I have only been to Chicago one time, and it was in January. Needless to say, I froze my buns off. This time it was a little different, but only on Sunday. First off, my flight was delayed leaving Atlanta. I have never been so happy to hear that my flight was delayed, as I would have missed it otherwise. Once I got to Midway, my bags took FOREVER, which put me right in the middle of rush hour traffic. Overhearing someone talk about how long it was going to take to drive into the city, I opted to try and be a "city girl" (or imitate one as best as I could) and take the "L" train. It may be the "T", the "Tube", "Marta", "Metra"..who knows. It was a train, and it went underground, and it was scary. I hate subways and trains, and have learned they are not for me. (I much prefer to travel in style with my parents, ha, ha). I was lugging a 50lb bag that USED to be my favorite bag-large duffel on wheels, with an extra long handle that pulled out from under it that was perfect for my extra long monkey arms. Mistake #1. The lady told me to take the "Orange line" to get to the Fairmont hotel. She failed to mention coming from Midway I needed to get OFF the orange line, get on the brown line (or some other color..I am trying to block out the entire experience of getting to my hotel, so the details have started to fade away), then get BACK on the orange line...or I'd get stuck on the loop...which is exactly what I did. As I am sitting in the seat, looking at the map, I slowly realized I was going to go in a square around downtown..when I would have been THE NEXT STOP if the train didn't turn (hence, the changing of the trains I was supposed to do). So, I take a little extra ride around the city in the nasty train, where I am guarding my purse with both arms, have my sleeves covering my jewelry and am just trying to stare at the ground. I finally get to my stop, and ask the oh so nice man with no teeth working the subway station how to get to the Fairmont. Apparently his Fairmont is different than the one I was staying at, because he told me to go to Lake St., then to Michigan Ave, up 3 blocks...and that's where he lost me. On a different note, I am not sure what people with disabilities do in this city-there are NO elevators. Every train station was nothing but steps. By the end of the weekend I felt like I should file a formal complaint, as I am now a member of the Americans with Disabilities group after hurting my back lugging 50 lb suitcases up and down 3 flights of old, shaky stairs. Back to heading to the hotel. So I head down the steps, with my bag bouncing one step at a time. Then I hear it. The god awful sound of something cracking. Yup, wheel broke, so the entire bottom right corner of my bag is caving in. I started up the block to Lake, literally sliding this bag along the cement...sure it was going to rip open and all of my stuff would be all over the streets of downtown Chicago. Get to Lake St, make the right, go down a block to Michigan..still with the gimp bag behind me in one hand, and my rolling computer bag that was filled to the top in the other. At one point I had to turn around and pull the bags and walk backwards, because it was starting to feel like my shoulder was getting pulled out of the joint. I get to Michigan Ave, and turn left and started heading the three blocks north...now, those not from Chicago may not be aware, but Michigan Ave is like Atlanta's"Peachtree Street"..LA's "Robertson Blvd", NYC's "5th Ave"...its busy, its packed, and there are people everywhere. I am walking BACKWARDS, dragging a huge bag on the ground that is caving in one one side and making a nails on a chalkboard sound, and just trying to find some humor in all the people staring at me. I get up 3 blocks and ask another sketchy looking person where the Fairmont is. No clue. So I call them from my phone, and give the lady the intersection I was at...and of course, I was no where near where I needed to be. I had to back track 3 blocks, then cross the street, go up 3 flights of stairs, go to the next light, make a left, and the hotel should be on the left. Seriously? You've got to be kidding me. I went to Australia alone when I was 23, and I cannot even navigate around a major US city by myself? Ugh.
We had a great time at the post race expo, and met some really nice people (see blog about "why I run", as this was a perfect example). I exchanged some emails today with a very nice girl we met afterwards, and we met a guy who offered to take our picture, and then ended up insisting on taking about 20 to capture all the different views. Grant Park and Millennium Park were BEAUTIFUL and it was amazing to see parks like that the downtown of a city. They had a tent for kids to come make arts and crafts, bike rentals, everything. It really did live up to everything people had said about it....it was an amazing place in the summertime.