1. I, once again, knew multiple people racing at IRONMAN 70.3 Steelhead on Saturday, so another trip to Michigan was in order to cheer them on!
It was surprisingly cold for August, with temperatures only in the mid-50s when we arrived (at, like, 4:45 Sunday morning, aka 3:45 Chicago time. Oof.), but race day temperatures aren’t about me, the spectator, so even though I was cold, I was glad the athletes had favorable conditions. I was particularly glad to see that the lake had calmed down substantially overnight. When we were there for packet pick-up on Saturday, Lake Michigan was not happy, with fairly strong winds and 1-3 foot waves. Sunday morning, however, was a totally different story: no wind speak of and nothing but gentle rolling water. Even though I, obviously, didn’t have to swim either way, it makes me really nervous to see choppy waters during a triathlon, so I was glad to see it was much better for swimming!
The race went really well for everyone I was there to see (though not so well for the male pro I saw walking away from the end of the bike course, whose jersey was completely ripped off his shoulder, which appeared to be nothing but blood and road rash. YIKES.), so that was wonderful, and I enjoyed spectating. I really think anyone who participates in endurance sports should make a point of trying to spectate races every now and again, because you really appreciate the effort and work your spectators put in once you’re on the other side. It’s not easy to try to keep track of people (though the new-this-year IM Tracking app was AMAZING. 10/10, would recommend) and coordinate your movements so you beat them to various locations on the course. Spectating is tough work, and having done it twice now at Steelhead makes me very grateful for my family’s willingness to come watch me run marathons.
I do find spectating to be a bit dangerous if you have a proclivity for seeing other people like you doing something and thinking, “Maybe I could do that!” The more I spectate triathlons, the more I see people of all ages and sizes competing, and the more the gears start turning in my head. This is how I ended up getting into running in the first place, so clearly I’m a bit vulnerable to that sort of thought process. Of course, then I remember that I hate being underwater and don’t really enjoy being in water, period, that I haven’t been on a bike in well over 10 years and that I have even less desire to ever be on a Chicago road on a bike than I have to be in water, and that, even if I could somehow overcome my aversion to swimming and get back on a bike that isn’t stationary, I would still be looking at, at the absolute, very least, a solid $600 investment JUST to have the basic equipment (bike + helmet) needed to accomplish the “bike” portion of “swim bike run.” Add in all the other accessories I would certainly want/potentially need–a wetsuit, goggles, bike shorts, if not a full tri kit–and that’s usually enough to bring me back to, “On second thought, maybe I’ll just stick with this running thing instead.”
You guys, I did it!!! I grew a ripe, edible (probably) tomato!!
After weeks of complaining about my stupid tomatoes and their refusal to turn red, I went outside last Thursday to tend to my garden and was THRILLED BEYOND MEASURE to see this:
I had checked on my tomatoes on Wednesday afternoon and there wasn’t even the slightest indication that any of them were about to start ripening, so seeing this much progress on Thursday was a HUGE (and very welcome!) surprise.
By Saturday morning, it had gotten a lot redder, though not quite to the point where I was ready to pick it. I got home from Steelhead super late on Sunday, so I didn’t bother to look at my garden that day, and even though I got home late on Monday as well, I wanted to make sure I got to my tomato before it started to get too ripe. As it turned out, some other creature beat me to the punch. There were holes on the other (unpictured) side of my tomato clearly indicating that someone had eaten through it, but honestly, I was so excited about having just one ripe tomato that I didn’t even care that I couldn’t use it. Haha. The second tomato that showed up on my plant back in July had started blushing on Monday, but had also been sampled by an uninvited creature by Tuesday, so into the trash it went as well. My plan moving forward is to start picking them once they begin to blush and let them finish ripening inside, far away from prying jaws. That, or quit my job and keep a constant vigil over my garden to make sure no one eats my tomatoes, but that seems…excessive 😛 Haha
At last count (Saturday morning), I had 42 tomatoes in various stages of growth. It took one month + two days for my first ones to ripen (almost exactly six weeks from blossom to picking), which means that if all continues to go well, I’m going to be DROWNING in tomatoes by this time next month. Perfectly all right by me!
3. While we’re on the topic of produce, I would like to take a moment to vent my EXTREME FRUSTRATION at Jewel Osco, which continues to prove its uselessness to me on a weekly basis. While I can still access Trader Joe’s from my new place, it is no longer as convenient to me as it was at my old apartment, and, consequently, I have become a reluctant Jewel Osco patron. I do appreciate Jewel’s variety and convenience, but I have absolutely lost my patience with their produce. A couple of weeks ago, I finally allowed myself to buy peaches, since I figured it was late enough in the summer that the peaches would be good. I never had the chance to find out, though, because less than 48 hours after I bought them, ALL of my peaches were growing mold. Even though I didn’t really think the peaches needed to be refrigerated and, consequently, left them out on the counter, I figured it was my own fault for leaving them in a relatively warm environment and promised I’d do better next time. “Next time” was this past Saturday, when I bought blueberries. I knew blueberries belonged in the fridge, so I put them there, then went on my merry way to Michigan for the remainder of the weekend. When I took the blueberries out of the fridge Tuesday morning to bring to work for lunch that day, once again: full of mold.
What. The. Heck.
I NEVER had this problem with Trader Joe’s produce. I understand that fruits and vegetables all have the potential to get moldy at some point, but “some point” should not be less than a week after I bought them! I’m SO frustrated! I’ve now thrown away like $15 on fruit I never got to eat, and I place the blame squarely on Jewel for this problem. After Tuesday’s incident, I remembered running into similar issues at my old old apartment–another place that was closer to a Jewel than a Trader Joe’s–and that I swore off Jewel Osco produce forever…or at least until five years later, when I forgot how lousy their produce was. I need to find a new place to get my fruits and vegetables, even if it is inconvenient, because I certainly prefer inconvenience to throwing away everything I bought!
Have you ever spectated a race?
Chicagoans: where should I go to buy produce? Other than Trader Joe’s, that is.