Thursday Things

1. While actual St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow, Chicago St. Patrick’s Day–the real St. Patrick’s Day, for all intents and purposes, if you live in the city–took place last Saturday. In past years, my MO has been to avoid downtown at all costs on Chicago St. Patrick’s Day, because the stress of Drunk CTA and Tourist Downtown just is not worth it. This year, however, some friends wanted to fully participate in the festivities, and since I’ve really never done anything for St. Patrick’s Day other than complain about it, I figured I’d go along for the ride.

We “went” to the parade, by which I mean we showed up at 12:45 or so and caught the last couple of entries. It was my first time seeing the parade in any capacity, and what surprised me most of all was how many people were simply milling around in Grant Park, not even attempting to watch the parade. Like, why? Since when do people hang out in Grant Park? And why would you on St. Patrick’s Day, when the place is crawling with police just waiting to catch you with an open container? So many questions.

stpatricksdayparade

After the parade, we headed north to see the river. When I did my internship in Chicago a lifetime six (*sobs*) years ago, one of my roommates and I went to see the river some time in the afternoon, and I remember being shocked to see how green it actually was. That feeling was magnified substantially this year, when I saw the river only a few hours after it had been dyed from Michigan Ave. on a sunny day (as opposed to 2011, when I saw it from…Wabash, maybe? Or State Street? on a cloudy day long after it had been dyed).

greenchicagoriver

So green! So pretty!

We tried to go to a couple bars downtown, but that, unsurprisingly, was an exercise in futility, so eventually we headed away from the center of the action to where you could walk into bars and get seats and not be surrounded by drunk madness. Given that I had taken my last (!!!) antibiotic pill that morning and still didn’t feel confident about my stomach’s stability, I refrained from drinking at all – though that’s hardly a change from my normal life, I suppose.

I didn’t hate the whole experience nearly as much as I feared I would, which was a nice surprise. I suppose when you participate in the madness, rather than trying to live your life around the madness, it’s substantially less frustrating and annoying.

2. March Madness starts today! Yay! I love filling out brackets and following along with the tournament, so I’m really excited for the next few weeks. I do, however, feel an undue amount of pressure to perform well, given that last year I correctly predicted the freaking national champion.

Ah, memories.

I fill out multiple brackets every year because I find the tournament more fun when I’ve got my eggs spread out across several baskets. That way, one upset hurts a lot less than it would otherwise. Of course, I’m only allowed to enter one bracket in my family pool, which is the one that I care about the most (this year, at least). However, I’m allowed to enter multiple brackets into other groups on ESPN, which I found particularly delightful when I discovered that Nick Viall–he of Bachelor(ette) (in Paradise) fame–has one of the celebrity groups on ESPN! God bless Disney for owning both ABC and ESPN. Not only did that mean that I could play Fantasy Bachelor on ESPN this year, which was an absolute delight (except for the many times I’d forget to fill out my weekly answers. That game was a commitment, let me tell you!), but it also means I now have the opportunity to CRUSH NICK in March Madness. Or at least that’s the goal.

Speaking of March Madness, I have been shockingly invested in my high school’s boys’ basketball team this month. In Michigan, the boys’ basketball tournament has three rounds: districts, regionals, and quarter/semi/finals. Growing up, it was a given that my high school would win districts. We won our district every single year from at least 1999-2008, possibly longer (I can’t find 1998 stats online). That was third grade through my senior year. Needless to say, I assumed districts were just a thing that always happened, a small hump to overcome before getting onto the real tournament and seeing how far we’d go once the games actually started. I went to the district finals in 2009, even though I was in college at that point (though possibly on spring break?). We lost that year, which was definitely a shock. After that game, though, I stopped paying attention entirely. It’s been nine years since I was in high school, and my school has gone through a lot of changes in those nine years (like enrollment falling by nearly 50%, for one thing), and since I neither live in Michigan nor am in high school anymore, I just didn’t care anymore.

Late last week, though, my mom texted me to tell me that the boys’ basketball team had beat our #1 rival in district semifinals, after losing to them twice in the regular season. Then, she texted me the following day to let me know they had won their district, and that they’d be playing our #2 rival (who had won their district by a horrendously lopsided score…80something-20something) in regional semifinals this week. I figured that’d be the end of it, but lo and behold, they pulled it off and won in overtime! What I didn’t realize, though, was just how big of a deal this is. Apparently, my high school hasn’t made it past districts since my senior year. After winning that round for nine years straight, they they went on a nine year losing streak, snapped just a few days ago. I never really thought I’d care about high school sports, particularly after moving to Chicago, but man, I am so caught up in all the excitement! I really hope the team keeps going. They weren’t expected to make any sort of run at all, so this is a wonderful surprise šŸ™‚

3. A non-wonderful surprise, however, has been all this snow we’ve gotten lately šŸ˜¦

I know I really don’t have a right to complain. It was nothing short of miraculous to make it three months and 13 days into 2017 without an inch of accumulation, and probably should be wildly concerning from a climate change and global warming standpoint. BUT. It made running outside so much easier! I won’t lie, I was a bit concerned about trying to train for a spring half marathon, knowing half the training cycle would take place prior to Daylight Savings Time AND in January/February, when the chances for dark nights and icy sidewalks were sky high. I really figured I’d be in the clear once we sprung forward šŸ˜¦ How you betray me, atmosphere!! Why must you be so cruel??

In other running news, I have all but scrapped my hopes and dreams of breaking 2:00 at my half in six weeks. I missed as many workouts as I completed during the last two weeks, and I haven’t done a lick of speed work in a month. Unsurprisingly, my sub-10:00 miles have all but disappeared, leading me to think that running a 9:00 half marathon, when I have never once in six years of running ran substantially faster at a half marathon (or marathon) than the paces I hit during my training runs, is a pipe dream at best. Maybe a miracle will happen, but I’m not really holding my breath.

Do you fill out brackets for March Madness?
What are you/did you do for St. Patrick’s Day?

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