Sunday, July 21, 2013

Marathon Biking

Yesterday I fit several adventures into one epic day. I don't use the term "epic" lightly. My day involved biking a literal marathon, watching gymnastics on the beach, getting lost downtown, crashing a fitness expo, and taking in one of Chicago's most tourist-y destinations. I'm really okay with letting myself veg out today when I remember how much happened in the past 24 hours.

Jesus and I left the Naw at about 11:30, after he pumped up his bike tires and I liberally applied sunscreen. We biked the 6-ish miles to Montrose Beach, where we hung out for a couple hours, watching a semi-amateur gymnastics competition taking place right on the sand. By semi-amateur, I mean these kids were still perfectly capable of Olympic-caliber flips and stunts, though we did see some falls. There were college-aged competitors and kids barely in school cartwheeling, tumbling, and flying high on uneven and parallel bars--all in the hot sun, just off the edge of Lake Michigan.

From there we biked 9.5 miles south to McCormick Place, taking the lakefront trail, which meant dodging other bikers and gobs of beachgoers and trail walkers and whoever else decided to just hang out on the bike path. Our actual mileage at this point is over 9.5, though, because we tried to cut inland to get away from all the people and to avoid following the curve of the lake by making a direct route south...unfortunately this did not go as we hoped due to the inability to bike on congested downtown roads and needing to find a bridge to cross the river. We ended up wasting a lot of time getting down to McCormick Place, and once we were there, biked even more to find the right building/parking for our bikes to get to the fitness expo. By the time we got there, at about 4, we were tired, hungry, and super sweaty.

All of these things worked in our favor, as it turned out. The Rock 'n' Roll Marathon (held today in Chicago) had a 2-day Heath & Fitness Expo for marathon runners to pick up their race packets and shop for race essentials. There were also tons of heath and fitness exhibitors handing out free samples, swag, health tips, and even massages. The event was open to the public, not just to marathon runners, so Jesus and I gladly checked it out. We ate a dinner of protein bars, energy drinks, post-workout replenishers, and electrolyte-filled shakes, smoothies, juices, and snacks while getting rejuvenating calf massages and electric stimulation shoulder massages. Several people gave us strange looks when they asked about our marathon training and we replied, "We don't run," but we also got props for our biking adventure and (thanks to his mustache and bicep-revealing tank top), Jesus got into several protein-filled/you should run our Mustache Run/would you like chocolate milk to sponsor you? conversations.

The free samples definitely gave us a pick-me-up, allowing for good moods and overall survival as the expo finished and we embarked on our long ride home. We consumed so many B-vitamins, in fact, that we didn't even end the day there. We stayed on the lakefront trail and rode right back to Navy Pier, where we had strayed away from the trail on our way down. It was only about 6 (and despite our "meal" at the fitness expo, we were hungry again), so we became Chicago tourists and walked the Pier, people-watching to our heart's content. Jesus got to play around some on the park structures while I took pictures, then we went through the Funhouse Maze, played an immersive arcade game, and walked around the majestic Ferris Wheel. I couldn't convince Jesus to ride it (yet), so we settled for gazing up at its immensity.

As the sun began to set, it was finally time to finish our adventure. We had bellies full of food court Chinese food and my sunblock was long sweat off. We found a bike route from Navy Pier back to the Naw and zipped past the Saturday night traffic clogging the streets. When we got back, we mapped our ride to calculate our final distance. Counting our turn arounds and doubling back downtown, we biked just over 26 miles, or the length of a marathon. Our legs felt it, too. We recovered with fruit smoothies, water, and vegging out to video games.

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