Sunday, May 21, 2006

The Road to Green Bay - Where the Real Runners Are

May 20, 2006

The Drive to Titletown

I left the apartment at 5:53 AM with my running gear in tow and my iPod charged up. I pointed the car east. Tomorrow was the Cellcom Green Bay Marathon weekend's 5k Race in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was my first-ever trip to “Titletown,” and I couldn’t have been more excited.

It was a beautiful, sunny day to drive. And central Wisconsin does not get near the credit it deserves for being so beautiful. There are green fields, rolling hills, plenty of trees, and picturesque farms that dot the landscape. It is really pretty country.

I couldn’t help but notice the Amish buggy road signs, and actually saw an Amish buggy in the town of Curtiss, WI, where I stopped for breakfast. A “western skillet” breakfast at the Abbyland Restaurant was enough to tide me over until dinner, so I got back on the road (all the while watching out for reckless Amish buggies).

As I got deeper into the state, I realized I forgot something. How could I be so stupid not to have brought a cooler? Every little town I passed seemed to have its own country meat market! And how could I have not known that the maker of some of my favorite smoked meat products, Nueske’s Applewood Smoked Meats, is headquartered in Wittenberg, WI, right off of Hwy 29? I am such a fool. Note to self for next year; bring cooler.

At about 11:00 AM, I was getting close to Green Bay. In fact, I saw a sign that said “Green Bay 8.” 8 miles to the heart of the city, yet I was in the middle of farm country! There is no such thing as urban sprawl around here. You don’t have a clue you are getting to Green Bay until you are IN Green Bay!

I arrived in Green Bay and found my way downtown to the convention center to pick up my race packet. The place is busy, with many fit-looking people, various vendors, and lots of helpful volunteers. There are three events going on tomorrow; full marathon, half marathon, and the 5k.

Several months ago when I signed up for this event, I had envisioned running in 5k races all year simply as a way to do a whole bunch of races without the wear and tear of the longer events. I hadn’t put much thought into possibly wanting to do another half marathon, or maybe even something longer. When I arrived in Green Bay, I found myself wishing I had trained for the half marathon. I wasn't sure if I felt like a "real runner" amongst all these others who put in more dedication and effort. I sheepishly walked over to the 5k packet table (hoping none of the half marathoners or marathoners would stop, stare, point, and laugh!) to gather my belongings.

After picking up my stuff, I ventured out of downtown in search of (trying to do my best Chris Berman impersonation here) ”The Frozen Tundra of Lambeau Field.”

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