Monday, July 10, 2006

14 miles!

Our longest training run to date couldn’t have happened on a more beautiful Saturday morning—albeit a Saturday morning that started with a 5:00 alarm, because it takes me a full half hour to shake off the cobwebs even when I’m supposed to be awake at a reasonable hour. Like noon.

Here I am stretching (not pooping!) before our run—at 6:00 am, when most decent people are just stumbling home from a night at the bars and the penny arcades. It was at least an hour into our run before I realized I’d put together an all-black ensemble in my groggy morning stupor. Because nothing is more practical on a long, sweaty run than a color that absorbs sunlight and heat:

Here’s one of our early walking breaks. I’m still not quite aware that I look like the love child of Johnny Cash and a stagehand from Aerobics: The Musical. But check out my George Michael hair. And my new space-age running shorts that are roomy and breathable (and not too short!) and don’t bunch up between my thighs like Dick Cheney’s hunting pants:

Fearless Leader Matthew is also Fearless Photographer Matthew, and he often takes pictures of our runners as he’s running himself. And sometimes his on-the-fly pix turn out really cool, even if one of our runners looks as though he’s about to hack up a furball:

The entire city of Chicago is so flat it’s a marathon runner’s dream. And a flat-earth proponent’s graduate thesis. Until you get to the North Avenue bridge, which is a Kilimanjaro in post-Industrial steel:

And once you cross the bridge, you have no choice but to stop for a water break. And to suddenly realize what a silly outfit you have on.

Once you hit the 7-mile turnaround, it’s all downhill (metaphorically speaking) on the way home. I love this little stretch between Oak Street Beach and Navy Pier for two reasons: 1) It’s nothing but concrete with no drinking fountains or grass or shade trees or benches so it’s used only by hardcore runners and bikers and you feel totally legit when you run on it and 2) I hit this spot only on my seriously long runs, so just being here among the hardcore folk gives me a little thrill of accomplishment and satisfaction. It's my little reward for pushing myself so hard.

Our obligatory (because Fearless Leader Matthew says so) post-run photo. Never taken until after we gorge ourselves on bananas and bagels and pretzels and peanut butter and—this week’s bonus item!—cake.

After the run, four of us headed to brunch, where we proceeded to shovel down even more food. Then I went home and crashed HARD for five hours. Then I did two of my favorite things in the world: Chili’s and Disney! Back to back! Fearless Leader Matthew and some friends and I dined at our friendly neighborhood (technically, our friendly someone-else’s-neighborhood) Chili’s (Cajun chicken pasta! Molten chocolate cake!) very early on Saturday evening in a well-planned effort to beat the crowds, then we waddled over to the movie theater next door (where we were rewarded for our awesome planning with awesome seats) and saw Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, which is … um … OK. It’s based on my favorite Disney ride of all time, so I would be predisposed to love it even if it featured scenes involving Rush Limbaugh using his stolen Viagra, but I’m sad to say it’s not as good as the first movie. Don’t get me wrong: It’s still pretty awesome—the sets and the cinematography and ambience are spectacular and the special effects are impressive and it’s filled with dry humor and silly humor and great visual quotes from the ride and it even invokes Norse mythology (my people!)—but the plot is pretty convoluted and the sea-creature-pirate villains are creepy in a revolting way (as opposed to the undead-skeleton-pirate villains in the first movie, which were creepy in a totally cool way). And it’s too damn long.

I rounded out my weekend of adventure yesterday afternoon at Big Chicks with Paul and Mike and vodka lemonades (in my case, just half of a vodka lemonade, which packed a pretty big wallop for a lightweight like me, even though I managed to spill a good part of it down my front before I’d even had my second sip) and then dinner at Crew’s outside patio with Dominic, whom I’ve been chatting with on Friendster for a good three months and we finally decided it was time to meet, and Keith, who happened to walk by as I was waiting for Dominic and I invited him to join us because they’re both gregarious and interesting and I knew the three of us would enjoy a nice evening with effortless conversation together (and I was right) and then I could go home and write a freakishly long and clumsy sentence about it (and once again I was right).

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