Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Hello, Chicago!

We Tobins had the wonderful opportunity to visit Chi-town while Jon was on fall break. We ventured north so that Jon could run the Chicago Marathon last Sunday (his fifth marathon!) Possibly an equally important reason for the trip is to get away from the grind in Memphis and take a breather. It was a much-needed chance to reconnect. We love exploring new cities together, and finding any face-time has been rare since school started.

Jon and I are deeply blessed to have very similar travel styles. We tend to go at the same pace and want to do the same things, so it's more of a joint walking discovery process. The weather on the trip couldn't have been more perfect for spending time outside. Walking in the cool, crisp air hand-in-hand through a new and exciting city was a burst of wind in our deflated sails. We were in our element. Boots and scarves and sweaters and snuggles.

Our dear friend Alyssa was our lovely tour guide. She went to college in Chicago, and it was really fun to see her old turf and get to know her better. We all laughed harder than I can remember for most of the trip.

We absolutely adore her.

Jon made a point to visit 826 Chicago. The storefront is "The Boring Store" which is a secret agent supply store, while in the back is a tutoring center for neighborhood kids. There are many 826 tutoring centers across the US, and they are one of the main reasons Jon decided to become a teacher. 826 National is a great organization and Jon was quite excited to see one in action and talk with the people there. While adventuring, Jon was able to catch a glimpse of Wrigley Field as well.

A trip to Chicago would not be complete without also visiting "the bean". A giant mirrored sculpture shaped like a bean. How can that not be awesome?

Jon was a bit nervous apparently. We also saw these weird moving video face boxes that occasionally spit out water. Creepy, but also mesmerizing. Art!

On Saturday, we made a special visit to the Chicago Farmer's Market. It was by far the best farmer's market I've ever been to. Maybe it was because there were so many friendly vendors and an abundance of organic local produce. Maybe it was all of the free and tasty samples. No, I'm pretty sure it was the apple cider donuts that somehow manage to beat out our favorites from Carter Mountain. I know, you don't believe me. Carter Mountain has great donuts. But trust me, these things were somehow better.

After the farmer's market, we spent a few hours in the Art Institute of Chicago. It was definitely worth the visit, and rivaled the museums we visited in Europe. Jon and I both felt so refreshed and alive after immersing ourselves in the vast collection of masterpieces.

Then finally, race day came. We got up before the sun and walked the 4 blocks to the start. It was erie how silent everyone was on the crowded streets, yet there was such excitement and energy in the air. You could just feel the nerves of everyone around you. Jon parted ways with Alyssa and me and went to get into his starting corral. After barely any training and an exhausting school year, he wasn't expecting much and was just hoping to finish. But God had a different plan and a miracle to work.

Alyssa and I met up with our friend Rachel and we were Jon's personal cheer squad. We were able to catch Jon at miles 3, 11, and 22. Each time, he seemed to be all smiles and going faster! Despite his lack of training and low expectations, he had the best race of his life and set a new personal record!

He ran the marathon in 3:07:12, which averages out to a pace of about 7 mins and 8 seconds per mile. Incredible! He wore that medal proudly, and I couldn't have been a more proud wifey.

Chicago, you are a wonderful city and you really showed us your best this past week. We definitely hope to visit again some day soon.

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