Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Full recap of Madison:

I love Madison, I really and truly do. This weekend was a great example of why.

First, a recap of the race. As I mentioned, I finished in 1:52:30, which is 21 seconds off of my time in Champaign-Urbana. I'm really proud of this time, mostly because I didn't get enough hill training, and I've been dealing with this strained hammy. The hills were tough that day, my friend. Within the first 2 miles, we had to do some decent little climbs. But the course was really pretty. We went through a lot of neighborhoods, and lake access areas, and passed the football stadium at one point. Not the Kohl Center, though. I would have liked to gotten closer to the Capitol, and I would have liked to see more of the campus. I also would have liked to have more people out there supporting the runners. Champaign put Madison to shame in that respect.

I'm also very proud of Julia for getting through her quarter in a good time. She finished in about 1:12, which is well ahead of the 1:40 she had been projecting earlier. She's struggled with a calf injury, but has done a lot of good work to rehab.

The one bad thing that came of her speed is that I missed her at the finish line. Her race started 50 minutes after mine, so I expected her to finish by 9:20 or so at the earliest. I arrived at the finish line at about 9:12. Apparently, she had finished two minutes earlier. So, for a full 50 minutes, I waited near the finish line, waiting for her. I started to panic, thinking that her calf had quit on her, and she was lost somewhere along the route. Only when I saw her near the car did I find her. That could have gone badly.

We also had a spectacular time at the Madison Farmer's Market. The tomatoes were fresh, and bright red (and delicious, I can now add). I know Julia bought some things as well, but for me, I got two pieces of GF cheesecake, a 3 year old cheddar, some jalapeno muenster, and ostrich brats. Those were very, very good.

Then we made our way to the Silly Yak Bakery. Oh man. I almost lost it. I could have spent a LOT more money there if I had wanted to. I ended up getting the following: a loaf of tomato/basil/feta bread.
2-mini loaves of spinach/tomato/parm.
a blackberry scone
a chocolate cupcake (YUM)

yes, it's pricey. That was the biggest issue.
But my question became, why the flip does Madison have a Trader Joes, Whole Foods, a cheesecake place with GF options, and a freaking GF bakery, but Champaign has none of these things. That's just really disappointing.

OK, outside of that, we were pretty low key. We rented two Redbox movies, of which Baby Mama was dramatically better than How to Lose Friends and Alienate People. We had a drink at the hotel Sunday night. We ate at a spectacular Mexican restaurant, and Biaggis. That's about it.

As for my body, it is recovering relatively well for me. My left hamstring is tired, but not painful. My left quad is more sore. I'm going to give it a couple more days before running again. I worked out yesterday though, and everything went fine. I will try again today and/or tomorrow.

Seriously, that freaking Madison farmer's market is so good.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Quick report...

I finished in 1:52:30, an 8:35 pace.
The hills were tough. My hamstring is absolutely not in good shape right now. But the course really was pretty, lots of areas right by the water, which smelled like dead fish. Other than that, it was good.
My hamstring lost it in the 12th mile. It just didn't feel like I was going to make it, but somehow I just pushed through the last 6/10ths. To finish this race close to what I did in Champaign makes me feel very good about where I'm at.

Julia did very well as well, running close to 4 of the 6.55 of the quarter, and her calf feels pretty good, she says. So all in all, it's been a good day. We also got to attend Bratfest, and each participate in helping break the world's record for Brats eaten.

Also, Madison is still awesome. I repped in my Illinois running shirt, however.
152 something. I hurt like hell but finished.

Friday, May 22, 2009

One year ago this weekend....

I tried to run a half marathon with this contraption on my leg.

I did not even get to start. It was that bad. The multiple vicodin that I took right beforehand had no effect, until I tried to sleep, when they just made things a little wacky.

So on Sunday, the one year anniversary, I'll be running the Madison half marathon, and knock on wood, I'm healthy enough to do it. I've busted my ass to get to a point where I'm healthy enough to not only run, but hopefully run well.

I'm also quite excited that Julia will be with me, although she sadly cannot run, as she's recovering from a calf injury. On top of that, we'll have some extra time to hit up the Madison farmer's market, and the Silly Yak Bakery in Madison, which appears to be a spectacular place for people like me. Very excited about the situation.

Also, I get to see Leigh on Friday night, and a special treat on Monday, seeing Ali and CT, who will be in Chicago from Australia. Hopefully, Ali and I will hammer out exactly what the heck I'm going to be doing down under in a month. (FRICK....I go to Australia in a month!)

I hope everyone else has a spectacular Memorial Day Weekend. I'll text my results here to the blog on Sunday morning. I'm hoping for 1:55. It will be an extreme challenge, though. One I hope I'm ready for!

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I hate you, bejeweled.

I HATE HATE HATE the fact that facebook has bejeweled tournaments, because I'll say "oh, I'm going to play the one minute tournament game" because that turns in to 10 freaking minutes worth, and then I can't stop, and then I get to a point where I close my eyes, and I see the colors and shapes, and how I'm supposed to move them to get four in a freaking row.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Do you want to see my foot?

First, a couple of followups...
-Julia and I did indeed check out the farmer's market. Here is a list of things we took home: salsa, cilantro, a wheel of bread for J, and disappointment. It is just not what it was even two years ago, and absolutely pales in comparison to Madison. Just awful. I'm going to give it another shot later in the season, when it is more likely that there will be good produce.
-I would like to thank our subs on the Crackmonkey softball team for filling in this past Sunday. On a personal note, I have developed Rick Ankiel disease, and can't pitch straight. It's absolutely embarrasing, and so frustrating that I wanted to either cry, or punch and kick things when I had to pull myself off of the mound. I chose the latter option. Pitching should not be hard.
-Much love and luck to Jill on staying healthy heading in to Mahomet in August.

OK, now to today's question. As I head in to this Sunday's Madison Half Marathon, I stare at my right foot, and think, this has to be one of the more gnarly feet out there today. Two toes have bloody nails (which are more due to the softball cleats I had been wearing), and altogether, it's an ugly picture.

Today's question: Should I post a pic of this ugly, mangled foot.

Friday, May 15, 2009

To go to the Farmer's Market or not?

So, Julia and I discussed last night the possibility of going to the farmer's market in Urbana on Sunday morning. Now, don't get me wrong. I like the idea of farmer's markets. But, and I know I'll check some flak for this, after going to Madison's farmers market twice in the last year, I think Urbana's is just somewhat poor. The selection isn't as good. Hardly any meats and cheeses. And now they're not allowing homemade baked products unless they're made at a commercial kitchen? What the heck am I supposed to buy? The onions and cabbage?

I think we'll go, because there will probably be some tasty vegetables and things that I can put in some things. I'm just not super duper thrilled like I am when I go to the one in Madison.

That's that.

Also, in other notes, I finished with a 94% in my PR class at Parkland. I'm happy to have gotten an A.

Also, a shout out to Dr. Tony Cappa for helping to get me hooked again on poker, and a special salute to him for introducing me to double or nothing tournaments.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

What to do with the summer...

So, along with cleaning the house, my biggest project this weekend is to figure out what I want to do this summer. I need a few big goals so I have something to work towards. Here's what I've got so far:

1) Run 5 half marathons (1 down, another in a week and a half in Madison. Others: Melbourne, Chicago, and Mahomet. Yes, Mahomet)
2) Make the spare bedroom functional. This will be a massive undertaking. There are some things that need to be sold on ebay, some that should be donated to Goodwill, and some things just thrown away.
3) Get pictures off of my old Dell, somehow, and on to the Mac.
4) Get rid of my American Airlines credit card and its $50 annual fee.
5) Beat Topspin Tennis 3 on Wii. Yes, it's a stupid goal, but it's a goal.
6) Go to Doctor Tony, and establish him as my new veterinarian.
7) Work with Leigh on planning the next Crackmonkey trip.
8) Get things to Zack for engraving, and think about AJ doing my tattoo.
9) Install skype.

That's what I've got so far. I'm interested in any other thoughts y'all might have, or suggestions on the location of the next Crackmonkey trip.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Announcing is done for the (school) year...

First, I would be remiss if I didn't wish my fellow CrackMonkey and google blogger Glenn Westfield a happy 33rd birthday. Visit him, and send him well wishes at Make sure to use a lot of big words. He seems to like that a whole heck of a lot. I don't know why we get along.

One interesting tradition that Glenn and I have seemed to develop is that we never exchange birthday presents on birthdays. Mostly because I always forget to get them to him on his birthday. This tradition may be just one sided. I'll have to investigate further.

OK, now on to the announcing. This weekend, I had the pleasure of announcing 7 sporting events. That included 4 NCAA First Round Tennis matches, and 3 Big Ten baseball games. With yesterday's Illini baseball game, I wrapped up a (relatively) successful year of announcing that began back in August. This year, I was lucky enough to announce in some capacity for: soccer, football, men's basketball, women's basketball, wrestling, baseball, softball, men's tennis, and women's tennis. Nine of the 19 sports on campus. I also emceed a women's gymnastics banquet. So lets call it 10 of 19. If I get some time, I may sit down and try and figure out what Illinois' record was during that time. It would be interesting to figure out. I think the highlight for me would be the men's basketball win over Purdue. So loud. There were several events that I announced to incredibly small crowds, including Saturday morning's women's tennis match between Fresno State and Eastern Kentucky. I think paid attendance for that match was 0. There were some family members (maybe 3?) and the rest of the people there were all paid staff. The largest was probably the World's Largest Basketball Practice, although crowd estimates for that were unreliable.

Most of all, I had a lot more fun this year. The stress level was much lower. I felt more comfortable in my own skin, with my own voice.

I'm hoping that next year, Ken Johnson will be healthy again to handle his announcing duties, and he and I will split most of the sports.

Now, on to the summer. I have lots of things to be excited about to fill up my time. I get to go to Australia at the end of June. I still have 4 half marathons to run by the end of August. I actually get to have date night with Julia from time to time, when she's not in class. I'd love to clean up that spare bedroom, so that someone could actually, I don't know, sleep there. And if I can sell a few things on ebay, that would be sweet too.

Finally today, I'll leave you with a fun story from Friday's baseball game.
Ron Guenther, the University of Illinois Athletic Director, was in the press box before the game started. He talked to me, and said, "Cation, how are ya."
M: "I'm good, how are you?"
RG: "Hey, I saw you running the other day, down on Windsor."
M: "Yep, that's on my running route."
RG: "Good lord, you looked like you were going to die."
M: *boggle*
RG: "I mean, seriously, you looked like you were about to pass out on the spot."
M: "Um...well."
RG: "Are you training for anything?"
M: "Yeah, I'm doing the Madison Half Marathon in two weeks. I've got to run tonight, in fact."
RG: "Well, thank goodness it's at night so no one will have to see you. Jeez."

One of the more enjoyable conversations I've ever had. I've been laughing ever since.

Love you all.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Vegas Recap....

I love Las Vegas. I really do. I have more fun there than I probably should. We got in on Thursday. We walked up and down the strip two or three times during the first few days. We got a good night in on Friday at the Fremont Street Experience. We had a spectacular dinner as a full group of eight on Saturday night, and then Julia and I had a really good French dinner on Sunday night, before my redeye flight home.
My highlights:
-Did well at Blackjack. Would get up 10-20 bucks at a time, and walk off. Never had a losing sitdown.
-Did not do well at Star Wars slots. For the first time ever, they truly let me down. And the New York Star Wars slot was gone. That was heartbreaking.
-Julia won a 51 dollar jackpot on "Green Acres." And she sat down at a blackjack table for the first time ever. That was pretty cool.
-The dinner at the French restaurant was amazingly good. Nice pounded steak with a wine and carmelized onion sauce. And Julia had a deliciously salty halibut.
-It was great to see Brad, Bri, and Intern. Bri is pregnant. Brad apparently made her so.
-I think I would like to stay on Fremont Street the next time I'm out there. I like how relaxed it is. I like the gambling experience there.
-Also, Danny Gans died while we were there. I still don't know who he is, or what he did.

Other than that, I'm announcing 7 events this weekend. 4 tennis matches, and 3 baseball games.
Also, shout outs and birthday wishes to my Dad aka Mr. Curtis, and Glenn. Glenn turns 33. I like that his birthday is before mine, so he can take the lumps first.

Any other thoughts?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Quick update from Vegas:

24 hours in.
Not one cent gambled
WTF is wrong with me!?!?!

Have had a fun time to far, even with a gluten scare in the Los Angeles airport. Who in their right mind doesn't know the difference between corn and flour tortillas?!?!(note: No gluten attack. Irritable stomach, but nothing serious)

Julia is currently by the pool. I just finished my homework. Sluts o' Fun was good, but full, so I'm going to have to do $5 blackjack. There's also apparently a free roll poker tournament tomorrow that I'm going to look in to.

Any questions or concerns, or, again, any bets you want me to place, let me know.