Thursday, January 22, 2015

St. Paul's Cathedral - Church Architecture

      Last week I was out of town on a business trip in Minneapolis/St. Paul Minnesota.  It was my first ever business trip, so I kind of felt like a kid at Christmas.  I was so excited to see a new place, since I've never been to MN, and experience new things.  I did a variety of things from attending the conference, going to the Minneapolis Institute of Art, exploring the city on foot (while definitely bundled up), and ordering my first ever room service, but my absolute favorite thing I did was a brief architectural tour of the Cathedral of St. Paul.
The view from my Hotel Room
       The nerd in me, sat there listening to the tour guide while taking notes on my iphone - had anyone looked at me they probably thought I was being disrespectful and texting someone while I was in a church, but I wasn't I swear!

        The history of this gorgeous church is so amazing, here's some of the things I learned:
The High Altar
   This Cathedral was the 4th Cathedral to be built in St. Paul, it was built on a hill known as the hill of St. Anthony, now it is called Cathedral Hill.  The architect was Emmanuel Masqueray who helped with the Worlds Fair in St. Louis, the Bishop loved his style and told him that he wanted to build a Cathedral.  After further conversations Masqueray moved from New York to the Minneapolis/St. Paul area to be able to design and build the Cathedral.  His influence is seen in various buildings in the area.  He originally thought it would take 1.3 million dollars to build, it ended up taking 1.65 million.  It took 9 years to build, the interior floor of the Cathedral was done in Travertine marble, but the Bishop was very upset when he realized that they had only put the nice travertine in the aisles and not throughout the entire church and where the pews were going.  He made them pull out the flooring they had put down and put travertine everywhere.  The Bishop wanted the first mass to be Palm Sunday 1915, but they warned that since the travertine has just been laid that it wasn't ready for that much traffic and weight, the Bishop said it would be fine.  He was wrong.  The travertine settled unevenly and the pews and floor undulates like waves - that wasn't the design.  Now it is part of the character of the Cathedral. In 1915 the structure of the Cathedral was finished but they were out of money and the interior was completely plain and empty.  It would take another 45 years to truly complete the interior of the church due to WWI, the depression and WWII.  In 1915 it was the 3rd largest Cathedral in the US, now it is the 4th largest.  37 different marbles were used in the construction.  The Interior is 187ft tall, which for perspective means that if the Statue of Liberty - the copper statue, not the base she stands on, were place in the center of the Cathedral there would still be 15' from the top of her head to the ceiling.  How incredible!

Choir Loft - with an incredible Organ
Beautiful Rose windows
The ceiling of the largest dome in the Cathedral
     I truly find Church Architecture to be absolutely amazing!  The details, plans, revisions, struggles and stories all help to create this incredibly rich history of this Cathedral.  Details that most people would never think of, or understand why it was used in the church.  One example of this excellent foresight and detail by Masqueray was the use of limestone on the interior walls.  Marble is used for the first 7 feet and then the rest of the walls are limestone.  To the naked eye, one would think that they ran out of money, but it was part of his design from the beginning.  Limestone has a lot of holes and imperfections in the stone, which help with the acoustics of the Cathedral, so that the sound doesn't echo and bounce off the walls.  
      If you ever get an opportunity to go to Minneapolis/St. Paul - I'd highly recommend stopping into St. Paul's Cathedral and appreciating the architectural magnificence and beauty of this Cathedral. I certainy

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Winter Triathlon Training

Chicago is currently going through another deep freeze - ugh! - which has made it impossible to do any form of training outside.  Now, I've never been a fan of cold weather, but I always try to get some runs in outside even when it is cold, negative degree wind chills - yeah... no way, not happening!

      My Ironman training is in full force so that means, no skipping any workouts not even for the crappy weather or the fact that my car won't start in this weather, or a busy schedule etc.  This week my workout total will be 6 hours and 20 minutes - together it sounds like a lot but when it is divided over 6 days - since one day is a rest day - really isn't too bad.

    My favorite workouts lately seem to be my swims!  I love the challenge they provide and seems to be way more entertaining than biking and less mundane than running on a treadmill right now!  My favorite swim workout this week was 5 x 100's in which I had to keep a consistent pace throughout each set.  I found this workout to be incredibly challenging but felt really accomplished once I finished and was able to keep a consistent pace throughout.  I was also STARVING after this workout!  Why is it that after a swim workout I am always so hungry, way hungrier than after any other workout??
Maybe my new swimming enjoyment has to do with my Christmas gift from Santa this year - swim gear to help me get better at my swim and to shave off a bunch of time! I have to admit... I already feel like a better swimmer.  I definitely feel legit when I bring all my equipment to the gym pool!

Current Ironman Training Stats for 2015:
  Total Training Time: 5 hrs and 58 minutes!
  Total Swim Distance: 4200 yds
  Total Bike Time: 2hrs and 10 minutes
  Total Run Time: 2 hrs
  Total Run Mileage: 12 miles

These stats don't seem too impressive to me yet, but I know as training continues I will be in awe by how far I will have come and the progress I will have made!  I WILL CONQUER IMWI!!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Well Hello 2015

    It's hard to believe that 2015 is already here!  How does time go by so fast??  For New Years Eve, I went out with my bestie to a bar downtown - we had a great time and as always it was a fun way to ring in the New Year.  My siblings were teasing me though with my simple 2015 fb post; "Dear 2015, I love you already!"  They of course thought that something ridiculously EPIC happened on NYE - which didn't - my response to them was that 2014 was pretty much a horrible year for me, so 2015 has to be better right?

    I started really looking back on my year - alot of things happened, both good and bad:
         - I was unemployed for 7 months
         - I then landed a Part Time job on a trial type basis and then was fired after 4 months
         - My nephew/godson was born
         - I started a new relationship and then that ended
         - I traveled to Connecticut and visited some relatives over the summer
         - I completed my first 1/2 Ironman
         - I took the Cross Country Team to State for the 2nd year in a row
         - I traveled to Connecticut for a second time

    As I started thinking about all these things that happened this year, I suddenly realized - wait a minute - there were way more good things that happened to me than bad.  All at once I realized that actually my year was pretty good, kind of a roller coaster, but like any other year the obstacles and joys help to form me into the person that I am today.  Sure, if I had my way, I would have enjoyed a year without any major struggles but through this year I learned lessons like:
         - One person's negative opinion doesn't rank higher than multiple people's positive opinion
         - Despite struggles and moments of failure - my family still loves my unconditionally
         - You can never make every single person happy
         - What's truly important is constantly trying to do your best and give it your all

    While 2014, wasn't what I was expecting, looking back on it - I wouldn't trade my experiences for anything.  They have helped me to be a stronger more loving person today - and to me, that is a successful year!  Now 2015 has officially started, I know that it will be a year with new adventures, new obstacles and new struggles.  I have no idea what this year holds for me, except for a new job and pursuing my first Full Ironman Race - I am excited to see where this year takes me.

    May 2015 be a year full of joy and happiness that far outweighs the obstacles and struggles of your life!