Family and the Friendly Confines

My first experience at Wrigley Field involved, my family, a couple of hot dogs, and nosebleed seats.  It was wonderful.  Walking up Addison Street,  I stopped right in front of the blaring marquise that welcomed me to the “Friendly Confines” friendly for Cub’s fans that is.

My family and I made five clicks as we went through the turnstiles.  I lead the pack and stared at my ticket stub to find our seats.  Finally, I found our ramp and emerged from the concourse to be met with the beautiful Wrigley Field.

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The wind whipped my hair into my eyes as I stood facing the outfield—a good day for home run hitters I thought as I noticed the flags on the blowing straight out towards Lake Michigan.   My eyes settled on the jewel of the outfield the scoreboard—the Bible of baseball for the day.  The clock counted down the minutes until I would witness my first pitch. All twenty-eight teams were paired up to play each other divided by league.  Some of the pairs listed scores others said “nite game.”  But down at the bottom of that giant green monster listed the only thing I cared about—Mets versus Cubs.

My eyes traveled down first to the bleachers, where all the “bums” were.  In my mind, I could envision the beer and insults flying towards the right fielder for the Mets.  Farther down my eyes wandered to the ivy-covered wall where patches of brick were beginning to show through because it was September.  I saw the place where the grass meets the infield, the lip, the cause of so many bad hops and errors.  Then my eyes followed around each of the bases, lingering on first for a moment, wishing I could be down on that field.  The aroma of hot dogs met my nose as vendors floated by.  I was twelve and I was in love.

I had begged my dad to arrive two hours before the game started—to get autographs.  We had left early but traffic was bad and arrived only before the game started.  I was crushed.  Some kids wish to go to Disney World to meet Mickey Mouse, especially kids from the Midwest.  Baseball kids though wish to meet their favorite players.  I was the baseball kid.  


Here I was 20 some odd years later.  Zach and I adamant that we get to the park two hours before game time, this time to try to get Anthony Rizzo bobbleheads.  Our five clicks have turned into eight, each of us with now bringing our respective other halves (mine was missing this day).  Even though the Cubs still haven’t won a World Series, although this year may actually be THE year, I haven’t lost that excitement I feel when I walk through those turnstiles.  Every single time I enter the Friendly Confines, I become that little girl who loved to talk about the Cubs with her dad, and teach her toddler brother to says the names of her favorite players.  I don’t think will matter if another 60 years pass, every time I walk into Wrigley Field, I will always be transported back to my childhood.     


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Race to Wrigley

If you know anything about me, you know I love the Cubs.  I can remember getting my first Ryne Sandberg baseball card and teaching my youngest brother how to say Sammy Sosa as some of his first words.   I’ve been to countless Cubs’ games and attended the Cubs’ Convention.  And even though I’ve lived in Florida for nearly fifteen years, I still make it a point to pilgrimage to Wrigley Field almost every year.

This year’s pilgrimage was not the usual kind.  There would be no baseball game this day.  Instead, I headed to Chicago for a whirlwind weekend of running.

Cubs’ Charities has been putting on the Race to Wrigley for the last nine years.  This year, for the 10th anniversary, they were expanding the race to include a 10K in addition to 5K.  So when I found an airline ticket for less than two hundred dollars, it seemed that I just had to do this race.

I don’t mind running races alone, but my sister-in-law had done this race before, and I roped both her and my mom into participating in the 10K.

Race weekend arrived with me flying into O’Hare after work on Friday.  I took the Blue Line into the Loop.  From there it was one block to the hotel.  Seemed easy enough, but when I emerged from the train station it was raining, my Google Maps wouldn’t load, and I got a little turned around.  So I hailed a cab and told him I wanted to go to the Allegro Hotel.  He turned, looked at me and said, “Really?”  I played it off that it was the rain that made me hail the cab, not that I was turned around and a little creeped out.   So I took my one block cab ride and headed up to meet my mom and sister-in-law.  It was late and both were already settled into bed.  I did the same excited to see Wrigley the next morning.


The race began at 8, but I started my day at 6.  I ate my obligatory banana, got dressed, and by 7 we were hailing a cab to take us to Wrigley.  As we left the hotel, the weather did not look promising.  It was a chilly 42 degrees and trying to rain.

We arrived at Wrigley a little early and passed the time hanging in Starbucks, taking a few pictures in front of the iconic statues and marquee, and looking in the shops.

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By the start of the race the threat of rain had turned to a steady drizzle.  The National Anthem played and we were off.  I was happy to start running because it helped chase away some of the chill.   The 10K route snaked us through the Wrigleyville neighborhoods.  We did the 5K loop essentially twice.  The race was well supported with a few water stations and encouraging volunteers.  Unfortunately due to the construction at the park, we were not able to run through the concourse like past years which disappointing.

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Overall, I wasn’t the biggest fan of this race.  Yes, I was glad to be able to run around the Wrigley area, and I really enjoyed my beer at the Cubby Bear afterwards, but I found the whole race experience to be somewhat disappointing.  My biggest gripe is the amount of time the course was open for the 10K.  It was only open for an hour and fifteen minutes.  Every race I’ve ever done allows an hour and thirty minutes for a 10k.  I had to really push myself to finish in an hour and seventeen minutes.  By the time I crossed, they were already breaking down the finish line.  I had run my fastest time, and I didn’t even get to enjoy my finish.  I hope if they continue to offer a 10K they will change that time.  A finisher medal wouldn’t hurt either.  Despite that disappointment, I was happy to spend the time with my mom and sister-in-law and see my beloved stadium even if it was only from the street

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