then check back to see yourself in the round-up and find out what everyone else was inspired to wear!

P.S. Don’t forget to vote for your favorite outfit of May!