In my sudden rededication to El Blog, I have realized that the inaugural winter running hat photos didn’t get their final say at the end of winter.  Keep in mind that the end of winter was in Spring.  The last hat photo I took was in May.  May!

Stephen and I trained together for our first long distance race, the Soldier Field 10-mile, which was May 24.

March 18, near Scooters.

March 18, near Scooters.

March 23rd.

March 23rd.

Still cold in April.

Still cold in April.

Early mornings at the lake.

Early mornings at the lake.

Yes, we even attempted speedwork.

Yes, we even attempted speedwork.

April 28, my friends.

April 28, my friends.

Finally, the hat came off in May. Our first 10-mile effort, however, was in a howling windstorm on the lake. We had a tailwind for the first three miles, but those last three were a killer.

During a calm portion of the first 10-miler.

During a calm portion of the first 10-miler.

The Soldier Field 10-mile!

The Soldier Field 10-mile!

I ran my first Detroit race yesterday – the Grand Prix Shakedown 8k.  It took place on Belle Isle, the island park in the Detroit River and home to this weekend’s Indy and LeMans races.  Part of the course was indeed on the racetrack, which struck me as terribly narrow and dangerous (for cars, not for runners).  I brought my camera (though not on the race proper) hoping to catch some images for car-race-fan Matt, but couldn’t get back onto the track after the run to do it.  Besides, I was distracted by the free pizza, Miller Light, Faygo pop, Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, and bananas.  (My $25 race fee also netted me a long-sleeved tee, a terry wristband, a blue livestrong-style wristband and a schmancy neoprene water bottle.  This was a swag-filled event.)

It also had a strange dual nature – two guys with mics had seemingly diverse agendas for the evening.  One was trying to get people to the massage tent while he blasted dance music, while the other was trying to raffle off the random prizes.  The guy with the dance music won out, in my view, and besides, when was the last time you saw something like this at your last road race?

The folks in blue are the Stone Steppers, a Detroit running group with style.  Looks like they do some other steppin’ when they’re not running.  And they run pretty fast.  Alas, I had forgotten about the camera in Jim’s pocket, so missed the best dancing (including the Cupid Shuffle), but you get the flavor.  The guy in the lead (with the paper plate and pizza in his hand) is (I believe) Coach Mike Stone, the founder after whom the group is named.

Alongside the 40th anniversay party were two events that are not likely to be repeated in the near future.

John, Melanie, Jim and Stacey in our BBFR tees.

The first was the Bare Buns Fun Run 5k.  “Be Brave, Be Tough, Beat the Mountain in the Buff!”  Yes, it was a clothing optional run at the Fraternity Snoqualmie nudist camp.  Yes, I can see the question forming in your mind.  I did not run naked (fear of pain) but in a bra and skirt (because I thought I would feel dumb in a bra and no bottoms).  Melanie and John also did not run naked.  We were conspicuously clothed.  Jim, however, did run naked.  As he put it, “I was going to be uncomfortable whether I had clothes on or not, so I took them off.”  No, alas, there are no photos, save this one, of us in our souvenir tees.

Honestly, for me, it wasn’t all the nudity that made the experience unusual, it was having to run straight up a mountain.  An impossible task for me, I might add, but DOWN was fantastic!  Who knew I could run so fast?

Bikini bottoms at the Flamingo poolside bar

Bikini bottoms at the Flamingo poolside bar

After that, there was a wee trip to Vegas.  I decided to be brave and wear a bikini.  My first.  It was a wrong-headed decision, and no, there are certainly no photos.

However, because I know y’all like a good bikini as much as the next person.  Here you go.

My favorite stop in Vegas?  The bar at

One (of three) vodka tasting flights at the bar at Red Square.

One (of three) vodka tasting flights at the bar at Red Square.

– a fabulously kitchy Soviet-era themed, very red establishment with a bar made of ice that specializes in imported vodkas.  Need I say more?  John, Michael and I were very, very happy with the twelve samples we consumed.

The running photos did not end with the wearing of the winter hat, my friends.  I even upgraded from my phone to a wee gem of a camera that I can carry while running and take real pictures.  We’ve only just begun.  And, as is my wont, I coerced my friends into running with me and submitting to photographs as well.  I only hope Detroit brings as many running adventures!  (Click on any picture to enlarge.)

John and Michael live very near a forest preserve, and also very near Superdawg!  What better excuse for a nine-mile run followed by tasty junk food?
John and Michael live very near a forest preserve, and also very near Superdawg! What better excuse for a nine-mile run followed by tasty junk food?
Note our nifty team shirts.  I warned you I was wont to over organize.  These first appeared in April for the Ravenswood Run and have been rearing their ugly heads every since.  Perhaps I will create them annually?  Who can say?
Note our nifty team shirts. I warned you I was wont to overorganize. These first appeared in April for the Ravenswood Run and have been rearing their ugly heads every since. Perhaps I will create them annually? Who can say?
Bless his little pure beef heart.
Bless his little pure beef heart.
Stephen and I trained together for the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and discovered the joys (?) and benefits of the post-long-run ice bath.  Though if its early enough in the year, you can just wade in the lake instead.  Does he look cold to you?
Stephen and I trained together for the Chicago Distance Classic half marathon and discovered the joys (?) and benefits of the post-long-run ice bath. Though if it’s early enough in the year, you can just wade in the lake instead. Does he look cold to you?
Cool off those tootsies, do.
Cool off those tootsies, do.
This was after a twelve-mile run.  We actually swam after the 14-miler.  That combined with the massage of walking barefoot on the warm sand is really quite refreshing.
This was after a twelve-mile run. We actually swam after the 14-miler. That combined with the massage of walking barefoot on the warm sand is really quite refreshing.
00am is too early for him.
Most of Stephen’s and my training runs were early in the morning, to beat the heat and the 9-5 workday. Exactly one time we were accompanied by Jim. I think 6:00am is too early for him.
Stephens favorite training run, which we did once in the spring and once in summer, was a 10-mile jaunt that included Navy Pier.  On this trip, (John came, too) Stephen even ran into (almost literally) Carl Kassell.
Stephen’s favorite training run, which we did once in the spring and once in summer, was a 10-mile jaunt that included Navy Pier. On this trip, (John came, too) Stephen even ran into (almost literally) Carl Kassell.
00am on a Sunday.  Who knew?
At The Bean (okay, Cloud Gate) in Millenium Park. None too crowded at 8:00am on a Sunday. Who knew?

Wow. I was hit with a virus and sick for three weeks. Still have a lingering cough that makes me sound like a 5-pack-a-day smoker. I’ve gotten a lot of reading done, but my progress on training for the Soldier Field 10-mile race in May slowed quite a bit. During day two of the illness, my birthday, when I thought it was a 24-hour thing I was getting over, I went on a short 3-mile run. I spent the next week in bed. But I’m back on my feet now (if a big wheezy)…and so is the hat.

Mr. TurdThis guy lives about a mile and a half from my place. I think of him as Mr. Potato Turd. FountainThe courtyard of Beyond Design. What they do there is beyond me, but the fountain is pretty and they have stalks of wheat on their gate.
St. Pat's?A harbinger of green beer and drunken revelry. The sign says, “St Pats Weekend Giant Party”
The Greasy NuggetMy local greasy spoon. Pancake anyone?

More selections of me and the hat. I am now officially training to run a 10-miler in May. The hat is getting a lot of action. And it’s cold. Cold and snowy.

Door of Fernando'sOutside Fernando’s yet again. JesusMe and Jesus.
Inflatable alligatorJim and I in front of our local inflatable alligator. Dark and snowyDark and snowy.
three pre-brunchStephen, John and I on a pre-brunch Sunday romp. sunriseStephen and I on our first early-morning training run by the lake. Valentine’s Day sunrise was gorgeous (can’t tell on the phone photo).
no drinkingJohn and I on a six-miler in the forest preserve over snowpack. We drank afterwards at home. ron paulIn the hood. Windchill of 3 degrees.

Stephen and Jim S. gave me a Sugoi brand running hat and scarf for Christmas. It sealed my fate as a year-round runner. I loved my hat so, that upon its first outing I decided it needed to travel even further than it had on my head, and I sent this picturemail

Stacey near Fernando's

from my phone to Stephen and Jim from the middle of the run (with the subject line, “Sugoi!” which means “Fantastic!” in Japanese). A tradition was born.

Outside our favorite Mexican restaurant on Lincoln, Fernando’s.

You see where this is going, don’t you? Every time the hat goes out, the phone comes, too. The pictures are low-res and often just plain bad, taken at arm’s length from my head, but, if they had given me a garden gnome for Christmas, well, the results would have been pretty much the same.

Stacey and the NativityMe, Jesus, Mary, Joseph and some reindeer.The pictures that follow are a sampling of the large and important body of work that is The Voyage of the Hat. I will continue to update at random intervals until the spring.
Jim and Stacey in KentHome in Kent for the Christmas holidays with Jim. Stephen and Stacey outside the Golden NuggetNew Year’s Eve with Stephen, earning our future drinks.
Stephen and Stacey at playAt play after work in the dark of winter. Bring your own StaceyCraving a cocktail early in the morning?
John and Stacey in the forestShortly after this moment, we were met by a herd of deer! Fellowship of the RavenswoodCue the music, the fellowship of Ravenswood (one hat to rule them all, and in the darkness…)
Stacey at the police barrierNear the famous Montrose Sinkhole Just the hat, ma'amNot every run is a good run. The wearer declined to be photographed.
Where will Stacey and her hat go next? Stay tuned!