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!


Danielle in Iowa said...

I didn't make up the "GRR, Aargh"

Joss Whedon's production company is Mutant Enemy Productions and at the end of every episode of Firefly (and Buffy and Angel, but I was on a Firefly kick), this cartoon monster walks across the screen and says "grrr, aargh" :-)

Al Dimond said...

Oh. In that case, Al Loses at Pop Culture, episode #144.

(You know you're a dork when you try to think of a random 3-digit number and come up with a pefect square! There are 21 perfect squares out of 900 total numbers, for a probability of 2-1/3% of picking a perfect-square 3-digit totally at random...)

John Dimond said...

What's sad is that when I saw the title "GRR, Argh!", I immediately thought "Mutant Enemy, Joss Whedon, Firefly".

Pop culture!

Al Dimond said...

Well I've never seen any Firefly or Angel, and only part of one episode of Buffy because a friend in college happened to be dissecting Buffy for a class when I showed up on time for a party at her apartment (which is never when one should show up to parties, which I later learned).

But it's never been my impression that Firefly was part of the sadder (or even poppier) side of pop culture. So no need to be sad about it.s