It is hard to believe the summer is over, though even more hard to believe what we dubbed The Wedding Summer went so fast. Our garden is on it's last leg and despite the wedding taking place a month ago, it sounds weird to refer to L as my wife. What seemed so far away, came and went in a flash.
So back to reality and moving back into a new old routine and, of course, a dose of normal life returns with flying colors. A bakery near my place of employment posted a job opening for a night baker. This ad has everything you would expect from someone working as a baker or, at the very least, an apprentice baker. Though, the owner/operators of this establishment apparently have had a rough time finding folks who are way more interested in life outside of baking.
The requirements for prospective candidates included that "no alcoholics or perverts need apply". Now, this is funny - probably not all that funny to those running this establishment - but it does make you wonder as to what has taken place in the past or the mind frame of the folks they may have hired in recent years. If I were about 10 years younger, I would more than likely apply for this position as my interest in food and cooking is on the high end. Luckily, I would fit every requested requirement for the position (a congratulatory fist pump ensues).
I humor myself by imagining group of offended professional and amateur bakers joining forces in a prejudicial lawsuit claiming no one has ever been harmed by a baker with a dirty mind who drinks hourly - but yet - can produce a flawless croquembouche?! Seriously, what tastes better then a French Wedding Cake made with love, liquor cabinet lubrication and a little BDSM?!
But I digress...as for L and I, we are now working on evolving as a married couple. I laughed at myself the other day when L's parents came down for a visit and thought, "Wow, these are my in-laws?!" Not that I wouldn't want them to be, but referring to anyone as an in-law will take some getting used to. So what was the first real thing we did as husband and wife? We went to a Reds game!
Having found a weekend where we were both free of prior engagements, L found some great seats at Great American Ball Park. It was also quite special as the voice of the Cincinnati Reds for my entire lifetime, Marty Brennaman, was finishing his final season behind the mic. Sure, we wouldn't hear him call the game from inside the stadium, but it was the premise of being there - at least once - in his final season.
Though the Reds lost 2-0 to the Diamondbacks, it was a blast to be back at GABP for the first time in over a decade. We ate, had a few Cincinnati beers and enjoyed ourselves immensely. The game was actually a game as the Reds had a chance to win it down to the final out. We had great pitching, but on this day we couldn't hit a beach ball with a tennis racket - it was very frustrating.
As we walked into the stadium, there as a glut of people that seemed to be stagnant, not moving in any one direction. Forcing our way through the mass toward our gate, it became clear as to what was causing the pedestrian traffic jam....it was Marty! He was taking photos with people during pre-game as we were walking by and the line to do so was a mile long. This photo will do for me, I was in no mood to stand line at the moment because - well - I would be standing in line for everything else (food, drink, a urinal) as the game evolved.
Over the last few years Marty has had some folks fill-in from time to time and even taking a few innings off during games, but it will be different not hearing him at all during broadcasts next year. There are some folks who aren't fans of his, usually because he tells it like it is. He's not an all out rah-rah guy. If the Reds are playing awful...that's exactly what you will hear. If they could be playing better, he will tell you. If they are playing well, you will know it. It was a pleasure to have someone put what is actually taking place on the field into the correct descriptive terms and not sugarcoat it.
Marty will be missed and will be taking with him my childhood of Pete Rose's 4,192nd hit, the frustrations of the always second place late 80's, the magical wire-to-wire-first place everyday 1990 world title, the Marty & Joe radio show where a baseball game also happened to be taking place, Jay Bruce's division winning solo shot in 2010, the "we made the playoffs, but what's next" of the 2000's, thousands of road trip accompaniments and those late night bedtime broadcasts struggling to stay awake hoping to be semi-alert for school the following day.
Marty, somewhere, the ol' lefthander is raising a beer in your honor. You may be slowly rounding third, but there is still plenty of time before that final 90 feet comes to an end. Thanks Marty.
Yeah, so summer is over and along with it comes those fall races. The first on the list is the D1 Columbus Dam Half Marathon and 10K. I will be running the half marathon with L running the 10K. The race will start at Alum Creek Beach and run along the Alum Creek Lake Dam, for which the race is named. The 10K is expected to be a 3.1 mile out and back, while the half marathon will encompass Alum Creek Lake. Here are some additional details:
Join us for the inaugural The Dam Half Marathon & 10K on Sunday, September 29 at Alum Creek State Park Beach, sponsored by D1 Training Columbus.
Runners will receive:
*official race t-shirt
*Alum Creek Beach Ale, courtesy of Olentangy River Brewing Company
*BBQ buffet at the post-race party, just steps from the finish line
Sounds like a blast, even packet pick-up takes place at Olentangy River Brewing Company With temperatures to go from the 90s to the mid to high 70s, this should be an ideal fall run.
Or so we thought....
A couple of weeks before race day, L forwards me an email she received from the race organizers. The proposed half marathon race route was going to change. Instead of running around Alum Creek State Park, we would follow an out an back course (similar to the 10k route) and run it twice - meaning we would run the length of the Alum Creek Dam (and then some) four times.
The correspondence from the race officials:
"Due to safety concerns presented by local safety providers after the recent tragedy that occurred earlier this summer, the D1 Columbus Dam Half Marathon & 10k has been required to reevaluate the half marathon course. Half marathon runners will follow a new course which weaves through the southern part of Alum Creek State Park and still features the highlight of the race, the Alum Creek Dam. The course remains predominately on a paved trail with a small portion on a dirt/grass trail just feet from the lake, providing participants with a beautiful setting."
I would rather not repeat large portions of the course because this can mess with you, making you think you are going faster or slower than you really are because the scenery and course doesn't change. I want to see a course evolve and not feel as if I'm on a hamster wheel, but nonetheless. The tragedy mentioned above took place at the Ironman 70.3 in July when a participant left the swim portion and at the beginning stages of the bike portion when outside of a barrier and was struck by a vehicle on U.S. Route 23.
I'm not a fan of our route change, but if this is what's needed to keep such tragedies from taking place again, then I'm all for it (but I still despise repeating routes). Over a stretch of a couple of days, I noticed folks asking on the race's social media pages about the route change. Some had only heard about it, or thought maybe they had seen something about it but were not contact directly. From what I could see, these inquiries were never followed up on - including mine asking for a bit more detail. And some claimed to have never received the email L had received. This made the both of us assume the event was going to be less than stellar.
It wasn't a hot day, it was overcast with a slight breeze and a little humid. Readying ourselves at the starting line with others I notice what looked like a race official pull out a map as a dude dressed as a bike lead rolls up. Out of curiosity I saunter over and glance over their should. The official was explaining the half marathon route to this guy who did turn out to be our bike lead. We were to start in five minutes and the guy we would be following didn't know the route.
Disappointed with the fact that I was correct in thinking the race details were fuzzy to even those who were running race, I stroll back over to corral hoping this day wouldn't be a complete cluster. The 8:00 a.m. start time comes and goes, a few minutes later some pseudo looking official gets on loud speaker and says something like, "Hello everyone, were going to have an old school-style start. So....three....two....one...GO!"
As we take off, I here a perturbed competitor next to me mumble loudly, "Well, that's old school I guess."
We file through the parking lot and I'm in the front group of what looks to be eight to ten. We reach the road to turn left with our lane blocked off by orange cones and the traffic be directed from by park officials and police officers. The road portion is just a snippet, but the middle of non-blocked off portion has the entrance/exit to a housing development. About a half mile in I look up to see our bike lead stopped in front a giant SUV in our lane (the portion blocked from traffic) facing us and he's arguing with the driver. The driver swerves around the bike, nearing clipping it, and in our lane in our direction. The bike lead yells something and the truck stops again.
This time the driver - an older, stocky dude - gets out and stomps toward the bike lead angrily. The bike guy yells, "You are in the middle of a race, you went through the middle of the cones and nearly hit me!" All of this is happening as hundreds of us are running by them just feet way.
A bit pissed, I join in, "Get the hell out of the road! Get the HELL out of the ROAD!"
We continue running and I'm trying to forget the stupidity of some people. At mile one - despite events that have taken place - I'm at 6:27. Directly behind an older gentleman we approach the turn off onto the trail toward the dam. The bike lead makes his way past us to get back in front and all seems to be okay. It is a bit of an incline, but mile two is at 6:26 and I'm comfortable with the pace. Though, I've notice each mile marker sign on the route is about 30 to 40 feet away from where my watch indicates each mile traveled. Likely indicating we will be covering a bit more than 13.1 miles.
I drift passed the older guy as we cross the dam and onto the grass portion of the trail. The uneven, not-quite a real trail portion is playing havoc with my pace as I'm focusing less on form and more on keeping myself from tripping over divots & rocks. Trudging up the slight grassy incline, I can hear the older guy and whomever else behind me. We pass the bike lead, who looks to be unharmed by the schmuck in the SUV earlier, and the leaders making the turn trip and I find myself in fifth place. At mile three I'm at 6:38 as the grassy incline has brought me back to Earth.
We reach the turnaround and I'm glad to have the decline ahead. We begin passing the followers and I hear a few of them yell out some encouragement, including, "The three of you are doing great, keep it up!" Ahhh, there it is - I know now for sure there are just two folks directly behind me. I then see L coming the opposite direction and we gesture good luck to one another as we pass. We reach the fuel station just before we get back to the road and the girl there is holding a cup in each hand and says, "Water & Gatorade!"
"Gatorade!", I say reaching toward her, but like a cruel joke she pulls both hands back and glances at the table of colored liquid-filled cups behind her sheepishly. My swipe to grab one of the cups she's holding comes up empty as I drift by and she bellows, "I'm sorry!" A bit stunned, I notice she is holding two cups of water and the Gatorade she falsely advertised as having on her person is resting peacefully and untouched, stacked neatly five feet away.
"Son of a b***h", I blurt out in frustration. We drift back onto the road and our small group now has it's own bike lead since the race leaders are well ahead. At mile four I'm at 6:32 and moments later one of those who had been following me pulls along side. I increase my stride and stay right next to him up the long slight incline to the park entrance. Once there we turn right and he drifts in front, but I stay directly behind. Here I notice I can no longer hear the third member of our group and at mile five I'm at 6:29. In the distance we can see the finish and after a scan of the parking lot I noticed the lead pack in the distance to the left, I'm curious to know what goofy route we take in order to cover everything a second time.
As we get to what would be the final straight stretch for the 10k group, a race volunteer asks, "The half or 10K?" The dude in front of me indicates the half and the volunteer directs us and our bike lead to take a hard left. As we wind through the parking lot it is blatantly clear the half marathon turn around portion isn't marked in anyway, shape or form. Once we get to within projectile vomiting distance of the start/finish line I yell to our bike lead, "This is the half marathon route, correct?". He then gives me a thumbs up and shakes his head.
We turn to head back toward from where he came and I feel at bit better about what's taking place. Back onto the original route to make the second go around I see a runner not too far ahead of us, we are gaining on one of those we are chasing. The dude I'm following has picked up the pace a bit and in order to not lose him, I follow along. I pass L a second time and, again, we gesture to one another. At mile six I'm at 6:28 and at the park entrance/exit again, I pull along side the dude.
He says, "Nice race."
"Likewise," I say and then point to the guy we are gaining on, "let's go get him."
It is a bit of decline here and we are dodging the 10k group that is finishing up coming the opposite direction, but this time we get to avoid a schmuck in an SUV attempting drive on the race route. One of those passing the opposite direct alerts us, "You guys are five, six and seven." I try to utilize the downhill to my advantage and get a few steps ahead of the dude I'm with. In just a few moments I'm catch up to the guy we were gaining on, but he looks familiar. Right before going around him it hits me, this is the older guy I passed back on mile two and followed us for another mile to two.
Passing him, again, he glances over and asks, "Which way did you go in the parking lot? Did you go straight or turn?"
"We turned with the bike lead and circled the parking lot."
"Damn, I'm sorry. No one knew where I was supposed to go back there, I had to guess", he says.
Sympathizing, I follow with,"Don't apologize, no worries, not your fault."
I drift by him and at mile seven I'm at 6:31 and we approach the dam trail a second time. There is the fuel stop liar again, this time she was equal portions of water and Gatorade. Her cohort is standing behind the table, so one of us will have to get our own refreshment. Up the incline I hear the older guy and the dude both on my tail. We cross the dam and at mile eight I'm at 6:44 as the grass trail portion begins. It is hard to get decent footing and I'm expecting one or both of those behind me to pass.
The leaders pass by a second time and there is a huge gap between them and an even larger gap between us and them. At the turn around I glance over my left shoulder and the dude is about ten feet behind. At miles nine & ten I'm at 6:38 and 6:48 and I'm fatigued - though I haven't yet been passed. Similarly, miles eleven & twelve are 6:51 & 7:05 - I'm tired, but I feel faster than what my watch is indicating.
Back onto the road, and with decent footing, I force myself into an exaggerated knees & elbows routine - increasing my stride locomotive style. Up the incline to the park entrance and around to the parking lot area, the final straight stretch appears and down the decline through the finish I go. I stop my watch and grab some water and see I've finished at 1:28:26 and in 5th place, having covered 13.29 miles. L finds me and she, too, felt a bit slow having covered the 10k portion in 52:46 for 16th place. Not her best race, but still quite good for her.
Sharing some race details, L says when she finished there wasn't any water at the finish. She asked folks, but no one had a clue as to what to do or where to find it. Then upon roaming to catch her breath, she found some bottled water near the finisher's party. She picked it up, dragged it over to the finish and angrily slammed it to the ground in front of the volunteers. "Here's your freaking water!", she exclaimed and stormed off. She, too, was a bit annoyed at the lack of attention to detail on a number of things.
The two fellas (the dude and the older guy) who had been following me finished twelve and thirty seconds behind. And come to find out the one finishing directly behind me lives in our neighborhood, just two blocks over. Somehow, we had never crossed paths.
We wandered over to the finisher's party for a BBQ lunch and our free Olentangy River Brewing beer before making our way to the car for the 20 minute ride home. Worn out, we crashed and watched football the rest of our Sunday. Our neighbor, Doug, did asked if we wanted him to mulch the leaves in our back yard since the plethora of leaves come from the tree in his yard. We told him to do as he pleases and later we discovered he just ended up mowing our entire backyard, though it didn't really need it. He apparently enjoys the mowing and such and we aren't going to complain. It is fall and everything will be dead and brown before you know it in order to regenerate itself in the coming months, so...yeah.
Seasons can get old and boring after awhile, which is why we should celebrate the changes. It boosts the wanting of those favorite times of the year and makes them more enjoyable. I miss summer when it passes, but even more so with this most recent one for a variety of reasons. Though with football season underway, college basketball on the near horizon and the leaves changing - there is something in the air that's calling me and I can't quit put my finger on it. Whatever this strange attractor may be, I'm looking forward to it....
Leeroy Stagger - Strange Attractor