Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Open House Chicago

Last weekend was my third consecutive year participating in Open House Chicago. For those of you unfamiliar, this is an event organized by the Chicago Architectural Foundation where over 200 buildings across Chicago provide free behind-the-scenes access. I love being a hometown tourist, and tremendously enjoy any chances to explore the city beneath the surface. This is one of my favorite weekends of the year!

The picture opportunities are always phenomenal. Here are some flashbacks to a few of my all-time favorite snapshots; these are from 2014 when Adam and I visited City Hall:
Presiding over Chicago City Council
Taking charge at the Aldermanic Offices
In case you were wondering, Adam took a slightly different approach to both of those photo opps:


Now fast-forwarding back to 2016. I went to sites on both Saturday and Sunday, so let's talk about each day's visits.

In the last two years, I've focused on downtown sites. This year, I wanted to branch out a bit. I had seen some breathtaking snapshots taken from the Ukrainian Village, so this neighborhood was on the top of my list. Here's what I saw:

Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Cathedral
During my visit, I learned this is one of just two churches designed by Louis Sullivan, and is the oldest Orthodox parish in Chicago. I also learned that construction was partly financed by a donation from Tsar Nicholas II of Russia. Very cool!

Of course, hearing this made me wonder whether my favorite Blackhawks player, Artemi Panarin, has ever been there. He is Russian and known to be quite religious, so it would seem to be the perfect fit, yes???

Saint Volodymyr Ukrainian Orthodox Cathedral
Onsite, I learned this is a remodeled German Lutheran church. It is intriguing to me when houses of worship are redesigned for different audiences, so to speak. I loved the multidimensional ceiling with the beautiful artwork.

Saint Nicholas Ukrainian Catholic Cathedral
I was stunned by the beautiful domes, paintings, stained glass, and blue ceilings adorned with what reminded me of a starry sky. I learned this building was modeled after St. Sophia Cathedral in the Ukraine.

Sts. Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church
Apparently St. Volodymyr is very prominent since the Ukrainian Village has two houses of worship that bear his name. Once again, I was awestruck by the lush blue and gold hues, the enormous and ornate chandelier, and the intricate artwork.

To conclude Saturday: The Ukrainian Village is a neighborhood in which I haven't done much exploring, but seeing these four spectacular churches definitely piqued my interest to spend more time there!

Today, it was back to the downtown area to see some sights closer to home. After seeing the four churches the day before, I was looking forward to mixing things up on Day 2. Adam joined me for the first four sites of the day. Together we saw:

The Chicago Board of Trade 
Being a finance major, I was hoping to see the trading floor. I had been plotting out photo ops where I would be pretending to buy and sell futures and options. =D Unfortunately, we learned upon arrival that the floor is generally closed to the public. Bummer!

Nevertheless, we got to go into the CBOT's enormous vault. This was the vault door:
No messing around with this vault! It reminded me of the scenes from Ocean's Eleven. When I walked in, I had Basher's voice in my head saying, "Oh, leave it out. You tossers! You had one job to do!"
Ocean's Eleven aficionados, you all recognize this scene, yes?
Here are some of the lockboxes inside the vault:
Adrian Smith & Gordon Gill Architecture
This is a penthouse architecture office. I am guessing it is a very high-powered firm.
Based on what I've heard about architecture firms in general, I can imagine a lot of feverish late nights have been worked in these areas.

The space had fabulous city views and amenities, such as this little courtyard inlet:
I would enjoy eating lunch out there when the weather is nice! It'd be a great miniature escape from the computer.

This innovative firm specializes in consumer neuroscience research. As people watch TV or view content on computer screens, state-of-the-art tools measure biometrics, facial muscle movement, eye gaze, reaction times and more. These metrics have become critical resources for many of the largest brands in the entertainment industry and beyond.

Unfortunately we weren't allowed to take photos, so here is a photo from the Open House site:
I got to try a biometric analysis using a computer that measured my facial expressions and eye movements. It was scary to witness how accurately the machines could detect what I was doing. Very sci-fi!

During our visit, we learned MediaScience was recruiting folks to participate in paid research studies using their systems. I signed up. =)

Loop Synagogue
Adam and I both used to work less than a block away from the Loop Synagogue. During that time, I've probably walked past it a few thousand times, but never noticed it was there.

On the first floor, there was a smaller worship room of which I didn't take pictures. This room had a divider for traditional Orthodox Jewish practices, in which men and women did not sit together. From what I understand, such practices are not common in our current day and age, so this was a bit of a surprising discovery.

On the second floor was a much larger worship area, complete with stadium seats (Adam said this is since services can be quite lengthy):
Check out the gorgeous full-length stained-glass wall:
I loved the designs and can imagine how stunning the backdrop must be during worship.

At this point, Adam headed home to take care of a few things while I continued on to two more sites.

Joffrey Tower
Many years ago, I worked for a firm who was a strong supporter of the Joffrey Ballet. The firm loaned staff to the Joffrey Ballet on a rotational basis, so I got to work in the Joffrey Ballet's development team for a few months. It was a really fun experience and it was unique to witness the operations behind the scenes. At the time, the Joffrey Ballet was located in a different building, so this was my first time seeing their new home.

Visitors saw a sampling of some of the stage costumes, and learned about the enormous amount of time and expense invested in the dancers' shoes and outfits:
Then we got to see one of the practice facilities, which had breathtaking city views:
It was interesting to learn about all the considerations that went into designing the practice studio. E.g., The ceiling were very high to accommodate jumps/throws; the floor featured softer landing surfaces to be easier on the joints; and each studio included sound-proofing such that multiple practice studios could operate simultaneously without side disturbance.

Marquee at Block 37
This was my final site visit. I thought this was an office, so I was surprised to discover it is a luxury residential building. Visitors got to see a studio and a one-bedroom apartment.
Note the view of the colorful building artwork visible outside the window
Staff even showed us the rental prices. They were high, but the downtown location obviously commands a very high premium. Further, the building has resort-like amenities. This picture of the pool deck definitely does not do it justice:
One of the best parts: The building had a perfect view of Daley Plaza. You could see the Picasso statue as well as the Daley Plaza fountains, which are dyed blue for the Chicago Cubs in the playoffs:
Pretty cool, eh?

That concluded my 2016 Open House Chicago site visits! I managed to see a total of ten sites over two days, which is an Open House PR for me. The two days were such a fun experience. I am already looking forward to next year's Open House Chicago weekend!

Linking up with LaurenVanIsabel and Marcella for Wanderful Wednesday; with Chris and HeatherLaurenAshleyAmanda and Brian, and Carolann and Macrae for Weekend Wanderlust; and with LynArnie and JoSally-AnnAnda, and Anisa and Katherine for The Weekly Postcard.  

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Weekly recap - October 10-16

Last week I had an extremely rough stretch in the office. Thankfully, it was balanced out by some cool after-work events and one of the most fun weekends I've had in recent memory. God taketh away and God giveth!!!
Friday Five
First things first, check out my Friday Five on the Windy City Bloggers Collective last week.
My headshot for my WCBC Friday Five post
My guest post features EricaLaurenMaggie, and Erin. All hail to my fellow Chicago Running Bloggers!

Workout summary and some fitness tweaks
Here are my workouts from the week:

MONDAY - Yoga class
TUESDAY - 40 minutes strength-training
WEDNESDAY - Zumba class, Mobility 101 class
THURSDAY - Strength Max class
FRIDAY - Yoga class
SATURDAY - 3 miles of speedwork (10-minute warm-up, 2:1 tempo/recovery ratio at 7.5 MPH/3.0 MPH, 7 repeats), 20 minutes strength-training

More on this later, but I want to increase my strength work from two days a week to at least three. I also want to include more interval work on my cardio days. Both of these intentions led to my speedwork/strength-work combo yesterday. The speedwork was challenging, as it always is, which is always why I struggle to find the motivation to do it. I need to keep reminding myself that even a little bit of moderate interval training is better than none at all.

Now, let's shift to recapping the festivities from the past week/weekend!

Break the Fast
On Wednesday night, Adam's colleague, Brian, invited us to a "Break the Fast" dinner following Yom Kippur. It was a fun gathering with lively company and an enormous amount of food.
Not surprisingly, the desserts were my favorite part!
Bling it On
On Thursday night, Erin and I attended a party at Golden Crown Jewelers, where our friend Margaret works. I got to try on a couple of rings, both with price tags that made my eyes glaze over.
It was fun to play Kate Middleton for 15 seconds, LOL. Needless to say, I did/could NOT make any impulse purchases that night!

Dining for Dimes
On Friday night, Adam and I attended the March of Dimes Signature Chefs Auction. Adam's friends Dan and Lori are big supporters of the March of Dimes Foundation, and they invited us to join their table.
One of several dessert options
The chefs on stage being recognized for their contributions
Over a dozen local chefs provided a number of showstopping food tastings for the attendees. Food aside, it was unbelievable to witness the incredible generosity of the donors to the cause, and to see some real-life beneficiaries. Their stories were very inspiring.

Open Doors
On both Saturday and Sunday, I took advantage of the Open House Chicago event, which is hosted by the Chicago Architectural Foundation. This is a weekend in which over 200 buildings provide free behind-the-scenes access. I relish any opportunities to explore the city beneath the surface, so this is one of my favorite weekends of the year.

The Open House Chicago sojourns deserve their own post. In the meantime, here is a snapshot from Sts. Volodymyr & Olha Ukrainian Catholic Church, one of the sites I visited yesterday:
Hockey is Back
Last night, Adam and I went to our first Blackhawks game of the season. It felt really great to be back. I love feeling the energy of the team and the fans, hearing the music, and watching the spectacular skill and talent on the ice. As I've said many times, there are few things I enjoy more than watching a live Hawks game at the United Center.
The pregame show displaying the name/number  of Artemi Panarin, my favorite player
What a rush to witness the Blackhawks' adrenaline-inducing victory, including Richard Panik's first career hat trick! Woooooooo!!!!!!

The night was made even more exhilarating because...

Two teams, one city
The Cubs were playing NLCS Game 1 at the same time as the Blackhawks game. In between periods, we got to watch the Cubs game on the UC scoreboard:
After the Hawks win, hundreds of Blackhawks fans camped out in the concourses to watch the remainder of the Cubs game on the stadium televisions:
It was there that Adam and I saw Miguel Montero's grand slam, which caused the crowd to erupt in raucous cheers. (Exceptions: Any White Sox fans in the vicinity made their presence known with some very, uh, dissenting reactions.) I thought the atmosphere in the concourses was just as good as, if not better than, any sports bar. =)

And now...
Time once again to prepare for another upcoming week in the office! (How do the weekends always go by so quickly???) I am looking forward to a quieter schedule this week.

Tell me about your week and weekend!

Linking up with HoHo and Tricia for the Weekly Wrap, and with Angela and Ilka for the Sunday Fitness & Food Linkup.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Quiz show

I always enjoy when my fellow bloggers answer "get to know me" quizzes. It's been awhile since I've done a quiz myself. A few weeks ago, I had fun reading Kelly's Q&A where she answered 40 questions. Today I'm going to pick and choose a few from her post (in semi-random order) that I don't think I've ever addressed before.
Do you eat blue cheese?
In general, I'm an equal-opportunity cheese eater - so yes. I would put other varieties of cheese higher on the list, though. That aside, I do love the classic salad combo of greens, candied nuts, some type of fruit, and a stinky cheese.
Source and recipe
Can you whistle?
No. Not even close. On a related note, I think it's fascinating when folks can whistle through their teeth. How do they do that???

Do you get nervous before a doctor's appointment?
When I'm in the waiting room, no. I do get a little jittery when getting weighed and while having my blood pressure taken. The worst moments for me are when I'm wearing the ever-so-stylish robe and awkwardly sitting in the exam room waiting for the doctor to come in. Once the appointment actually begins, it's all good.
How many televisions do you have?
Two. The primary TV is in the living room, and we have another one in the second bedroom/den. Generally the only time the second TV gets used is when the Blackhawks and Penguins are playing at the same time (not against each other). Adam will watch the Penguins on one TV and I'll watch the Blackhawks on the other.

What do you think of hot dogs?
I like them, but I rarely eat them since they aren't healthy. Sigh.
Do you do push-ups?
I try to avoid push-ups as much as possible.

Favorite girl's and boy's names?
I love the name Grace, and it's a tossup for me between Albert and Wesley.

Do you have ADD?
No, although my attention span is definitely shorter than it used to be. I think the two office statistics listed below are very realistic.
What is one thing you dislike about yourself?
I'm very thin-skinned. I have a tough time with constructive criticism and I always take things personally.

What's in your pocket right now?
As I type this, I'm wearing pajama pants which don't have pockets.

Do you own slippers?
No. At home, I am comfortable being barefoot in the summertime, or just wearing socks during cooler seasons. Adam has slippers, though, and he loves them. Maybe it's time for me to invest in a pair of my own?
Worst injury you've ever had?
I don't know if you'd call it an injury, but I had to have four teeth extracted for orthodontic purposes. I only received local anesthesia, so I was awake during the procedure. It was a very uncomfortable few days afterwards.

Side note: I also had four wisdom teeth extracted as a teenager. It blows my mind that I've had a total of eight teeth removed. I think the human body is a miraculous thing, but my dental composition definitely left something to be desired!

Favorite flavor of ice cream?
Rocky Road, but I'll happily eat anything chocolate-themed - especially mint chocolate. I am also a huge fan of pistachio and green tea. Apparently I have an affinity for green-hued ice cream.
How do you ring in the New Year?
It's different every year - sometimes by going out on the town, sometimes by going to a friend's, sometimes staying home and chilling on the couch. The last few years I've had to work on New Year's Day, which has put a damper on any celebrations. This year, I am thrilled that I'll actually get to enjoy the holiday. Cue the Auld Lang Syne!!!

Favorite month?
For weather conditions, September. For festivity, July is my favorite because it is the middle of the summer, and it includes Independence Day plus my birthday. 
Celebrate good times!
Now it's your turn. I'd love to hear your responses to any of these questions!

Linking up with Amanda for Thinking Out Loud Thursdays.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Army 10-Miler race recap

Continuing from the Army 10-Miler expo, which was the most unique race expo I've ever attended.

In the past, I had heard a lot about the Army 10-Miler, but didn't envision myself running it. Then last spring, when visiting my friends Vanitha and Asheesh in DC, the race came up in discussion. Asheesh is in the army reserve, so this would be a very meaningful event for him. I jumped at the opportunity to run such a famed race with a good friend.
Adam's father and stepmother also live in the DC area. To further sweeten the deal, it turns out the race date coincided with my father-in-law's birthday. Therefore, a DC visit that weekend would be perfect timing for both a birthday celebration and the race.
Unfortunately, Asheesh has been battling injury over the last few months. In the end, he opted not to run. Obviously it was a very smart decision for him to play it safe, but I was bummed I wouldn't get to run with him.

On race morning, I arrived at the Pentagon to find it had been transformed into a race start village.
The Pentagon in the background, with rows and rows of portapotties in the foreground.
I saw plenty of runners dressed to honor our nation:
The temperatures were in the 50s, and some early morning rain had cleared out just in time for the race start. Unfortunately, the winds were very gusty. It was so windy that runners' discarded trash bag dresses were whipping around everywhere on the streets.

Some folks were less fazed by the conditions than others, of course.
I had been considering trying to make this a PR attempt. The weather, combined with the scenic DC course, made it an easy decision to just run for fun.

It was a long walk from the corrals to the start line. I ended up missing my starting corral since I was in line for the portapotties. I joined the next corral instead. While heading towards the starting line, I realized the magnitude of the 35,000 runners participating in the race. This event is enormous!

A helicopter was circling the skies during the entire race. Near the start line, I was happy to get this snapshot of the helicopter above the American flag.
The starting line:
I headed out at an easy pace and kept my eyes open for historic sights and monuments. The course was filled with them! Here are some highlights:
Arlington Cemetery
The Lincoln Memorial
The Washington Monument
The Jefferson Memorial with the Washington Monument in the background
The Potomac River
Unfortunately, my bladder was not cooperative throughout the length of the race. This was frustrating because I had gone twice before starting the race. Apparently even after all these years, my pre-race hydration strategy is still not perfect. There were aid stations every two miles with portapotties, but the lines were always very long. I didn't feel like waiting so I just kept on going. I also opted to skip taking any GUs, too. In retrospect, these weren't the best ideas, but it ended up being okay.

The mile markers each had a different soldier's creed on them. Talk about an incredible way to inspire the runners to keep going!
"I will never leave a fallen comrade."
Adam got this picture of me around Mile 6, which was on the National Mall near the Smithsonian Institution Building:
As you can see, the course was very crowded. It remained that way throughout nearly the entire race. Windy conditions aside, I definitely agree with those who advised this is not a race in which to attempt a PR.

One of the most touching elements of the race was that all of the aid stations were manned by army personnel. Sometimes the aid stations and rows of army soldiers stretched for several blocks. This picture so does not do it justice:
I can't even begin to describe to you how it felt to be running through the long stretches of army soldiers, all offering you water or Gatorade and cheering you on. What an honor. It brought tears to my eyes every time.

A lot of the army folks were having fun, too. I heard some of them shouting things like,




Hearing these made me smile.

I enjoyed the many bands on the course, all of which were playing patriotic songs:
There were some great spectators:

As you might expect, there were a lot of veterans running the race:

I heard other runners talking about walking up certain hills, et al. Much to my surprise, I didn't notice any inclines on the course. Imagine that, right?

This was a snapshot from around Mile 8, I think, shortly before we started hitting some enormous headwinds.
WOW - those winds were brutal, especially at that point in the course. I was really thankful this race was only a 10-miler as opposed to a half marathon or longer. More army personnel were stationed along various points to cheer us on.

The finishing chute was lined with American flags and spectators. Again, the photo doesn't do the scene justice.
What an exhilarating finish! All runners received a beautiful finisher's coin. Normally I am very partial to medals, but I love the coin:
Side 1
Side 2
It was such an honor and a privilege to run this race in our nation's capital with the support of so many of our armed forces. I feel truly blessed to have had this experience. In my opinion, this race is a must-do for all DC-area runners and/or anyone with a military affiliation.

I only wish that I could have run with Asheesh. I can't even imagine how meaningful the festivities would have been for him. It would have been awesome to share the experience. Asheesh - I wish you the speediest of recoveries, and let's put this race back on the list for another year!

To all the brave men and women serving our country, I salute you!!!

Linking up with MarciaPatti, and Erika for Tuesdays on the Run.