Aaron's Real Opinions:

Aaron's Crazy Race Diary - 2008
Day 36
No Real Day of Rest...
Saturday, May 24, 2008
1 Day Until Bolder Boulder

This was supposed to be the first of two real fays of rest before the Race but when I weighed myself and saw I was back up to 202 pounds - 22 pounds away from my running weight goal of 180 - I knew I needed to work out.

At home I had a LifeCycle stationary bicycle. Its difficulty scale went up to Level 15 so I decided to try riding at that Level for a full hour. That once was part of my regular routine - doing the bike for an hour at a Level 15 setting.

This time I found the ride a bit more challenging than expected. I read newspapers while I rode and listened to the stereo. It was a great way to catch up on my newspaper reading while getting a good workout. When I finished the machine said I had burned 662 calories. I didn't know how accurate that was because there was no opportunity to enter my weight. I assumed a 100-pound person who rode at Level 15 for an hour would burn fewer calories than a 200-pound person who completed the same routine but, heck, what do I know?

The big event for the day was the Bolder Boulder Media Luncheon. It was a wonderful affair held in a large outdoor tent in the backyard of the Millennium Harvest House Hotel in Boulder. Dave Plati, the University of Colorado Sports Information Officer had arranged for us to attend the event, as he did every year.

Today, my chief photographer, Chris Rojas, was with us as were Stephanie Smith and Shannon Woodard. Some others had wanted to attend but didn't make it. They didn't know what they were missing because the highlight of the event were the world-class runners who surrounded you. Most of the international teams were represented with men's and/or women's teams or representatives from Kenya, Ethiopia (last year's winners), Japan, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Australia, Tanzania, and Morocco. It truly was an international event.

The USA had a team and there also was Team Colorado - all loaded with great runners.

I had a chance to speak with USA team member Ryan Hall as well as last year's winner of the men's race, Ridouane Harroufi. During lunch we sat with the Ethiopian Team, which had won the contest last year. I also visited with the Kenyan team and had the opportunity to visit with several other runners. It truly was an amazing group. I felt fortunate to be there with them. These were people who literally ran three times faster than I did (and sometimes ever four times faster).

The Media Luncheon always is a wonderful event because it gives me a chance to visit with Race founder Steve Bosley (now a University of Colorado Regent and Chairman of their Board) and his son, Race Director Cliff Bosley. I also usually get to visit with Francie Bosley, Steve's wife, and the backbone of the family.

This day was no different than previous years and it was great seeing everyone. They were in a celebratory mood even though the Race had yet to take place because everything was almost done from an organizational perspective. Plus they were headed for a record attendance of over 53,000 registrants. That was truly an amazing feat.

One of my team members, Stephanie, was already at the event when I arrived. Chris and Shannon showed up later. I had Stephanie join me at the table reserved for the Ethiopian team. They had won the International Team Race event last year and were poised for a repeat. At the tables next to us were the Kenyan Team, the Mexican Team, and the Japanese Team. It was amazing to watch these world-class athletes with each other. The international teams tended to stay in their respective groups and that seemed to be due to language barriers. Most of them were literally half my size - often not even five feet tall and weighing under 100 pounds. OK, height-wise, someone who is 4'8" looks tiny compared to my 6'5" frame. I hoped I didn't scare any of them!

The event featured a great spread of food which I sampled quite generously. After a giant turkey sandwich, a delicious bowl of minestrone soup, an array of salads (chicken salad, potato salad, and pasta salad), four iced teas, and a dessert or two, I knew I had enough carbohydrates in me for the Race on Monday - and it was only Saturday.

During the Luncheon, there was a special ceremony honoring Rich Castro, who had a long history with the Race and was best known for training top athletes and for his organization of the international portion of the Race and his work with the international teams. Rich was very beloved in the racing community in Boulder as well as throughout Colorado and the nation so it was great to see him get the recognition he deserved. He is a very humble man and never sought the spotlight so it was fun to see everyone from around the world give him a standing ovation. He was moved to tears and I could see him choking them back. He was sitting at a table next to ours and it was fun to see his family greet him so warmly when he came back from the podium.

Perhaps the highlight of the event was the announcement that the guest of honor at the Memorial Day Tribute on Monday (Memorial Day) would be U.S. Army General Patrick H. Brady. General Brady and his wife were in attendance at the Luncheon and he was introduced to the attendees.

He was a Medal of Honor recipient who had flown numerous helicopter rescue missions right into enemy fire to save the lives of many U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers. Some of the stories of those missions - flying bullet-ridden and severely damaged craft - were spellbinding. It was easy to see how it was a miracle for General Brady (who was a Major at the time of his heroics) to be with us today.

The Memorial Day tribute at the Bolder Boulder was the nation's largest Memorial Day celebration. It also included a military flyover by the U.S. Marines. There would be a 21-gun salute thanks to the University of Colorado's Naval Reserve Officers in Training Corps as well as a Color Guard and the playing of taps. It was a full-fledged celebration held with thousands of people in the stands of Folsom Stadium.

I visited briefly with some of the other Race and Media people at the event, including Fox Sports Network Rocky Mountain's Katie O'Malley, an Associate Producer for FSN. They had taken over the coverage of the Race from CBS4 in Denver, which was news to me. I was surprised to hear that, given the long association the CBS affiliate had with the Race.

After the Luncheon, I headed out to the downtown Boulder Mall. After all, I still had not registered for the Race! The Mall was a zoo, with people milling all about enjoying the gorgeous weather. I found the Registration Tent in front of the old Boulder Courthouse, which now served as administrative offices for the County and housed most of the County's elected officials.

I was able to easily register Angela and myself in a matter of minutes. I got the last E Wave registration and they put Angela in the DC Wave but said she could start with me. Thanks to the electronic radio frequency tags which we would put on our shoes, runners could start anywhere and would still get an accurate time for the Race.

Next I went to visit Matt and Deborah Silverman in North Boulder to say "Hello" and talk business with Matt. They were preparing for a small family dinner which had blossomed overnight into a much larger event. As usual, they took it all in stride. Deb is a gourmet cook and it was always fun to dine with them. They invited Holly and me to dinner but I already had invited family members over to our place for dinner. I regretfully declined the invitation knowing the food at the Silverman's would be ten times better than what I was making.

Next I went home to get Holly so we could go shopping for a dress for her 8th Grade "promotion Event" at her school, Peak to Peak. It was their version of an 8th Grade graduation and she was very excited about it. I couldn't blame her.

We drove to Flatiron Crossing Mall and shopped for what seemed like an eternity at Nordstrom's, Macys, and Dillard's. I was amazed at the difference in selection, assistance, and price at each of these three stores as well as how differently they used their floor space.

Nordstrom's had a very open floor plan with what seemed like minimal inventory. They had staff ready to assist shoppers and seemed very well-organized. The prices stunned me, though. This was no bargain basement store!

Macy's had the most selection and the best deals. I was impressed with what they had to offer. My recommendation to Holly was that she make a purchase immediately. She ignored me, as most 8th Graders soon to be 9th Graders would.

She found something she liked at Dillard's so we made our purchase there. It was a nice black dress and seemed a bit fancy to me but, hey, I wasn't the one wearing it. At this point, I was so tired from shopping for dresses (something not on my list of favorite activities) that I was willing to buy her anything just so we could go home. I sensed she already had figured this out and that was why she saved going to Dillard's as our last stop. Smart kid…

As I was ready to go home, she sprung a new obligation on me - dress shoes. She now wanted to make a complete tour and look for dress shoes to match her dress. Holy cow! I was taken by surprise and didn't react quickly enough. Soon we were going through all the same stores looking at shoes.

I made her look at the offerings at Payless shoe store and told her she could buy any of the dress shoes they had. The staff offered their help and the store had many shoes in Holly's size. I thought their selection was good but, due to Holly's "shoe conceit," she wouldn't even consider buying a Payless shoe. This was not a good sign, especially after I had been buying her shoes at Payless for more than a decade.

Now it was my turn to be stunned by the price difference at each store for shoes. At one store, you could purchase very nice black dress shoes for $20 to $30 (Payless) while, at another store, the nice shoes (and they all looked the same to me) were $100 to $200 a pair (Nordstrom's). Yikes!

After we looked at what I thought were thousands of pairs of shoes (OK, maybe 50), Holly decided none of them would do so we ended up going home. I was exhausted and she was shoeless… for now, anyway.

We headed home but had to stop at King Soopers to shop for food so I could make dinner. I had invited my sister's family over so we would have three more for dinner - Leah, her husband John, and their son Joel, Holly's cousin.

After grocery shopping, we got home and started cleaning up the house - a bit too late - and making dinner. When the Vandersluis family arrived, I was still in the middle of preparing dinner. Leah and John pitched in, as they always did, and helped straighten up the kitchen and adjacent spaces. Papers were recycled, a floor was vacuumed, and various items were put back in their proper place. From a housecleaning perspective, it was always nice to have them come over. Plus the dogs always were given lots of extra attention and they loved that.

Soon I had most of the dinner ready. The kids set the table and we began our feast. For the first course, I made a massive pile of nachos with tons of salsa, gobs of sour cream, two entire diced onions and a ton of cheese. We were getting full just knocking those down.

The second course consisted of two pounds of shrimp sautéed in garlic and butter. They were tasty but it was hard work removing all the tails… well, not really.

Then I made hamburgers with onions and garlic. Not everyone was hungry anymore but those who indulged also had extra sharp cheddar cheese melted on top. It was an American culinary tour de force!

I drank several glasses of milk and then topped off the meal with a giant milkshake using Breyer's Extra Creamy Vanilla ice cream. Almost everyone else joined me in having dessert.

I was so full I was ready to burst. I knew I had totally blown any weight-loss for the Race but I loved the taste of every bite I had.

Somehow we then managed to go downstairs and play several games of ping pong. It always was better exercise than I anticipated and we all had fun. As the evening ended, the Vandersluis family headed home and I returned to clean up the kitchen.

Winding down wasn't difficult tonight and I was able to get to sleep by 11:00 pm. It had been a full day. I definitely was in "rest mode" for the Race. I hoped that was good.

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