5K in Every State: Illinois!

Y’all, I’m checking states off my list! In June I hit Virginia, and although I’m somewhat tardy in reporting this next one, in September I did a 5K in Illinois. Can I get a Kimmy Schmidt high five? This was actually my second attempt at a race in Illinois – the first one was a wash (take a peek). No, really. It rained so hard I couldn’t convince my feet to step out of the swag tent. We ran like children to the car and went out to eat instead.

Nine states done! Woot woot!

But the second time was a charm. I have family in Illinois and pop in a couple of times per year, so scheduling a visit around a 5K was no big. And the bonus was that my niece and grand-niece joined me! These two were so sweet to walk with me, and what a trooper Little A was for walking the entire 3.1 miles (she’s 4). Honestly, she complained less than I did.

My team is ready to roll!

The walk was in a little town, a “subdivision” if we’re using the local vernacular, not too far from home base. Plainfield is in northeastern Illinois, southwest of the city. Its population is less than 50,000, with a historic downtown of boutiques, shops, and restaurants. We did the Plainfield Harvest 5K, but there are lots of other festivals and events throughout the year. It was a darling little place, and I recommend giving it a look if you’re in the area.

DuPage River in Plainfield IL
Part of the walk was along the DuPage River – beautiful
Cornfield in Plainfield IL
If there’s a cornfield, you’re probably in the Midwest
It was a leisurely walk…

Typically, my 5k trips take me to places I haven’t been, but this one was all family, all the way, which was a nice change of pace. Sometimes I get so wrapped up in seeing the world that I forget how much I enjoy hanging with the fam. After the race we grabbed a couple slices (only in Chicagoland will you be provided post-race pizza rather than the usual banana and granola bar) and headed back home where we set up for my grand-nephew’s birthday party, complete with a piñata! I’m telling you, no matter how old you are, a piñata causes some excitement. These kids were little and no match for my candy-stealing skills. I’m kidding!

It’s been a few years since I’ve been able to stay a while and visit with the Illinois contingent. Most of my travel energy was devoted to getting to the middle of Wisconsin (which is no easy task) to spend time with my Mom, usually leaving me with just an overnight in Chicago. Since Mom passed away, I haven’t been back to Wisconsin. I have to admit, as much as I loathed the Planes, Trains, and Automobiles spectacle of getting to her, the empty slots on my travel calendar where Mom used to be are weighty. Still, it was nice to settle in and relax for a few days with my sister and extended family in Illinois–and the fact that it came sans guilt for enjoying family time without Mom was a pleasant surprise. A relief.

We visited the Chicago Botanic Garden, which was beautiful! If you haven’t been, get there. Seriously, go. We burned the better part of four hours and saw just a fraction of the place. It is huge! We saw the Japanese Garden, the Rose Garden, and the Waterfall Garden. There are 26 other gardens/features to see, which means I need to get back to the CBG.

Chicago Botanic Garden
Chicago Botanic Garden – go see!

The best part of this trip was spending time with my people, some of whom I haven’t seen in quite a while, and doing everyday things with them. You’d be surprised the bonding that can come from a trip to WalMart for a Halloween bucket or a beer run to the corner gas station. It seems the older I get, the faster time passes. Truth be told, as much as I treasure my freedom to travel near and far, I could use a little more “every day life” in my life.



Chicago: A 5K Fail

Things don’t always go as planned, especially when weather is a factor. Two dear friends from back home met me in Chicago to a) catch up, visit, eat, drink, giggle, and generally be silly; and b) walk a 5K together, along with my sister who lives nearby. The three of us girlfriends are cancer survivors and we thought walking the Annual Cancer Survivors’ Walk & 5K at Grant Park together would be grand. What could be better than a weekend in Chicago with old friends and another state checked off my “5K in Every State” list?

From the time we arrived until the time we disbursed, it rained. Sometimes it poured, but it never sprinkled. It was 48 degrees on our way to the walk, which isn’t all that cold, but add to it bone chilling wind and the fact that we were soaked, and it was nothing short of miserable. We were terribly under-dressed in our layered shirts and light jackets. The Chicagoans were wearing North Face winter coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. We had umbrellas.

Rain and fog
It was raining when we arrived
Rain and fog at Grant Park
And it was raining when we left

Since I visit the area often, I suggested we skip the walk and I would hit up the Land of Lincoln for a 5K another time. It took a hot second for everyone to agree. According to the race results, 315 people ran. I applaud them. Loudly. But it wasn’t for me. When I did the Trample the Trails 5K in Wisconsin, it was 36 degrees at race time. No wind, no rain, no problem. Well, I say no problem now; it took me nearly an hour to finish that one. But you get what I mean. It was not miserable.

So we hung out at Navy Pier until a big yellow taxi took my friends away, back to their homes and families and routines. But not before we got some good girl time in: food, shopping, food, wine, food, and lots of laughing.

Ferris wheel at Navy Pier
Navy Pier in the rain
The three survivors, enjoying the great indoors!
The three survivors, enjoying the great indoors!

That’s what the weekend was about anyway–celebrating life, friendship, and family. So really, this was not a 5K fail, it was some special time with my dear friends who just happen to be cancer survivors too. Cheers to us, ladies!