Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bad Race Prep for People that like Good Race Prep (River Bank Run - Pt. 1)

As shocking as it may seem, I don't believe I've ever been to Grand Rapids.  There it is a mere 2 hours away, and they have concerts, minor hockey and baseball, and breweries (including Founders).  However, I've never went there for anything, that is, until this past weekend.

If nothing else, I can always count on running to lead me to new things like volunteer work, a beach park when everyone else is sleeping, or a new city.  It's just the very nature of the beast; we end up doing a lot of things with our mornings that we wouldn't normally do. 

We got a bit of a later start than we should have, but, despite a horde of traffic all getting off at the same exit we needed, we eventually got to a parking ramp near our hotel.  We dropped the bags, and piled back in the car with about 20-30 minutes to get to Fifth Third Ballpark for the start of the Whitecaps/Loons game, which was starting at 6:35 for some reason (the Tigers usually play night games at 7:05 guys, follow your leader!).  We didn't quite make it.  For some reason, Grand Rapids seem to have issues with properly labeling streets and lanes for visitors, nevermind that it's summer in Michigan and it's time to rip up every piece of concrete that needed fixing the least. 

You'd see a sign that points you to an expressway's eastbound entrance, wanting west, and realize as you drive past that the entrance labeled east was also for west.  The same seems to go for north and south.  Also if you see a sign that points you left going to an expressway, don't get in the left lane, you'll either end up going left down another road against your will or it will be a turn-around sending you on a 180 back down the opposite way of the road you're on.  Things like that always get me to put on my conspiracy theory hat, because it seems like there's towns out there that seem to purposely set themselves up to confuse outsiders, and I think it's done by design to keep the so-called "riff raff" out.  I think GR has joined that list.

Anyway, we made it to the Whitecaps game about the middle of the 1st inning and found our seats, which were absurdly close for $14 (another reason to like minor league games).  Apparently not close enough for my wife to see if Nick Avila is as "cute" as his cousin, Alex (the Tiger's catcher), though.
Baseball makes us happy
After sitting in our seats watching the game for a couple innings and watching a 3 year old next to us eat a bag of cotton candy the size of his head, I started looking around to try to catch a glimpse of the infamous Fifth Third Burger.  Not having any luck, my lady and I went up on the concourse and I got her the obligatory ice cream helmet for each new baseball stadium we visit, and began looking for where they sold it.  Finally, I saw the sign (not an Ace of Base reference).

Catching a glimpse of someone actually buying one, ignoring the fact I was running my longest official race ever the next day, and forgetting that I really wasn't all that hungry, I made the mistake of saying to myself "I can eat that."  So I put in my order, which somehow ended up under the name "Josh," and after receiving my burger behemoth I was off I went to the "Competition Area."

My wife helped document the adventure while mentally (not physically) shaking her head and being disgusted at me.

In the end, it was just too much for one man.  I made it a little over half, and that was as far as it was going to go.  I have my doubts that even my most alcohol fueled hunger would never be able to conquer this baby, even if I had a full 9 innings.  One of the biggest obstacles is simply how salty it is, and the meat is bordering on having a boiled taste to it.  I would have to have a gallon jug of water just to make up for the salt, and if I'm being completely honest, it's just not all that tasty.

After admitting failure to the judges, I retreated back to our seats to watch the rest of the game.  I was still having trouble with rooting for the White Caps and had an accidental "get up there!!!" when a Loons player cranked a ball deep in left-center field.  Sorry, everyone around me..."owa tana siam."

The Whitecaps ended up winning the game 5-2, scoring nearly every one of their runs while we were at a concession stand or the team shop.  After the game we took a few photos outside.

Belle Tire!
Stadium Front
Original Tiger sign, likely a stadium original from 1994
 (when the Whitecaps came to be, and when matching versions were hanging and painted on Tiger Stadium)

Awesome Whitecaps VW van (front now says WM)
We went back to our hotel room at City Flats which seemed like the hotel lovechild of a techie and a hippie with it's sleek, well-designed, futuristic, energy efficient goodness.  The bed was super comfortable, and it was almost as far as we wanted to go, but we got back up and headed out because, like The Cars, we like the nightlife baby.

There were a lot of bars that were too busy, too hoochie, too stuffy, etc.  After a little walking around, we found a place called The Pyramid Scheme (too dirty, too 80's, too kitschy, too poorly's perfect!).  We pretty much had to go there.  The first thing you see coming in is a T-Rex skull (not a real one, but a very good mold) hanging on the wall.  The second thing we noticed was a very large painting of Bebop and Rocksteady from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  The place is just chocked full of pinball machines and they had a few Short's beer taps, among the other Michigan brews.  At that point we knew we had to stay.  The barstaff was really nice, and even though we didn't look rock 'n' roll enough for the majority of the crowd there, nobody seemed to notice how out of place we looked with our baseball stuff on.  It was just our kind of place, minus the beers being $5, but I think that's probably standard for GR.  It's just our cheap Flint minds that think you get those for $3-3.50 normally, and even then, as a semi-regular, there are times when my bill magically has items missing from it at a few places when the owners are around.

Later, while still at the bar.....

"Short's Chocolate Wheat is delicious!...Really delicous...what time is it?  Uh-oh...."




    Also... why such a tease?!? Get on with it already!

  2. Forget what the woman above said, you are a brave man for trying.

  3. I won't listen to her, she's a nihilist, those people are cowards...ha ha


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