Friday Five – Sweet Home Chicago Edition

I haven’t done a Friday post in F O R E V E R so I thought I’d participate today with Fairytales and Fitness for the weekly linkup! Feel Free to join in!

As you all (most of you?) know, my Chicago trip was not the one I originally expected, not the one that I thought I would have back when I booked my airfare and hotel, but nonetheless I made the best of it. After all, my love was still running the marathon, plus I was going back home where my best friends live; what’s not to love about that?

Let’s not delay this any longer!

I’d like to share with you what the highlights were of my trip (not in order of importance – they are all equal highlights)

The Chicago International 5KM

Yep… while in Chicago I “ran” the 5KM on the Saturday before the race. Not really “allowed” by my physio but… I figured if I walk/jogged gently I would be fine . Welp… I actually “ran” the whole thing! I don’t regret it, I didn’t have any pain from it and I had no nerve-pain after-effects from him. That’s a win in my book.

Seeing Friends

Not only did I get to see local friends, I also got to see International Friends from the Running the World Facebook Group, and I got to see (although WAY too briefly) blogging friends! Definitely a highlight! We were pretty busy with meet-ups, drinks, eating, etc. This kind of travel really give me so much energy and fill up my heart with love. It’s always hard to go back though.

me and my friend Susie from London – she’s been injured as well so this weekend was a big deal for her
Team Running the World – Ron, me Fozzy, Vinay, Susie and Graham
nervous but ready to start (Graham is Susie’s husband and we all met in Paris before my first marathon)
pre – marathon dinner, this time with Kirsty as well (next to Graham)
Yay for seeing Marcia at the expo!
and KIM!!!!
and finally I got to meet Wendy on race day at mile 13.5! (yes it was cold)
Jen, Ron, me and Elton (Elton and I met more than 15 years ago when he lived in Rotterdam)

Marathon Support

Of course there is no better place (in my humble opinion – but I haven’t travelled EVERYWHERE…) to support the marathon than CHICAGO. Unfortunately though, I missed Ron 2 of the 3 points that we had agreed upon, but that was likely due to me either being on the wrong side of the road, or the fact that he already had removed his long sleeve shirt at the beginning of the race – so I was looking for something he wasn’t wearing! ha! I DID see my running friend Marijke at the 4 mile mark and was able to high-five her to give her (hopefully) a bit of a kick. I also missed pretty much EVERYONE else. It’s so hard with the start times being staggered. I’d have to stay at the same point all day to see all the runners I wanted to support.

was looking for the man in black on the course…
and… he qualifies to run next year without entering the lottery!

A Bit Of Local Culture

We had 10 days in the States, 4 full days before the marathon and 6 almost full days afterwards. While we didn’t want to do much walking before the marathon, to save the legs, we still walked a lot… it’s so hard not to! Especially when you are an active person, it just seems more logical to walk a few blocks somewhere than take public transport or an uber everywhere. But, yeah, Chicago city blocks are a bit farther than at home! So prior to the marathon we stayed in the downtown area (well, up at the top of Michigan Avenue), with exception of going down to the Expo. After the marathon we:

  • Went to a Chicago Blackhawks Game (and they won against the Edmonton Oilers!)
  • Went to a show at Goodman Theatre
  • Went to the Chicago Center for Architecture
  • Went to the Museum of Science and Industry
packet pickup is always exciting
beer sampling at the Goose Island stand at the Expo
My first Blackhawks game!
is there anything grander than the National Anthem being sung?
with Suzy and Jen, two of my best friends <3
is it a light refraction experiment at the Museum of Science and Industry or just the Dark Side of the Moon?
seen in Andersonville
sporting my 5K hat downtown
Ron’s shakeout run at Oak Street Beach

Of course we also ate, drank and were reasonably merry but probably the most important on the food front is that Ron has now tried Giordano’s Pizza (2 years ago), Lou Malati’s Pizza and Gino’s East… just Pizzeria Uno and Due to go! A close second were the donuts bigger than your face at Stan’s Donuts like the one below.

don’t be fooled by how it looks here – it took me 2 days to eat one of these bad boys (though I promise I was not chewing on it for 48 hours non-stop)
should have heeded that Do Not Enter sign…
NOT deep dish??? I know, but I made up for it, I promise
cosmo anyone?
day after breakfast

Mini-Trip to Milwaukee

A dear friend from school (and I mean, elementary school!), Michael, was living in LA forever with his partner and when Ron and I got married almost 11 years ago, we did a road trip out to see them. However, back in May they suddenly packed up and moved to Milwaukee (job change) so I couldn’t resist the urge for us to travel up and see them! Ron had never been, so why not? From Chicago, Milwaukee is about an hour and a half with the train and not really expensive ($50 round trip per person – that’s about the same what we pay to go the same distance here in the Netherlands (which would be my old commute to work, about 80 miles). It was actually Michael’s birthday the day we went up as well!

As we arrived right at lunch time, we first went and had something to eat, discovered Milwaukee has a “Bronze Fonz” statue so we absolutely HAD to walk over to see that and then we went to the Harley Davidson museum (not a biker but love HD motorcycles – and now I not-so-secretly want to learn how to ride) to spend the afternoon. Once we were finished, we headed over to Michael and Alan’s place and had an amazing dinner and tons of catching up, laughter a few drinks may have been consumed as well… SO SO good to see them.

Milwaukee from the Riverfront
this Pinky has finally met the real Fonzie
but there is nothing cooler than having the two Fonzies together
maybe a good thing that we don’t have real motorcycles…
with my friend Michael and a photobomber

Is there more?

Nope! That’s really my trip in a nutshell! I “ran”, I walked, I got cultured and most importantly I got to fill my heart up with friendship to keep me going for a while. With patience, hard work and some luck I’ll be back again next year, maybe even for longer, but definitely to run the marathon and finally tick that off my big bucket list!

So tell me – have you been to Chicago? Are you Team Malnati or Team Giordano? Have you ever eaten a donut bigger than your face? Have you been to Milwaukee? Did you grow up watching Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley? How do you balance out city trips – Do you try to cram it all in or do you seek balance with some days of rest and relaxation (and cocktails)? Have you ever run a race against the advice of professionals (and did you regret it?)


  1. Coco says:

    You packed a lot of fun into your trip! How great that Ron qualified for next year. I guess you know the pizza places you’ll have to try! I’m so glad you ran the 5k without pain or repercussions!

    1. Renée says:

      thanks Coco! I’m not sure yet if he’s going to run it – right now he wants a break and some different challenges. We’ll see. He wanted to run with me and maybe he’ll still do that next year. All these pizza places I’ve actually tried, except Malnati’s, but yeah it was already 30 years ago. No harm in re-trying right? I’m glad too that there were no repercussions from running the 5K.

  2. Wendy says:

    So fun and I”m so glad we finally got to meet! Some of your photos didn’t load, but it looks like you really hit all the high points. I love playing tourist in my hometown. Personally, I think Chicago is the best city. I went to college in Milwaukee, so I love that city as well. It has changed dramatically (for the better) since I lived there! I hope you come back next year so we can plan some quality time.

  3. So glad you had a good trip! Thats great that you were able to run with no pain. I was considering putting my name in the lottery for Chicago next year. Now my husband is trying to get me to look at races in other places so we’ll see.

  4. kookyrunner says:

    OMG I just loved reading about all your adventures in Chicago. You definitely filled up the trip with lots of activities and it’s always great to meet up with runners in person. I wish I could have seen you more over that weekend but it was just so crazy busy!

  5. How fun and to get to visit two iconic cities! I will probably never run the Chicago marathon but the 5k sounds fun. I’ve been wanting to run ( smaller races) in Bigger cities! -M

  6. Never Too Old to Lift says:

    Sounds like an amazing trip! I’d love to come over to the states and run a few marathons over there, especially Chicago. Maybe one day!

  7. Birchwood Pie says:

    Yay for your rogue 5k! I grew up about an hour away from Chicago and we visited often. Currently my sister in law lives there, and for the past few years we’ve gone up on the boys’s spring break, which falls on the same weekend as the Shamrock Shuffle. If we go again this year I’m running it.

  8. I was so glad to read that you were able to run the 5K without pain. You all sure packed a lot into your visit. How fun to meet up with some of our blogger crew too! Way to make the most of your situation and have a blast

  9. […] mental health has really taken a toll since August, and though there have been some good moments (Hello, Chicago trip), my head still gets filled up with anger and sadness from time to time. And it’s not just […]

  10. runswithpugs says:

    I love all of this. I know it wasn’t exactly the trip you hoped for, but it really looks like you had the most amazing time. Chicago is a great city. I’ve been several times and hope to go with the family (especially to run another race).

  11. Liz Dexter says:

    What a lovely trip and you made the most of seeing bloggers and friends. I really admire your energy for that. I have been to Chicago as I have a friend who lives there, and have spent time in Madison, Wisconsin, somewhere I really like. Love all the pics and well done on getting the 5k in.

  12. Wow What a busy visit! Those donuts look amazing. Congrats on the 5K. So happy to hear that you did not have any pain!

  13. Wow, I’m in awe of all you got to see & do — & love how your hair matched your running outfit. ?Three cheers for no pain! All the food. Yum!

    I have been to Chicago but not in many years, never to Milwaukee.

    I can never do as much as i’d Like to, since Mr. Judy isn’t an active person he lacks stamina. In some ways that can be a good thing, sometimes I try to cram too much in.

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