Friday, April 21, 2017

Stories From a Midnight Boston Train Ride.

I thought I would take this opportunity to put those "stories" on a posting before they get too old in my brain.  Without getting to detailed, I'll try to at least acknowledge them.

Drunk Girl.

On the way to Boston there was a girl.   She must have hooked up with a young man in the cafe car sometime before they closed it for the evening.   As a rule, unless you were a party of four, you were forced to join total strangers if you chose to dine there.  Anyway,  they brought their conversation back into the coach with them.   And she was loud! She sounded like Drunk Girl on SNL.    She was also ...Amazing!   Apparently, she was rich,  dated lots of famous people, and had a career at a fortune 500 company!   All before she hit 23!  ( which means she is  older than 23 at least)

I'm not sure if the younger man was buying into all of it, but he continued to sit with her and talk about her and her awesomeness! (With all it's crinch-worthyness) They made plans to link up and go on a "real date" when they got to the city.   She was going to get off early because she had family "everywhere."  (I took this as code that she was trying to dump him before the "Midnight Pumpkin Spell" wore off.)  But the punch line was this.   In her haste ( or lack there of) she forgot her hat or something insignificant.   The young man went to give it back to her, but she told him to give it to her when they linked up in the city.   In all the ruckus.... she missed her stop!   And was forced to continue on with the rest of us "commoners" all the way to Boston.

At least she was quiet after that.  I'm not sure how she was going to break the news to whoever was waiting for her at Backbay.  If there even was anyone waiting there.


Screen Writer Santa Clause.

A gentleman looking like Santa hopped on the Train the same time we did ( in Chicago)  He sat by himself and was fairly quiet until someone sat across from him  sometime after Pennsylvania.  Most of the time I tried not to eaves drop on peoples conversation.   But this guy had a Booming Voice.  To be fair, I guess I do as well.   Part of being trained as a teacher I guess...( No one likes soft spoken teachers!) Anyway,  Cheryl paid more attention to this one than I did.   I guess he helped write a bunch of movies and rubbed elbows with famous directors.

Apparently, Screen Writer must pay below minimum wage because he was riding coach train with the rest of us bargain hunters.  I could not tell you some of the whoppers,  But Cheryl was quite entertained.  Then again,  Forest Gump took the bus to see Jenny.   And he was a Millionaire!   ( And fictional...  Just saying.)

Not everything was bad / annoying.

Black Man With is Son.

As we entered New York State.   A Black father and his son joined the train and sat in front of us.   Listening to him talk to the kid was endearing.   (And I normally do not like children!)  The kid was well behaved and excited to be on a train for the first time.  ( I believe he was either 4 or 5 years old.)  I don't want to take this in a political direction, but seeing an adult black male with his son really captured me.   He was polite and kept the kid quiet and under control the entire time.  Which was a HUGE feat given that they were traveling to Erie Pennsylvania in the middle of the night. Even I was fussy after being on the train that long.

My point being that seeing a black father is something of a rarity for me.  I have seen plenty of black single mothers....with lots of unruly kids. I have worked with Black guys who had kids and took care of them. (They never brought their kids to work, though.)    But it was rare to see the interactions between father and son. ( I want to stress:  FATHER)   It was something probably most people on the train did not even notice....but I did.  And I felt compelled to write about it here.

Lady From Chicago.

A nice lady joined us in Boston and was heading to Chicago as well.  She had a daughter who ran in the Marathon and we swapped stores for a while.   Periodically we even drifted away from running as the miles dragged on.  It was nice having someone who had experienced the same heat and frustration as Cheryl had.   It helps to know that you were not the only one having a bad day .



Other than that,  Cheryl ran today, despite having a cold.   We both scored for ETS and Pearson.  And now I'm winding down for the night.  Hopefully this cold will run its course and be done with me by tomorrow.

Despite the stories, the train ride was not "Bad";  Simply long and tiresome.  Cheryl is already thinking about different modes of travel that will require less time  ( i.e. plane!)   If the distance had been shorter, perhaps a train would have been more ideal.   But being cramped up for that long with total strangers, something is bound to happen that is blog worthy.  Either that or I simply lack anything to blog about now that we are home.
Not for Resale


Boston Ale!
I should also note that I'm sampling the latest Boston Beer.  An Ale this time.  While searching on line, I stumbled upon this picture of the 26.2 brew.   As rare as Bigfoot and if you study the picture closely, you will note that it is "not for Resale"   Perhaps that is why we could not find it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Dust Settles.... And Cheryl Has Completed the Boston Marathon

Cheryl's Marathon ended Two days ago, But mine finally ended today.   We are now safe and sound at home without injury and  with all of our stuff intact...Cheryl has successfully completed the Oldest and most Elite marathon in the U.S.
Showing off the Jacket.


But it was not pretty.











Eating Train Food!

Texting the family

Purchase a magazine
Drop off the Rental car


We spent the better part of the return  trip trying to figure out what went wrong during the race.   The Heat, the 3 hour wait time, the lack of water and calories all seem like viable candidates to explain the disappointing results.   As well as an unfamiliar hilly course and the excitement of the day.  It is easy to focus on the half empty side of the glass in hindsight.  But the half full side should be noted that She finished!   Got the Medal and is now listed on the pages of History.
Weary Travelers with Colds. 

Chicago!
There is also a possibility of a hurdle that is finally showing up today.  We both caught a cold somewhere along the trip.   It started with a sore throat for me.   I thought it was due to the screaming, but alas,  it migrated into a full blown head cold today!   I can't stop sneezing and coughing.  Cheryl says she feels the throat part as well, but had not developed the runny nose and cough yet.

But these all sound like excuses.   According to other Boston Finishers, they also had a "bad day" running.   Their training was on and their motivation was high.
Small Asian section. from Train
 But the race literally kicked their tail!   Mostly the heat and dehydration.   At least Cheryl finished!   Even if she was disappointed in her time.   There were approx. 800 runners who did not.   That would be terribly disappointing if you finally got to Boston and were forced to drop out of the race due to your Heat Injury.  When I consider all the things the "could have gone wrong,"   I am grateful for the results.

Loading the Subaru

Such a site for sore eyes.
As for me,   We had to travel back to Chicago....  and the train was as uncomfortable as ever.   24 hours in a sitting position should be no matter where you are.   But we survived and found Subie in the parking garage where we left him.  4+ hours later and we are home....where the cat voiced his disdain for us abandoning him.


Victory Beer!
To celebrate our success,   We purchased some Boston Lager...  For real this time.   Sure there was a 26.2 brew made just for the Marathon,  But neither Cheryl nor I wanted to stick around to try to find it.   We actually looked all day on Sunday, but no one in the stores had even heard of the stuff!   Rather than waste time searching,  we decided to head back to our room.

Cheryl did not even pose for her "After Marathon" pictures.   She was simply too broke down to smile or pose.  We found out later that they had pictures of her along the course....walking.    No marathoner wants to remember that they were forced to walk during the biggest event in running history!


Elite Men
Elite Women

Couple of things:   We watched the ESPN live coverage ( after the event, of course.)  and I could not believe they did not capture me!   I was literally an arms length away from the Elite Men and Women as they started.  Not that I would stand out from the large number of people crowded next to the gate.  I was on the left side of the Females.   I tried to capture the "potential favorites" but they do not show up very well.


I'm finding it difficult to write this post as the Hours of Travel and the Constant Cold Symptoms are beating me up.  So.  I may have to call it for now.  Cheryl is currently trying to get the cat to pose with the Medal.  I'll have to post that if she is successful.   I can't even remember what happened to Tuesday!   I have to score Texas Starr tomorrow...so that should be a good time.   Maybe I'll be feeling better by then..  We shall see.

Monday, April 17, 2017

How Cheryl Got us Kicked Out of Our Hotel Room. And Still Finished The Boston Marathon...

Me after Yelling. 
Hey!   What does a horse sound like?   ....   ME!   Why does my voice sound horse?  Because I spent 1.5 hours screaming at my faulty GPS on my Phone.  


At my Phone, Not the Runners.
A Quick note about Boston:  You need 4 eyes and two brains to navigate the highway system here.  I guess that could be said about any major city if you are unfamiliar with it.  But it does not help when BIG BEN is on your back and you have to reach a certain inner city destination with road closings thrown up to hinder your way.  

And then again....before she disappears!
I catch Cheryl as she lines up.











I had about 3 hours to find the finish line and park the car.   Several wrong turns, a google maps that had a mind of its own, and key exits closed forced me to waste most of that precious time.  And most of that time was spent screaming at an inanimate object.   Good thing no one was there to witness it.  Except that poor kid looking out his mom's back window.   (He must have been terrified!


Start Line.
But enough about me.    Just kidding.   (How can anyone get enough of me?)    Let me just sum up my Boston experience as:  Started off good,   progressed as planned,   and then fell to pieces....  But still managed to pull off the objective.   Meaning:  Park car,  Find Finish, Collect Cheryl,  Drive home.  


Lots of Runners!
Cheryl, on the other hand...  had a bit of a "Bad Day."   Similar to mine,  she started off good.   We found the drop off location and POOF!   She disappeared.   I did not link up with her until I had parked the car and took the shuttle buss to the start line.  


Wave Three Begins! at 10:50 AM in the Hot Sun!
There they kept the spectators and runners separated...  so I could not link up with her and give her her Diet Coke... (Which I carried all the way from the parking spot and on the bus) She was in the third wave so she had to stand out in the hot sun for about three hours before she could even begin!   


Where is Waldo  Er Cheryl.
To those who may not know this,  the Sun zaps your strength.   Never mind heat stroke and/or sun burn,  You simply feel depleted absorbing all that radiation.   Add in that her Water intake was limited as well as her caloric intake and she was being set up for failure.   I had a feeling she should have eaten more last night, but she had been feeling a little "off" since that train ride and did not want to eat anything that did not agree with her.  



Cheryl's Competition.  
However,   Dehydration can feel the same as eating something that was bad.   Cramps, side aches, muscle pain is all a form of early dehydration.   And once it starts,  simply drinking more water does not make it go away.  In fact, it may even make it worse!  ( Which it did.) 



Add in the heat!  Which I think was the biggest contributor for today's results, and you have a recipe for disaster.  Well,  almost disaster.

She was feeling bad at mile 6.   But chose to stay in it and slow down.   She said she began to get disheartened when the Tutu's began passing her.   And then the "Charity Runners."   Every time she took a drink it got even worse.   At several points she was forced to walk.  
The REAL Prize!   World Marathon Majors!

But the story does not end there.   Generals sometime have to take  the objective any way they can.  For Cheryl, the objective was simple:   Get that Finishers Medal and check the Boston box.   The ultimate goal here is to tick off another World Marathon Major.  And the path to that goal requires Boston to be finished.  


Nissan and I are friends now.



So Cheryl finished!   Over 4 hours, but a finish is still a finish.   Like College,  no one asks how well you did in English Lit.   They only see that degree.... And the Boston Jacket and medal prove that she came,  she saw, and she Finished.   

To be fair,   the weather slammed others as well.   Scott Jurek and Andy Burrfoot were also in this and logging in 4+ hours  ( and these are Legends in the running world!)  As Cheryl was propped up against the wall, with several runners next to her puking and passing out,  I noted that she at least finished on her own power and was able to keep things together.  
Cheryl at the Finish!

So  Hurray for Boston!    No lobster bake, but that is ok.   I'm happy to be done with this one.   I'm not sure when we will be able to tackle something this huge again.   She even noted that it was possible  that all the hype of this race did not meet her expectations.  It was huge, well organized and tough!   But lacked the "fun" of Chicago and Grandma's marathon.   


She does not look too happy.
As for me.  I found navigating Boston as the biggest Labyrinthian  challenge I have ever faced yet.  I'm impressed that I managed to find parking 1.5 miles away and did not have to pay for it.  (More Dumb Luck than "Frugal Skill" on my part.)  I was worried the whole time that the car would be stolen, broken into, damaged, or towed!   Thankfully none of those things happened.  


Can Marathons Produce "Shell Shock?"
The People, police, and volunteers of Boston were awesome!   It is a friendly city and beautiful.   Maybe someday we will return to simply take in the City Life....or not.   But it was an adventure.  Cheryl noted that it was highly likely we would NEVER have stepped foot in Boston if it had not held the Oldest race in the country.  And we both get to tick off Massachusetts off our State's list.   


Um,  Could you guys move?
Cheryl the Survivor!
Oh, and to answer the questions you all must be having:   How did Cheryl get us kicked out of our Hotel room?   She took a bath.   And the bathtub leaked.... sending water down into the lobby.    The Hotel staff "offered" to find us a new room that was more waterproof.   We took them up, but not before Cheryl voiced her disdain....  To ME! 

 Being the ever diplomat,   I "translated" her wishes and we were able to switch rooms without incident or physical confrontations.  They even threw in a free breakfast.... which we are never going to be able to take them up on.   But I recognize the gesture.  

So that is it!    Cheryl ran Boston.   Been there! Done that!   Now let's move along.  When the going got rough,  neither of us ever quit...  because we are both winners!   Even if the victory was marginal.   A Win is still a WIN!  And that is why I married her.  

And I like the way she looks when she is cleaned up.  

Sunday, April 16, 2017

'Twas The Night Before Boston....

Parking Stairs
Expo Guardians
And Cheryl and Ethan Frantically comb the city for any hint that will make tomorrow run smoothly.  Cheryl is the lucky one.   All she has to do is run the darn  thing!  See, Easy!





Expo People!  
Lots and LOTS of People!
I have to do all the work!   I have to: Drive. Drop her off.  Find parking. Find a bus. Travel to the start line. Take pictures. ( hopefully of her!) Find a bus again! Travel back to the car and travel to Boston where the Finish line is.   Find Parking There!   And then hoof it to the finish line about 1 mile away to "Hopefully" catch Cheryl as she crosses the finish line.  I have three hours and some change to make it 26.2 miles...with a car in Boston Traffic.  Paying exorbitant Prices for Parking and navigating my way through an unfamiliar city.    See?   Cheryl has it easy!

The entire point of today's travels was to pick up her packet, and try to show me what to do.   The Expo was a zoo as expected.

Packet Pickup.   Guy had a Boston Accent.   Awesome!



Cheryl tries on the race Shirt
Hmmm.  Try posing a little....
 We managed to get the shirt and packet without much incident and only pay $20 for parking for less than an hour.    Cheryl noted that there was not much she wanted there, except a picture of the World Marathon Majors.



Cheryl Finds the Prize!

Oh!   It comes with a Jacket?


After Boston, that is. 
4 More Cities to Go!
 Did  you know that they hand out an additional medal and Jacket upon completion of the 6th race?   Of course you didn't! Even I did not know that.  But now you're in the "Runner's Loop" and  we are all in this together.
Kids Marking up the Poster!  

They offered Graffiti lessons for the Criminals and Children  in the race.   Cheryl is no child, but felt that she was still qualified to add her mark on the poster.
Cheryl steps in to "Tag" the Sign.  





 (Given the loose definition for Vandals)  Not wanting her to commit a crime alone, I recklessly joined in!   Because I'm a Rebel!  And I want everyone to Know!    They Don't call this the John Hancock Race for no reason.
My act of Defiance!   That is how I back Cheryl up.  


Cheryl Runs on Donuts
With the main objective of the morning completed,  Cheryl suggested that we fuel up and head to the beach.   What better place than Dunkin Donuts.


  The only problem was..  Are there any Dunkin' Donuts in Boston?
And so does BOSTON!





Time to get begin Faze two....Or three.   I lost count.






The answer was surprising.   There are MORE Dunkin' Donuts in Boston than STARBUCKS!   That is NOT an exaggeration.   There were  literally Dunkin' Donuts across the street from each other.   And there is a simple reason for it.  Boston is the Dunkin'Donut Headquarters for the country....Maybe even the WORLD!  ( Ok, Maybe not the world, But definitely the country.)

Not the Hamptons? 
Let's see the water.










??????

At least we can walk on the sand.

And pick up junk.

And show off common treasures.


Cheryl has this romanticized idea of what the Coast of Massachusetts should look like.   The actual truth is a little more boring.   To be fair, we did not check out the Hampton, Martha's Vineyard, or Cape Cod.  "They" probably would have never allowed us close enough to even touch the beach even if we had been able to go there. ( And when I say "They"  I mean: Rich People.) The public beach we settled on was nice enough.   Only one shark attack while we were there.   And Cheryl was able to do a little beach combing.   We scored some shells and a sea glass marble.  Currently the marble is her more prized possession....  At least until tomorrow.
Like this rare Blue Frosted Marble Beach Glass.   Wait a sec.








Or this dead thing. 






On to the Finish line!

Next to the House next to the Finish line.

And this sign.   It should be easy to see from here.

Cheryl stops Traffic!   Or is being cited for J walking.


New Sign!  New Year!  
What does the "J" stand for anyway? 
And then, finally,  we checked out the finish line.   Cheryl got the Police to stop traffic for her.   I heard that they just repainted the start line this year.    Heck!  Maybe they do it every year.   But I found the police were most friendly and helpful.   This may also be the only chance I get to see Cheryl this close to the start.   Tomorrow is a wildcard and anything in the plan list could be axed at the last minute.   We shall see how well I'm able to stick to her plan.   I am the General that had to understand the plans, but also has to ultimately win the war.   Sometimes it is better to lose a battle to achieve victory.  (At least that is What George Washington says.  And Who does not like that guy?)

My Military Uniform for this mission

An Army of ONE!   
So,  I doubt anyone will notice,  But I'll be cheering from the sidelines...  where I can.   Maybe Cheryl will notice me.   Maybe not.   I'll see if I can find something to wear that makes me stand out.   We shall see.

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