Sunday, December 18, 2016

Liberty Bell, Mission Bells and Jingle Bells

Independence Hall
After a much needed 4 months of marathon training hiatus, I doubled down with 2 marathons over 2 weeks, starting in Philadelphia and ending in San Antonio, with a turducken sandwiched in the middle.  (For those of you who are unfamiliar with the turducken, this was my brother-in-law's request for Thanksgiving dinner, and it's a turkey, stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken.  Personally, I found the chicken to be unnecessary.)

Luckily for me, I had friends traveling along for both of these races.  A huge thanks to Sangeeta for supporting me on both trips and coming out in the cold wind in Philly and the wet, endless rain in San Antonio to cheer me on!  You are the best!  

We arrived in Philadelphia to sunny, 70 degree weather, unseasonably warm for the weekend right before Thanksgiving.  We ran into our old friend Ben as we walked around town and enjoyed the beautiful day.  He looked surprised to see us.  We took in some American history with a glance at Independence Hall and took a peek at the Liberty Bell.  When one does not want to wait in an incredibly long line to see a bell, one finds a view outside through a window.  I feel like the Founding Fathers would have understood.  I mean, when you have such a rare day of beautiful weather, you don't waste it inside museums and waiting in lines.  You waste it siting in a bar drinking Ben Franklin beer.

The weather quickly turned as a cold front moved in.  Even before we made it to dinner, the wind was picking up, with 25-30 mph winds predicted for the race.  Fortunately, as we walked through the courtyard of City Hall, we happened upon the Christmas Village where we could warm up with some hot, spiced wine.  Onto dinner at High Street on Market where I did some massive carb loading and had some of the best pasta ever.  My mouth is watering now thinking about it.  The staff and management were also amazing.

Race day was cold and windy, but overall, a fun day.  Although there was a long stretch of course into the wind, the plus side of that was, for the last 6 miles, the wind was at my back.  The fastest pace I had the whole race!  Weeeeeeee!!!

The lovely Sangeeta was a real trooper and was out there in the freezing cold and wind to cheer me on along the course and to meet me a the finish.  Well, I thought she was lovely until she made me visit the Museum of Art, which was right by the finish line.  You know, the one best known for those  steps that Rocky Balboa runs up when he's training for the big bout against Apollo Creed.  Yeah, I had to walk up those. That actually was the easy part, it was the coming back down them that was painful.  I did draw the line somewhere though, and did not agree to walk up the additional steps inside the museum, regardless of the beautiful statue at the top.  (In all honesty and to set the record straight, I did visit the museum willingly (sort of) and Sangeeta is still lovely in my opinion!)
For those of you who follow my race rantings and writings, you know I like to celebrate with post-race oysters.  And I had my oyster bar all picked out in the Reading Terminal Market, near our hotel.  Sadly, they close early on Sundays and they were cleaning up when we arrived.  Gladly, I had the persuasive Sangeeta with me who talked the shucker into just one oyster for this tired, cold runner.  And it was one of the most delicious oysters I've ever had.   The long day ended fabulously with seeing a friend and former colleague (who also ran the race) for drinks at his fundraiser benefitting the American Heart Association.  I'm not sure either of us had entirely thawed out by that time, but nothing a few cocktails can't remedy! 

Pause for two weeks... Eat a turducken...And Sangeeta and I reunite with friend Bethany deep in the heart of Texas for the San Antonio Rock-n-Roll marathon.

Now we are talking about a whole new weather situation.  Rain, rain and more rain.  Did I mention it was raining?  Despite the rain, our Saturday started of fantastically with a visit to a Tamale Festival!  

Yes, that is a giant tamale behind us
Although challenged to eat the Atomic Tamale, which is tempting if you have a competitive streak, the consensus was that this pre-race decision would later be deemed a poor life choice during a marathon.  Pass on the Atomic Tamale.  

Meats and pickles.
Pickles and meats
If you like cured meats, do not pass on Cured at the Pearl.  We dragged our vegetarian friend there to try some of the food at this James Beard semi-finalist. The meats were delicious as well as all the pickled accoutrements that came with them, including watermelon rinds.  Thanks for indulging our meat cravings, Sangeeta! 

The rain did let up in the evening long enough for us to catch a glimpse of the Alamo and take a nighttime stroll on the River Walk, which was lit up with extra lights for the holidays. 

No sign of Pee-Wee's bike

Others were still blurs, moving
much faster than us, even when
were running and not posing.

Now it's race day and.....still raining.  The was Bethany's first marathon and far from ideal running conditions.  I don't think we'd have been anymore wet if we had been snorkeling.  But Bethany was a trooper and we persevered to finish the race and claim our Rock-n-Roll Marathon Finisher jackets.  Finally, something dry to put on!  Sangeeta was, as usual, amazing and cheered us on early in the course and was there just before the finish.

While we didn't finish in time to see the headlining band, Guster, we did get a personal congratulations from the drummer (When you roll with Sangeeta, you roll with people in high places).  Clearly the Rock-n-Roll race administrators cater to the half-marathon runners with putting the headliner's performance less than 4 hours after the start time.  I mean, who finishes a marathon on that amount of time? Elite runners?  Well, the elite runners are already home, showered, and having lunch 4 hours after the start.  Regardless, there were a lot of us marathoners out there who would have enjoyed hearing a little Fa Fa along with our post-race Michelob Ultra (basically a can of water).  

After meat-filled pre-race dining, we hopefully made it up to Sangeeta with a veggie extravaganza at Supper, in the Emma Hotel in the Pearl District.  Awesome Brussels sprouts and an amazing ginger bread dessert.  Also a beautiful hotel lobby from what Sangeeta told us. We were too tired to take the extra tour of the place.  Of course,  this was after Bethany and I had our obligatory post-race oyster party at Luke.  First time I've had Texas gulf oysters.  I've had better, but definitely have had worse.  

Our tour continued the next day with visits to the historic San Juan and San Jose Missions.  There was a nice path between all 5 of the old Missions (starting at the Alamo) which in other weather conditions would be really nice to rent a bike and cruise along.  Unfortunately, the path was closed due to all the rain, and let's be honest, we were too sore to hop on a bike.  

What we weren't too sore for was a drive to Fredericksburg and a visit to a few wineries.  First stop, Armadillo's Leap where we were fed full of "reindeer mix" (aka puppy chow, if you are familiar with this treat) buffalo and dill pickle flavored popcorn, along with some wine, of course.  

Bill No. 1
Bill No. 2
From there, onto Four Point Cellars where we met the first of 2 interesting men named Bill.  Bill No. 1 allowed us to sample some delicious wines along with all the remaining cheese samples since we got there just before closing time. (Impecible timing if you want free snacks!)  After we finished there, that Bill referred us to Bill No. 2 at Andreucci wines. This guy had such an interesting story!  He and his wife spent several years running a cooking school in Tuscany, where he met the maker of the wines he now has brought to Fredericksburg, Texas. If you are ever in Fredericksburg, stop by and say hello to both these guys.  Thanks to both for their hospitality!  The day wrapped up with some German-inspired fare at Otto's and free pool at Buc's. Watch out for that Sangeeta, she's a hustler!  

Of course, the sun came out as we headed out of town, and we made a last effort to enjoy it with an al fresco luncheon after a visit to the Western Art Museum.                                             
So I'm wrapping up 2016 with marathon numbers 27 and 28, and checking Pennsylvania and Texas off of my list.  As I write this, halfway through the holidays, having done absolutely zero running since San Antonio, I'm looking forward to taking some time off during the winter months to rest up for the events of 2017.  With my 40th birthday approaching, I'm left with 22 states to run in over the next 10 years to achieve my goal of 50 by 50.  That is totally feasible, right? 

As always, thank you for reading and sending messages of support and motivation throughout the year! An extra special thank you to Sangeeta and Bethany for your race support services over this past year and a huge congratulations to Bethany on finishing your first marathon!  I also need to give acknowledgement to Sangeeta for forcing me to photographically document the trips so well (you know I secretly appreciate it later)! 

Wishing you all a happy holiday and a wonderful New Year! 

Still no sign of Pee-Wee's bike under the tree at the Alamo











Tuesday, June 7, 2016

"I'll get you my pretty (medal)"

One of the creepy life sized
figures at the Oz Museum
Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore... but we were!  We were there at the end of March to run the Wicked Marathon in Wamego, Kansas (yep, this blog entry is really late).  I was joined by fellow runner Bethany who opted for the half-marathon. Unfortunately we didn't get to run together since there were different starting lines for the half and full marathon, but we did high five when we passed each other going opposite directions on the course.

This is me running in
the wicked rain
The race was accompanied by some wicked weather as it rained pretty much the entire first half of the race.  Plus we were already wet from waiting for the race to start in the rain.   This might be one of the smallest races I've done but a perk of that is if everyone is at the start line early, you can get started early which is exactly what we did. The sooner we start the sooner it's over with, and the finish is my favorite part!

The course was a bit of an out and back type course, but this wasn't as annoying as I thought it might be.  Plus there were some cows mooing us on along the way.  But other than that, not a lot of crowds out there. Maybe it was the rain, or maybe this is typical for this race.  But you do get some motivation from the other runners on their way to the finish (or if you are a fast runner, unlike me, on their way to the turnaround).

Costumes are encouraged, and while we did bring some, we opted to not wear them in the rain.  I didn't think the polyester Dorothy dress I ordered from Amazon would be very comfortable.  I do have to give huge kudos to a man I was running along with for much of the race who did the entire full marathon in all out Glinda gear (poofy pink dress, crown, wand, everything).   I don't even want to imagine the chafing, ugh!

While I may have eluded to a pretty medal in my blog title, this race actually didn't have a very pretty one.  I was hoping for some Emerald City sparkles or something like that. Nope. I suspect that the medal may have been designed by a local artist (although I can't confirm this), and while I can appreciate the talent that went into the depiction, it wasn't the bling I was hoping for.  Nonetheless, it is a unique medal in it's own right and I welcomed it at the finish line!

I always mention food and/or drink in my blogs and this one is no different.   Bethany and I started our carb loading at a local brewery in Manhattan, Kansas... Wait, let me back up a minute.  First, I have to tell the story of how I got to Manhattan, Kansas.  I did take a flight there from Chicago, which was uneventful, as I prefer all of my flights to be.  However, when I arrived at the airport, there was the task of making my way to Manhattan where we were staying.  I thought, well this is a college town (Kansas State is here), so they probably have Uber, right?  And they did.  So I requested an Uber.  The Uber driver appeared to be on the right track, so I figured no problems here.  Well, that was until he called me and asked where I was. By the looks of the app, he was behind the airport, like where the plane landed.  I informed him I was at the terminal; there was 1 terminal with 1 gate, how hard could this be?  Apparently very hard.  He just could not figure it out.  Fortunately, I've always relied on the kindness of strangers (I know, different movie),  and a friendly woman Janice mentioned her friend might be able to give me a ride to my hotel.   Her friend arrived to pick her up, and Berga was just as nice and agreed to give me a lift.  Well, she wasn't really much of a talker actually, so I think she agreed to it, at least that was the impression Janice gave me.

Look how happy 6 tiny beers
made us! 
Ok, so now I've made it to the hotel and Bethany has arrived!  So we're off the brewery to carb load! First stop was the Tallgrass Tap House.  We both had samplers, and I think that we would both agree that the beers were hit and miss.  But still worth a visit if you're in the Little Apple.

I guess if you're running a marathon the next day, you can't just have beer for dinner, so we moved a few doors down to a place called Bourbon and Baker.  If my memory serves me, I believe we had the chicken & waffles as well as shrimp étouffée.  Seriously, why is that the first time I've had chicken & waffles? Why has no one forced me to eat this amazing combination before?  Who are you people who consider yourselves my friends?!  You've failed me for 39 years! So flipping awesome.   As for the shrimp étouffée, save that for your next trip to Louisiana.

Am I right?
Post race carb reloading occurred at a great little spot right near the finish line called Toto's Tacoz.  This place was amazing. Picture the Wizard of Oz if it took place on Gilligan's Island, with a Mexican flair.  I recommend the Dorothy Quesadilla.  I can never eat right after I run, so while I worked up an appetite for Toto's, we perused the Oz Museum.  This place plays the Wizard of Oz on a loop all day long in a room in the back!  They also have life sized replicas of all the characters in the movie (note the witch above).  You'd think the Wicked Witch of the West would be the creepiest, right? Nope.  I have to give that award to Glinda, the Good Witch of the North.  Yikes.

Post post-race nap, we had dinner at the Little Apple Brewing Co.  Although it was located in a strip mall, it was not as bad as it sounds.  The beer was good, cold, all of the things you want in a beer.   I can't speak to the food, because at this point I can't recall what I had for dinner.  I guess it was unremarkable, which can be a good and bad thing.

For dessert, Bethany's friend had supplied her with a bounty of delicious cookies, which we enjoyed back at the hotel...in bed.
This is basically what we looked like.
Bonus blog!   About a month after Kansas, I headed to Cali to run the Tinkerbell Half Marathon with my friend Jen in Disneyland.  Such a fun race, but don't run it for a PR, because there are some bottlenecks on the course that will kill that.  Still a good time as you get to run through Disneyland and the California Adventure park right next door.  A few Disney characters spattered here and there. Tutus and fairy wings were abundant but Jen and I also added some flower power giant sunglasses.  And finally a medal with some sparkle! Tinkerbell even spins!

So that was my last race until the end of November when I take on the Philadelphia Marathon.  I'm out of training mode until August so will be (and have been) enjoying the weekends free of 12+ mile runs. Maybe my toenails will actually grow back now!  Just in time for flip flop season!

Happy summer everyone!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Running with 'Empire State of Mind' stuck in my head

Not quite the view the hotel postcard portrays
New York City is big, right?  That's why it's called the Big Apple.  Well, the Big Apple seems a whole lot bigger when you're running 26.2 miles through it.  On November 1st, I ran the New York City Marathon, one of the biggest marathons in the world with about 50,000 runners.  Runners come from all of the world to run through NYC's 5 boroughs (a fancy word for neighborhood), which include Staten Island, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan.  In the words of Alicia Keys and Jay-Z, these streets will make you feel brand new, lights will inspire you, let's hear it for New York, New York, New York!  (I really could not get that song out my head the whole time I was there)

My first night in the city, I had the chance to catch up and have some pre-race oysters (don't worry, I had them post race too) with New York native and fellow Race Within US blogger, Miri.  We went to a place called White Oak on Friday night for their happy hour oyster deal.  Great oysters, great wine and great company!  

Unfortunately I didn't get to enjoy as much of the Big Apple as I would have liked since I had some work to do while I was there, but did have the chance to see some sights on  my way to and from the race expo.

I made my way through Times Square, and wandered over to Bryant Park and for the first time caught a glimpse of the Empire State Building.
Bryant Park ice skating...on Oct. 31st. Too soon NYC, too soon.

Naked Cowboy, where are you?

Maybe next time I'll make it to the top
So the night before a big race, most people carb load with a big pasta dinner.  I am not one of those people.  I wanted to grab something near my hotel so I could call it an early night, so went to a little tapas bar called Kilo.  If you are in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood, I recommend this small, but quaint place for a bite and glass of wine.  I probably had one of the oddest pre-race dinners, even for me: mushroom tacos and duck hearts.  Yep, I said duck hearts.  After growing up eating chicken hearts from the chickens you helped butcher, I felt like I sort of had to try them.  They were actually pretty awesome, if you're into that sort of thing.  The mushroom tacos were equally as awesome.  The staff and bartender were also a friendly bunch.  

Now it's race day.  The marathon's website describes it as a 26.2 mile block party, and that is a pretty apt description.  Other than when you cross the Staten Island Bridge, there are cheering crowds the entire way.   It was really quite an experience and really an all day event. I left my hotel near Central Park around 6:45 a.m. and returned around 4:30 p.m. and was only running for 4 hours and 45 minutes of that span of time.  I took the subway to catch my 7:45 a.m. ferry to Staten Island where the course begins.  Everyone is assigned a wave and a corral color.  I was wave 3 orange.  Which meant that I didn't start until 10:40 a.m.  But even taking the 7:45 ferry, I felt like I made it just in time.  Once you get off the ferry, you are put on a bus to take you to the start villages.  I have no idea how long the bus ride was, but let's say it was long enough for me to doze of and take a nice little power nap.  Finally, I woke up, got off the bus, went through security and then made my way to the orange start village.  I was able to grab a cup of coffee just in time to hear announcements that they were lining up for wave 3.  It was probably around 9:45 or so at that point.  It was chilly so we all had lots of layers on that would soon be discarded when it was start time.  It's always a lot of fun to see the sweat shirts and pants (or bathrobes) that people wear pre-race. It's all the crap they otherwise would probably be tossing out.  It's really a highlight of wonderful, outdated fashion trends.  
An old hoodie to remember me by, NYC!

So 10:40 a.m. (4 hours after I left my hotel, and we were off!  Over the Staten Island bridge and on our way into Brooklyn.  Most of the time, to be honest, I had no idea what borough I was in unless someone was holding a sign that said "Welcome to XXX."  Somewhere along the way, I saw a face I recognized!  Miri was awesome enough to come out to the course on and cheer me on!  It's always so great to see a friendly familiar face in a sea of strangers.  THANK YOU MIRI!!!  And around mile 20 or so, I saw another face I recognized.  I'm running along and suddenly the cheering crowds start cheering a lot more zealously.  I soon figured out why as I ran past Alicia Keys, who was one of the celebrity runners that day.   Ok, so at that point in the race I was red-faced, sweaty and salty.  She looked like she was completely fresh and dry.  My only guess is that her small entourage running with her must have been sponging her off along the way.  Well sorry, Alicia, but I left you and your sponging entourage in my dust.  A small cloud of dust.  Well really more like a mist of sweat that was probably flinging off of my soaked ponytail.

So about 4 1/2 hours after I started this thing, I think I might have finally made it to Central Park.  It was actually really beautiful running through the park, and of course, tons of people cheering and keeping the block party going.   I was thinking, awesome, I'm close to the finish line and my hotel!  The finish line, yes. My hotel, no.  I finished, got my bling and then tried to make my way out of the park.  I wanted to go south, towards my hotel on the south end of the park.  Unfortunately, the finish corrals, took me north, very far north (or what seemed very far considering I just ran 26.2 miles).  Finally, I got out of the park, only to be forced to walk in the masses of people back south to the family meeting area.  And any attempt to divert down a less busy side street, was thwarted by barricaded streets and New York City's Finest.   Basically, it took me another full hour after crossing the finish line, to get out of the finish area and to my hotel.  Ugh!

Now considering I was meeting my friend for post race oysters at 6:00 and it was now 4:30, I was hardly left with any time to shower and nap!  Lucky for my friend, I opted to fore go the nap rather than the shower.  (you're welcome Kay Kay!)  But the oysters and company made it worth skipping the nap.

The New York City Marathon finished off my marathons for 2015.  It was also marathon/state #25!  Halfway there folks!   I'm thinking the Wicked Marathon in Kansas at the end of March 2016 if anyone wants to join me!  I need at least three more people so we can dress up as the Tin Man, the Scarecrow, the Cowardly Lion and Dorothy! My dog Dean will be playing the role of Toto!

Happy holidays and thanks for all the words of encouragement and support over the past year!  

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Motown is mo' fun

Canada to the left, U.S. to the right
My first time to Detroit definitely made me want to return again soon.  I ran the Detroit Free Press Marathon in mid-October, marking Michigan off of my list of states.  Speaking of press, Detroit seems to get some bad press, but un-derserved in my opinion.  Although I stuck mainly to the downtown area, I was surprised by how nice it was.  I stayed at the Marriott which was in the monstrous GM building.  And from my room in that monstrosity, I had an amazing view of the Detroit River and across the boarder into Windsor, Canada.  
The GM monster

Oh, did I mention that this awesome race runs into Canada? Not only can I check off running in another state, I can check off running in another country!  It is a bit odd though when you go to the race expo to pick up your packet and a U.S. Customs official is there asking for your passport before he'll hand over your bib.  (and if you forget it, you don't get to run into Canada, and will be forced to run the U.S. only half marathon).

My hotel was fairly close to the expo, so I was able to enjoy Detroit's lovely riverwalk.  They had graffiti art, sculptures and scenic views.  What more can you ask for?  Well, to be honest I could have asked for some warmer temperatures, because the wind coming over from Canada was a bit brisk to say the least.  Here are some scenes from the Riverwalk.  

 Since I figured I'd spend a lot of Sunday running and then napping, I did most of my exploring on Saturday.  It was recommended that I venture to Corktown, so I headed that way to a brewery, called Batch Brewing Company.   I don't remember the beer I had but I do remember that it was pretty darn good.  If you ever find yourself enjoying some local Detroit brews there, I would also highly recommend the smoked whitefish spread.  Their menu had a lot of other things that looked amazing, but one person can only eat so much.  

So my marathon goodie bag gave me away as a runner to other runners who were doing their own mini pub crawl.  I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow runner Andrew (who learned the hard way about forgetting your passport).  He introduced me to his friends Rachel and Carl, who were locals (and my apologies if I've remembered your names wrong, I'm horrible with them).  They were all so nice, and invited me to join them on their bar crawl. 

We ventured to a cocktail bar, (maybe called the Sugar House, maybe called Bill Murray) for some Bill Murray movie themed drinks.  We were there right as they opened the door.  As they say, the early bird gets the craft cocktail.   I ordered the Au Revoir, Gopher, which is a delicious mezcal cocktail that comes along with an awesome presentation from the bartender.  I'll just say it involved some smoking action.  One of my hosts ordered the Ectoplasm Cooler, which was the precise color of ectoplasm.  If you are a craft-cocktail seeker, I say seek out this place.  

We continued on to the Westin hotel bar, where we witnessed Michigan State beat University of Michigan.  And by witness, I mean listened to a lot of simultaneous cheering and groaning though out the bar.  This game was a big deal, I guess. I'm not much into sports.  And since 2 of my 3 hosts were British, they also didn't seem much into the game.  But everyone else in the bar was, that is for certain!  After sampling another local Michigan brew, I had to bid adieu to my wonderful, gracious hosts and try to get some rest before the race.  I can't say thanks enough to the three of them for befriending me and making my time in Detroit fun and memorable!!  Let me know if any of you are ever in Chicago as I'd love to return the favor! 

Into Canada
Out of Canada
Now it's race day.  Brrr, brrr, brrr!  The cold temperatures were verified by the snow flurries that fell as we waited to cross the start line.  Seriously, it was October.  Snow is not allowed!  Eventually I crossed the start line where we made our way to the Ambassador Bridge, which we crossed over and into Canada.  Oh, Canada!   We ran into Windsor and were greeted by lots of red maple leaf flags and cheering Canadians.  Oh, and of course, we were also greeted by lots of customs officials, looking for our bibs to confirm we were legit to cross the border.  

We ran a few miles through Windsor along the river and then we hit the Windsor tunnel to pass back into the U.S.  We ran a fair distance through the tunnel, and it wasn't nearly as hard to breathe as I thought it would be considering all the residual car fumes that are probably hanging out in there.  It was pretty cool though where they border was indicated.  In Canada, in the U.S., in Canada, in the U.S.  You could go back and forth over and over if you wanted.  We were greeted back to the U.S. by a LOT of U.S. Immigration officers.  You know how when you go through Customs in U.S. airports when returning from a trip abroad, and all the officers seem angry, like they hate you and don't believe at all that you are actually a U.S. citizen?  Well these officers were nothing like those.  They were cheering, giving us high fives as we crossed back over the border.  They were fantastic! 
I can see my hotel from Canada! 
Inside the Grand Trunk
Are they serious?
 I finished the race with one of my best times in maybe 2 years.  No PR, but I was happy with my time.  I returned to the hotel promptly after the race to thaw in a hot shower for at least 30 minutes.   Of course I was hungry, so I was forced to return outside to get some food.  I ended up at a nice little pub called the Grand Trunk Pub.  I ordered the sandwich dubbed the Corktown, and ridiculous is all I can say.  And if you're eating it, you actually can't say anything at all, because you are basically buried under the largest mound of corned beef you've ever encountered.  See what I mean?  I had to dismantle the thing to eat it. That thing was delicious though.  I'm getting hungry thinking about it right now.  Wonder if they deliver to Chicago.

The Spirit of Detroit 
Tiny oyster fest.
After lunch I did a little more wandering downtown, past the Spirit of Detroit and back along the river front.

In my usual post-race M.O. I enjoyed some post race oysters for dinner at Joe Muer seafood, which was conveniently located adjacent to my hotel.  It ain't a race without some oysters.  It's like a food medal.  I haven't officially finished until I have that medal around my neck and some oysters in my belly.

There are so many other great places that I came across but didn't have the opportunity to enjoy.  I'm looking forward to heading back to take in more of the Motor City and meet more of those friendly Michiganders. Thanks again to Rachel, Andrew and Carl for making my time in Detroit so much fun!