Sunday, September 22, 2013

Lambeu Recap

Last weekend, on the first stop of my NFL Bucket List Tour, I went to the legendary Lambeau Field to see my Redskins play the Green Bay Packers. After a very welcoming first day in Wisconsin (minus the speeding ticket), I went to the game. It was a dreary day for a football game. The weather was cool (about 60 degrees) and raining. Good thing I consulted my weather dot com app and packed a rainy game day outfit, just in case. “I am nothing if not thorough.” Joan Carol Clayton. Plan B wasn’t as cute as my skinny jeans and jersey, but it worked out perfectly for the conditions.

Green Bay has a specific bus system for game days, so I didn’t have to worry about how I was going to get to the game. There was a bus stop in front of my hotel that picked up every thirty minutes starting at 8 a.m., with the last bus departing for Lambeau Field at 10:52. I opted for the 10:30 bus. We were packed in pretty tightly, but I managed to find a seat. With game-day traffic, it took us about 35 minutes to travel the 2.7 miles to the stadium. Still raining, I got off hoping not to get soaked. The other fans, however, didn’t seem to care about the rain. Everyone seemed happy to be going to a game at the not yet Frozen Tundra (Lambeau’s nick-name for games later in the season). You couldn’t pay me to go to a game in November or December. They could host the Super Bowl, award me free tickets, a spending spree and a date with Colin Kapernick and I’d still be like “naw, I’m good.” Throw in a date with Tank and well … that’s a horse of a different color. Back to the game …

I managed to stay dry and run inside. I eased through security with my clear plastic bag I picked up from the Packers Pro Shop the day before. Once inside, I looked for my seat. There was still about an hour until game time so I decided to waste time in the concourse area to stay dry. After all, I am training for a marathon and I ain’t got time for no illnesses right now. Fast forward to game time … I found a beer stand serving up my favs, grabbed one and headed for my seat. My view was amazing! If you are gonna go to Lambeau, this is the way to do it.

I was surrounded by Pack fans (I can call them that now because we are friends now). There were only a few lonely Skins fans in this section. Good thing, I was close to the bench ‘cause I would have felt real out of place. I made friends with the Pack around me, with everyone asking the same questions: “Do you live here?” Or “How are you a Redskins fan in Green Bay?” I then explained to them that I currently live in Indianapolis but I moved to Indy from Washington, DC. “ohhhh, they say” I guess I checked out. Later they asked “why did you decide to come to this game” to which I replied “Who doesn’t want to come to Lambeau?” With approving nods, we continued to watch the game.

My team isn’t doing so well right now and the Packers jumped out to an early lead. At least the first touchdown was to Randall Cobb who is on my fantasy team. I’ll take fantasy points if I can’t get real points. A few minutes before the half, there was an injury time-out so I took that opportunity to grab some food and another drink. I needed it man … I stumbled upon Pac & Cheese and decided grab something from there. I had heard about it via my Food Network on the Road iPad app. I ordered the buffalo chicken mac, another beer and went back to my seat. Oh this mac and cheese was good. A little greasy for my recent tastes, but still very good and perfect with a beer.

The second half wasn’t much better than the first, in terms of my team’s performance. RGIII did turn it up a bit to score two very anticlimactic touchdowns – both had to be challenged. A few minutes into the 4th quarter, a few of the already scantily represented Redskins fans started to leave. Who leaves a game at Lambeau early? I mean maybe he didn’t pay that much for his seat. I wasn’t going anywhere until the fat lady finished her solo. Then I had every intention of staying for an encore. As they left, the Pack let them have it. They joked, “thanks for coming to Lambeau,” “leaving so soon?” After the first guy got hazed for leaving early, I felt the urge to go to the restroom, but I couldn’t get up for fear that they would think I was leaving, that I’d make up having to go to the bathroom to stop them from making fun of me. Dammit. I had to hold it. The entire fourth quarter. By the end, the Pack were celebrating with me on the few points we finally did score. We all knew that the Redskins weren’t gonna catch up so no need in being mean. They supported me (and laughed at me too) as I celebrated. See, the Pack has class.

After the game, I found the bus stop headed back to my hotel. I even made some friends waiting in line there too. I met an older gentlemen who retired from the Navy over 20 years ago and was going back to Virginia the next weekend to be honored for his service. How cool was that? A few other things I noticed at the game …

I was surprised to see so many elderly people at the game. I saw at least three, 80+ birthday celebrations.

The stadium was much smaller than I expected. We broke an attendance record that day with 78k. college stadiums are much bigger than that.

It was all bleacher seating. A guy in the Pro Shop told me that you get about 12 inches for your seat, so it can get pretty cramped in the winter.

All in all I had an amazing experience at Lambeau Field. It probably would have been more fun with friends or family, but I am glad that I went anyway. Every NFL fan should make their way to Lambeau at least once.



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Green Bay

I made it to Green Bay this afternoon - the first stop on my 2013 NFL tour - and I am surprised at how nice everyone is. Of course I wore a Redskins shirt, but I was a little nervous about how I would be received. After I checked into my hotel, I hit the Green Bay streets. I went over to legendary Lambeau Field to check out the pro shop. You know, gotta pick up one of those pesky clear plastic bags. Also, my friend LT wanted a cheese head. 

I parked,literally, in front of the stadium and went inside with no problems. As I walked up the steps, a Packers fan greeted me with a very warm "Welcome to Green Bay" salutation and a hug. Awwww. How sweet was that? I almost shed a thug tear. 

I was also surprised to find that the rest of the stadium was open for visitors and tours. After I bought my goodies at the Pro Shop, I meandered through Lambeau. How awesome is this to be here?! After I took pics of every nook and cranny I could find, I left to find some eats. 

I fired up Yelp and found a highly recommended sushi bar just outside of Green Bay in a town called De Pere. Again, I was nervous about my Redskins shirt so I threw on my track jacket. To my surprise the hostess was also a Redskins fan. She was disgusted that management forced her to wear a Packers jersey. Finding strength in numbers, I quickly removed my jacket and boldly displayed my Redskins pride. 
I ordered a wrecking ball roll with a salmon salad. 

There was an issue with my salmon so the chef offered me a free dessert as an apology. I chose the green tea cheese cake. It was to die for. I have to remember to set up an account and start writing reviews on Yelp. If y'all are ever I. Green Bay, you have to go to Bonsai 

Day 1 in Green Bay, Wisconsin has been awesome. I cannot wait for the game tomorrow. 


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Twenty Miles

It's week 11 of marathon training and its time for the infamous 20-mile run. ^insert ominous music here ...

I plan to run it tomorrow morning on my birthday. Why would I do this to myself on my birthday, you ask? Valid question. I have been running my long runs on Saturdays, but I am driving to Green Bay on Saturday and I don't want to be uncomfortable or risk catching a cramp while driving. I always take my birthday off from work (even when it was on a Tuesday, I was like nope. You won't see me in this piece) and I always celebrate it with a run so twenty miles on my birthday it is. 

People always wonder in amazement how one could run that far. Especially, solo like I do. I don't particularly know how I do it. I'm determined to reach my goal and I know this is part of it. Like we used to say before hard track workouts at Fort Dorchester HS "ain't nothing to em, but to do em." Shot out to Chucktown. 

So that's what I do. I set my mind (and a very well organized playlist) and get going. Lately, however, I have been struggling a bit with training. I feel like I'm on the cusp of overtraining. My job is sport performance and health education for athletes, so I know the signs. I was surprised to recognize them in myself. In response, I cut back the mileage and added another rest day. It has helped so far. Overtraining or not, there is no avoiding the 20-mile run. Some programs go longer, but tha hell if I'm doing that. As legendary marathon coach Hal Higdon so eloquently puts it in explaining why his programs don't go beyond 20 miles: "I want you to gently approach the wall, not collide with it." Yep, 20 is more than enough for me. 

Back to the struggle. Here is where you come in. I'm gonna need some help with this one. So if you could give me a call and/or send me messages while I'm out on my run tomorrow, that would significantly help me get over this training hump. You can call in and talk about whatever you want. Now I might not be able to say much back, but I can listen and possibly grunt.

 Ill take birthday wishes, birthday songs (ill post later who sang it best, all versions welcome), jokes, comedy skits, old negro spirituals, hymns, the I Have a Dream speech, the Gettysburg Address (reserved for LA), reenactments of your favorite movie scenes, debates, motivational speeches, poems, whatever you got. I am an attentive audience of one. 

Pick a time slot below and sponsor a mile (about 10 minutes). I plan to get started tomorrow morning at 6am so feel free to call me on your way to work. Or set a meeting to help ya girl get through another mile. The run should take about 4 hours sooo ... for real, sponsor a mile.   Leave your preferred time in the comments. 



Halfway there! 



Text me to make sure I didn't die. 

Are y'all gonna help me out or no?


PS if you need more topics/ideas ...

  • Debate the state of hip-hop culture or pop culture. 
  • Why or why not: Did Mary J Blige really ruin r&b?
  • Top 5 NFL quarterbacks of all time. 
  • Top 5 NFL list of your choice (please don't call with basketball lists cause I don't care about that sport)
  • Best quarterback in the league right now.
  • Best Michael Jackson album and why. 
  • Favorite Cosby Show or Seinfeld episode.  
  • Funniest stupid joke you've ever heard/told. 
  • Most embarrassing, yet funny, moment you've seen or experienced. 
  • Corniest pick-up line you've used or were victim of. 
  • What do you think is going to happen on the upcoming season of Scandal?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

NFL Bucket List

I started a bucket list and it only has one item on it:

  • Watch an NFL football game in every NFL stadium. 

That's 32 stadiums.  I have been to 3 already:

1. Mercedes-Benz Super Dome to see the Saints play the Colts

2. Edward Jones Dome to see the Rams play the Redskins

3. Lucas Oil Stadium - I've seen three games there.

I have been to the Georgia Dome three times, but none for an NFL game (almost doesn't count).

I suspect that this will take a few years to accomplish, but I have a plan as to how I can make it work. Living in Indianapolis, there are 9 NFL teams within a 6-hour drive:
  1. Cincinnati Bengals (90 min)
  2. Cleveland Browns (about 5 hrs)
  3. Kansas City Chiefs (5 hrs)
  4. St. Louis Rams (4 hrs)
  5. Pittsburgh Steelers (a little over 6 hrs)
  6. Green Bay Packers (a little under 6 hrs)
  7. Tennessee Titans (4 hrs)
  8. Chicago Bears (2 hrs 30 min)
  9. Detroit Lions (5 hrs)

Not having to travel so far will help make it affordable. Another affordable strategy is to buy tickets to games when I travel for work. I will be traveling to DC in two weeks, so I got tix to finally see my Redskins play at FedEx. Next month, I will be traveling to San Diego for a conference and it just so happens that the Chargers are playing the Colts for a Monday night game. Score!

I am kicking off my NFL stadium tour this weekend (my birthday weekend) at the legendary Lambeau Field. The Redskins are playing the Packers in their home opener. I am so excited! I have an awesome seat on the 50 yd line (a birthday gift to myself). 

I also plan to see the Redskins play the Falcons at the Georgia Dome on December 15. My ATL peeps, let me know if want to join. We can coordinate NFL Ticket Exchange buying sessions.

By the end of this year, I plan to scratch off at least 4 stadiums leaving me with 25 stadiums to go.

What's on your bucket list?


PS, follow my NFL stadium tour with the hash tag #NFLbucketlist

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

BGR! 10k race recap

A few weeks a go I posted about Colts Back to Football 5k and how they did everything right. Well, this race was the opposite. Before I continue, I have three caveats:
  1. I plan events for a living (well its part of my job). I have helped plan large-scale sporting events and ancillary events as part of the larger event. 
  2. I attend an average of 15 conferences each year (as an attendee or speaker). Not only do I understand what it takes to plan and execute an event, I also have a lot of experience participating in them.
  3. I have participated in at least 20 races of varying distances.
The remainder of this recap shall be called ... the BGR! 10k: Let Me Count the Fails.

There weren't enough event volunteers. The 5k and 10k races had two different starting lines. Not the problem. The problem was that no one knew where the start lines were. We congregated at the Charlotte Westin asking each other for directions. Where are your volunteers? Fail.
I ran into these ladies trying to find the start line
Someone beautifully sang the national anthem, like only a Southern Belle could. Quick question. Where's the flag? Fail.

At the photographer's request, the start/finish banner was backwards. Not so bad, except everyone was lined up facing in the wrong direction. Fail.

The clock is not on. Where is the time-check knob when you need him?
There were no corals. Remember how I said that people with strollers and slower runners/walkers like to get up front to "get out of the way?" Well, thats exactly what happened here. Faster runners were forced to bob and weave (such a waste of energy) for the first mile. If you have to stop to walk within the first quarter of a mile, you have no business in the front. Fail.

Before the race
Along the course were mile-markers with race clocks. Great. However, they wrong. All wrong. At mile one, the clock read an hour and twenty minutes or so. What? I crossed the start line about 30 seconds after the gun. There's no way a mile took an hour. I planned to run the first mile slowly, but not that slow. Upon closer look, I realized that the clock was actually frozen. How are runners supposed to gauge their time and pace? Miles 2 and 3 were also frozen. Mile markers 4, 5 and 6 had no clocks at all. Fail.

There were no medical tents. Let me say that again ... THERE WAS NO MEDICAL TENT! I can't even begin to fathom this one. Between miles 3 and 4, I noticed a few ladies on the side of the road. One looked like she had a cramp and her friend was helping her stretch. The other lady was sitting alone and seemed to be grabbing her ankle in pain. I looked at my watch, checked the scenery to take note of her location. I said to myself that at the next medical tent, I will let them know that someone needs help. That next medical tent never came. Seriously people?! I'm pretty sure the waiver doesn't cover gross negligence. EPIC FAIL.

Around mile 4, I could see that the 5k course and 10k course had merged. That wasn't a problem until the last half mile. There were a lot of walkers in this race and a lot of first-time racers which made the last half mile very crowded. Not only did I have to bob and weave fro the first mile, now I have to bob and weave to the finish? This was not the race directors fault, per se. I will charge this fail to the game.
coming home to the finish

The finish chute was super crowded. I finally get past all of the walkers strolling to the finish and the ladies posing for a picture at the finish line (I swear if I had the energy I would have drop kicked a few of them. I mean Who. Does. That?) and cross the finish line myself. Fail.

My time wasn't that great. I ran a hilly 17 miles the day before
Runners and walkers were congregating at the finish line congratulating each other, getting their medal, grabbing water and taking pictures. The finish chute should not be crowded! Runners should be guided out of the way. The only reason to stop in the finish chute is for immediate medical attention. I was so tired, hot, thirsty and lost. It took me a five minutes to find water. I finally asked someone who told me that it was on the ground in a baby pool of ice. What? Just fail. Fail. FAIL.

Those were the major fails from the race. There were more, but I'm tired of being negative. One final caveat: This was MY experience. Others may have had a different experience. I hope yours was better.

A few positives:

  • The race medal was cute. I really like it.
  • The race t-shirt was a nice Brooks running technical tee. I can't wait to continue my marathon training in it.
  • It was inspiring to see so many beautiful black ladies running, walking and being healthy. 
  • I saw quite a few very good-looking officers on the course. Hey boo, hey.
  • Packet pick-up before the race was very smooth and included timing chips.

after the race. it was hot and humid out there


Thursday, September 5, 2013

Sisterhood of the traveling purse

Little known fact about me, I love these types of movies. I think I have watched every Hilary Duff/Christina Milian/Lindsey Lohan movie on Netflix. I cant tell you how many times I've watched The Parent Trap. Hey, I like them and you will deal.

One of my favs is the Sisterhood of Traveling Pants where miraculously the same pair of jeans fit four very different body types and equally different personalities. 

It's a good movie with an important lesson about living beyond your circumstances, young love and friendship. 

Speaking of friendship, a dear friend I met at work has recently left the organization to pursue other opportunities in the Washington DC area. During her celebratory lunch another friend and I commented on her bag. We made jokes about politely stacking the contents on her desk as we ran away with the purse. We continued to joke and even suggested that we share the bag. By the end of lunch our relentless begging joking paid off. She agreed to share the bag with us. Like the movie, the three of us will have the bag for a specified timeframe. 

Isn't she lovely?
Here are the rules:

  • We each get to use the bag for 2 months. Mine are September and October. 
  • We must return the bag to her in its original condition in January. 
  • You must take care of the bag. This goes without saying really. 
  • You must include an interesting story and/or gift telling the next user where the bag has been. 

This should be fun. I haven't used the bag yet, but I hope to take it on a great adventure. 

Here's to friendship and adventures. 


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Obey the rules of the road

It was a beautiful day today. The weather was 75 degrees, sunny and no palpable humidity. There is no better day than this to get out for a run. So I did. The original plan was to run this morning, but that didn't work out so well when my alarm went off at 4:30 a.m. I kind of knew this would happen when I was still wide awake at 11:30. Anywho ...

As the temperatures drop and we slowly say goodbye to summer, there are more and more runners and walkers out on the trails. You know its fall when ... there are 5 times more people out on your regular trail. I am always happy to see people getting outside in an effort to be healthier. I applaud you all. I am not one of those gym rats who complains at the start of every new year because the gym is full with the resolution-ers. I root for all of them and hope that by February and March, I still see most of them sticking to their fitness goals. Back to today ...

Although, I am happy to see the increased number of people out on the trails, it is inevitable that the newbies will disobey the rules of the road. I nearly ran into 5 people today who would not obey the rules of the road; specifically, the cardinal rule: Run/Walk/Bike/Roller blade/etc. in the same manner and on the same side of the road as you would in a car. I played chicken with 5 people (they all lost) who refused to get on their side. Move it people or I will Terry Tate you!

"If you kill the Joe, you make some mo!"
Other rules of the road:
  • No smoking. I understand that you want to enjoy the great outdoors and perhaps get a little exercise, but it is counterintuitive to do so while smoking. Also, you are spewing your filth to those of us who are already breathing heavily, increasing our inhilation. If you are smoking over a baby stroller or with kids near by, see also Terry Tate.
  • No walking more than two abreast. The two of you should be no more than a shoulder's width a part. Don't take up the entire trail with your leisurely stroll. I want to appreciate your efforts, but it is hard to care on mile 10+ when I have to run harder (and into oncoming trail traffic) to go around you.
  • Always look before you snot rocket. If even a hint of snot lands on me, I'm sending Terry Tate to kick you in the shins.
  • No playing music on an external speaker. Seriously? Look Radio Raheem, I should not be able to hear your music over my ear buds. Do us all a favor and buy headphones.
  • Be nice. If a fellow runner/walker/passerby says hello or waves good morning, don't be a Scrooge. Return the sentiment. The world will be a better place for it.

So what are your rules of the road? Any of these get on your nerves?


PS. I ran 5.6 miles