Friday, August 31, 2007

Post #100: The Invasion of Runblogg!

Since the Team BIOMASS Runblog is currently under a flood of GRR posts I have to make a personal runbloggy note here: I just did a long run with a watch for the first time in years. Probably two or three years. And, let me tell you, it was a great reminder of why I haven't missed running with a watch.

Normally when I go for long runs I keep a decent pace, and maybe pick it up halfway through or towards the end depending on how I'm feeling. With the watch, and mile markers along the Prairie Path, I got really competitive. The time for the first three miles was meaningless because I stopped to stretch. After that I had a mile that was probably at a slight incline and ran 6:47. Then I was like, "6:47? For an almost-12-mile run? That is not fast enough!!! AAAAAAAARGH!!!!!" I was putting down around 6:40 for the next few, then got down to 6:30s. Three miles from the end I put down two miles at 6:20, then the last mile was 5:53. But it wasn't really, because everyone in Elmhurst knows that the distance between mile markers 8 and 9 is not quite a mile. I ran fast, but I had to stop for traffic twice and do the hill over Route 83. There's no way I would have actually done a mile under 6.

So. Now that I have a watch with a band, I think I'll still only use it for speedwork and long runs with specific goals (such as when I have that day in a few months when I say, "It is that time again. Time to run ten miles in an hour." And then fall embarassingly short of doing that).

Monday, August 27, 2007

GRR, Argh!

(GRR = Great River Relay. Depending who you ask it's either a 12-runner, 205-mile relay race, or a 10-runner, 212-mile relay race, starting in La Crosse, WI and finishing in St. Paul, MN. Argh is what you say after "Grr". "Grr, Argh!" I didn't make that up. I think Danielle did.)

I'm not going to do a narrativething about GRR, because other folk are doing that over on Danielle's runblog (which has a link over yonder ⇒ somewhere) and they're all better writers than me. And would you expect this blog to give you the straight story? I submit that you would not. So I will comment on their posts to add my personal experiences. If you want that info that's where it is. This post is not about the central part of the race, but about odd bits of the periphery.

"You wanna know why my people, they ain't got no success (they ain't dressed for it... they ain't dressed for it)": Teams at the race wore crazy things like rubber chickens (on their heads!), massively overstuffed bras, underwear with text advertising their prowess in the realm of gaseous emissions, matching pink runshirtthings, matching teal (aqua?) runshirtthings, t-shirts with religious texts on them, and run-adapted french maid outfits. Laurie had a totally awesome shirt that said, "Tree's Company" on it. People liked my bright yellow shorts because they made me easy to pick out from a distance. John designed really cool looking team shirts. The other van (consisting mostly of women, and also of Tim, who was not so much participating in this particular discussion as I understand it) spent a lot of time speculating how passing male runners would look were they not dressed at all.

"Why do we say, 'Hello'?": I am definitely getting better at talking to people. I talked to this dude from Chicago as I was passing him on my first leg, just because his team was from Chicago and I'm, you know, from Chicago. He didn't say much, his mouth was full 'cause he was EATING MY DUST!!! OH SNAP!!! (Just kidding... I saw him after the leg, he finished pretty soon after me, sounded like he had a pretty good run). And out by the Mississippi in Stockholm, WI I talked about music with a dude that's a music director at a megachurch. In the Town Hall Brewery I met a guy that does century bike rides like snapping his fingers (he would say that he met a dude that can run a 5-minute mile like snapping his fingers... maybe we'd both be exaggerating a little about the ease with which the other does it, but we definitely both can perform our respective feats). And then on the plane back to Chicago I talked to a woman that had just been in northern Canada trying to help make peace between logging companies and native folk embroiled in struggles for land (we made fun of airport security and of flying safety requirements and speculated that there may have been nukes aboard the plane because the pilot had to return to the gate after we'd initially started taxiing to sign off his approval for some bit of luggage).

More Songs About Transit and Beer: Then after we'd slept, marveled at one of the awesomely wide bike paths that cover the Twin Cities, had some Pannekoeken at the Pannekoeken Huis, and watched most of the team drive back toward Ames, Nisha and Audrey and I toured an area of St. Paul that the Internet said was neat, on Grand Avenue. It reminded me a bit of parts of the north side, of the quieter parts of Edgewater or Lincoln Square. Then they went to catch their flights and I had a few more hours so I caught a bus downtown and went to the Town Hall Brewery. Had their Scotch ale and one of their seasonals, a smoked hefeweizen. The Scotch ale was a nut-brown ale and was rich and creamy and... basically everything that a brown ale ought to be in my estimation. The smoked hefeweizen was interesting. It was, you know, both smoky and wheat...y... and those are not two attributes I'd have thought to pair. The smokiness might have drowned out the more typical delicate hefeweizen notes, leaving almost two separate flavors, the sweet wheat taste at first and the smoky aftertaste later. Nice people at the bar helped give me directions to the nearest train stop going to the airport. The one train line in Minneapolis gets you to the airport (or to Mall of America, I guess) really fast from downtown. Being used to the under-construction Red and Brown lines in Chicago I allowed way too much time for that trip. Should have left later and had another beer. But then I guess I would have been worried and drunk. It's hard to judge their transit system based on two rides on a Sunday, but everything I used was clean and fast, and their website is great.

Oh, yeah, and because I only had $20s on me I had to go to an international market and buy peaches to get change for bus fare. They were uneven. But overall I thought Minneapolis and St. Paul were pretty nice towns, and I didn't even go down to the Chain of Lakes or spend much time on their reputedly excellent trail network.

Husker Du?: Shaun's bad luck with mileage. Over 32 miles of running for him. John changing his pants inside of his sleeping bag (and willingly being filmed doing so). Audrey calling Shaun's room to ask if he had health insurance. Danielle's blueberry theme. All of the confusing directions (and I really feel bad for Shaun and Kimberly... I got lost on a few runs back in the day, I know how hard that can be). OK that's all for now. Sleep!

Sunday, August 12, 2007


There's something about going to Michigan that really heightens my sense of awareness. I was in the back of the van reading; we'd been on Lake Shore Drive but suddenly I just felt that we had to be in Hyde Park. I looked out the left window and the first awning I saw read: "Hyde Park Florist".

Whatever I'm going to write here isn't going to be nearly as !OMG!superangstcore! as the last thing I remember writing about going to Michigan several years ago. Which I know I could dig up if I felt like it (I keep great records, except when I forget to put on the recurse flag when copying all my old files and don't notice until years later when I want some random thing) but I'm not going to.

Still reading in the back seat, stuck on traffic on the Indiana Toll Road (I think "stuck in traffic" here is redundant), I came across an article in Time wondering why romance movies are dying. The article comments that (I don't have it with me, so paraphrasing) a movie depicting types of war atrocities that have never been documented would likely be praised for its gritty realism, while a movie about people falling in love, which happens every day, would likely be panned for being unrealistic. The problem is that to be a good romance movie a couple has to fall in love in an interesting way. And then once they've done that the movie ends. Most people meet eachother in undramatic ways and most of what's important happens after the movie would have already ended.

Besides, there's a logical problem that happens in many romantic stories, and as people apply more logic to their lives over time I think they see through it. Frequently person A does not love person B, and then person B does something spectacular to prove that zie loves person A. But person B loving person A was never in question. Person B's actions, however spectacular, really shouldn't convince person A to love person B back, but they do. People realize that if they were person A they wouldn't fall for that because it doesn't make sense, and if they were person B they wouldn't bother with all that silly shit because anyone dumb enough to fall for it would not be smart enough to make a relationship of any sort work in the long term.

Notes on Kalamazoo: Grandpa showed me a picture of Albert B. Dimond II (my great-great grandfather I think), which looks just like me. Grandma just had her knee replaced and the doctor had said that an advantage of knee replacement was that it would last for the rest of her life. She told him that her mother was 97. He backed off the statement. No metal knee can outlast a member of my family! Mama Blanche (my grandmother's mother) is pretty awesome. Even now that a trip is pretty hard on her, she'll come to see us when big things happen in our lives. Just last month she came down to Illinois for my cousin's high school graduation party and senior recital.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Are you a bad enough dude to rescue Bob Barker?

I picked up the double jewel case and read the line of text on the top of the back side: "The fate of the world is in your hands!"

I turned the case over and read the front. "Jeopardy".

Saturday, August 4, 2007

Things happen when I go to Chicago

Thursday I got a free Cubs ticket and went in with Anurag, Big Dave, and Joe P. Anurag thought (we all thought, actually) he had a great and free parking spot on Belmont but it turned out to be an illegal parking spot between 4 and 7. Which meant that, with the game being a 1:20 start, Sean Marshall would have had to turn in a Mark Buerhle-like performance to keep us legal. He didn't. In fact, neither starter worked quickly, pitched effectively, or even made it out of the third inning. I like Sean Marshall; he is over time I think an average pitcher, and he'll have good and bad starts. He's had mostly good ones so far, and had a bad one Thursday, and Anurag got a parking ticket.

I was going to do a bike-to-the-south-side thing to meet with Susan, Jess, KT, Erin and Zeke but then I twisted my knee at Frisbee after the game. So I was going to take my bike on the train and ride around in the morning scoping out neighborhoods, but this was a no-bike weekend on Metra beacuse of Lollapalooza. So I surrendered my travel plans to the whims of the CTA.

Walking through maybe Ravenswood or maybe Edgewater (probably from Ravenswood to Edgewater) this morning I was talking about my afternoon plans to someone in my head (no, really, I'm not insane, I just always need to be thinking about something, and inner dialog is twice the fun of inner monologue) and I said to that person that having friends like Susan, Jess, KT, Zeke and Erin reassured me that there must be a good person somewhere in me. That they're totally awesome folk. And that they would probably be OK with him (the person in my head) hanging out with them (he graciously declined, having important afternoon plans, and already having spent his morning bumming around the north side with me).

On the Bryn Mawr Red Line platform some people were idly chatting waiting for a southbound train and one asked if his companions thought the El tracks up on the north side were more or less stable than the bridge that collapsed in Minneapolis. And, that bridge collapsing, Oh, Man! So much of what we stand on like it's solid ground... I didn't even know until yesterday that Lower Wacker and its ilk are basically at the original ground level of downtown Chicago. Though I did randomly know that such a thing had done in Seattle and that it had, as in Chicago, helped to alleviate flooding among other things. And I knew that there was a huge blackout within my lifetime caused by flooding in old freight subways downtown. But I've never pounded ground downtown and felt like I was on top of something. Crazy.

A while later, in Lakeview-ish, a woman who'd just stepped out of a building walking a little white dog complimented my shirt and asked where I got it. It was my WWR BIOMASS (OK, BOMIAS to be correct and all) shirt. Susan says that in Hyde Park she frequently gets hit on by strange men. So maybe if I lived in Lakeview that is how strange women would hit on me, by meekly complimenting my odd t-shirts. Well, I'm not going to live in Lakeview anyway, so I won't have to worry about that, except while traveling.

The name of this blog is "But I wanna be a taxi driver!". I definitely don't want to be a bus driver. If I was the driver of either the sardine-packed bus I took to Hyde Park or the bus I took back downtown through the crowd of drunk and clueless people pouring out of Lollapalooza ("Um, like, does this bus go to [insert random intersection/neighborhood/suburb here]") I would have probably flipped out.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

RAGBRAI, Employment, Rupert Murdoch

It is really amazing how trusting people in Iowa are for RAGBRAI. Thousands of really nice bikes, not to mention wallets and all kinds of other stuff were just left on the side of the road in every town we went through and nobody even worried for a second about stuff getting stolen. That was probably the thing that impressed me most. For the record we didn't see John Edwards or Lance Armstrong. We did see the Mitt-Mobile, but not Mitt. What I really would like to do, now, is ride across the country like Matt and David Montgomery. That would be pretty awesome.

I'm starting my new job on the 13th. Looking for places to live now. Woot.

And when Rupert Murdoch buys out my blog I'll make sure I negotiate for editorial freedom at least three or four posts out of ten.