Sunday, October 21, 2007

Green and Grey

The thing is, Louisville is like a big city in one way, but in another way, it is still in Kentucky. This weekend Laura, Jennie, Callista, and I all ventured to Louisville for the Louisville half marathon and, unknown to us, one of the best shows I have ever seen.

We arrived in Louisville around 3 in the afternoon on Saturday at the Holiday Inn on Broadway, a fine establishment to be sure. I went up to the front desk to check in.
"Are you with the Irish?" the man asked.
" a way...I am Irish"
"Oh no, there is an Irish conference in town, but if you're not here for that, surely you are in town for Micheal Bolton, yes"
I half thought he was joking, so I chuckled a bit, "Oh, heh, is he in town?"
The man suddenly became very serious. "Yes, and tickets are going for 90 dollars each"
(Just to set your minds at ease now, we did NOT see Mr. Bolton, but for me, when he plays 'when a man loves a woman', let me just say I get the chills)
"Actually," I said, "I'm here for the half marathon"
"Oh, do we have a half marathon here in Louisville?..."

Naturally, this concerned me. This man, who was most likely as up to current events in Loo'ville as he was enthusiastic about Michael Bolton's 'art', didn't know about the race....this was interesting. Maybe I just imagined the whole thing and this race didn't even exist. So, we headed down to 'race headquarters' which was really just a small Ramada Inn. Now, in Chicago and St. Louis, the pre race conferences were held in huge convention centers with sponsors, free stuff, thousands of people. Loo'ville's headquarters consisted of 2 tables in a small room with no more than 14 people in that room. We have a little saying here; "TIK - This is Kentucky". There would be up to 700 people in the race....I'm used to the 40,000 in Chicago or the 10,000 in St. was to be an entirely different experience than I am used to.

Now, we were informed by one of our roommates that Nickel Creek, one of my favorite bands, would be in Loo'ville on Saturday night. And it just so happened that the theater they were to perform in, the Brown Theater, was 1 block from our hotel. We called to see if there were tickets. Of course, there were not, sold out for weeks. Apparently, after more than 10 years of making some of the most genuine music there is, NC was calling it quits, at least for now. They are 3 members; a fiddle, a mandolin, and guitar. They mingle traditional bluegrass harmony in voice and speed of picking, with earthy tones, genuine themes, and incredibly talented and spirited enthusiasm. As Weezer defined my musical ideal in high school, 2 bands absorbed that role in college; Mason Jennings and Nickel Creek. At any rate, we were calling for hours over and over trying to get tickets. We decided to go to mass at the Cathedral of the Assumption in Loo'ville. The Cathedral was beautiful, as was the mass. After mass was over, we decided to try the box office one more time to get tickets. And sure enough, just as we called, 5 tickets opened up. It was just meant to be. The concert did not disappoint. Sara, Chris, and John are INCREDIBLY talented musicians, which always makes for a good show. They are a band that incorporates improvisation into their songs well in a perfectly performed show. The show ended with an a capella version of "Why Should the Fire Die", one of their best songs, at the front of the stage, with the crowd as quiet as possible. It was one of the best shows I've ever been to. Hands down.

The half marathon was...much less perfect than the show. From the start of the race, I knew it would be an interesting experience. Usually, a gun or an air horn marks the start of a race. But TIK, baby. This race was started by an old man, who said, "Uhhh...go?....!" The first 2 miles were held on a bike path that was only about 6 feet wide, so it was slow going, with many inexperienced runners slowing up the front of the pack. Then, there was no water at miles 6 or 10, more bike trails, poorly marked mile markers, an end that was uphill for the last half mile... and so on. But, the shining bright spot for me was my team of cheerers. Jennie, Callista, and Laura made signs that said, "go HANDY" and "Run for Rabies" which were hilarious! My #1 fear for this race was that it was going to be a solitary event. There would be no Mom and Dad, no Pham, John, Amanda, Dan, Lynn, no dozens of supporters around crowded streets. But, my fellow volunteers came through in a big way, showing perfectly the benefits of community and fellowship. I finished in 1 hour and 59 minutes...not bad...not great, but I was happy.

Before leaving town, I had to get a Guinness. So we stopped at a small Irish pub and got beer and burgers...the perfect reward for a hard race. This half was far more painful that I anticipated. I pulled my calf near the end of it, and because there were maybe...100 people total watching the race, much of the motivation had to come from within, which always accents the current painful situation. But luckily I had the best solution; Guinness and burgers...that a 3 hour nap. But, it's good to be back here at home and to get back to work. We have a group from Notre Dame here for the week. I get to lead a crew doing some underpinning on a house....I also get to cook breakfast on Tuesday and try my best Wheatie impression, which I am greatly looking forward to.


Quote of the Day: This is from orientation, 4 weeks ago. Raul, one of my friends from the east side of CAP, saw my Immaculate Conception coffee mug with the Virgin Mary on it and he pointed at it and said, "word to our Mother"....perfect.


Em J. said...

I'm so jealous you got to see Nickel Creek.

John said...

Words can not describe the movements of my heart. I miss you man. Grats on the good race! We'll have to do one again sometime...say Chicago next fall?

phampants said...

AWWW...Andy we will run together soon. I have a couple ideas for the spring. You ready?

a.e. nee said...

i went to a different race on thursday, there were lots of pretty horses who moved quick as a wink. it was fun but your adventure sounds better