Wednesday, October 15, 2003

It's a cool, crisp fall morning. Colors are changing big time, a last fireworks foliage burst. Condensation runs down my windows. The sun'll burn it dry. Had a Christmas flashback as the condensation reveals the circular pattern created by the suction cup that held up our flashy lights. The snow and holidaze are coming.

I'se listenin' to tracks from the latest Radiohead album, Hail to the Thief. I've managed to download 10 of the 14 tracks off Kazaa. I do the Kazaa thing at night, when I go to bed, adding to my collection as I sleep. I'm totally selfish and don't share any of my files. This allows me to download more music with my puny 56k modem. I've been trying to do stuff with my web site, but find it very difficult to use the web-based editing software because of the slow connection speed. I could go back to the library, but what about uploading pictures and other files that are only on my computer?!!!

The Friggin' Cubs broke my heart last night. Fan interference on a fly ball to Alou and an error by Alex Gonzalez on a double play chance kept the 8th inning alive for the Florida Marlins, who stormed back to score 8 runs and beat Cub ace Mark Prior en route to an 8-3 victory. Game 7 is tonight with Kerry Wood on the mound. I'm hopeful for a Cubs win, but apprehensive... These are the Chicago Cubs... I'm having 1984 flashbacks, the year I went to my first Cubs' game. Last night left me empty, depleted, defeated. I've never been so depressed about the outcome of a ball game. I've invested too much of my heart and soul into this team.

I know next year I will not be able to follow the Cubs that closely because of the Pacific Crest Trail adventure. That's why I've been such a baseball junkie this year, following my beloved Cubs and attending about 20 minor league games. They MUST WIN tonight. The personality of this club is to take things to the wire. They did so in the regular season and in the division series against the Braves. And here we are in game 7 of the NLCS. The dream season and the hopes of all Cubdom rests on the arm of Wood.

Last weekend in Chicago was fun. We got to Ken's apartment in time to see the start of the Cubs-Marlins game and Aramis Ramirez' first-inning grand slam. Then we took a cab to Wrigleyville and enjoyed the rest of the game across from Wrigley Field at Murphy's Bleachers. The place was really crowded, but Ken said it wasn't too bad. The weather was so warm and pleasant we sat outside in an enclosed patio area and watched the game on a large television on top of an ice cooler. The strangers we sat with were fun to talk to. Ken only drank orange juice because of the marathon... Each time the Cubs scored a run the bartenders rang bells. After the game we walked back to the apartment, looking in store windows and yelling at celebrants. A party was going on in a clubhouse area at Wrigley Field and the privileged partiers waved at us as a disco ball flashed out onto the street. The streets were closed in Wrigleyville in a three block radius around the park.

We got up at 5:50 a.m. Sunday and rode with Ken on the 'L' to downtown for the start of the Chicago Marathon. The subway was crowded, like sardines, most people wearing their jogging outfits -- warm-up jerseys, running shoes, and the plastic sling bag of goodies given out by race organizers. But Ken was all low-key about it. He said this is nothing like London on a weekday morning. Ken likes to downplay crowded situations and brag about the situations he's been in, like the 200th anniversary of Bastille Day when he was near the Arche-de-Triomphe and was so crushed in a crowd that he could barely breathe. He mentioned that after the nightclub deaths in Chicago earlier this year.

I wasn't holding onto anything when the subway started and smacked this real mean-looking black guy in the face with my hand. I grazed across his nose and got snot on me, and had no way to wash my hand. I was conscientous not to touch my face or any other body part with my right hand.

We hung out with Ken at the starting line. Ken was all nervous about what he would do if he had to take a dump. I think he pissed three times in the last hour before the start. He kept making calls on his cell, and tried to arrange a pit stop with a friend of his who lives along the route. The downtown skyline looked all beautiful and golden in the early morning light. Rainbows arced in the spray off Buckingham Fountain.

The minty pungence of Ben-Gay permeated the air. The odor of ache, smell of the superfit. We walked to the charity tents past a veritable armada of ambulances -- rows of wheelchairs, walkie-talkie clad, red-vested emergency workers. A marathon's a serious thing, and with 40,000 participants, many of them first-time runners like my brother, race organizers planned for statistical certainties.

An announcer clicked off the start of the race, but it took about five minutes for those in the middle of the pack to get moving. Ken had a little micro chip on him that didn't record his time until he crossed the starting line.

As Esther and I walked back to the subway, we stopped on a street corner downtown and climbed scaffolding to get an aerial view of the race. I looked down the skyscraper canyon, leaned out and took a picture of the undulating sea of runners. It was the first marathon Ken'd ever run, and the first I'd ever seen. It's much easier to be a spectator.

We joined my brother Bob back at Ken's apartment and after a quick bathroom break we walked down the end of the block to Clark Street, just past mile nine. Bob set up his video camera and we cheered on runners who put their names on their shirts. Some wore costumes. I saw a few dressed in Cubs regalia, some Supermen, capes and all, an Incredible Hulk and one guy painted red with rings bouncing on his pierced nipples. Yeowtch! When Ken approached he got off the race route to hug some unknown woman friend and then came over to us. We patted his sweaty shoulders and he started to take off. Then he came back and asked us if we had any aspirin or ibuprofen. Sorry, we didn't. Afterwards, he said he had some aches in his knees, but they went away after awhile.

We dropped off Bob's camera and went up Clark to a greasy spoon diner, Francesca's, where we watched race coverage on channel Nine while slower runners went by outside the window. Before we finished breakfast the winner, some Kenyan, Eddie-something, running his first marathon too, crossed the finish line in 2 hours, 5 minutes. We finished breakfast and walked back to Ken's apartment as the slow runners --the fat, elderly and out of shape -- and walkers passed by. One guy waved a bottle of Miller Lite and cheered on the straggling participants. It was a little after 10 a.m.

Ken made it back home by 1 p.m. He walked with a wide stance and dragged his feet. He took off his shoes and his toes looked like hamburger, all huge blood blisters and blackened toenails. He tore off one of his nails, threw it on the coffee table, and popped the blisters with a needle. After a small pasta lunch he went to his room and slept for an hour. He got up as the first guest arrived for his post-race party. We moved the television and couch into the larger living room for the Cubs game. Good food, great company, the Cubs lost, then it was back home on the Interstate in light traffic.

Times 15K Half 15M 20M 40K Pace (min./mile) Predicted ETA ClockTime ChipTime OverAll OverSex OverDiv
1:22:18 1:54:42 2:10:10 2:51:48 3:34:43 8:38 03:51:57 03:46:24 6962 5579 1170

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