Sunday, April 24, 2011

the last two weeks--Part One

Happy Easter folks!

So I just finished watching HBO's Game of Thrones and, at the moment, I'm sipping some mead (brought to the apartment courtesy of the lovely Jen Vanderplaats) and reflecting: I have to say it's been an pretty interesting, pretty awesome last few weeks.

I'll start the recap on Friday, April 8th. Technically two weeks and two days, but close enough, says I. Anyway, I took that day off and took the Amtrak Wolverine train back to Portage, MI to visit the family. The reason for the visit is that I bought my dad and my brother Sean tickets to the Red Wings vs. Blackhawks game at Joe Louis Arena as a Christmas gift. I try to do something like this every year, either for my mom or sisters, or my dad and my brother. Event gifts are fun, and its a good way to keep in touch with my family, since almost all of them are in Michigan.

So after spending a few pleasant hours at home, Dad, Sean, and I drove 2.5 hours to Joe Louis in Detroit to watch the game. I had a nice time talking with my dad and little brother during the drive. The game, unfortunately was a bit of a blowout. The frickin' Blackhawks scored in literally the first minute and added two more goals before the end of the first period. Halfway through the game, it was pretty clear we were in for a blowout. The three of us still had fun. Can't wait until Sean is 21 (he's 10 years younger than me--so just turned 20) and we can all have some beers. Of course, two days later the Wings had an awesome game and destroyed the Blackhawks in Chicago. Would have been nice of you to play that well for me and my family, fellas!

We drove the long 2.5 hours back and I spent the night in Portage and took a train back next afternoon to Chicago. Had to leave that afternoon, because I was running the Shamrock Shuffle in Chicago Sunday morning. I have a bit of an interesting history with that race. The first time I ran it in 2005 with my very good friend and former roommate Nick Vanderkwaak and my family came to watch. Nick and I did pretty good, clocking in at around 38 minutes, just under 8 minutes per mile. I think we even qualified for a competitive start the next year. The second time next I ran it in 2006 I wasn't as fast, about 42 minutes, but it was still fun. After that race, I ran into my good friend Jackie Hurley's mom, who happens to actually be in charge of the event--which is the 2nd largest race in Chicago. She hooked me up with tickets to the Champion Tent. It was hilarious. Suffice to say, the tent was a little nicer than what the average finisher gets. There's mimosas. Chef's making omelettes. Bacon. Pastries. Fresh fruit. And here's stocky me, amongst all these stick thin elite runners. I proceeded to smuggle food out to all my non-champion friends outside the tent. The fifth time I was in line, the chef looked at me with raised eyebrows, to which I responded, "Hey, I run like a champion, I eat like a champion." The third time I signed up for the race in 2007, I... didn't run. I skipped. We had a really wild party the night before. Shame. There's probably a metaphor in there somewhere.

Fast forward a few years later, and I decided to make the Shamrock my first race of 2011 but it happened to be on the same weekend that I was going to the Red Wings game with Dad and Sean. No worries, I could make that work. Saturday night, after getting back from MI, I stopped off at my friend James Brock's place to get my race packet he'd picked up for me while I was watching the Wings get slaughtered. Brock and I both did the Chicago Marathon last year. The one that was hot as hell. (though not as bad as the one in 2006) This time, we told ourselves, at least we didn't have to worry about the weather. I mean, what were the chances it would be 80 degrees on April 10th?

Of course, it was 82 degrees that morning during the race. Brock and I must have pissed off God or something. Despite the shitty hot weather, I was pretty happy with my run. I've gotten a bit slower in my old age (and fatter) and I was in this case just hoping to break 50 minutes, which I did. 48 minutes. 10 minutes slower than I was 5 years ago. Running 9:44 per mile as opposed to 7:44. Hmmm. I told myself I'd have to see what I could do about that. But I'd worry about that later. After the race, Brock, Cheryl (his wife), and I met up with another friend Jamie and others, had some beers and a late brunch and called it a morning.

It was a good weekend. Not just because I got to see family, watch the Red Wings lose, or run a race with friends. That weekend I also received word that my short story "The Sparrow" was released on Cast Macabre, a podcast website (see previous post for details). It was fucking awesome to listen to a voice actor (with a British accent--to give it a touch of class) read my story. I was really happy with it. (more on that to come)

Just realized how long this entry is becoming and I've decided to split it here. Will work on Part Two tomorrow. There's still lots of interesting stuff to come!

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