Back in my home sweet home, Chicago!
When it comes to pizza, I'm a deep-dish man
My sweet home Chicago, from above

After seven long weeks competing overseas, my voyage was almost over. On the flight home I patiently waited to hear those beloved words from the captain, "20 minutes to descent into Chicago; please return tray and seats to upright position..."

Flying into Sochi last month was inspiring, but flying into Chicago is always healing for me. The more times I leave it, the more appreciative I am to fly back to the City of Big Shoulders, with beautiful Lake Michigan, buildings like nowhere else in the world, Navy Pier and of course The Tower Formerly Known As Sears (“TTFKAS”).

Before I knew it the wheels hit the ground at O’Hare. Normally, I have a ritual after getting my luggage at baggage claim: corn beef on sour dough from Terminal C!  Unfortunately, I couldn't do that this time because I was arriving internationally, so I gathered my bags and was soon on the road home. 

After each season of intense competition, I can’t tell you how much I look forward to relaxing and unwinding, catching up with friends and family, just doing whatever I want to do, free of the rigors of training and competing, at least for a couple months.  Take it from me: all speedskaters cherish the springtime.

But what to do first? My growling stomach wasn’t happy about being denied at O’Hare, so I stopped for a combination Italian beef and sausage sandwich with hot peppers and mozzarella, some of Chicago’s finest. After satisfying my gastrointestinal desires, next up was something I always do following a long trip: get a good haircut!

After finally arriving at home it was time to check in with my friends, who brought me up to speed on life in Chicago since I left, right up to the super-hyped Chicago sports event happening that night: Bulls vs. Heat, with the Heat’s 27-game win streak on the line. 

What better way to beat the jet lag than have some friends over to watch the game! We were all hungry so we ordered another favorite Chicago delicacy: Giordano’s pizza. As a Chicagoan, I’ve always been a deep-dish man, and if you don’t know Chicago pizza, Giordano’s is about as deep as it gets.

After this culinary homecoming I was fading and desperately wanted to sleep, but I dug deep and managed to run with the Bulls long enough to see them pull out a close victory in the fourth quarter! My friends wanted to celebrate – we take fandom very seriously here in Chicago – but I was now running on empty so we parted ways.

Finally, a chance to sleep in my own bed after nearly two months! Exhausted but excited, I hit the light switch and made it into bed before the lights were off. Ok, not really, but I’ve been trying to do that ever since I heard Muhammad Ali boast he could.