Friday, May 22, 2009

Ten Ways to Kick Off Your Memorial Day

I'm still having a hard time believing Memorial Day Weekend is here. It's always one of those weekends that looms on the horizon once the snow melts and the trees start to bloom, the mark of summer's start across the Midwest, and the perfect excuse to get out and play. And after being spoiled with 80-degree highs for part of the week, I couldn't be more psyched for this coming weekend. Not only because of the time off, the promise of nice weather, the opening of the beaches along Lake Michigan and the chance to play outside from now until September, but also because it's been a long time since I've been able to enjoy the holiday without going anywhere. Three years ago it was a Wisconsin cabin, then Costa Rica and then another Wisconsin cabin last year. And while it's great to get away--even if we do have to battle traffic on 90 and 94 to escape the city on the Friday of a holiday weekend--I'm not minding staying at home this year. There's a ton to do in Chicago this weekend from bike rides to runs to hanging out.

Here's my top 10 list for spending a Memorial Day Weekend. Some are specific to Chicago but that doesn't mean you can't find a similar event or activity close to home.
  1. Soldier Field 10--I haven't run this race since 2005, but since it first burst onto the running scene it's been a Chicago fave. Not only do you get to run along the Lakefront but the 10 miles finishes on the grass at Soldier Field. What gets better than that? Well, cooler temps, a medal and a post-race festival always helps too.
  2. Bike the Drive--The Windy City's infamous Lake Shore Drive closes to cars on Sunday morning and floods with cyclists. Recumbents, training-wheeled rides, road bikes, hybrids, Burleys and more take over the four lanes on both sides of the median to ride up and down the road. You'll definitely see more bikes than cars on this Sunday morning regardless of where you're traveling.
  3. Green City Market--I'm scared to experience this farmer's market touted by Alice Waters as one of the best in the country on a Saturday, but fresh foods of all kinds don't go unnoticed at this market in Lincoln Park. Fresh cheese, fresh baked bread and pastries, made-to-order sandwiches and treats, farm-fresh produce and naturally raised meats are just some of the booths you'll find. And that's speaking from what I've spotted when the market opens on Wednesdays--I'm too busy shopping the market down the street from my house on Saturday.
  4. Swim in Lake Michigan--So it might be a little too cold for this activity since Lake Michigan is chilly even in August. But with a wetsuit and a little bravery, the open beaches mean that lake swim no longer need to be secret. And it's a great jump start for the triathlon season.
  5. Kayak Chicago--Once May hits this fleet of kayaks is out and about touring the Chicago River for architecture tours, night time paddles, fireworks watching at Navy Pier, lessons and more. It's a unique way to see the city and perfect for maxing out the outdoor hours this weekend. Grab and friend and get going.
  6. Beach Body Boot Camp--While torture and butt-kicking are two words that probably come to mind before fun when thinking about boot camp, you'll want to hit up this class. Core Fitness is offering its Beach Body Boot Camp for free on Monday. Good news is that you can still sleep in and get in a workout that boasts functional movement, tones lean muscle and busts your chops--and it's on the beach, North Ave. at noon to be exact.
  7. Shopping Sales--Time to revamp your workout wardrobe? Look no further than the annual Memorial Day Sale at Fleet Feet Sports. The sale runs all weekend long--until the store closes at 5:30 p.m. on Monday--and features half-off savings on last-season apparel and 30 percent off select footwear. Or if you're heading to the beach this weekend don't go without a pair of flip flops, especially if they'll only set you back a dollar at Old Navy. Score your size and fave color fast before they sell out on Saturday.
  8. Long bike ride--Whether you're not ready to engulf yourself with the masses on Lake Shore Drive or you simply want some solitude and long miles, take your bike out for a long spin. Check out for some routes of varying distances near you. I have some friends talking about riding from Gurnee to Lake Geneva or riding from downtown to Fort Sheridan around here--I've considered riding the Ironman Wisconsin bike course although I think my legs will kill me on those rollers.
  9. Soaking in the sun--Maybe this isn't the best idea since May also happens to be Skin Cancer Awareness Month (and today is Don't Fry Day), and according to Al Roker's weekend weather report, UV indexes are expected to reach some dangerous levels during the long weekend. But with a little sunscreen lathering or avoiding the rays between primetime, you can still enjoy some chilling in the sun. Remember we all need a little vitamin D and there's nothing better than adding a little color to the skin.
  10. Beach reads--Relax! It's a holiday weekend. Take a good book or magazine and kick back and read. My stack of must-reads has piled up all winter so stay tuned for some recommendations from my bookshelf for some summertime reading.
All of these activities are making me eager to get outside. I think some people around here have already gotten a jump start on the weekend--I could see the traffic building by noon and am scared to venture to a grocery store with all the BBQ buyers or the highway for bumper-to-bumper cars. But I'm excited to also get in some treats--healthy or not--this weekend. The Protein Bar officially opened shop and there's a new smoothie place--Doc's Juice and Smoothies--to give me a break from my Jamba Juice obsession. Whoo-hoo, gotta love the celebration of summer in Chicago. Photo grabbed from theta_sigma at flickr. Posted by Kate


  1. I think the Core Fitness Beach Body Boot Camp deserves a top three ranking. The Soldier Field 10 and Bike the Drive are wonderful events but that Beach Body program is tough, fun and located on the most beautiful beach in Chicago. You should check it out. To learn more visit their website or contact the program coordinator Mike Thomson.,

  2. Kate,

    I recognize two of the shoes on the top of the fit ink site. Thanks for posting my boot camp as one of the top events to do in Chicago for the weekend. We are hoping to have a big turnout. We placed your article on our blog. Check it out on our media section in

  3. Oops, I didn't actually rank these while writing them down. So it's not exactly a top 10 list but 10 ways to spend your memorial day weekend. and the beach body workout was awesome and a post is coming as we speak



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