My first 5K!

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This past weekend, I ran my very first 5K! If you recall, running a 5K was one of the fitness goals that I set last year.  Before that, I had never run more than 2 miles in a row, so I thought that making it to the 3.1 mile mark would be a  reasonable step. Tamara and Maria, who are seasoned runners, were great about encouraging and supporting me  in this effort – having friends like that really helps! I also got a lot of great tips from friends and blog readers – thank you! I jogged sporadically all last summer and fall, both outdoors near the lake and on the treadmill. But to be honest, that all dropped by the wayside once I moved into my condo. For one thing, the weather got really cold – fast! Also, my new building doesn’t have a gym. I still did other types of workouts, like pilates and yoga, but alas, no running. About a month ago, I decided that if I was ever going to do it, I should just sign up for a race to make myself do it.

So this past Saturday, Maria, Tamara, Priscilla, Payal and I all participated in the Bunny Rock 5K! The race fees benefitted PAWS and had an Easter theme. Because running is more fun when you’re wearing bunny ears and bright blue shades!

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I am pleased to report that I was able to run the entire 5K without stopping, hooray! The course started and finished in beautiful Grant Park, along Lake Michigan. We also lucked out with a gorgeous, sunny day. Basically, the ideal situation for your first race! Many friends who are experienced runners told me that it would be easier, and that I would run faster, being outdoors and surrounded by so many other people – I think they were right!

Afterwards, Maria had us all over for the after party, where we were joined by our friend Sara. We also realized that it was a Friend-iversary of sorts, as I met Tamara and Maria at Ryan’s Easter party last year!  No Easter Egg jello shots this year, but we did feast on a brunch spread of healthy dishes to continue the healthy start to the day. Having a sweet tooth, I had to bring desert, but I made sure that it was relatively good for you (all things considered). I tried my hand at a new recipe for Almond Cake, which turned out to be  a big hit – recipe later this week! In the spirit of the Easter holiday we also dyed some eggs… check out our masterpieces!

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I had a great experience running my first 5K!  While I don’t plan to become a distance runner any time soon, we’re already planning more 5K runs for the coming months. Who knows, maybe a 10K is in my future!

Mortified

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Did you keep a diary as a kid? Surprising as it may be, since I now share my entire life online, I never had a diary! I tried a few times, but inevitably, the book would be tossed in the back of my closet after a few days. Perhaps that was for the best!

For those of you who were avid diary writers, imagine revealing those cringe-worthy musings to a room full of strangers! That’s the premise behind Mortified, a stage performance where people share their most mortifying stories of the past through diaries, letters, artwork, and photos.

Tedd told me about the show during brunch a few weeks back, so I joined him and his friend Candace to see it last Saturday. Tickets quickly sold out, so it seems that the traveling show (with local contributors in every city) has quite a following.

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As with many of these performance art type shows, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. There’s funny and poignant, and then there’s super awkward. But I have to say, the 5 storytellers were phenomenal! It’s clear that the Mortified producers carefully select contributors, and work with them to curate and streamline their performances, which made for a great show.

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Mortified tours across 10 cities in the US – and Sweden! If you can’t make a live show, you’ll still have a chance to hear these hilarious and moving stories through the Mortified Nation documentary, available on Netflix. I thought the show was so interesting that I plan to check out the movie soon too.

Now tell me, what’s your most mortifying moment? ;)

Lately

Here’s what I’ve been up to lately, the late winter/ early spring edition!

First up was a Numbered Days loft party. This one was Olympics themed (yeah, I’m a bit behind on the blogging), and had a ton of fun games and activities in addition to having awesome DJs and dancing.

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Then Valentine’s Day <3

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The girls kept the activity board going with lots of fun stuff, including a trip to Adler Planetarium After Dark (we won intergalactic trivia!), ice skating in Grant Park, and a hot chocolate bar!

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Another night out at TheWit. One of my Chicago favorites!

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March means it’s time for St.Patrick’s Day! We started pretty early (9 am) and went till maybe 7pm before I basically threw in the towel and went straight to bed. Not what you would call a particularly productive day, but it was nice to be out and about with friends! So much has changed between this year and my first St.Patrick’s Day in Chicago, when I watched the river turn green on my own. It’s so much better when you have fun people to share it with!

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In between, there was a Vegas trip, which you can read about here.

A new spot – Three Dots and a Dash – a Tiki Bar with inventive (and potent) cocktails. Knowing about my germophobic tendencies, you may or may not surprised to learn that I was the one who insisted that we get the first – of three – fish bowls, ha!

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I also got two surprise visitors from NYC! Lucky for me, Chicago is definitely a hotspot for conferences and business trips. I had brunch at Farmhouse with Sunil (who you will recognize from my travels in South Africa and Zambia) and Tedd (who Sunil connected me with last year).  Then, a few days later Leah was in town for work and we had dinner at Nellcoate. Leah, and her husband Rick, who I’ve known for over a decade now, lived two blocks down from me in NYC. It was so great catching up with my east coast buddies!

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And lastly, let me take a #SELFIE:

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Have you heard this song? Sunil introduced me to it and I am OBSESSED. It is so ridiculous that I find it intriguing; reminds me of the Jersey Shore. So, yeah, I finally got around to getting a haircut. It had been close to a year, peeps! I finally bit the bullet and went to a new salon and stylist recommended by my friend David. Four inches off! What do you think??

 

Vegas baby, Vegas!

photo 1 I’ve had a mild fascination with Las Vegas ever since I saw the movie Swingers in high school. It quickly became “the movie” amongst my group of  friends, and we could quote it nearly word for word by the time we graduated. If you haven’t seen it, this is your chance to see 90′s Jon Favreau and Vince Vaughn in a classic tale about helping a friend get over an ex – by taking them to Vegas.

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Vegas baby, Vegas!

It wouldn’t be until many years after high school that I actually made it there myself. And like pretty much everyone with a pulse, I had so much fun that I wanted to go back! I had my chance the very next year when I went back for a wedding held at the Venetian (to this day, one of the most fun weddings I’ve ever attended!). In recent years, some of my college/Pennsylvania  friends have done an annual March Madness trip. I was planning to go last year, but as it happened, I moved to Chicago the same month!  This year, I made it a priority to get out of Chiberia and head to the desert. We lucked out with beautiful, sunny, 80 degree weather… every single day! As the saying goes, what happens in Vegas gets blogged about  stays in Vegas.  In that spirit, I wasn’t specifically planning to document the trip, but used my iPhone for a few random shots. The pictures aren’t the greatest, although in retrospect, I think it captures the blurry haze that is Las Vegas! Vegas2 First things first: hotels and casinos. We stayed at the Tropicana, which is a very average hotel.  It’s located on The Strip, which was convenient, and has a great pool area, but other than that, it was pretty standard. We weren’t planning to spend much time there, so we basically just needed a place to sleep. Plus, it being March Madness, hotel prices were astromnomical, so the Trop suited us just fine. This was the first time I stayed on the southern end of The Strip, so I saw a lot of casinos I hadn’t been to before. We ended up spending most of our time at New York New York, Luxor, and Mandalay Bay, which were all in close proximity. We also spent some time at MGM and the Cosmopolitan. I think the girls are definitely leaning towards the Cosmopolitan for next year!

I took this photo from our table at Mon Ami Gabi during brunch. Great views of the Bellagio fountains!

I took this photo from our table at Mon Ami Gabi during brunch. Great views of the Bellagio fountains!

Next up, the food. We ate at some really great restaurants. I will say that the caliber of restaurants has really skyrocketed since my first trip to Vegas. Also helpful, our budget now allows for more than Subway and various chain restaurants! No stuffy white tablecloth establishments for us though; we chose places with modern cuisine and a fun atmosphere. The standouts were Mon Ami Gabi and Pub 1842 for brunch, and Todd English P.U.B and Jaleo for dinner . photo 2 And now for the fun stuff: what we did. It was a really chill, low key couple of days spent with the kind of friends you’ve known for so long that you can just be yourself. The ones with whom you rehash a decade’s worth of inside jokes and laugh at the same stories that everyone has told a million times. The best! photo-120 With March Madness in full swing, we spent a good amount of time watching basketball. Naturally, we discussed everyone’s bracket strategies, which is when I developed a brilliant, dare I say foolproof, method of picking teams, which hinges on the players’ uniforms – their leggings in particular. I’ve already said too much! While I’m not much of  a gambler, I did make my very first sports bet. And I won! Not quite enough to quit my day job, but I was still really excited, as you can see in exhibit A:

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I won! And my nails look fabulous;)

Aside from the basketball, we enjoyed  some pool time and even took a couple long walks up and down The Strip (our attempt at detox).  One of the highlights of the trip for me was going to see the DJ Afrojack.  My friend Lauren scored last minute tickets, and it turned out to be one of the most fun things we did on the trip! If you’ve read some of my previous blog posts, you know how much I love EDM, and Afrojack did not disappoint. It was an amazing show and we had a blast dancing the night away at Hakkasan at the MGM. There may or may not be a story involving a bachelor party from Texas, but it’s probably for the best if I leave it at that, ha.  We spent most of the night on a balcony overlooking the dance floor, but I did make my way to the lower level at one point, and got right up to the stage! Vegas1 As with any good trip to Vegas, we were in and out in a few days. Just enough time to live like rock stars, but still leave on a high note!

What I’ve been reading

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Here’s what I’ve been reading this week:

Why Procastinators Procrastinate
Despite our best intentions, most of us can related to being distracted by the Instant Gratification Monkey. One of my favorite new sites takes a funny (the drawings are brilliant!) and scientifically accurate look at the art of procrastination.

The Unhip, Unexpected Joys of Cruising
Just like Mark Bittman, I never thought I’d be into cruises. That is, until I went on my first cruise back in 2009. Initially, I was a little taken aback by the demographics (“This cruise has the oldest passengers I’ve ever seen. And most of them brought their parents.”), but ended up meeting a great group of people to hang out with, many of whom I am still friends with today! Find out why a cruise may be the best bet for your next trip.

Billionaires With Big Ideas Are Privatizing American Science
Why do some diseases and causes get more funding and publicity than others? This article explores the way science and technology funding is changing in the US, and the implications of putting these decisions in the hands of the uber wealthy.

How to Win $1 Billion on NCAA Basketball: A Mathematician’s Tips
On the topic of billionaires, and just in time for March Madness, here’s how you can win big on your brackets through the use of statistical models.  And you thought all those math courses wouldn’t come in handy!

 4 Apps That Will Save You Time
I was just lamenting to my friend Denise that I am drowning in junk mail – both physical and digital.  Here’s an app that claims to reduce junk mail, along with 3 others to help save you time. You know, so you can procrastinate more!