Sunday, August 31, 2008

Up to my ankles

Yesterday was all about the expo.  It was a long day, and it was the busiest expo day I've seen on the tour so far.  I spent much of the day helping to sell shoes, restock shoes, and clean up our space from shoes left on the floor in addition to our normal marketing efforts.  It sounds like this will be more of the norm from here on out at the large marathon events.

We were unable to set up at the finish line yesterday because of the number of people on the boardwalk, so we got up before 4AM today instead.  We finished setup and got to watch the sun rise on the beach.

As finishers began to come in, the beach very quickly became crowded with people.  Stephen ran the race, so we were busy covering the register for him in addition to doing cheer signs and footbaths this morning.

The ice baths for feet were a huge hit.  We had close to 200 people utilize them today, which is great considering the next best event had about 30 footbaths.

The booth was also packed, and the walls were left looking a little bare when we packed up for the day.  Overall, our busiest event by far since I started the tour.

I had some afternoon back pain issues (even when consciously trying to lift with the legs, this job can take a toll) and spent much of the afternoon in bed napping and watching football while trying to relax my spine.  I'm feeling much better now.  One of the nice bonuses of being a sponsor/vendor is getting access to all the VIP areas.  That included tonight's concert VIP area, which had a tasty dinner and open bar.  

I headed down to the concert area with Molly and eventually met up with Stephen and Lyndsay.  The B-52s were the headlining band, and they weren't particularly exciting.  All their songs sounded the same, including "Love Shack".

We were also much closer to the pier they shoot fireworks off tonight.  The fireworks at 10:30PM seems to be a regular thing.  Overall, a good night.  I ended up walking back along the beach, which is highly relaxing and a great way to clear the mind.

Tomorrow we'll sleep in a bit (8 or 9 for me). I plan to jump in the ocean and swim around a bit in the morning, and then we'll probably end up in the DC area tomorrow night.  I'm excited to see Perry and Rhett, who are both in DC.  After that, we have a weekend off, and I'll be flying back to Utah for a bit to see my parents.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Unoriginal Spontineity

The expo looked like this:

I like the hanging Crocs sign. I didn't even know we had it until Nate pulled it out of the truck. I also played gopher for a bit during the expo by taking Stephen's rental car to go to a hardware store, the bank for change, and to grab food. It was interesting trying to drive an unfamiliar small car, navigate in an unfamiliar area, and read directions off my phone all while driving in fairly heavy traffic.

After the expo, I snapped this portrait of Nate. I'm pretty sure he thought I was just taking pictures of the ocean, but I thought it was a fitting shot and some what biographical. Not to mention the lighting was kind of interesting. I could have done better with a digital SLR.

We went to dinner at a restaurant near the hotel, and I had the crabcake platter, which was really a basket and not a platter, but it was good anyway. Not Legal Seafood in Boston good, but good nonetheless. After that, Lyndsay bought me ice cream to pay me back for lunch, and Stephen alerted us to the fireworks being shot off the pier.

And then he took my picture from 3 rooms over off the balcony.

"My gut is telling me no. But my gut is also very hungry."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Sweet and Salty, with a side of Pain

Today started off fairly early with a  4 mile run on the beach (and in the ocean from time to time, though not always intentionally).  It was really pleasant and a refreshing way to start the day.  My calves and ankles are sore as a result.  Good pain.  I thought about an ocean swim, but the lifeguard stands had red flags flying, so that was a no-go.  Plus it started raining.  Of course, the rain started right when Nate and I decided to walk to breakfast.  And then stopped as soon as we got to breakfast.

We set up our booth at the expo for this week's Rock and Roll half marathon (the post-race entertainment is headlined by the B-52s), which didn't go quite as smoothly as normal.  The highlight (if you can call it that) was unexpectedly having all 7 display walls fall on me - a crushing weight that I couldn't hold up.  I got pinned against the wall of the truck (I was the only person at the trucks at that time), managed to lift the walls briefly to regain my ability to breathe, only to get my leg stuck under them twisted backwards.  At this point I made an astoundingly calm phone call to Molly asking for some help, and in the mean time managed to twist my leg free of the walls (though I left one of my sandals pinned under the pile).  Stephen showed up and helped me pull the walls out of the truck, and all was good.

Except that I hurt.  Besides already being sore from arm, core, and beach running workouts in the last three days, now my knee hurts and I think I bruised a rib or two (I was worried at first I'd cracked a rib, but the pain isn't particularly centralized).  It's still not fun to cough, laugh, touch my right side, or bend over.  Hopefully tomorrow will bring less soreness.

After set-up, I headed to the mall with Lyndsay and Molly, and I ended up watching Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2 with Molly.  I'm not sure I'll live that down with Nate or Stephen anytime soon, but it was enjoyable and worth it, or will be, or something.

On the way back to the hotel, we got stuck in random road construction traffic and were delayed an hour and a half.  Conveniently enough, we had a conference call scheduled and got that out of the way, but I still can't believe how bad the traffic was to average less than a mile an hour.

For dinner we went to the Coyote Cantina, where I had a BBQ chicken burrito, which surprisingly was one of the tastiest meals I've had the entire trip.  After returning to the hotel, Nate and I wanted salt water taffy, so I went and got some.  I had a dollar, and Nate gave me 75 cents.  Nate must have had a psychic moment, because I picked out about how much I thought I could afford on our modest budget, and when it was rung out it came to exactly $1.75 after tax.

It was pretty tasty.  We watched Obama's speech at the DNC, and then I talked to my parents for a bit while walking on the beach.

Today had numerous highs and lows, but overall was a really good day.  Tomorrow is a new day, hopefully including better weather and less pain.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Room with a View

We started the day with a rainy drive through the Appalachians in West Virginia (pretty much the entire day's drive was rainy).

We stopped for lunch at a Subway/gas station combo, and the highlight there was watching Nate eat a Nerds Rope.  I wish I had a picture.

Driving into Virginia Beach, the scenery changed quite dramatically, as would be expected when nearing the ocean.  I hadn't really thought much about the fact that we're relatively near where I lived in Virginia for less than a year at a very young age.

The western side of our Best Western hotel doesn't give much of a view...

but perhaps it would be more aptly named the Best Eastern hotel, as our room's balcony look out across the Atlantic Ocean.

Nate and I grabbed some Mexican for dinner, and on the way back we got to see many of the bars and souvenir shops that line Atlantic Avenue in Virginia Beach.

We watched coverage of the Democratic National Convention for a while, which included listening to this guy, or more like being too distracted by looking at him to absorb what he had to say.

Finally, I ended the night with a brief stroll along the beach and in the water.  I was very conscious of the iPhone in my pocket the whole time and paid close attention to the waves coming in.  The water is warm, so even if the weather doesn't cooperate (it's not supposed to) at least the water is pleasant.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Journey Continues

Today's drive consisted of 550 miles through Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and West Virginia.  I can only marvel at how quickly the first two months of this job have gone, and at the same time the insane amount of stuff I've seen and done during that time.  At some point I'm going to need to add up a total number of road miles driven for this tour.

Here's a map of the drives so far, with red dots where we've had events.  The green dots are where we have future events for the duration of the tour.  There's a lot of driving to go.  Tomorrow we'll get to Virginia Beach, where we'll be through Sunday.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Going for Speed

After dropping off the trucks for service and going back to sleep for a bit, Nate, Molly and I took the train into downtown Chicago. We started off with a brief stop at the new Crocs store on State Street.

Following that we stopped at H&M for some brief clothes shopping. Then we went back to Weber Grill for lunch. This time around it was an applewood smoked bacon burger with fries for me. Following lunch, we wandered over to Millenium Park, where we saw the sights including the bean, which lends itself to interesting photos.

Yeah, that's me.

We also saw the creepy face fountains again. Just as odd-looking the second time around.

After a conference call in the park, we hopped a train north to Wrigleyville. There we saw Wrigley field and walked along Clark and Sheffield Roads through bars, shops, and housing. We had Mexican for dinner and took the train back south to connect with the train to O'Hare.

For some reason the train to O'Hare took a long time to show up, so the platform got rather full and we couldn't even get on the first train that came.

After returning to the hotel, I worked out on the treadmill. I was feeling great and apparently had some pent up energy to release, because I ran a six minute mile and upped my pace to attempt to break into the sub-6 minute mile range when the treadmill engine failed because apparently I was pushing it too hard. Regardless, that's the fastest mile I've run recently and possibly ever. And I could have gone faster. I ended up doing just under 5 miles, and now I'm headed to bed.

Tomorrow we'll pick up the trucks and start the drive to Virginia Beach. The Beach sounds like a lot of fun, but right now it's getting lots of rain from spin-off storms as a result of Hurricane Fay, so the weather may not be the best this upcoming weekend. Tomorrow night we plan to end up in Charleston, West Virginia.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Race day in the park

Today we got up early and finished set-up for the race-day tent. We spent a majority of the day there interacting with racers and then cleaned up after.

We'll be servicing the trucks tomorrow near O'hare, so we drove over to that area and are staying at a hotel right near the airport. For dinner, we ended up once again at Giordano's, and once again ate deep dish pizza. At least it's been 3 different varieties in the last three days. And I had a salad for some variety in addition to the pizza. Tomorrow we'll head back into downtown on the train to hang out while the trucks get oil changes and engine service. After a workout and hot tub tonight, I'm ready for some sleep.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Pizza and more Pizza

I got up today and did some laundry after finally learning of a nearby laundromat at another hotel.  The entire experience was unsatisfying, however, as my clothes came out with detergent still on them and they didn't completely dry after two dryer cycles.

After that, I rejoined everyone else at the expo.  We had a little change of pace today as Matty Reed (US Pro triathlete - just got back from Beijing) stopped by for an autograph signing at our booth.  I didn't meet him, but I did meet his wife who has an astounding story of her own.

After the expo, we set up at the finish line area which is also incredibly close to the hotel, and decided to go for dinner.  While waiting in the hotel lobby I again noticed how nice this hotel is.  It's an old building with plenty of class and history.

Molly didn't particularly feel like pizza, but Nate and I did so she tagged along while we had more Chicago style pizza.

I realized during dinner that I had pizza for dinner last night, leftover pizza for breakfast and lunch today, pizza for dinner tonight, and will likely finish off with leftover pizza for breakfast tomorrow morning.  Hey, I'm only in Chicago for so long!

Friday, August 22, 2008

Buildings, Bikes, Buddies

Today started out with a 45 minute walk looking for a laundromat that ended up being futile.  After returning to the hotel, I joined up with Molly and wandered through downtown on our way to eventually meet up with Nate at the Weber Grill just North of the river.  On the way, we found lots of interesting buildings, including the library,

the mostly completed Trump Tower,

And this one... not even sure what to make of it.

Lunch was tasty (Molly and I shared a meat sampler and I had some of the best chili ever).  The expo started in the afternoon, so we headed back to the hotel and finished setting up.  Much of my free time during the expo was spent lusting after expensive bikes.

Really expensive bikes.

Titanium bikes.

Carbon bikes.



Uh, yeah.

At the expo I also met a really interesting couple that had to have been some of the biggest Green Bay Packers fans ever.  They both had tattoos everywhere, and she had a pink mohawk (they were probably both at least 40-50 years old).  Then I noticed the what the tattoos were...

At first I only noticed the twin Favre tattoos, but looking back at the picture Lombardi is there too.

But that wasn't all.

I'm pretty sure he got that one just so he could strike that pose.  I was impressed.  

For dinner we went to Lou Malnati's and had some excellent deep dish pizza.  Afterwords, we stopped briefly at a VIP party for elite athletes and sponsors on the top level of the hotel.  The open bar was nice, as was the chocolate fountain.  I met a few cool people, one of which was able to give me some good ideas for locations for our upcoming grassroots marketing for the Chicago Marathon.

Tomorrow is expo day 2.  More good food is a no-brainer.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Today I got up about 6:30 to go for a ride before we headed to Chicago.  it took me forever to get out of the suburbs, but once I did I was treated to some nice rolling farmland.  I ended up doing about 41 miles.  This picture is from the top of a hill.  There wasn't a hill today I couldn't just power through.

Look familiar?

We stopped again at Mars Cheese Castle to sample some cheeses and have lunch.  I also bought some chocolate and a butterscotch root beer, which was very refreshing.

After encountering 38 miles of road construction on the tollway and some slow-moving traffic, we arrived at the Chicago Hilton.  It's a really nice 4 star hotel.

The hotel also has the record for the most expensive bottle of water I've ever seen.

We set up most of our booth for the expo and decided to be done with work for the day.  For dinner we decided to go to sushi, but Stephen sidetracked us and we ended up elsewhere.  Along the way, I snapped this nice shot of downtown facing East from a bridge over the river.

We ended up at Ed Debevic's, an old-fashioned diner type of restaurant serving American food that is notable because you get crayons and silly hats and the waiters and waitresses intentionally hassle guests in an amusingly rude manner.  The motto on the menu was "eat and get out!"