Friday, November 12, 2010

My Turn To Post

I haven’t posted on the blog in quite some time. Rachel’s been doing most of it lately and she has done a fine job of keeping everyone updated and all the announcements flowing.

My offering today will be more of the personal type. Much of it will be repeat information so I apologize for that.

Let’s start with Chicago. I know, it seems a little past its freshness date to talk about our trip to Chicago but I’ve been meaning to for a bit and I finally sat myself down to do it.

Traveling up to and back from Chicago was pretty much uneventful except for the silly things they make everyone do at the security checkpoints. Not sure if that will change any time soon. I personally don’t see how me taking my belt off will help thwart a would-be terrorist, especially when a nut with explosives in his underwear got through anyway.

When we got to the Windy City on Thursday, we had no trouble navigating the “L” from Midway Airport to downtown. We stopped at a great little restaurant called the 11 City Diner where I had a most amazing turkey burger.

After lunch, we went walking around the Grant Park area while we waited to meet our hostess, Susan. She met us near the Congress hotel and walked us down to her very cool condo, which was located just a couple blocks south of the park. It was less than a mile from the finish line of the Chicago Marathon, which was why we were there in the first place and which ended up being very convenient on Sunday.

One of the side bonuses of being in Chicago was the fact that our very good friends, the Connelly’s, live nearby. Rebecca (a.k.a. “Punkin”) is probably Rachel’s best friend from the University of Miami (and Sigma Alpha Iota) and they’ve stayed relatively close over the years. Her husband, Mike, is a fellow Sinfonian from UM and has probably one of the way coolest jobs on the planet: Composing music for gaming machines using actual elements of the original soundtracks of movies as well as much of his own creative effluvia.

They also have an amazing son who put me squarely back on my “read-to-your-children” soapbox. He’s smart, communicative, and can THINK and I give most of the credit to the fact that his parents have been reading to him since birth.

So read to your children no matter how old they are or whether or not they SEEM to be getting anything out of it. They are.

It was great, and very therapeutic, to spend so much quality time with them while we were there. We ate several meals with them, hung out at their house a good deal, and they accompanied Rachel as marathon support crew on Sunday.

On Friday morning, Rachel and I walked the mile or so down to the marathon expo to pick up my race packet and “run the gauntlet” of vendors who always set up between the front door and the packet pick-up area so that you have to get through all that before you can get your bib, t-shirt, etc…

I actually don’t mind it as there’s always interesting stuff to see and people to meet. We found several non-profit booths and talked to people from Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation, Open Heart Magic, and Running Skirts (who donated the pink skirt I wore when the Mother Runners raised $1000 for the Double Marathon Challenge)

You also always end up with a bag o’ accumulated crap that includes the official program, extra course maps, cowbells and kazoos, posters, food samples (some of which were quite good), fliers from every marathon on the planet, and a foot shaped refrigerator magnet from a local podiatrist (I sure needed him by the end of this day).

After the expo, we walked the mile back to Susan’s place to drop off the bag o’ accumulated crap and set off on the plan for the rest of the day, which was to walk up through Grant Park, see The Bean (the big shiny silver art piece on the north end), and we weren’t sure what else.

There was a ton of last minute setting up going on where the start and finish lines would be in the park and a large part of it was inaccessible but we did get up to The Bean, saw the “Spitting Fountains,” and found ourselves surrounded by lots of country music fans. Didn’t know that there were that many in Chicago but the Country Music Festival was going on up there and they had come out in droves! (Probably a lot of the “urban cowboy” types.)

I had worn my “Bald Chicks Rock” shirt (sent to me by the New Mexico contingent) with the picture of CJ on the back and I loved all the looks I got. One guy out in front of a store trying to get people excited about whatever they were selling saw my shirt and started whooping it up saying, “That’s right! Bald Chicks Rock! Yeah!” until we passed him and he saw Charlotte’s picture on the back. He realized what it meant and we could hear an, “oh…” It was like someone hit him with a shovel or something.

Actually we didn’t mind rocking his world a bit. Maybe it will stay in his mind a bit and next time he sees a commercial about one organization or another, he’ll consider it a bit more deeply.

I don’t go out to ruin people’s days but I love spreading the word. At another point, a woman walked by us as we ate a snack and noticed my shirt. She actually came back after passing us with her friend asking about what it means. She then proceeded to whip off her own wig and let her beautiful baldness shine. Literally! It was quite the moment.

We then made our way down to the Navy Pier where we walked by the tour boats and makeshift haunted houses. I actually wasn't all that impressed with it but I'm sure it's a rockin' place in the summer.

By the time we headed back, my feet were starting to hurt and I was thinking, "Uh-oh!" Just what I needed to do, injure myself two days before the race.

We ended the day by eating dinner at an Irish pub and restaurant nearly across the street from where we were staying. It was quite the full day.

There’s more to talk about and the Richmond Marathon is TOMORROW!!! (Yikes) But I don’t want to completely overwhelm everyone. There will be more, later. Fair warning.

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