Thursday, September 25, 2008

Goose droppings, celebratory dinners, and talking cows

Following the race, I wandered back to the hotel. It was probably a mile or so, and I think the slow walk did me good to loosen up a little bit. I called my folks to let them know I finished and that I was in one piece. A quick shower later, I lounged around taking in a veritable buffet of sports; football, NASCAR, and the Ryder Cup in golf. (Just a note about the TV in my room; it was an old 19 inch set. After having HDTV for a few years now, broadcasts on regular tube TV sets look almost blurry!) I rehydrated with lots of fluids and ate the better part of a bag of "Cool Ranch" Doritos. With only some mild stiffness in my legs, I felt remarkably good and had no stomach issues like I did at Walker last year. Nice!

Eventually I made it out of the hotel in the evening to scare up some dinner. I arrived at my car to find this (please accept my apologies in advance for the following photo and paragraph, but I found this funny!):

The Silver Hornet, befouled!



My initial thought was that an inebriated Packer fan was doing a little pregame celebrating and puked the first car he could find with Minnesota plates. But no, it appears that I was "carpet-bombed" by a goose (or some other large waterbird). This was actually kind of cool in a sense because with a little detective work you can tell the direction the bird was flying based on the dispersion pattern. In any case, the mark on the fender is obvious, but if you look closely at the sticker in the lower corner of the windshield on the driver's side, you will see another direct hit. And, the picture does not capture the stuff that hit the ground after the bombing run! I've never seen anything like this. Can you imagine if this had hit a person? You would have to shower twice and your clothes would never be the same! Wow. Needless to say, a car wash was in order.

But enough about goose poop. It was time to get some dinner!

Usually when I am running in races at home, I have a semi-regular post-race tradition of getting Chinese takeout. Since I was traveling, I decided to go out and dine in on the usual take-out food. I ended up at a place called GingeRootz, and Asian-style bistro, in Appleton.

Kung POW! My dinner at GingeRootz in Appleton.



The restaurant itself was beautifully decorated and quite modern on the inside. A very classy establishment, for certain. Everything on the menu looked incredible, but I settled for the "Kung Pao in 3 Styles." This is essentially what I know as the infamous "triple kung pao" at one of my favorite take-out joints back home. It consists of chicken, beef, and shrimp with peppers, water chestnuts, and peanuts stir-fried in a spicy, garlicky brown sauce. A delicious meal, with big chunks of meat and very plump shrimp. It was well-prepared, quite spicy (spicy enough to make my nose run, anyhow!), and really hit the spot after a day of running. I would eat here often if I lived in Appleton. Good choices in restaurants on this trip, if I do say so myself!

Following dinner, I pretty much retired to the hotel room again to relax and take in the Packer game. The game was not especially interesting, however the beer that I purchased to consume while watching the game was. I bought some Wisconsin brew, the New Glarus Brewing Company’s “Fat Squirrel” nut brown ale. Of course, I bought it simply because of the name and due to my appreciation for squirrels, but I found it to be a flavorful brown ale with a lot of character and a pleasing roasted malt aroma. Very nice stuff! Unfortunately, I learned it is only available in Wisconsin. Drat! Oh well, I will remember this for the next trip to the Badger State.

After a good night’s rest, it was time to head home. I fueled up with the tasty "Hired Man's Breakfast," a hearty plate of eggs, hash browns and southern-style sausage links at The Machine Shed in Appleton, and then I hit the road.

I took a different route home, opting to take US Highway 10 all the way across the state until it connects with I-94. I have been on this road before, and I just love it. West of Stevens Point, the road becomes two lanes, and it is a quiet road with very little traffic. This was a driver’s dream, as I had the road to myself. The scenery from the town of Neillsville all the way to Osseo is gorgeous. Fall colors and rolling hills make for spectacular sights. And if you stop in Neillsville, you also get to see "Chatty Belle," the world’s largest talking cow. Who can resist that?

MOOOOOO! The World's Largest Talking Cow!



So, with a pleasant drive home, my Fox Cities Marathon weekend camee to a close. It was a memorable and fun experience. I was treated well, had a great time, ate some outstanding food, and learned a lot more about my abilities. A very successful weekend in my estimation.

While watching the Tour de France coverage this past July, cycling analyst and former professional rider, Bob Roll, was asked what he remembered most from his cycling days. You would expect to hear an athlete tell some stories about big or important races in his career. However, Bob surprised me and started reminiscing about his long training rides with just him, the road, and maybe some teammates. Those were some of his fondest memories.

I thought that was kind of neat to hear and I think I can appreciate his sentiment. While my race itself was certainly memorable, the road to get there took time and effort, so there is satisfaction in the preparation to reach a certain destination. And my road to get there was filled with enjoyable long weekend runs that included gorgeous sunrises over the lake, a multitude of bunnies on the trail, humorous encounters with foxes, and a large variety of birds, not to mention witnessing the seasons gradually changing. Those are the fond memories that I will take with me from this year's racing season.

These remarks are fairly unoriginal, and I’m not saying anything that hasn’t already been expressed by countless others (and probably more eloquently); but it has been said it is all about the journey and not the destination. I have to believe there is some truth to that. And now that this journey has reached its destination, another one can begin. I can’t wait to do this again.

The race medal



As the boys on the TV show Ghost Hunters always say at the end of their episodes; "On to the next!" :)

Until next time,

Jean
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