Some Shows with Gerdeses

Erica and I have a busy week ahead of us with several shows individually and together.

  • Tomorrow night (10/24), Erica is performing in Don’t Spit the Water’s 10th Anniversary show (10:00 at The Playground)
  • Saturday night (10/25), Erica and I will both be performing (separately) at Gapers Block’s 20x2—20 speakers will each have two minutes to answer the question “How do you do?” (7:00 at Schubas)
  • Next Wednesday (10/29), Erica and I will be performing together at Scene Missing: CHICAG-G-G-GHOST Stories. We’ll all watch a trailer for a spooky ghost movie and then Erica and I will have 7 minutes to riff on it. Jen Ellison, Brendan Gardiner, and Kris Simmons will also perform, each with their own movie trailer. (7:30 at Schubas)
  • Erica rounds out the month with a Halloween show with Chicago’s favorite all-female Beatie Boys Tribute, She’s Crafty. (Mrs. Murphy’s Irish Bistro, 9:00)

A Knack

This morning I had left the house a little ahead of schedule and as I was passing the Target that’s on my way to work, I realized that my knee was hurting a little still from the marathon* and that it would be a great idea to have some Icy Hot or whathaveyou at work for this sort of thing. I’d dash into and out of Target and it’d be great.

So dash in I did, grabbed some spray Icy Hot and even swooped through the greeting card aisle to get some thank-you cards for everyone who donated to Misericordia**.

Spray Icy Hot, by the way, is one of the marvels of the modern era. I love Icy Hot and Tiger Balm and Perform and Bio-Freeze and all the various menthol- and/or camphor-based post-workout lotions. But, it turns out, I also love rubbing my eyes. And so it’s often a sudden awakening when I accidentally give myself a Beezin’ a few hours after putting some lotion on my knee.

I got out to the car and went to apply some Icy Hot before I got back on the road. I popped the top off the canister and it was missing the part you push down to actually spray it out. Dangit. So I grabbed my receipt and went back inside.

Back in Target, there was a short line at Customer Service. The guy at the front of the line was trying to get the customer service employee to help him with a problem with his Target REDcard and she kept telling him that all she could with those was take payments and he’d have to call the customer service number on the bill. He was mumbling and fiddling with stuff on the counter and she kept politely saying, “that sounds like quite a problem; you’ll need to call this number and tell them about it”.

And that’s my knack.

A lot of people notice that it always seems like the checkout line they get in goes the slowest, or that they get stuck behind someone who doesn’t know how to use the self checkout. That’s normal. I think I have a knack for getting stuck behind people in checkouts who are having interesting problems.

  • The two guys trying to buy a case of beer who looked fourteen and had between them one expired Panamanian driver’s license that they kept handing back and forth between them and to the cashier.
  • The woman trying to buy a UPC-less lint roller who just kept insisting, “but it was on a shelf!” and it took two managers to figure out whether they even sold it at this store before they finally figured out that it was a single roller that was only sold in a two-pack. “But it was on a shelf!”
  • A different two guys trying to buy a case of beer who had one guy with an ID and the cashier was actually willing to sell them the beer as long as that guy completed the entire transaction on his own. I know a lot of places were it’d be against policy, but this cashier seemed willing to bend just so far. But I swear this cycle happened three times:
    [No-ID Guy starts to hand Has-ID Guy a $10.]
    Cashier: I can’t sell you the beer if you [points at No-ID Guy] don’t have ID and give him [points at Has-ID Guy] money.
    [No-ID guy pulls back the $10.]
    Has-ID Guy: I’m not paying for this beer all on my own!
    [No-ID Guy starts to hand Has-ID Guy a $10.]
    Cashier: I can’t sell you the beer if you…
    I wanted to yell “settle up in the parking lot!” but eventually the cashier got tired of repeating himself and just put the beer on the floor and said, “OK, nope, no beer for you.”

Maybe I’m lucky. I mean, we all wait in lines and maybe I just notice how entertaining other people’s problems can be. And yes, I did eventually get a replacement for my Spray Icy Hot and got to work just a minute late, smelling of menthol.

* At this point, all my stories are running stories, even if they aren’t running stories.
** See?

Chicago Marathon 2014

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Fuzzy running the Chicago Marathon

If you’ve read my running posts here, you’ve had to endure my endless asterisking of the first time I ran the Chicago Marathon in 2007: I made it 16 miles before they called the whole thing off because they hadn’t had enough water for the unexpectedly hot October day (but I was in a lot of pain from my IT Bands and probably wasn’t going to finish anyway). Blah, blah, blah. Well, after today I can finally just say “yes, I’ve run the Chicago Marathon”. And I set a personal best doing it (by over two minutes): 5:23:14

It was also a good day for the charity I was running to fund-raise for, Misericordia. Thanks to a bunch of you, I got just over my personal goal of $1000, and the collective fund-raising of all the Misericordia runners got over $100,000 for the first time ever.

It was a little emotional running through the Pilsen and Chinatown neighborhoods, oft-cited as two of the most exciting neighborhoods to run through, since I never got to them the first time. And the whole run was the wonderful tour of our city that I was expecting. And the three-leaf clover design of the course meant that Erica was able to bounce around inside the center of the run and I got to see her several times along the way, which was an enormous boost—she’s an amazing support to me.

A standard maxim of athletics is “nothing new on race day”, and I usually agree. When I found the 5:25 pace group I was planning on sticking with, I discovered that they were doing a run/walk method of keeping pace, which is not really a method I’ve trained for. But my usual Marathon method of “run a little too fast until I’m too tired and then walk” hasn’t been that awesome, so I decided to try it out and stay with them. I think the PR proves it was a good decision.

Overall Time: 5:23:14 Overall Place: 33206 / 40802 Place in Gender: 19250 / 22297
Place in Age Group (M40-44): 3282 / 3687

Chicago Marathon Tracking

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During the Chicago Marathon this weekend, you should be able to go to this page, search for me by name (Fuzzy Gerdes) or bib number (45868) and get up-to-the-minute tracking. The site is mobile-optimized and so you can use it on your smart phone while you’re out-and-about on Sunday. (This replaces an outdated app that is still available on the App Store.)

If you go there now you can sign up to have the system post my progress to your Facebook or Twitter automatically (I’m not sure why you’d want to, but you can).

You can also sign up to get sent texts with my progress by texting 45868 (my bib number) to 37619.

Edgewater 5K

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The Crew

With all the great neighborhood runs in Chicago, I’ve always been a little bit jealous of the people who can stand out on their front porch drinking coffee and watch the run go by, and of the runners who live in that neighborhood and can roll out of bed and be at the run minutes before it starts. (I realize I can’t do both at the same run, but my heart has room for plenty of jealousy.)

This year, I finally got to live at least one of those fantasies. Edgewater now has a 5K race and I rolled out of bed at 7:15 am for an 8:00 am race and made it up to Granville with plenty of time to spare. The route goes down a closed-off Sheridan road and then loops around on the lakefront path, so not ideal for porch-standing anyway. I’m trying to manage my marathon taper, so I didn’t want to push it, but running with Shaun and Jin got me a sub-30:00 time anyway.

There were more runners than the 81 reflected in my results, but there was a non-timed option and it seems like a few hundred people went for that.

Official Results: Time: 28:46.47
Place: 33 / 81
Place in Gender: 19 / 31
Place in Age Group (M18+): 18 / 29


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Twenty miles is about how far anyone can run before their body runs out of its easily available fuel, glycogen, and has to start burning fat, or you know, just hits “the wall” and falls over. If humans were sensible, we’d discover this information and then say “oh, then maybe we should make 20 miles the popular long-distance run, instead of adding an extra 6.2”. But no, we’re all collectively unreasonable and we stick with the longer distance. (I mean, even that extra .2 is just an accident of adding a partial lap of a track so the race would finish in front of royalty.)

But the sensible thing we do use that information for is that a 20-miler is the last long run of most marathon training programs, followed by three weeks of tapered-off training. It’s a significant distance and so worth making a little bit of a deal about. I’ve run all of my previous 20-milers on my own, but I’ve been trying to get better about sticking to a pace in long distance runs, and I happened to see an ad for the Ready to Run 20-miler in one of the 300 running promotions emails I get every week.

Two things stuck out to me about the run. Pace groups, for one, which would be welcome. And it was a point-to-point along the lake path, with buses to take you back to the start. I’ve run from my house down to the Museum Campus and back plenty of times, I thought it might be nice to get to keep going and see a little of the South side for a change.

The whole event was pretty chill—it’s a training run and not a race and so there was less stress about the wave starts. The pace group leaders had special t-shirts, but no flags or group indicators like I’ve seen at other events, and so I kept losing my pace group. I eventually ran with another runner who had lost her group as well and we tried to keep each other at pace (mainly me trying to take off too fast and her letting me know).

A team of volunteers from Misericordia, mostly residents, staffed one of the aid stations and reminded me of why I was fund-raising for that organization. There’s only $315 to go on my $1000 goal if you have a few bucks to spare.

All in all it was an uneventful morning, just with a lot of running. I’m sore this evening, but my knees are nowhere near as bad as I thought they might be. (My right heel is bugging in a new and interesting way, but oh well.)

And so in three weeks I’ll run the Chicago Marathon and finally cross that off my list.

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest

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The Cats of Tanglewood Forest is a delightful modern fairytale. 12-year-old Lillian is bitten by a snake in Tanglewood Forest and the titular cats magic her into a cat to save her life. In her quest to become a girl again instead of a cat, Lillian has a series of adventures, with more than a touch of darkness about the whole endeavor.

FuzzyCo grade: A+

The Steerswoman

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The Steerswoman is a fantasy novel that features a fascinating organization, captivating characters, and a plot device that is, in retrospect, fairly simple, but is very, very well-done. The only downside, for me, is that it’s the first volume of a planned six, of which only four are out. I have no patience!

FuzzyCo grade: A+


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I’m not even going to bother searching my own site to see how many times I’ve used the phrase “rollicking adventure” in a book review, because I’m sure the answer is “bunches”. But hey, I like a rollicking adventure. And Lockstep delivers, in the context of an incredibly ambitious scifi idea. Toby McGonigal wakes up from an accidental hibernation of 14,000 years to discover himself in a human society that is only 40 years older than his disappearance because the entire society uses hibernation to jump years into the future. And, in huge news for me, it’s a stand-alone book. Remember those? It’s not the start of a trilogy or a quadrology or anything.

FuzzyCo grade: A

Raising Steam

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Raising Steam is the 40th Discworld novel. 40th! I’ve read them all, so at this point I’m a safe bet to read a new one. That’s not a way to sneak into saying that this one is bad or anything. It’s actually pretty good. I’m just not sure how good of a judge I am at this point. The Discworld has trains, now, and in the accelerated way things happen in the Discworld we’re suddenly in the Victorian era, more or less. There’s also a subplot of religious extremeism that is introduced in a rather realistic fashion and resolved in a way that rather feels like wishful thinking to me. But then, I suppose the Discworld books are fantasy.

FuzzyCo grade: A