Cake or pie?

Friday, February 12, 2010

Austin Marathon - Day One

Let me preface this entire post by stating my amazement that the D.C. area got dumped on by consecutive snowstorms. For the first one, I was snowed in with my sister, brother-in-law and nephews Johnny and Christopher. Speaking of Christopher, can you guess his nickname?

If you guessed "Chris" then you'd be wrong. His nickname is Dino, as in "DINO-saur" not "DEEN-OH." His big brother Johnny has given him several nicknames, including Christo Dino, which got shortened to just Dino, and Baby Godzilla since he stomps all over and destroys everything in his path. Nicknames are great, the only bad part of course is you can't really nickname yourself, or at least most people cannot do that. I wonder at times though if Christopher will respond to his real name when he is a bit older, since everyone (Mom, Dad, Bro, uncle ASK) calls him Dino. It should work out okay though, he'll probably be a soccer player like his mommy and daddy and he can just put "Dino" on his jersey instead of his last name. That would be kind of cool, like the Brazilian players tend to do - Ronaldo, Ronaldinho, Kaka, etc.

I'm getting way off track. So the D.C. area had these snowstorms, got around 30" of snow total, and I was snowed in with my sister's family for the first one for several days. I also happened to have a strep infection which I was taking amoxicillin for - I'm pretty sure I got it from my sister, my nephews had ear infections and my brother-in-law had bacterial pneumonia he was getting over, so it was essentially a house of people on antibiotics.

Here is one of the small bits of shoveling snow I did, and it was a damn important one: I cleared the path to the hot tub!

Mission accomplished, other than needing to clear off the cover to use the hot tub.

For the second snowstorm I got snowed in at home, but it was really a lightweight, fluffy snow, unlike the first storm earlier in the week. I think I remember reading somewhere that the Inuits have over 30 or 40 different words for snow. Virginia usually does not get this much snow, and we actually set a new record, with the most recorded snowfall since 1898 (or something, I didn't fact-check while I'm writing this, my bad).

Sorry if it seems like this post is a misnomer, it really is about the Austin Marathon. So I flew out of Reagan (DCA) into Chicago (ORD) this morning to connect to Austin (AUS). I ended up staying with my other sister in Shirlington to be closer to the airport, and got there without a hitch. Security is always fun, I got to leave my belt on at least. And my pants and shirt. The first leg of the trip to Chicago went well, I always worry I'm going to get seated next to some 350 pound sweating mouth-breather. Fortunately, I had the window seat to O'Hare and was seated next to a skinny 10 year old and her mom. Here's the approach to Chicago, which just struck me due to all the ridiculously tall buildings on the lake front and the sprawl of low-slung (comparatively, of course) buildings filling in the rest for as far as the eye could see.

Hello Chicago!!

I used to work with a woman from Chicago. She was absolutely in love with Chicago to the extent that I wondered why she left Chicago for D.C., but apparently it was because of love. I couldn't really fault that. I wish I had her number so I could have texted her when I landed like, "Guess where I am?" She was pretty much an awesome "bullpen-mate" at this job I worked due to the overshares she consistently let slip. One particular overshare that seared itself into my long-term memory after she got back from lunch: "Oooh I think I ate some bad fish, my stomach feel like a washing machine!"

I had a short layover in Chicago, went around looking for something to eat, found it at Wolfgang Puck Express, which ended up being a pretty simple chicken salad.

Got to the gate for the flight at O'Hare (K terminal?? WHERE THE HELL IS K ??) after quite a walk from the "A" terminal since my flight from DCA to ORD was on United, and the ORD to AUS was on American Airlines. After quite a hike I got there with 10 minutes to spare after lunch (plus reading the new Runner's World with Kara Goucher on the cover at Wolfgang Puck Express). Quite a few people were on standby trying to get to Austin from Chicago. I guess the snow screwed over a lot of people on a lot of fronts, but hugely on travel.

Ended up getting to Austin early, and the airport is a little farther from downtown than I had expected, the approach before landing is below.

Hello Austin!!

Since I didn't have any checked luggage, I was able to hustle out and catch a cab. I talked to the driver a little bit, told him I had come from D.C. where we had SOOO MUCH SNOOOOW, and he said it was unusually cold for Austin, and he had heard there was snow in Dallas. When we were pulling up to the hotel, he also mentioned I should go to 6th Street because that's where the girls from UT go, and I said, "MUCHAS GRACIAS AMIGOOOO" and he handed me some condoms and said "buena suerte" whatever that means.

(Just kidding about the very last part about the condoms and him telling me good luck).

Unfortunately, I am still getting over strep, and I do have exams the next two weeks for which I really need to study, so I am writing a blog to take a break from the studying and I figure maybe I will see some live music tomorrow. I talked to a friend that lives in Austin and she recommended I check out the Warehouse District around 4th Street, saying it was less of the college crowd than 6th Street is, and smells less like puke. So we'll see what happens. I wish I could stay in Austin a bit longer, it really is a great city.

Tomorrow I will head to the expo, get my packet, etc. Hopefully I am fully recovered from strep, and I won't lie, I have had to scale back both my training and my expectations for this race, but that's the smart thing to do. It's usually not a good idea to have unrealistic expectations for a race and set yourself up for disappointment. I do not want to have my first DNF, but my Dad reminded me on the phone that my health comes first, so I will run on Sunday but most likely I will not push myself too hard. I have heard this is a hilly course, and I am sure that will play a part as well.

The last few pictures I wanted to share were the ones I took from my hotel room on the 16th floor. The two pictures were both taken without flash at the same time of day, which can seem odd considering the Texas State Capitol is so well lit in one picture and the sunset-backlit buildings in the other seem so dark. I'll let you be the judge, I need to get back to studying, and of course I have the Vancouver Olympics Opening Ceremonies on in the background. I thought it would have been way cooler if Robin Sparkles had sang "Oh Canada." :(

Texas State Capitol

Hidden Sunset

More to come...

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