Straight from Portland OR
Cheering on State St.
Back in March my brother Mike called me up and asked if I wanted to go see U2 in Sept. The opening night for their U.S. "360 Deg. Tour" was at Soldier Field on Sept. 12th. This is his wife Jen's birthday and he wanted to make it a surprise. We are all very big U2 fans, and actually even know all the pre-Joshua Tree hits! The good stuff! I was in for sure. I don't get to see my brother that much, he lives in Portland OR and I had to be in on a surprise like this. They also have never been to Chicago. After agreeing to this and checked the calendar, I realized it was Ironman weekend. Hmmm. I would have to just drive up race morning for this one.
Mike is a High School football coach for Clackamas High School, so they literally flew in Saturday afternoon and back out early Sunday morning because of Friday night games and Sun. afternoon coaches meetings. I picked them up at the airport and we headed straight in to the city. Jen had no clue where she was headed for the weeks leading up to her birthday. In fact even at the airport she still didn't know where she was going until Mike showed her the concert tickets at the gate to Chicago.
I am not a big concert goer (although this was the 3rd time seeing U2). I don't love huge crowds, traffic, or standing in the midst of a bunch of stinky people bumping into me, but I was soooo excited for this, to see my brother, and to pull off such a cool birthday surprise. I was just as excited for them to see some of Chicago and it was such a perfect day. We parked near the Hilton on Mich Ave, and walked through Grant park to get to Soldier Field. We had just enough time to buy t-shirts, grab a Guinness in honor of Jen's birthday and it also seemed very "Irish". The stage and concert music and everything was phenomenal! It was sooo much fun.
Leaving Soldier after the concert was about as tough as waking up at 4:30 the next morning. All 80,000 people leaving at the same time through the gates was a nightmare. It took quite a while for the pedestrian traffic jam to break, we didn't have open sidewalk until almost back at the parking garage. There were so many people, walking out. The steps of the Field Museum were packed with people who had sat outside listening to the show. Luckily the roads were clear and once in the car we didn't stop once until we were home. I crawled into bed at 1:30 with my alarm set for 4:30 to get them back to the airport and be on my way to Madison. When I woke up, I wasn't sure I was going to make it to Madison. I felt so tired and haven't pulled those kind of hours since studying for anatomy exams in PT school. But I knew they HAD to get to the airport and so I figured I'd pound a few gallons of coffee and I'd be fine. I started thinking about the athletes I knew racing and that I wanted to see them and that woke me up a little more.
I drove through a bunch of fog and darkness on my way to O'Hare. It was barely light when I left them curbside, but as I drove towards Madison the fog started to break and the sun was coming up. It was absolutely gorgeous and I was starting to get that nervous excited feeling I get for those I know doing Ironman. That got me the rest of the way there. And by 7:45 I was in Madison hooking up with my friend Deb who lives up there. We headed to Verona and parked it on the hill and waited for all the athletes. We had a great spectating spot on that nasty hill after the hard left. It was warming up, and especially got hot once the athletes started going by. I was cheering like crazy with not much of a voice left after the concert. Its interesting see the expressions on athletes faces, climbing the hill. Hmmm try not staying aero on this one! and...maybe shift up one and it won't hurt so bad! Some athletes were smiling and just glad to be there, some had that look of what did I get myself into! and others were just all business! 2nd time around......you could tell who had either......gone out too hard, or not prepared well enough!
We headed into town for some lunch, I hit the coffee shop for more, and some food. I hadn't had anything real to eat in 24 hrs and was going down! The STarbucks guy was nice and gave me a little extra in the iced coffee, and we were on our way to State St. to cheer on the runners. I took too much time getting coffee and didn't see Adam start the run, but everyone said he looked great. I saw so many friends and fellow MSMers go by, they all looked great! I think there were like 20 racing! The day started getting long and I was starting to worry if I'd make it home. I had to drive solo back home, because of work and a dog.