Valentine’s Day – A day early!

I hope everyone had a great Valentine’s Day!! Kevin and I celebrated on Friday because of work related conflicts. I got home from work (traffic was only moderately awful for a Friday), and went for a quick run on the treadmill. We got ourselves all dressed up and fancy, hailed a cab, and got to our 8:00 reservation at Quartino right on time!

We’ve been to Quartino a few times, so we kind of knew what we wanted to order… Ok… so we intricately planned it out over a week ago… we were a tad excited. We started with a liter of their house rosso. It’s actually very good, and only $20! We also ordered the cheese fondue that came with apples and bread.

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The cheese is divine! We actually debated not ordering the fondue this time, because it is so filling. We were really glad that we ordered it, because we were munching on it throughout the entire meal. It’s kind of a must… We also had steamed clams that are served in a garlic and white wine sauce.

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I ALWAYS order grilled octopus when it is an option, so that happened. It was very good. It had a bit of a spicy kick to it.

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Kevin ordered something new (to us). The seared veal skirt steak. Wow! SO GOOD! Kevin starting chowing down on this dish before I was able to get a picture. The original presentation was so much prettier.

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They make many of their pasta dishes in-house. We ordered the cavatalli. It is slathered in a delicious red sauce, and topped with ricotta and basil.

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We decided to finish our meal with espresso… or so we thought. Our waiter was super fab, and he offered us a dessert (of our choice) on the house! So nice! Kevin let me pick the dessert. I decided that I was in a banana-y mood so I picked a vanilla gelato that had seared bananas and chocolate. It was beyond heavenly!

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We spent the following day catching up on House of Cards and just relaxing. It was so nice! I’m a lucky lady!

I don’t know about all of you, but I have the worst cabin fever ever. The dreadmill has never lived up to its name (for me)… until now. I just want this cold weather to go away so I can get back outside and increase my mileage. Kevin asked me if I was going to sign up for the Chicago Marathon. I responded with a ridiculously obnoxious laugh/snort, and said no. He then asked me, “Why not?” I then said something generic that involved many excuses.

But… his question is valid. Why CAN’T I run a full marathon? I’ve done a half. I never thought I would be able to do that, but I did. I think my first step will be to do the Rock N’ Roll half marathon, and I’ll see how I feel after that. I don’t know why I’m so afraid to commit to a full marathon.

Snowboarding in Wausau!

Can you say, “perfect snowboarding weather?” I was able to say that umpteen times last weekend when I went up to Wausau, Wisconsin to snowboard with Kevin, my sister, and my brother-in-law… Last year, we went around the same time, and it was ridiculously cold… Polar Vortex cold. This year… completely different story. It was sunny and in the 20s. Amazing! I only usually get to go snowboarding once a year, so having our trip land on a great-weather weekend was fantastic! Last year was Kevin’s first time snowboarding, and he did really well! I remember having bruised knees (and ego) when I learned how to snowboard many years ago… Kevin has already conquered the blue hill, and I am very proud of him!!

Tonight is family dinner night with my sister and brother-in-law, and it is our turn to host. I am making black bean soup topped with sliced avocado and pico de gallo. I’m also making arugula salad with apple chips, roasted almonds, gorgonzola cheese, and a homemade white wine vinegar and dijon dressing. I’m still not sure what I’m going to make for dessert. We are focusing on a lighter meal tonight since Valentine’s Day weekend calls for fancy dinners and rich desserts… I’m thinking that dessert will be fresh fruit with some sort of yogurt dip. We shall seeeee.

I am SUPER excited for tomorrow, because Kevin and I are going to my favorite Italian restaurant called, Quartino for our Valentine’s Day dinner. They serve small plates, which is awesome for us, because we both like to sample many different things as we eat. We are celebrating a day early because we have some scheduling issues with Saturday.

We will be eating LOTS of seafood… Can’t wait!

Ice – 1, Bridget – 0

As an avid runner, I have been told countless times, “If it’s too icy, stick to the treadmill!” That is great advice… if you’re good at listening to advice… or admitting that you are not stronger than nature… I think many runners will agree with me when I say that we often think that safety rules and health rules don’t apply to us. I bring this up, because I decided to challenge the icy lake front trails on Saturday for my run. As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a bad running week last week, so I was determined to have a great week with my running this week. About two miles into my run, I saw that the path was covered with slick ice. A smarter version of me should have turned around, but the invincible careless version on me decided to take on the ice. I knew right away that it wasn’t going to end well for me, and there wasn’t really an “out” so to speak… I ended up slipping and falling. I cut up my right leg pretty badly, but luckily it was all external.

I tend to learn lessons the hard way. Maybe I need to stop listening to that part of myself that says that I cannot be broken.

I would be so upset if I had hurt myself to the point of not being able to run.

Matter Over Mind

I’m having a disagreement with my legs… yes… my legs.

I am actually quite irritated with myself. Last Friday I was feeling super motivated to run 8 miles on Saturday. I haven’t run 8 miles since the beginning of the month, and I was feeling a bit antsy. I woke up on Saturday feeling refreshed and ready to go. I got all of my warm running (ninja) gear on, and headed out.

Right away, my legs were feeling tired. It was difficult to make them move. Mind over matter, mind over matter! I can do hard things, I can do hard things! I repeated these motivating mantras over and over again, but my legs would not shut up. They were yelling at me for a break. My mind wanted to keep going. I really thought I would be able to muscle through and complete the 8 miles that I had committed to, but I got to a point on the path that I was running on that was completely covered in ice… I turned around and headed home.

I only ended up running 6 miles. I think the thing that bums me out the most is that I COULD have extended my run by just changing my route. I COULD have told my legs to quite down, but I didn’t. This “failure” set the tone for my running week, and I have been having a hard time. I’m not enjoying my runs. I’m not motivated. I’m not properly fueling my body… I’m just… Blah…

I am going to “reset” myself on Saturday, and set the same distance goal for myself on Saturday. Mind over matter!

Bikram Yoga and a stressful work week!

OOOOOOH man… I am so happy the weekend is finally here! I wasn’t quite sure that I would survive. I have been blessed and cursed simultaneously with my schedule. Being a teacher, I had two weeks off for winter break, then because of the freaky cold weather I had two days cancelled last week! So technically, this is my first full work week in 3 weeks! I know, your heart bleeds for me, but seriously… the longer the break, the harder it is for me to get back into the swing of my work routine.

Speaking of work… this was a particularly stressful week for me. Between meetings, observations, and various deadlines, this week was nonstop. Buuuut it’s the weekend, and I have made it through the week. Kevin was sweet, and got me flowers to wish me luck on my most stressful day of the week. He also took me out for a crab dinner to celebrate that I had successfully made it through that very stressful day. Love him!

Phoebe always wants to eat my flowers. She is already planning her attack on this bouquet...

Phoebe always wants to eat my flowers. She is already planning her attack on this bouquet…

In January and February, Chicago is generally an icebox. It is absolutely horrible, and I wish I could be like Rip Van Winkle and sleep through these months every year… but since that is not a viable option, I deal with it. I have been mostly confined to indoor running since the first few days of 2015, and I’m not happy about it… at all. I am horrible at running more than 4 miles on the treadmill, so I feel like my endurance is suffering. Last year (during the first polar vortex) I did some hot yoga to supplement my running, and I didn’t hate it. I actually quite enjoyed it, which shocked me. I have a really hard time focusing and staying still which makes yoga a challenge for me. Last weekend, as I laid in bed dreading my treadmill run, I browsed the available Groupons for my area. I found one for 6 weeks of unlimited Bikram Yoga, and saw that it was super close to where I live! I bought it and went that very day (after my boring, indoor run, of course). I felt really stretched out and strong after going, so I went again the following day. I love that they heat up the room! It feels so amazing in this weather. I, like many runners, struggle to embrace cross training. I am kind of proud of myself for doing this. By the time this Groupon expires, spring will be around the corner, and I’ll be back to running longer distances outside!

So it is Saturday morning and I have a ton of goals for today.

1. Eat my oatmeal (almost done with this goal)

2. Treadmill run – probably 3.1 miles or so. It totally depends on how I am feeling.

3. Go to Trader Joes for groceries.

4. Go to yoga

5. Possibly get my hair done

6. Laundry

7. Hang out with cats. It’s Caturday!!!!

Best Mom Ever

I had a pretty uneventful weekend, which is totally fine with me! I had two days off of work last week because of the cold temperatures, and ended up pretty active both nights.

Since my sister and I are in the same profession, she also didn’t have to go to work on Wednesday and Thursday. As soon as we got the call on Tuesday night, I packed up my dinner to-go and enjoyed a bottle of wine at her place. If you KNOW you don’t have to work, you might as well enjoy the evening!

On Wednesday, Kevin and I tried to brave the cold by going out, but we whimped out and watched episodes of Fargo instead!

My fantastic brother-in-law had his 29th birthday over the weekend, so on Thursday night, we had my sister and brother-in-law over for dinner. We made shrimp tacos, and guacamole. My brother-in-law has a HUGE sweet tooth so I made him an oreo cream pie for dessert! It was a hit!

Yesterday was really nice. I met my mom at Corner Bakery for coffee and then a bit of shopping.

I ended up buying a book that I am SUPER excited to read:

She is such an amazing runner, and I respect her so much. I can’t wait to learn a few things about training.

My mom was insistent on going to Brighton. She ended up getting me (for no reason) the “Peace Bracelet”. She told me that I could think of it as an early Valentine’s Day gift, or as a “being at peace with yourself” gift. She said that she was so incredibly proud of me for working on getting healthy. I love my mom so much! She is always looking to do things for the people that she loves before she takes care of herself. I am so lucky to have her as my mom.

This is a very stressful week at work. I have a pounding headache, and I just want to get through all of the meetings and evaluations that are scheduled for this week! Good thing I am surrounded by wonderful people!

I Love/Hate/Need to Run

LOVE

Call me crazy, but one of my favorite things about waking up (and probably the main reason I’m a morning person) is going for my morning run. I LOVE putting on my running shoes, and hitting the pavement. I love turning my mind on auto-pilot and just enjoying the simple fact that my body is able to run. I love seeing the blue sky, and the Chicago skyline as I run along Lake Michigan. I love seeing my animal buddies at Lincoln Park Zoo (the camels, the ostrich,and the wolves). I love the way my body feels after a long run. My lungs feel refreshed, and my legs feel strong. I feel like an absolute goddess (go with it)! There are so many aspects of running that I love… in decent weather…

HATE

The end of October rolls in… then the dreaded time change! I don’t want the extra hour of sleep! I want the extra hour of sunlight! I’m not very comfortable running around the streets of Chicago in the dark. After the time change,by the time I get home from work, It is already dark. I end up running on the treadmill… BOO! At least I still have the weekends! Saturday and Sunday mornings are reserved for my longer lakeshore runs. I appreciate them so much! I start to get in a groove with the treadmill on the weekdays and going outside on the weekends. And then it happens… the polar vortex (the sequel). Now it is negative something degrees fahrenheit, and the ground is covered in ice. Goodbye cherished, outdoor runs… Hello boring, monotonous treadmill… I don’t pretend to love running indoors. I LOATHE it. I get overheated, I get overly competitive with my speed/distance, I have to wait “my turn”, I want to stop. I don’t even want to start these runs. I’d rather stay on the couch and snuggle with a cute kitty!

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NEED

I have such a hard time getting started with a treadmill run. Maybe I should take a day off… but then I can’t. I NEED to complete my run. I can’t just skip it. It’s only the beginning of January, so I’ll be confined to the treadmill for a while with only a small hope that I will occasionally have the opportunity to run outside. I suppose I will need to find a way to enjoy the treadmill a bit more. More importantly, I need to get over my need to run. It should not be a chore.