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Chicago skyline at dusk. Photo by author.

Chicago skyline at dusk. Photo by author.

Last weekend found me in Chicago, where I ran the Chicago Rock N’ Roll half-marathon. Remind me again why I do these things? Early Sunday morning — the day of the run — was the most oppressive weather of the entire weekend: Temperature of 77 with a 73-degree dew point. It doesn’t get much worse than that! After running the first half through the stifling, still streets of downtown, we finished the last three miles along the shoreline where the lake breeze and open vistas were most welcome. I don’t think I’ve ever had a more pleasant miles 10-13!

Runners on the last stretch toward downtown. Photo by author.

Runners on the last stretch toward downtown. Photo by author.

This football fan always likes seeing Soldier Field! Photo by author.

This football fan always likes seeing Soldier Field! Photo by author.

Anyway, I love Chicago and was happy for an excuse to return. It’s pretty easy to find three things that I loved about this Chicago visit.

A storm rolling through on Saturday afternoon. Photo by author.

A storm rolling through on Saturday afternoon. Photo by author.

Skyline and views. My friend suggested I take Sheridan Road from Highland Park to her place just across the border from Evanston. I’m glad she did! The homes along that stretch (especially in Winnetka) were unbelievable. Who lives in these castles? It reminded me of Duluth’s London Road on steroids. I could hardly believe I was in the city as I drove along the the beautiful tree-lined winding road.

When in Chicago…Lou Malnati's. Worth the wait!

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Lou Malnati’s. I’ve eaten here before, a few years ago, and was pleased to discover a restaurant a couple of blocks from our hotel. Of course on an early Sunday afternoon the wait was long, but they allowed those of us waiting to pre-order. It was so worth the wait! For one thing, there’s really no better meal than pizza after you’ve been running for a couple of hours, especially after such a hot and humid run. My body was screaming, “More salt! More salt!” I eat pizza more often than any human probably should, but what I love about pizza is each place makes it a little different. Lou Malnati’s tasted A LOT different, with a heavy emphasis on the buttery, thick crust and tomato sauce with actual chunks of tomatoes. I will have to make this a regular stop on any Chicago trip.

Happenstance. I chatted with a variety of people: a lifelong Chicagoan of Armenian descent, a runner from Washington, D.C., and a tourist from Australia. Chicago is a place where people converge from all over. I had a serendipitous experience regarding my work-in-progress, something that still leaves me shaking my head. Perhaps the anecdote will make it into the book.

What’s making you happy this week? A particular city or vacation, perhaps?

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