by Brian D. Meeks
Chapter 1: Saturday, May 26, 2012, The Day Before the Run
There will be many challenges over the coming weeks, wind, rain, heat, and possible angry dogs, but the first hurdle in Chicago was parking. The Windy City has dozens of cars (possibly more) all hoping to find an elusive space. Jarred the driver of the 34 foot support vehicle, was having little luck finding a place to moor the vehicle for the night.
I had managed to beat Steve and Jarred to Chi Town because of a faulty valve stem that reared its ugly head near Aurora. Already checked in, I took to the streets and found a space large enough for Das Boat. They were hunting for space around Navy Pier, but being thwarted at every really wide turn. I began posting up. Thankfully, the next ten minutes passed without event. I waited and waited, but didn’t see them on the horizon. I called. and Steve said they were just approaching S Wabash Ave. I saw them at the same moment a man in a Lexus slowed in front of me. He pulled around and prepared to park. I quickly explained that I was holding the space, actually spaces, and then prepared for some big city angst. It was not forth coming. He was friendly and drove off to find a new spot. Das Boot had a home.
Check-in at the Michigan Ave Hilton went smoothly. The bar, Patty O’Sheas, appeared to be a decent place to fill Steve up with some calories. Jarred, who is also managing Steve’s food intake count on the My Fitness Pal, entered Steve’s dinner. The cheeseburger, with cheddar cheese, fries, cole slaw and whole pickle, totaled 1125. The app said that if Steve didn’t take in 8583 he would waste away and fall to his death somewhere past the Mackinac Bridge.
Steve checked his FB page. There was a message. He read it to us.
Anne M Lindaman wrote, “Nice article in the Register (Des Moines Register). I grew up in Michigan near Lake Huron and currently live in West Des Moines (21 years) and have driven much of the route you propose. Good luck with your journey and look out for those Lake MI winds on the Michigan side.”
This seemed rather foreboding to all, especially Steve. We laughed, well, except for Steve. I suggested it might be funny should the wind choose to blow out of the north on the Wisconsin side and from the south on the Michigan side. Steve did not concur.
Joking aside, running around Lake Michigan is a daunting task. It’s not nearly as far as the Caspian Sea, at over 4,000, but still a lengthy run. Everyone who hears what Steve is up to, is impressed. We handed out business cards and Lance Armstrong, yellow Live Strong bracelets. It’s starting to feel real.
The food, now gone, was excellent. When asked about eating more calories, he said, “I’ll have the pasta in white sauce, before bed.”
We left Patty O’Sheas and took a cab to Harry Caray’s Tavern. Friends started to show up. Tobin, a professional photographer, joined us. Ryan Nestor, the architect who designed Harry Carey’s Tavern, his wife Rusty, and their daughter Jordin, knew Steve from RAGBRAI and travelled from Lowell, Indiana, just to see Steve off. They’ve donated $250.00. Though they didn’t know it at the time, when Steve lived with them when they mentioned a place called Indiana Dunes, as a good place to run. It would be come one of those sign posts in life that sticks out that he will never forget.
Indiana Dunes is a national park on the souther tip of Lake Michigan. Steve spent the day running, about five or six hours, and while sitting on the dunes, wondered, Has anyone ever tried to run around the lake? That was two years ago, and when he got home Steve started to figure out whether it was possible. In forty days, we’ll know.
Kim, sporting a I am MADLY in love with STEVE CANNON, arrived with daughter Emma and friend, Meghan. They made the trip from Des Moines with their friend Amy. Meghan, 14, from Roosevelt High School, said, when asked what she thought about someone running around Lake Michigan, “Insane, but such a brilliant idea, helping people with cancer, it is worth the run.” Emma, also 14 and a cross country runner, said, “It is really inspiring. He has been training for so long.”
Kim met Steve at a cycling event a year and a half ago. She has been helping promote the run by doing the graphic design, helping with business cards, the web site and various promotional materials. When asked why she volunteered, she said, “Because Steve is such a good guy.”
With Abba, Dancing Queen, playing in the background, the group made another food order. Steve, making an heroic eating effort, ordered Athenian pasta, a Greek dish. The talk turned to the Cubs. Steve asked, “Why is Soriano still batting fifth?”
Nobody had a reasonable answer. The lake, a few feet away was calm, and all around were the happy sounds of friends and Chicago night life. In twelve hours, the run will start. Steve has described it as a more than a battle against himself, his body, and mind, it is a test of the lake itself. Will she be cruel, with wind and rain? Will she send him cold or heat? Or will she take a shine Steve and realize that he has nothing but respect for her beauty and majesty?
Tomorrow, from Harry Carey’s Tavern, on Navy Pier, Steve will take off at 9:00 a.m. Anyone in the Chicago area, is welcome to join Steve and run, for as long as they like. The generosity has been remarkable, with the total raised, thus far, at $17,159.20.
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