The weekends that fly, the days that pass, and gladiator dreams that may come

My past three weekends have flown by, while the days between each crawls at my typical morning’s pace. It’s a groggy fail at a happy-go-lucky rise-and-shine lasts the entire day, leaving me to lament to anyone on IM about how much being chained to my desk absolutely sucks.

Nashville was an absolute blur. After beers, rooftop lounging, and a country karaoke bar, I found myself finally getting back to the hotel at 2:30 a.m. the first night. The second night was more beers, a live band, and dancing with a handsome cowboy, only to walk back into the room as I was supposed to waking up to run the Country Music Half Marathon.

I originally intended to walk the course with a beer in-hand, stopping at each band for a song or two… But my friend Happy (remember her from years back??) and her posse met us in Nash-vegas, and she wanted to put her training to use. With no sleep, beer still on my breath, and a less-than-cheery disposition, I ran it with her. I came in a bit slower than my usual time, but I’d never run a half that sleep-deprived before. I had a two-hour glorious nap, only to up and repeat the previous night.

My take on vacations is that I’m not there to sleep. I cannot get true Southern coleslaw in Chicago, but I can always sleep there instead. So there.

I had to take Monday off of work because of both the sleep deprivation and the extreme allergy attack I started suffering. Claritin is a farce. I sound like I’ve taken up a nasty cigar habit. The rest of the week was l-o-n-g, including me taking off on Friday for another trip.

Hello Cincinnati! I never would have thought that I’d enjoy a city in the Midwest that much, but I certainly did. The pace of life, how inexpensive things are, and how friendly the people are really went a long way. Now before I say anything more, I have to talk about how I got there: The Mega Bus.

Now, many of you who have read since years back might associate a love of public transportation with me. However, you would be wrong. The honeymoon wore off long ago, when I realized that I could run the two miles faster than the train or bus took to get me where I was going. It’s not to say that I run everywhere I go these days, but I will say that my old(er) age has me shaking my fist at the Chicago Transit Authority. I wear ear plugs to block out the gum-snappers and cell phone-talkers, bathe myself in Purell to silence my inner germ phobe, and bury my head in a Newsweek to further block out any senses that might be affected by my surroundings.

To say the least, yes, I’m a jerk. And I’m a pretty, pretty princess who cannot ride with mere peons on my way to Lincoln Park.

Now, Mega Bus and I do not have a pleasant past. There was one other time that I attempted to ride it to Milwaukee. While in line, every foul-smelling Chicago inhabitant bumped against me in a bum’s rush to the door, and 30 of the 50 people waiting for the bus were getting their last smoke in before we were cooped up for a two-hour ride.

Being that the trip set me back an entire $6.50 combined for both me and my companion, I let Mega Bus keep the cash and dialed 1-800-Rent-a-Car. If I’d have stayed on the Mega, I’d have ended up breathing into a Popeyes Chicken sack while my hair became lice-infested by the seatbacks. On the upside, I’d have smelled chicken bits instead of stale smoke. But no matter how I try to turn on the optimism, there isn’t enough klonopin in a psych ward to have gotten me on that bus.

That being said, my trip on the Mega to Cinci was not nearly as bad. I brought a bottle of flavored water that had a third of its contents emptied and then subsequently replaced by vodka. It ended up not being needed, but I was prepared for my voyage.

I ate too much good food, drank really cheap beer, played a lot of skee ball, made friendly with the locals, drove my friend’s dad’s sports car on some really awesomely tight roads, lounged in his hot tub, and ran another 13.1 miles while having the most massive allergy attack I’ve ever suffered.

Besides the coughing, wheezing, and sneezing, I’ve got to say that the Flying Pig race was one of the most enjoyable I’ve ever run. I highly recommend it, and I encourage you to run at least the half marathon. The hills will friggin’ kill ya, but the run is amazingly beautiful. I did the first half in an absolute stroll, and then coughed out enough allergens to start running, thus improving my mile-per-minute for the remainder of the race by over five minutes.

Yes, I was being an absolute wiener the first bit of the run…

Since I’ve gotten back, it’s as if I haven’t adjusted to no longer living out of a suitcase. Each night there’s something pulling my attention, then each day at work drags. This leaves me living in absolute squalor, but Hambone’s happy to see me for longer than a few days at a time.

Being home this weekend, I ventured out for a brunch on Saturday with friends. Being in the neighborhood, someone used his shiny iPhone to look up this bike shop we’d read about, and we headed in that direction. I am now the proud owner of a single-speed road bike.

Saturday was too cold for its inaugural spin, so I held out until Sunday afternoon. But when I stepped outside to see how thick of a fleece I’d need to brave the winter (in the middle of May!!!), I was met with more than just wind and coldness.

Oh the rain!

With a sour puss, I plopped back on the couch, put my lap cat back on my lap, and lounged some more. What a load of crock!

Eventually I saw that the rain abated enough for a quick ride before dark, and I headed out for a quick ten miles. I didn’t think to check the wind before leaving, and I headed south along the lakefront. When I hit the turn-around point, I was shocked to be hit in the face with a treacherous blowing. I’d have shaken my fist, had I not been in danger of the wind knocking me over.

For three miles I pumped my legs like you wouldn’t believe, finally able to tuck back into the buildings for some cover. With the added effort, I got home just barely before dark, reminding me that I need to put some blinking lights on the bike for added safety.

Speaking of safety, I’m reminded of padded mallets and netting. Which to those of you who know what’s happenin’, you’re remembering that the second season of American Gladiators starts tonight! Last season’s winners are back, this time as Gladiators instead of contestants. We’ll officially meet Jet and Rocket tonight, and the promo photos on the AG web site show that they’ve packed on some serious muscle.

And along those lines, I’ll wrap up this entry by saying that my Gladiator dreams are still in progress. The weights are coming along so much lately, my eating is cleaner than it’s ever been, and I’m feeling pretty good. When I’m in a sports bra and flex, it’s actually impressive!

I met with a trainer at the gym for some baseline testing, and he was impressed with everything I’ve done so far and how regimented all is going. Apparently a lot of people don’t understand things like reps, sets, supersets, and basic nutrition for building muscles. Now, I understand that I tend to be a bit, um, thorough when it comes to my hobbies… But to want to build muscle and to do no reading on ye ol’ internets??? I don’t know. Perhaps others have $75-90 an hour for someone to teach them how to do it. I, on the other hand, have a lot of free time while servers at work are reloading.

Well, I’m now off to dinner with friends and to watch the Gladiators. May it fill my belly with 40-30-30 and fill my head with red and blue spandex-y dreams.


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