As has been my frequent routine this year, I started out the weekend with plans for two runs, one Saturday morning, and another on Sunday morning. Being that the temperatures were very comfy (about 75°, and not a ton of humidity), I figured I should get out and do it.
Unfortunately, I waited until late morning to get out. I did get out though, and that’s the important part. However, that meant the air temperature warmed-up through my outing, which is something I’m not a fan of.
As I’ve watched the Olympics over the last couple of weeks, I realized that each of those fast, fast runners had something that I don’t usually have that much of… sweat. So, on this morning, I set out to sweat. And sweat I did.
In fact, I had a pretty good run. The first part was cloudy, and once the sun broke, I began to sweat like an Olympian in the 26th mile of the marathon. I ran quite a bit of the course Saturday, with only one significant obstacle…
A cute golden retriever puppy.
You see, I have two hard rules for any event or outing. I thank every first responder that’s securing a route for me, and I pet every dog. It’s a great way to rest for a few seconds, and there’s something that’s just plain refreshing about getting a lick on the nose!
In our last episode, our heroic author had just completed the first two-thirds of his 10k virtual race, planning to complete the final two miles from home. We rejoin our tale…
I drove home from the Monarch Chesterfield Levee Trail, and landed in my favorite easy chair. I was thrilled to have pulled off my longest distance in a couple of months. After sitting and watching a little bit of the Olympics, I decided I couldn’t stand my own stench and needed to grab a shower.
When I got out, I checked Facebook, and saw that my next door neighbor Joe had two tickets to the Paul McCartney concert at Busch Stadium that night. I commented that if Becky were in town, I’d be all over that pair of tickets like… well, like the Beatles on vinyl.
Just minutes later, my phone rang.
Neighbor Joe told me that he’d bought the tickets a week or so ago, when Busch Stadium opened up some additional seating. Apparently, he’d thought to take a galpal, but at her ripe old age of thirty-something, the phrase “Paul who?” rained a little bit on his parade. But, having another music lover along who could appreciate this event rekindled his interest to go, and that he’d sell me one ticket, and drive us both to the show. I needed to be ready to go downtown in an hour.
I’ve been a fan of the Beatles as long as I can remember. When I was a kid, I’d listen to my parents’ ginormous console radio, and hearing all kinds of tunes. That’s where I first heard The Beatles’ music. Fast forward a few years, and I was buying loads of Beatles and Wings albums, playing the grooves off the vinyl.
I kept hoping and hoping that they’d reengage, even if only for a brief while. I watched as SNL waved a big ol’ check on TV to have them join together on their stage. I heard the urban legend that on one fateful night, they were all there, except George, who didn’t know his way around NYC, and didn’t get to SNL in time.
And when Wings toured in 1976, I swore I’d get to one of the shows. I was 12, and just didn’t have the means or capability to get to Atlanta to see them. The closest I got was the Wings Over America album, which I listened to so many times that I knew every sound — music, lyric, audience — by heart.
But when John was assassinated in 1980, that dream died. (Although, Julian Lennon sounded a lot like his father, and could’ve filled in, I’d thought.) And then after George’s death, it really cemented the truth that the clock was ticking, and if I was to see any of them live, I needed to move.
In the early 80s, I saw a concert in Chattanooga that had The Producers as the warm-up band. The girl I was dating at the time and I waited around outside Memorial Auditorium before the doors opened, and ran to the front of the stage when we were allowed in. She and I were big ol’ Beatles fans, and during the show, we heard that lead-in note for “Hard Day’s Night,” and went nuts. I was pretty sure that was the closest I’d ever get to seeing anything by the Fab Four live on stage.
Macca has toured many times since those days, and it’s just never seemed to work out for me to go and see him live. It’d always been a dream of mine to see him perform, and I knew one of these days, he wouldn’t be touring, and I would’ve missed my chance.
When the tickets for this show went on sale many months ago, they were snapped up in no time — minutes! — and I thought that once again, I’d miss seeing Sir Paul live. Neighbor Joe solved that with his timely tickets, and in an hour’s time, I went from not knowing what I was going to do Saturday night to riding downtown to see Paul McCartney!
Being a native of Da Lou, Joe knows downtown, and knows where to park for events at Busch. He parked in a little out of the way lot near the Eat-Rite, and we hiked the short distance to the stadium. Standing outside the home of the Cards, we chit-chatted, and shared our joy of being there on Facebook. Quickly enough, the doors opened, we passed through security, and found our way down to the field.
Yes, down to the field!
Joe had somehow scored tickets that were in the 28th row from the stage, dead center, and the view of the stage was incredible. It was the first time I’d ever been on the field at Busch III, and I was struck with just how big this place was. We were sitting in basically short center field, oriented toward the batter’s eye, so you could see all the seats in the stadium, and it felt like you were the center of attention. Very cool view.
And there wasn’t gonna be a bad seat in the house. Towering video screens flanked the stage, plus a giant one behind the band, ensured everyone was gonna see a great show. This made for a big ol’ multimedia event, which added to the impact of the show for me.
Folks started to sidle in, beginning to really fill the place up. Next to us was a girl (Katie; 20-something) and her father (my age-ish) from Montana. They were in town for a trap shooting tourney, and just decided to come to the show. They were a hoot to chat with, and were every bit as excited to be there as we were.
Close to 8:15, Sir Paul took the stage… and the rest was a bit of a blur. This dude is 74 years old, and played for a solid two hours and forty minutes… and then came back for a twenty minute encore!
The 45,000+ folks in the crowd danced and sang along through the whole concert — me included. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m pretty reserved a lot of the time. Not here. I was singing along at the top of my lungs, dancing in place, and letting my internal hair down. It was really a wonderful night!
Some highlights… (BTW, it looks like the setlist will be found here soon.)
Remember my comment about The Producers? Well, Sir Paul opened his show with “Hard Day’s Night,” which set the night in a perfect kind of motion for me.
He sprinkled Beatles songs, Wings songs, Macca songs together — even one from the Quarrymen days! — and stirred them up masterfully. I can’t imagine another show you could go to that features fifty years of music woven together so well. And it seemed like he had a story to tell for almost everything he performed. So many bands just come out, play the music, and that’s that. This was like having a historian onstage, telling some choice nuggets about many of the songs, and then performing them for you. I loved that approach.
My favorite performances? So, so many come to mind, but easily “Live and Let Die” stands apart. I’m a big Bond fan — Sean Connery, that is! — and the only non-Connery Bond film I like is Live and Let Die. I’ve loved the title track since it came out around 1973. I dig the change in tempo here and there, and these fantastic crescendos in the track. For each one of those big crescendos, the stage erupted in fire and explosions, even leveraging the Cardinals fireworks that are used for winning games. From our vantage point, those fireworks came right over the top of the stage, creating this incredible shower of fire on stage and fire in the air. It was absolutely the highlight of the show for me. (The video below is from YouTube, and is someone’s view from the upper deck of this part of the performance Saturday night.)
Paul paid tribute to both John Lennon and George Harrison, both moving, and wonderful. And I saw something I’d never seen at a concert. For both “Hey Jude” and “Let It Be,” the crowd lit their cell phones up, the same way we used to do with lighters a long time ago. I looked around me from the stadium floor, and it was like being surrounded by fireflies. Utterly cool.
He performed “The Fool on the Hill” and “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” — neither of which I would’ve bet on ever seeing live, and certainly not by Macca himself. I loved the treatment for Mr. Kite — the video boards brought a psychedelic carnival atmosphere to that performance!
“Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five,” “Band on the Run,” “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da,” “Back in the U.S.S.R” … so many standout performances, and the crowd never relented (me included), singing along and dancing the night away.
There were a ton of cameras and booms… I’m really hopeful that this show was being recorded, and might be made available in the future. Big crowd, big venue… I could see it happening. And if Macca comes back to Da Lou, you can bet your buttons I’ll try to find a way to go.
So… we started this story yesterday with my needing only a couple of miles to finish the 10k I started Saturday morning. I was on my feet for five hours Saturday night (I don’t know why you get a seat for these things!), and between walking the short distance to/from the car and dancing, I added five more miles. Yeah, I danced for something like four miles. 🙂 And all that dancing was definitely much more enjoyable than running, but was so very much more exhausting!!!!
For me, running and walking are therapeutic. I can clear my head, lower my angst, and get centered again. I had had a “difference of opinion” with our headstrong little Roxy, after which I knew I needed to get out of the house and “walk it off”. 🙂 I got my gear on, fired up my headphones, and immersed myself in music and strides.
Of course, I didn’t look at the temperature before I left. It was 95°.
I stuck to the neighborhood, much like I’ve done lately. It’s less hassle not having to drive to a trail, and there are plenty of little neighborhood nooks and crannies to travel along. On this night, I explored some of those nooks and crannies a couple of subdivisions over, and found the peace I needed.
By the time I got back to the house, though, I was melting. A summertime 95° in Da Lou is miserable. Not just hot, but typically humid, and Thursday lived up to that billing. Blecch! Done is done, though, and I was happy to get some miles in.
And given that this was a “puppy induced” run, I figured I’d finally get The Puppy Run completed from my “to do” box of virtual races.
I think that’s one of the great things about this sport. You can literally do it anywhere and anytime, with planning or not, and be as competitive (or not) as you wanna be. And when you just need to go let off some steam, you can do that too!
This was a first-time race for me, despite it being in my own backyard. I’d been wrestling with running it, largely because I believed it didn’t have medals at the end, and I like getting “paid” for my runs. 🙂
I signed up during this last week, and got up early this morning to make the short drive to the race course. After yesterday’s amazing run, I really was gunning for big things.
The weather was supposed to be amazing — rain and low 60s — and I was really looking forward to that. As Mother Nature does sometimes, she took a left turn, and I ended up with low 70s, no rain, and a crazy humid airmass with occasional fog. Blecch!
I got to the race course, and talked with the packet pickup folks. Last year, this race had about 300 entrants; this year, only about 100 for the 5k. I got kinda excited, thinking that maybe I could end of up with an age award. Three deep across each decade of ages… yeah, that would help push me higher in my age group, and maybe the math would favor me with a top-three age group placement.
I was about to find out that math today and a great run yesterday wouldn’t ensure a medal for me!
The race started on time, and I trudged along a trail in Bluebird Park that seemed to wind downhill forever. And much like the sidewalks yesterday, the trail was slick as snot. Where I shoulda carried some speed downhill, the slipperiness kept me reserved, taking careful steps as I climbed downward.
I’d never run this course before, and it was nice to see a part of my town that I’d never seen before. I passed through neighborhoods, with the occasional driveway of folks cheering us on. It was clear that I was losing the biggest part of the pack, and that I was well on my way to being dead last in the race. I don’t race to come out on top, I race to challenge me, so that was ok.
Lumbering through the neighborhoods, I’d occasionally catch a glimpse of the golf cart that was trailing the last runners in the race… and I wasn’t all that far ahead of them. With about a kilometer to go, I reentered Bluebird Park, and started climbing up all the hills I’d carefully descended at the beginning of the race.
I came up the last big hill, and turned left into the staging area for the race. Folks cheered as I came through the finisher’s arch, which was cool. Perhaps they were afraid that I was really ol’ St. Nick, and they wanted to stay on the good side of the Big Man. Regardless of the reason, I enjoyed a few seconds of cheering, and ambled over to the ice cold water bottles to start cooling down.
This was a fun little race, but much more hilly than I’d expected. And, I wish it’d had a finisher medal. But, it was close, early, and done, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
After a weekend of busted runs, I finally got out yesterday and put some miles behind me before a family shrimp boil. As you can see in the course info below, it was cool, and rainy.
And that was perfect.
I really started out to just walk. It was wet, and the sidewalks here get snotty slick in that kinda drizzle you get around the edges of a storm, so I figured I’d take it easy. But then something cool happened.
I started running.
It was one of those weird runs, where you look at a landmark down the road — a telephone pole, a driveway, a road sign — and you just run to that point. And every time I got to one of those landmarks, I’d spy the next one, and make a deal with myself on how I was gonna attack the next chunk of distance.
This was one of those rare runs where I’ve gotten in a wonderful rhythm that seemed like it would never end. In this case, though, it had to end, as I had that shrimp boil waiting for me. However, despite cutting it short, I knew that this was a foundational run for me, one where the mental benefit likely outweighed the physical one.
This race is billed as “St. Louis’ Fastest 5K!” I get why… there’s a bunch of downhill grades as the race starts in Kirkwood, travels through Glenwood, and finishes in Webster Groves. And it was fast.
My splits in the first two kilometers were way under 10min/km, which is my yardstick for good, bad or ugly paces. As it ends up, three of my four splits were sub-10, the last one was ten on the nose, and the the split that included the water stop was just over ten. Really good race for me.
This course meanders roughly east, with the river lying many, many miles in the distance. But, with that gentle grade toward the river comes some gentle uphill chugs to earn those beautiful downhill gliding opportunities. The gentle hills are in the second half of the run, which is why my first two splits were so fast. There were definitely times where I had some fast sprints in the second half of the race, but the uphills slowed me down.
This race course runs through some nice, old neighborhoods, and there’s always folks outside, cheering us on. One couple was sitting in their driveway, enjoying their coffee, and I noticed their sprinkler was on, feeding their lawn. I shouted “Can I run through your sprinkler?” They cracked up, and said sure, and I proceeded to make aircraft wings out of my arms, and ran dead center across their lawn (and their neighbors). Folks in the race behind me were cheering, and I suspect I wouldn’t be the only person to take that little detour.
Another thing that was interesting was a couple that passed me about four kilometers into the race. The guy had a race-style bag on his back, with a loud stereo of some kind in it. There was this giant Caribbean sound emanating… and they were dancing and skipping! I was behind them most of the last kilometer, and they carried that groove to the end. I was blown away!!!
I got toward the finish line, and could see that the clock was about to cross fifty minutes. I knew I wasn’t near fifty, as it took me almost two minutes from the time race started until I crossed the finish line, but there’s still that crazy mental thing that happens with finish lines and timing. I looked up, and the clock was at 49:47. The announcer was cheering on folks to finish ahead of the clock crossing fifty, and I kicked in some kind of crazy afterburner. I ran faster than I think I’ve ever run, and crossed at about 49:58. 🙂
Once again, this was a fun race. Last year, the morning was full of electrical storms, and rain through the whole course. Today was cloudless and hot, more than ten degrees hotter than last year. Even with that dramatic difference in conditions (to the worse, for me), I was only 45 seconds slower than last year. I’ll take that. 🙂
Yesterday, I knew I needed to get out before the heat got too bad, and I had a virtual race burning a hole in my pocket. This race was supposed to be run today, but I had a “live” race that I’d signed up for, so this Father’s Day race got an early slot on my calendar.
Da Lou has been sweltering awful for the last week. I thought if I got out early in the day, I’d beat the heat. Unfortunately, my plans didn’t quite go like that, and it was closer to lunch before I headed out. As you can see in the image of the race course, it was 84°, which is still in the melt me into a puddle range for me.
I got going on this new course that I’ve discovered. It’s all sidewalks, with no major road crossings, and is pleasant enough, even with the heat, due to a pretty fair number of trees around. That’s probably the only thing that kept me from deteriorating into a puddle o’ goo.
And then there was the lemonade.
Wren Trail, which is the big east-wester on my course, has a bunch little neighborhoods that back up to it, and on one of those, there were some kinds with a lemonade stand. Brilliant! Hot day, captive audience on the trail, and some ingenuity. I bought my cup for 50¢ (along with a little tip — I don’t carry change when I run), and guzzled it down. It wasn’t the tangiest lemonade I’d ever had, but it was there, and so was I… a match made in heaven!
There’s not much to talk about typically for these virtual events, but in this case, the key takeaway is that kids really should be manning lemonade stands during the summer on running routes. It makes the run so much nicer!!!
Friday night, I decided I needed to put some miles under my feet, so I headed out into the late spring swelter. It was well over 90° — despite what Garmin says! — and was miserable. I chose a flat neighborhood course that was right around 5km, with a little extra to get my distance in.
Did I mention it was hot?
As I’ve mentioned many times, I melt in the heat, and when it’s above 90°, the chances of me doing anything closely resembling “running” quickly approach zero. I walked. Slowly. But I got out there, and put some miles in the books.
As this was a virtual race, there’s not much to say about it. So let’s talk headphones. 🙂
For years, I have used Bose earbuds for my runs. I love the feel and the sound… but not the cord. I’ve tried a variety of wireless earbuds, trying to find something that works well with my gear, and can stand up to my sweaty self. I’m sure some of those sounded amazing, but I had all kinds of trouble getting anything to fit in my ear as well as my trusty corded Bose.
A couple of months ago, I broke down and put some Beats Powerbeats2, and was pretty well blown away by the fit. They actually fit in my ear holes, and stayed in place. In fairness, they have hooks that go over the ear, which is a little interesting as those compete with the earpieces of my glasses. Not a huge thing.
I do wish the sound was a little better with them, though. I know that earbuds are gonna struggle with good sound reproduction — there’s just not enough room in them to make “big sound” possible. It’s a trade off, and for the convenience of cordless sound, I’m cool with that.
Last week, after years of my lamenting Bose not having wireless earbuds, Bose announced a set. Grrrr.
I’d love to try a nice cordless set of Bose for my travels, but in reality, the Beats are doing the job, aren’t too uncomfortable, and will likely last me for at least a few seasons. When they die, Bose will have their chance!
This weekend, I ran my third Hospital Hill race weekend (second time for the 5k/10k re-run. Two years ago, I challenged The Hill, and it was one of the hardest races I’d done up to that time. Last year, I did the re-run for the first time, and was just pummeled by the 5k. The heat was crushing, and it was all I could do mentally to go back out on the course for the 10k the next morning.
I’ve run 100 events since last year’s Hospital Hill, and I was determined to not only be a little faster than last year, but to enjoy the experience.
I drove out to Kansas City Friday morning. I-70 is a relatively quick, albeit kinda dull, drive between here and KC. Three-and-a-half hours after leaving the house later, I was pulling into the Sheraton Crown Center.
This is the host hotel for Hospital Hill, and I’ve really come to enjoy my stays there — the expo is right there, and the race start/finish is just a couple of blocks away. Perfect!
I checked in (early, even!), dropped off my stuff, and headed to the expo. Specifically, I was looking for Lifespeed Sports, but unfortunately, they weren’t there this year. However, there were plenty of races represented, and loads of vendors selling their wares. Aside from picking up a buncha flyers for races I’ll probably never do, I really didn’t walk out with anything aside from my bibs and shirt for the event.
This race starts at 7pm, so I always have time to burn between packet pickup and race time. Just hanging out in the room added to the tension of the upcoming race, but I did get to nap a bit, and I’m sure that wasn’t a bad thing.
I got myself together, and wandered downstairs and to the start line. Like last year, there were loads of folks enjoying the pre-race festivities… stuff for kids, a great fountain, and some clouds. Yes, clouds. This was gonna be a night with cooler weather than last year!
We got corralled up, and in short order, we were released onto the course! As I’ve mentioned before, the 5k course starts out with a ginormous hill, almost ¾km in length, and pointed kinda straight up. I’d strategized that this year, I was gonna walk up the hills, and run the downhills and flats. Previous years had seen me running up the hills — especially the first one — and burning myself out.
My plan worked pretty well, and I enjoyed churning through the course, running through sprinklers, speaking to anyone who’d listen, and generally making the best of my race. I scooted back down the big hill, and continued my run to the finish line, finishing three minutes faster than last year. Woot!
I gathered up my post-race goodies, including an ice cream sammich and a carton of chocolate milk. Those are absolutely the best things ever post-race, and really oughta be required at every race!!!
I headed back to the hotel, grabbing some Jimmy John’s on the way, and changed back into street clothes. One of the challenges with a race that starts at 7pm is that by the time you get settled down after dinner, it’s already at least 9pm, and the clock is already ticking down to wake-up time for Saturday’s 10k.
Typically, I awoke before the alarm, and had time to kill — my favorite! — before heading down to the race site. I nibbled a little breakfast, and headed down.
The scale of the Saturday race is enormous compared to the Friday race. Saturday has both a 10k and half marathon, with about 3500 racers combined. The field stretches for almost two blocks, all lined up by pace. I’d placed myself at the back, knowing that I would be slow, slow, slow.
I started talking with three ladies — a mom and her grown daughters — that had also lined up near the “Walk” pace sign. We chit-chatted a bit, and I found out that this was the youngest’s first official 10k. It’s always fun to kill my nerves with some small talk, and frankly, the older I get, the more I hear my father’s voice in mine. He never met a stranger, and I’m beginning to see that same trait in me. Not bad for guy who was a total wallflower as a teen, eh? 🙂
The gun fired, and almost four minutes later, we crossed the start line. As it ends up, these ladies were walking at the speed of my trot, so I eased into a walking stride, and continued talking with them.
And we talked, and talked, and talked. Quickly, we were a mile in, and then two. In fact, the course just seemed to melt behind us as we chattered about a little of everything. In short order, we were headed down the final hill, aimed toward the finish line. Suddenly, we all hit a big gear, and ran across the finish line in the same stride. It was awesome!
That’s the first time I’d had someone to chat with through a race that long, and it really made a difference. Obviously, I need to find me some folks to run and walk with.
It was a great weekend, and I nabbed three more medals for the wall — nothing wrong with that! I survived the heat of Friday night, and had a great 10k race, meeting some new folks along the way. It was a great race weekend!
As I’ve written before, I’m a sucker for events benefitting patriotic causes, and this one, benefitting the Honor Flight Network, is as patriotic as they come. If you don’t know who they are, check out their website, and their mission.
This was my first run since the St. Louis Triathlon last Sunday. I know that it’s suggested to rest quite a bit after a long race — marathon, etc. — and I took that suggestion to also include the tri, which was my longest race of the year so far.
It’s really surprised me how little soreness I’ve had from the triathlon. I was exhausted after the race, and felt that a little bit on Monday, but I really had no muscle soreness to speak of. In fact, the only soreness I had was at the back of my head from where my noggin (ensconced in its bike helmet) tapped the ground in my stunning zero MPH bike wreck. I was really expecting some upper body muscle stiffness to set in from the long swim, but that never materialized.
In truth, I really wasn’t feeling the run yesterday. I’d intended to get up early, and get my feet on the street, but I didn’t sleep very well at all, taking a fair amount of coffee and breakfast to get me moving. Unfortunately, by the time I got out the door, it was already 10am, and when running in Da Lou this time of the year, that means heat.
I melt in the heat. Maybe not literally, but I feel like it. My perfect running conditions are either rainy or temps around 40-50°, and yesterday had neither. When I got on the Greenway, it was about 72°; when I hit the Jeep at the end of the run, the thermometer in read 83°. Those are pretty extreme temperatures for me, and usually I don’t do well in them.
Despite the heat, this run felt pretty good. It wasn’t the fastest I’ve ever run, but it was around average speed for me, and that’s a huge surprise, given the heat. I had plenty of energy — and maybe that’s because I gave myself a good long rest after last weekend’s tri — and it helped make this a very comfortable run for me.
And that’s the reward. On those days when it’s tough to get my feet pointed to the street, I’m usually rewarded with good runs, and a sense of accomplishment for having gotten myself out there. Yesterday was no exception!
This weekend, we honor those fallen heroes who have helped keep our country safe and free. Their sacrifice has made it possible to do what I do, and I can certainly honor their memory with a little fundraising to support our heroes.
This event benefitted Honor Flight Network. From their website: Honor Flight Network is a non-profit organization created solely to honor America’s veterans for all their sacrifices. We transport our heroes to Washington, D.C. to visit and reflect at their memorials. Top priority is given to the senior veterans – World War II survivors, along with those other veterans who may be terminally ill.