Tag Archives: sports

Take me out to the ball game

So I missed What I ate Wednesday but I have a good excuse. I took the afternoon off and headed up to Wrigley for a cubs/cards match-up. I always try to save my luck for when they are in town and it came through this week with 4th row seats and gorgeous weather. There’s just something about being at Wrigley in the middle of the day that makes you  feel like your cheating the system. And it’s awesome.

Beautiful day for a ball game! Go cards!

What did I eat Wednesday?

Baseball season.

Peanuts. Salted in-shell peanuts. And lots of them. Welcome to baseball season folks! Growing up my dad and I used to head to Lanphier Park to watch the minor league cardinals affiliate, a bag or two of salted in shell peanuts in tow. After all, a good game is determined as much by the layer of shells under your feet as the runs scored.

photo (7)

And lucky for me the Cardinals pulled out a win. I forget how much better  it is to watch live baseball than on television. The crack of the bat, the smell of hot dogs and the look of a meticulously-groomed field. And if that weren’t enough, the Duck Dynasty lookalikes seated next to us were pretty entertaining as well.

greater swiss mountain dog puppy

What Finn ate Wednesday Tuesday. A tennis ball. Nearly a whole one. Swallowed it in one full gulp before I could get my hand down his throat to remove it.

We interrupt this blog post for a dog owner rant:

I was thoroughly annoyed at the owner who was letting his dog lay in the middle of the dog park shredding tennis balls into giant chunks Tuesday night. He wasn’t playing with any dogs. Just laying there letting the rubber fly. Finn of course trotted right over to the destruction and snatched up a piece within seconds. I managed to get the first piece away from him but before I knew it he had another (larger) one and down the hatch it went. I equate situations like this to dropping a bag of marbles in front of a group of babies. Of course some of the kids will play nicely with the marbles, but it’s only a matter of time before one or all plop those suckers right in their mouth.

The moral of the story is that some weeks you’re on track and some weeks you’re not. And that’s OK.  Unless you’re eating foreign objects and in that case it’s not.

And so I add tennis ball to the unique list of non-food items my puppy has ingested in the past 10 months:

  • Fully intact pressed rawhide bone
  • 5-7 wooden letter stamps (This is why your Christmas gift tags said “To and “Fro”)
  • Cookbook covers (who needs ’em)
  • 1/3 stuffing from bed he was obviously done with
  • Enough bark to wood-chip a small garden
  • Half of an entry mat-unwoven
  • NEW ENTRY: Tennis Ball

To read more about the fun things my dog eats click here. Otherwise enjoy the weekend and I’ll hopefully have some real food to share for Mother’s Day.

Marathon Season

This weekend was an early indication that marathon season is approaching here in Chicago. I’m not sure if it was the slight temperature increase (hello 39 degrees!) the sunshine, or the fact that it’s nearly April, a month where many, myself included, have to put feet to pavement for races. Whatever the case, there was legitimate activity this weekend on the lake path. I have a feeling it won’t be long until the path is filled with packs of running teams, tandem bike-riding tourists and stretchy band speedo guy. Yes, he does exist.

lake_2

This will be my 4th year running a half marathon in April. In past years, I did the majority of my training on a treadmill. This time around I’ve been fortunate to get nearly all of my runs in outside. In doing so I’ve realized how much more enjoyable running in the city can be. Yes, even in the winter.

chicago lake running path

Anytime I have to do anything over 5 miles, I typically head towards the lake. My 3-4 mile route is fine for mid-week runs but doesn’t provide as much motivation as the lake path. That, and my neighborhood route smells like food which makes me hungry. 4 miles hungry is ok. Anything above that is dangerous. Plus, once you’re on the path you can cover a lot of distance without stopping. I had to do 9 this weekend, so I figured I’d head over to the lake and see how many I could get in before I got too cold. And then I started to sweat. And I cursed myself for not taking the sun into account as I put my running gear on that morning. After all, I should know better.

Growing up, my dad was the go-to gear guy. He carried rolls of athletic tape in his golf bag and believed in its superiority over nearly everything but electric tape. I was the lucky girl who got her Copas mink-oiled after rainy soccer games. And it was not unusual to find the two of us browsing the local sporting goods store each time I signed up for a new sport.

My dad taught me the importance gear can play in being prepared for a sport. Don’t worry he taught me a lot more than that as well. I’m pretty sure my last pair of Copas even made it through a few kickball seasons post-college. But it wasn’t until I started running longer distances that I realized I wasn’t prepared. And as the mileage ticked up, my gear continuously ticked me off. I painfully learned:

  • A tiny plastic design element on the top of a running shoe can result in the slow loss of a toenail 
  • The viscosity of chewing gum can determine how quickly it disgustingly deteriorates in hot weather
  • That ‘locating satellites’ can take anywhere from 2 minutes to FOR-E-VER

Having the proper gear can literally make or break a run. And I layered a little too much this weekend. So in the spirit of do as I say not as I did, I’ve put together a list of the items I think are essential for a successful cold-weather run. I’m afraid you’re on your own when it comes to the lung capacity and leg strength. Just watch out for that March sun.

cold weather running gear

  • Reflective running vest-I got this for christmas and I love it. Perfect for keeping your core warm but arms cool and the reflective pieces are safer than the dark knight runner look I was apparently going for when I purchased these items. 
  • Lululemon tech long sleeve-I tried to avoid the Lulu trend but they make really nice stuff. This one is great because it has thumb holes and is thin enough to layer under a half-zip for those really cold days.
  • GPS watch-you could easily use the Map My Run app as well but I swore by my garmin watch when I was learning to pace myself early on.
  • YurBuds-these headphones stay put and have good sound quality. I have the pair with the microphone too just in case someone calls when your phone is in the back pocket of your running tights and you can’t seem to get it out without falling over.
  • Gum-I like to blow bubbles when I run. But it also helps keep me from getting cotton mouth and gives you something else to focus on.
  • Ear warmer/Running gloves-I recommend light fabric for both of these. Plus, the itouch gloves come in handy if you plan on using your phone at all.
  • iPhone/iPod-I used to strictly run with my iPod and I still do in actual races. I try to bring my phone if I run in the evening or a long distance by myself for safety purposes. And I may or may not love the ability to snap photos of random things I see along the way. Sue me.
  • FitRadio-Where have you been my whole life FitRadio? Download the app and thank me later.
  • Visor-guess who chose her ear warmer instead of her visor for a cold but SUNNY run on Saturday. This girl. I highly recommend wearing one anytime you are going to be in the sun for a long period of time. I use the crap out of mine.
  • Running tights-Nike makes a great version. The newest of which has zippers on the side of the ankles instead of the back. My ankles thank you, Nike.

Once you’ve got the gear you are ready to run all day. Or at least for a few hours before something starts to chafe, bleed or ache.

Sometimes I wonder if I would run as much if I didn’t live in the city. Don’t get me wrong I’m a big fan of the new trail they put in down by my parents house, but one can only handle the excitement of smashed mystery berries and a zig-zagging chipmunk so much. And when I say excitement I mean it. Those chipmunks scare the crap out of me every time. I do enjoy a good country run every now and then though.

trail woods fall spring winter

Living in the city you get used to dodging tourists, delivery trucks and cyclists, but wildlife? Not really. Unless you count rats the size of opossums. That’ll motivate anyone to run.

So the next time you’re visiting somewhere new, pack your running shoes. As long as you have the right gear, running is a great way to explore. You never know what you’ll run into. Perhaps the filming of popular TV show Chicago Fire early Saturday morning in the loop?

chicago fire tv show

Here’s to a great week!

Color Commentary

According to Wikipedia, A color commentator is a sports commentator who assists the play-by-play announcer, often by filling in any time when play is not in progress. The color commentator provides expert analysis and background information, such as statistics, strategy and injury reports on the teams and athletes, and occasionally anecdotes or light humor. 

After a nice weekend at home, my dad and I headed over to Champaign tonight to watch our respective Alma maters in a sloppy but entertaining Big Ten face off. As I drove back to the city to the smooth sounds of puppy snores and sleet on the windshield, I thought about the experiences my dad and I have shared through sport over the years and how much it has impacted who I am today.

Go Illini!

If you’ve ever attended a sporting event with my father, mentioned an athlete in small talk or sat in the same room with him where a television may or may not have been showing something sports-related, whether you like it or not you’re going to come away with more stats and anecdotes about the players, teams, coaches and refs and their wives than you ever thought you needed or wanted to know.

Growing up in our house, breakfast consisted of Cheerios and a serving of Illinois High School mascot trivia followed by a brief literacy exercise of newspaper box scores and a dinner date at Lanphier Park for some color commentary on how well the “Baby Birds” were handling ground balls this season.

home of the pretzels

I am the daughter of a sports fan. A former athlete and intramural league champion. A journalist.

Sports were his thing, so it’s only natural that they quickly became mine too. Sports were our thing. And they still are today.

Fire, Fire, Fire

Now don’t get me wrong I spent my fair share of time stealing my sister’s Strawberry Shortcake and sabotaging her lemonade stands growing up, but some of my fondest childhood memories were spent with my dad, seeking out remote soccer complexes, shagging balls at volleyball practice and learning the difference between a frozen rope and a Texas Leaguer.

And when it came time for me to take on sports as an extracurricular, his enthusiasm reached a new level. A red, a white AND a blue gumball after each high school basketball game, mink oil and newspaper treatment immediately following a rainy soccer game and an ice cream cone for every head ball until the fear subsided and the parlor couldn’t keep up. He was never one to be exclusive either. When my sister and I’s college teams met in the annual Braggin’ Rights game, he made sure to show his support for all involved parties, donning Michigan attire accented with an Illini hat and a tail of Tiger, or similar adaptation as we moved up in class.

illini

I owe a lot of my sports knowledge to my father. I should probably give him credit for teaching me to sound cool in front of boys all these years as well. But there’s still time for that.

I was reminded tonight as I watched him put on his Michigan windbreaker over an already-layered blue shirt and maize sweater only to walk into a sea of orange, how fortunate I have been to grow up with a dad who let me share in his passion for sport and the positive effect that comes with it. How lucky I am to live in a family where the commentary always has color.