Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mother's Day

To Father Jim and Father Tom;

As you know, I pass by Assumption nearly every day on my morning run [it's about a mile and a quarter from home; where I turn around, depends on the day]

A friend of mine has been havng a tough time. She's Catholic and goes to Mass more than just Sunday, yet still feels overwhelmed.

One morning, a couple of weeks ago, for some reason, I decided to take a detour and not rush past the the church, but I stopped to spend a minute or two with the Blessed Mother out in front. I asked for her help and guidance on her behalf.

I mentioned that to her, and things started turning around. Not resolved yet, but on the way. A beacon has been lit, she can find her way to shore.

We came up with a nickname and it's become part of my morning routine.

Anyway, when she feels she in a bind, she'll email me and say, "Hey, Rand? Can you talk to 'Mom' for me?"

I thought you'd like to know.

Happy Mother's Day.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

2009 Broad Street Run - The Race

Early morning Number Two. This time, it was really raining. This was going to be serious fun!!! Hardcore points would be up for grabs, all around.

Again, I was up at my usual time, and got right into the shower [pre-race superstition]. I wasn’t sure whether any of the girls would be coming with me. I told them the night before that they were under no obligation whatsoever to come along. But they all surprised me and got up and going fairly well. There was no complaining or feet-dragging from “The Possum,” D’Wife was agreeable and enthusiastic, and Sharon was eager to see how well her coach would do in his event.

We left the house, gear in hand [and with plenty of umbrellas] almost exactly when I wanted, too.

On the way over, my cousin double-checked me, to make sure I had all of my talisman’s … Cross with St. Jude & St. Joseph? Check! Shark tooth necklace? Check! Sharky sox? Check! Magic seashell? Check!

Over the bridge and onto South Broad Street, we followed the parade to the parking lot; the far parking lot … The furthest away parking lot there was. Oh well, it wasn’t quite 7:30 yet, still plenty of time. A nice walk to the subway would serve as a good warm-up.

We got to the Pattison Ave subway stop at almost exactly 7:30. The school buses were lined up to take the girls to the finish area.

Hugs and kisses were shared and I moved toward the subway entrance

“Subway’s backed up people!!!” an official shouted, “The buses will take you to the start area!!!”

Oh, okay. No problem. I swung my well-travelled backpack over my shoulder and stepped aboard. Of course, the first vacant seat just happened to be next to a young blonde ponytail.

“May I?” I asked and sat down when given a nod and a smile.

I called Doe, explained the bus deal and txt’d our other “teammate” Nora.

I behaved myself and sat quietly [read: waited for an opening] until we drove by the water stop in front of South Philly High School … a pair of calf high Elmo sock absolutely invited comment.

Ice successfully broken, we chatted the rest of the way up Broad Street. I did remain silent as we drove by the Dolphin tavern at Broad and Tasker, out of respect to the strip club where I used to work, and the patrons and “staff” thereof.

Further up Broad Street we travelled, passing a couple other buses making the same journey. Time was starting to become a concern, for both the runners and the driver

“Don’t worry folks!!! I’ll get you there!!!”

At some point, I’m not sure where or why, we left Broad and continued up 13th Street. Being a less travelled street to begin with, and having no cross-town traffic due to the closure of Broad, our driver took it upon herself to commence running red lights! Each successive breach of traffic law, brought applause form the runners, not seriously concerned to the wisdom and timeliness of using the buses.

“I’m leaving even earlier next year,” became the sardine mantra.

Or not, as I found my new friend was from Lancaster, and didn’t realize there was a half-marathon out there today as well … As a friend of mine said “26,000 Runners? Yea, that's why I won't run Broad St. That race is way too big for me. I'll stick to my local, small HM on those weekends.”

Maybe next year, I’ll try something different?

At some point, and I’m not sure where exactly, our 13th Street Express ran out of street … we found ourselves at a dead end. Our driver again made an audible and proceeded the wrong way down a one-way street to bring us across the race course.

‘Smart move,’ I thought, ‘if 13th won’t work, maybe 15th will?’

Except 15th is Southbound … Dammit!!! The driver continued up and over and around before crossing the course again and, with cheers and shouts of “Good Idea!!!” she hit another jet stream and headed up Old York Road.

While waiting for a light, and only half a block for the course itself, we heard a POP!!! And saw the first group [a.k.a. “The Kenyans”] take off. A couple more lights and the next group was unleashed. At this point, she opened the doors and wished us “Good luck runners!!!”

The rain had stopped for the time being, but I was sure that wouldn’t last. Now to find my bus, stash my bag, stretch and go.

You’d think #23-something would be assigned bus #23, wouldn’t you? Nope. #17 … Which, by the time I found this out, and had zigged & zagged through the crowd to the opposite side of the street, had left. I went to the nearest one, #30 and said,

“My bus left, can I leave this with you?”
“Sure, just remember which bus we are.”
“Will do, thanks.”

I stripped out of my sweats [making sure that as I took my shoes off to get my feet out, I didn’t step on the wet street; the slightest extra moisture, or the tiniest bit of gravel on my sharky sox could prove disastrous, blisterwise … or so I told myself]

A little bit of easy stretching [this not “having time to stretch” thing is becoming fairly regular now] and I lined up … well, not really in a line actually, more like “packed up” or “crowded up,” but you get the idea.

Finally, at 8:53 - 23 minutes after the first group left and nearly an hour and a half since I stepped on the bus - the air-horn blew and we were on our way.

There was the usual speed-up/slow-down, right-left-right-left, run-shuffle-run, chaos that accompanies any massive race start, as you find gaps and make space without tripping over others, or yourself, to get into something of a rhythm.

Basically, running like a bike messenger.

My primary goal was to find a groove that was pretty quick, while still being comfortable and not putting any undue stress on my problematic hamstring; which has been giving me momentary twinges of OUCH!!! In varying degrees moving randomly up and down the line … sometimes down by the knee, other times up high in the buttoski region.

My secondary goal was to find a nice pack of ponytails to settle in with for the next 90-100 minutes … For pacing purposes, of course.

Although the course is downhill overall, there a many mini-hills to conquer in the first half of the race and even a flat patch [as measured by GPS] feels like a rise.

Eagerly awaiting the first mile marker, to give my left-brain some math to do the rest on the way, we trotted along through the mist. The clock at Mile One said 32-something. Of course, joke like “We took that one too fast” and “save some for the finish” rippled through the [what we perceived to be] middle of the pack. I looked at my watch – 9:02AM. A 9-minute first mile; not shabby. I had been training at around 8:30 the past few weeks, but I wasn’t going all out today. D’Wife had predicted 1:33-1:38; the other two simply predicted that I’d be wet.

Almost on cue, at the 10-minute mark, my spex fogged up. More accurately, I noticed that they had fogged up. In my pre-race prep, I had forgotten to wipe them with a dryer sheet; somehow, that prevents the micro-particles of dust that act as fog “seeds” to adhere and keeps the clear. Someone had once suggested Rain-Ex to me also, but I’d never tried it.

The first water stop followed pretty close behind the Mile Two marker. I stopped to get a few sips. Although it was a wet day, it was pretty humid, the kind of morning that will wring water out of you, no matter what the temperature. I dipped my fingers in the cup, and squeegeed my glasses clear … Much better … although, once back out to the middle of the course I noticed that through the fog and rain, you couldn’t see City Hall or any of the building in Center City at all.

Crossing over the train tracks just past Lehigh Avenue, I received some sort of a blessing: When a pair of nuns, rattling cowbells shouts “Go runners!!!” you know it’s going to be a good day.

Mile three came at 9:20, exactly [I still haven’t learned how to do laps/splits on my watch properly, so I’m constantly doing math]

“We’re clicking off 9’s” I said to no one in particular, just whoever else might also be doing math.

“9:15” a voice beside me.

Ah … just like the Bridge Run; someone has to be accurate.

Like I said to Doe then, I though to myself now: ‘Of course, I’m moving forward through the pack, asshole, so I’m a little bit quicker. Just shut the fuck up, jackass.’

Sitting in the door way of a brownstone, a gathering of leather clad maidens, banged away on pots and pans.

“That one chik had a bucket on her head,” I said to a girl next to me
“The one in the bustier?” she replied, “I think that was a dude.”
“Interesting … They Gayborhood is still a couple miles away.”

It was at about Mile Four that the pale silhouettes of the tall buildings downtown began to appear. A few more minutes, we’d be around them and onto the long stretch through South Philly … at least it wouldn’t be a hot run, straight into the sunshine, like usual. In fact, at the pace I was going, running in the cool mist without the slightest discomfort, I was feeling pretty damn good. My longest run in the past month had only been 5 miles; we were almost at that point now, and I felt like wed only done a mile or two at the most.

I smiled to myself as we approached the next Water Stop at Spring Garden Street and exclaimed, “This is awesome!”

This is where the tall buildings, lofts and parking garages begin; Downtown starts here. The streets, although empty of traffic, felt a little more claustrophobic. People were getting anxious as, after running in pretty much of a straight line for 5½ miles with plenty of room to move, we would be suddenly compressed in the narrow bends around City Hall. I’ve seen someone take a dive nearly every year I’ve run this, and those were in dry conditions. Today’s slick pavement would make the likelihood of someone colliding with a planet very high.

Entering into the “City Hall Chicane” I heard a familiar tune, although since it was being performed by a large brass band it took a moment to place it. The Musical Rolodex in my head fluttered like the Arrival/Departure signs at 30th Street Station, as I scanned the musical library of iPod in my head … DING! DING! DING! … “All The Small Things” – Blink 182.

First nuns with cowbells, and now an orchestral punk-pop song? A good day, indeed.

We navigated around City Hall with nary a bump, bruise or jostle.

Ah, the familiar landmarks of my hometown … Including, standing in front of the Bellevue, America’s Mayor, Ed Rendell. Being on the far right of the pack, I easily glided up, paused and shook his hand … as had several thousand before me, I supposed, as his hand was cold and damp. The Gov’s jacket was soaked up to the elbow, but he smiled, patted me on my wet shoulder and wished me well.

An odd sort of collected memory took over here … Although both lane were clear of traffic, while in Center City, most people [around me anyway] stayed to the right, or the Southbound lane. It wasn’t until the Water Stop at Locust Street, with tables on both sides, did the pack widen again to take up the full width.

I arrived at the Mile Six marker at about 55 minutes. This was a fine pace and my longest run in weeks. I would be well within my 100-minute goal [1:40 or 10:00 pace] even if my hammy decided to completely boing out on me right now.

At this point, I could hear the SEPTA conductor in my head, reading off the station stops, just like I was going down to the Spectrum for a concert or Flyers game


Again, I took special moment as we ran up to Tasker Street, and the Dolphin Tavern. A nod and wink to all who have passed though it’s turquoise door.

“... this place is like the bar in Star Wars...”

I used to work there. That’s all I say about it.

Being on the right side of the course, I didn’t have the opportunity to say “hello” to the volunteer at the Water Stop in from of South Philly High with the Elmo socks, but she was there all right … I wondered where my little friend form Lancaster might be? Had I gotten by her and not noticed? Could she be up ahead someplace, maybe only a few yards away? Where were Doe, The King and ReRun? The mind wanders, you know?

As we ran by Methodist Hospital, the mist we’d been running through for the past hour, turned itself up a notch to “Sprinkle” This produced an interesting excitement, and being wet just from excessive humidity was nothing to brag about, but running 10 miles in the rain, was definitely a badge of some sort. I would swear people were dumping cups on themselves at the Water Stops to make themselves look even wetter than they already were.

Once we crossed Oregon Avenue, all buildings disappeared. There are a few row homes far off the street between Bigler and the Schuylkill, but basically, it’s all park. You don’t get any sense of moving really, because the landscapes not changing much. Therefore the Nine Mile marker always seems to elicit “Already?!!!” from the pack.

Only a few minutes to go, as the fans constantly reminded us …

“Looking good” “Almost there” etc, etc.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah”

“Sprinkle” had been upgraded to “Drizzle” now, and the excitement was high. Runners who were holding back, sandbagging if you will, now started to move through the crowd. I was being overtaken and soon myself caught up in the frenzy [well, a kind of pokey frenzy, but …]

Runners shouted with what lungs they had as we passed under The Schuylkill and [after passing the stadium complex] I-95. The Navy Yard Gate was the final landmark; wrongly assumed by some to be the finish line. Passing the fans, cowbells airhorns and thundersticks creating a wondrous racket, we flew under the gate. I was still in “chase and attack” mode, but Mr. Sensible in my head said, “Give yourself some space, dude. If you’re too crowded up, the girls won’t see you. Plus … maybe not good for photos.”

I found a space with about six feet on either side and front and back and called it “My Bubble” As long as I kept it clear, everyone can see me.

That was the plan anyway.

Rand Broad Street 09-0051

I did my best to sprint to the finish, keeping my eyes to the left, looking for my three special fans and crossed under the clock at 1:55 – about 1:32, I figured.

Rand Broad Street 09-0046

No time to waste, as we were now in full Downpour mode. I found Bus #30, got my phone, called D’Girls and told them I was done and to meet me at the “M” sign in the Family Meet-Up Area[they hadn’t seen me finish after all, as they were distracted my some young woman who had given her all and heaved right after the finish line].

Fully soaked, I then called Doe and said, “Sorry Dude, we’re outta here!” D’Wife relayed the same message to some of or 30s friends who had finished quite a bit earlier [due to that fact they started ahead of me, and were considerably faster]. I reconnected with my girls, each huddled under her own umbrella, and got the Hell out of Dodge.

P1040719 P1040721

After a half-mile walk back to Vicki, due to the outrageous wait for the Stadium Shuttles, and another half hour to get out of the lot; we finally got home around 1:00.

I showered, and everyone changed into warm dry clothes. The four of us went to Applebees for lunch, Sharon and I enjoyed a pint of Sam Adams each and with a heavy heart, let her return home to Connecticut around 3:00.

It was a massively exciting and action packed-weekend; maybe too much so. Next time maybe not so much racing?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

2009 University City 5K

I woke up at my usual time, about 5:30. No one was stirring, they had no need to. Sharon’s race wasn’t until 11; we planned to leave around 9:30 or so to give us plenty of time to get over the bridge, parked in University City and checked-in without have to rush or scramble.

I goofed around for a little while, before Sharon came down at 7 or so. I put some coffee on while she and I chatted and waited for the other two girls to come down, which they did in short order. The skies were still grey, but the light drizzle I woke up to had stopped for the time being.

Breakfast was waffles and peanut butter, with coffee and plenty of water [in case the beer and wine last night left our runner dehydrated]. After everyone showered and dressed, D’Kid hung out with my cousin as she warmed up and stretched a little in her room. I offered some advice on other moves she could use to limber up, with great success.

It was humid and cool, but not so much that Shar would need to run with an extra T-shirt over her long-sleeved tech shirt, so we left that home.

We loaded up [D’Kid brought plenty of things to keep herself busy – i.e., her new set of colored pencils and a sketchbook given to her by a new favorite family member] and took off right on time.

I took no time at all to get to Drexel – even with the detour from South Street due to reconstruction of the South Street Bridge. I found the specified lot and parked [for FREE] right around the corner from the staging area. A slight mist was falling, but nothing worth getting an umbrella out for … In fact, I don’t even know if we brought any?

We found the tables and checked in. Even though I wasn’t running, I still picked my packet and got a T-shirt – #140. Sharon received #67, which pleased her to no end since she was born in 1967. A little more stretching, some observances of the crowd:

  1. Super-skinny people should NOT get tattoos; especially not angel’s wings on your back if you have little chicken shoulders
  2. Engineers and engineering students always stick out in a crowd

‘Not too many women her age around,’ I thought, ‘she could win something here’

A sign posted quickly revealed that the race course had been changed at the last minute; not a big deal really, but she wouldn’t get to run along the Schuylkill as we had anticipated.

A passing shower sent us inside, were Sharon made some final adjustments. D’Wife. D’Kid and I set up camp in the corridor connecting Drexel’s Science buildings. Before long, people started to move to the starting line, and we escorted my cousin [now wearing a stylish pink bandana, much like my coach does] to her place in the crowd. The whole pack wasn’t very big at all; maybe 250 runners, or so?

I was really liking the odds here.

A POP! of the pistol and they were off.

D’Girls and I returned inside. As I opened the door, I noticed a plaque on the ground commemorating the dedication of the building we were using.


Barely fifteen minutes had passed when the flashing lights of the police escort rolled by, and the race’s winner right behind … The skinny guy with Icarus wings, wouldn’t you know? We hoped that my cousin would break 30 minutes, so after a few more people came in, we moved out to the street.

It was quite some time before the women’s winner came by. Now we were looking out for women about 40 to come by so we could guesstimate whether we had a medal winner in the house. Looking up Chestnut Street to 32nd we peeled our eyes for the pink bandana.

A flash! I see one! Is it her? … She was screened by first the guy next to her and then by trees and parked cars as she turned the corner. I saw the long white sleeves and knew it was her. I turned to look at the clock.

27-Something?!!! Her goal was in the bag!!!

She flew by, bright and confident, and rushed on through the finish.


We met up and hugs were much in demand, and shared with pride and exuberance.

“I think you won something, Cuz!” I congratulated her, “I didn’t see many women ahead of you at all!”

"Thanks, Coach!!! Do you think so??? I know I beat a bunch of college kids!!!"

After cooling down, grabbing some water and snacks, and redressing into her sweats, we went in search of the results table. Volunteers, being notorious for being of little help, failed to disappoint. After asking more than a few runnerly looking folks we found or way to the Athletic Center or DAC as they called it.

Oh, wait? This was the Alumni Picnic … No worries, the race website specifically said: “Following the Run, join us in the Drexel Quad for our outdoor ceremony and the
Drexel University Alumni Family Picnic. The Family Picnic will be held from noon to 2 p.m. with food and family fun, including games, activities and prizes for kids and parents alike.”

We got our tickets and went in. We waited on line for a while for our hot dogs, hamburgers, potato salad and iced tea, then sat down to wait for the awards ceremony.

They proceeded pretty quickly, so the wait was not long. After the Men’s 30-39 Age Group was announced, with listened intently.

“Women Age 40 to 49 … First place, Marlena Buckley; Second place, Sharon Fasciani; Third place, Jackie Carrera”

Bursting with pride and maybe a little bit of surprise, my cousin scooted up from the table to receive her award, a big silver medal.


“I told ya, Cuz!” I reminded her with a great big hug. We then left the picnic to the legitimate alumni and headed back to Jersey.

It wasn’t long before our award winner was napping.

After church, a simple dinner of chicken, pasta, and broccoli, a little bit more beer, wine [mostly water for me], chit-chat, Facebook bragging and so on, we all turned in early.

As big as today was, tomorrow would be even bigger.

Next: 2009 Broad Street Run

Friday, May 01, 2009

2009 Broad Street Run - The Expo

"Registration will close when we reach capacity at 26,500 runners. Currently we are at 25,000 entries. If you intend to register at the Expo it is recommended do so as early as possible."

That was one of my Kick friends posted Thursday morning. I was going to just wait and eat the $5, and register on-site. In a panic, I clicked right to the Broad Street site. For some reason I thought online closed April 30 … Nope, it closed at 11:59PM EDT, April 29


I was planning to leave at noon anyway ... I'd just flip-flop my afternoon - Linc first, then pick up Mariel. My cousin wouldn't be here until 4-ish, anyway, so I'd be good.

So, I left at twelve, hit the Fred Fund for registration cash + a little more [one of my lucky shark socks was MIA, I’d need replacements], flew down 295 and over the Walt to
The Linc. Eighteen minutes from Moorestown to South Philly – Vicki proved her low-flying aircraft skills, yet again.

It seemed a few others had that same idea … A line reached from the East Gate entrance, around the front to 11th street and halfway back again.

FUCK!!! I’m not getting in!!! Dumbass me!!!

A brief sigh of relief came to me as I saw that many in line were clutching their confirmations – they were already in. I just might make it.

As a premonitional sprinkle fell from the warm, humid, and cloudy-bright grey sky, I started making calls & sending txt’s. Some txt’s to my friend Jenna, who would be running the Flying Pig Half Marathon on Sunday [with an even lower base mileage than me, if that’s at all possible] then some to my cousin, Sharon, who had left CT at about noon also, to come visit D’Jersey Marts and run a 5K of her own at Drexel University on Saturday. She was 5 minutes from New Have at about 12:30.

I called Doe to explain my predicament. He was actually on his way over, confirmations in hand. He was picking up packets for a few others from Campbell’s who would be joining us, although how can you expect to “join someone” when there would be 26,000 others between you and them?

I spent the next 45 minutes over-listening to two girls behind me, and the gay dude accompanying them, spin tales of bad breakups, wedding and baby showers, chick flicks and action movies [guess which one of them hadn’t seen “The 300” but loved “The Holiday?” NTTAWWT]. Fortunately, the line was moving quickly; maybe too quickly. I wondered if I’d be inside before Doe got there; we’d never find each other in there.

Just a few yards from the entrance, I spotted Doe as he dialed me. He had a big dude with him, who I’d never seen before. Cool!!! Company!!! A bigger smack-talk audience!!!

“Yo dude!” he said, “This is Aaron … from
‘Yo, Aaron! I’m talking to a Man!’

In unison: “a REAL man. A man, who sets a goal, formulates a plan, performs to that plan and achieves his goal. Then this MAN, after his success … does it AGAIN.”


This was awesome! Aaron had taken enough of Doe’s smack, signed up and trained to run with us. Awesome!

“Dude, what’s this?” Doe asked, point at my black Chucks, “Are you coming form work? Things sure must’ve relaxed since I’ve been gone.”

“Thanks for saving the spot, dude” Doe said under his breath, “How much time did you save us?”
“I waited for about forty-five minutes, but the lines a little shorter now and moving quicker”
“Well, the people behind you didn’t bitch so …”
“Fuck ‘em anyway, right? We’re ‘those guys!!!’”


We went in, up the escalator and into the Expo. Doe had his confirmations all ready and just had to find the appropriate lines to correspond for the numbers he had. My first order of business was to find the blank entries and registration table … In other words, look for a line ending at an empty table, with people hunched over it writing frantically.

Scan. Scan. Scan. FOUND IT!!!

I flew through the sheet, filling in the required fields … Now where do I go?

Scan. Scan. Scan. FOUND IT!!!

I handed the sheet to the volunteer. She noticed that I’d neglected to put my birthday information.

“Ten, thirty-one, sixty-one”
“You’re forty eight?”
“Forty seven actually; my birthday’s not till October”
“Oh, yeah, right. Forty-seven. You don’t look it, maybe thirty-seven”
“Honey, I’m sure I could pass for TWENTY-seven, if I tried”

Amazingly, she transcribed my last name over to my race bib perfectly.


I was IN!!! More txt’s!!! This was SWEET!!!

Off to re-connect with Doe and Aaron “The King.” I found them chatting with two women that I took to be from Campbell’s. I joined in the conversation, of course. Nope, not from Campbell’s at all; complete strangers.

“We’re ‘those guys’”

With everyone registered, it was time to pick up our shirts and swag bags and to hit the road. Of course, between Registration and T-Shirt pick-up there was the Vendor Gauntlet to run. We did so with minimal interference, but had to come back through to get out of the Expo. Doe stopped to chat at the Disney Marathon table [dude is too into Disney for a guy, if you ask me] and to up-sell “just some guy” hanging around.

“Disney totally owes me a commission on that one!!!”

I looked around for the “Discount Rack” to pick up “Last Year’s Model” T-shirts, but couldn’t find it. I did manage to get my replacement socks, however!!! Cheaper than online, too!!!

We split and formalized our informal meet-up strategy

“Put your phone in your bag and when you pick it up at the finish …”
“BAG CHECK TAGS!!!!” Doe and I said, again in unison.

We turned around and re-entered The Linc, bypassing the waiting line by virtue of our Modell’s bags showing us as already being registered

“Make a note,” Doe scammed, “Next year, bring a Modell’s bag with a T-Shirt in it. No waiting.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, “And remind me to register early!”

We left and after some trash talking and sandbagging our predications we headed off.

Next stop for me: Back to Jersey to hit the Liquor Store, to pick up D’Kid and to make ready for my cousin.

Somehow I found myself on 95N heading to the Ben. How did I let myself be cut-off like that? Passing through Haddonfield, I received a couple of txts from Sharon

“Exit 8a is Cranberry / Jamesburg”
“Am I going the right way?”

I called back and assured her that yes, she was in fact going the right way [“If you were on the Parkway, the Exit numbers would be much, much higher and you’d have stopped for a toll booth or two by now.”]

A quick stop for me at the liquor store [not the usual case Friday afternoon case, but four local six-packs for her to try: Victory Hop Devil and Golden Monkey; DFH :60, and Flying Fish Farmhouse Summer Ale] and I picked up D’Kid. We walked in the door as another txt came through.

“I’m at Shop Rite / Kohls”

Holy Schmaboly!!! She was right down the street … and we had an hour of prep to do yet!!!

D’Kid and I flew into action we’d have only enough time to complete one task each!!! She took care of changing linens in the guest room, while I gave the bathroom a quick scrub.

Twenty minutes later, the door bell rang. Hugs of welcome flew about the house.

Pizza was ordered and devoured; beer and a little wine was enjoyed [not too much, just the right amount, plus extra water for our racer before bed]. Stories were told and we all got to know each other.

Yeah, I totally fucked the schedule up, but I learned an important lesson:

“Register early; even if you’re feeling completely undertrained.”

Opa-Opa Steakhouse Red Rock

The Texican label first made me think, “This can’t be local to her?” then I read the label more carefully:

Once upon a time, in a land far away, a few Greek fellows had a dream. They left their Grecian homes and headed to the New World seeking fame, fortune and adventure. After days of dusty travel, they arrived in the Pioneer Valley. Taken with its beauty and friendly natives, the fellows decided to settle down. Southampton was their new home. They raised their families and, like any good Greek boys, opened a successful pizza restaurant. Life was good.

Still something was missing. The call of the wild beckoned. A call they could not resist. Over the hill they went, heading West, in search of their new dream. Early one spring morn they arrived. "OPA-OPA!" they exclaimed with joy, "We've found it. This will be the best Steakhouse and Brewery in the land!"

The days were hard and the nights were long. There were many obstacles to overcome. With the help of some good people, family and friends and a handy carpenter named Larry, they persevered. The OPA-OPA Steakhouse and Brewery was born.

Now, folks from all over can enjoy the tender steaks and ice cold brew the has made the OPA-OPA famous. The OPA-OPA continues to be Southampton's legendary Western Steakhouse... where you can find beef, brew and a few Greek fellows too!

Red Rock - A blend of German Vienna malt and English crystal malts create this malty and slightly fruity beer. Sweet caramel flavors give way to a surprisingly soft and smooth finish.

Clear dark amber color with a nice ivory head [well, the first bottle kinda splooshed over the kitchen, as it hadn’t quite settled form the car ride] Maltier than I usually like almost Bass Ale-ish, but super tasty, on a humid, rainy and turning coolish afternoon.

Next: University City 5K