Monday, September 21, 2015

Beef in the 'Burbs

Team Beef Illinois was at it again this weekend.

My good running and cattle women friends, Christy, Jodi and Jill and I hit the road for a lovely half marathon along the Fox River. Along with our favorite Illinois Beef Association Staffer, Shelia, and friends with the Kane County Cattleman's Association, we were well represented.

So happy at the start line! From the right: Christy, Jill, Jodi and me.

All in the name of beef.

While it wasn't my greatest half marathon time, it was one of my most fun. Training in itself was a feat: I squeezed runs in between practices and performances. I ran while pushing my twins. I would often head out before dawn for long runs before church, and when I was desperate this summer, I would head out down our road, phone in hand while Anna would babysit (don't report me. Mama needs a break.). I focused on miles, not necessarily speed, and gauged my success by whether or not my skinny jeans fit. Here's my big win for this half: THEY DO.

Anyway, the purpose of this run was fun and advocacy. What was interesting about this, is that St. Charles, Geneva, Batavia, all the towns we ran through are technically suburbs (and BEAUTIFUL ones, at that. Wow. Very enjoyable house watching as I ran shady streets with big yards and even bigger houses.). Sure, these towns were settled way before urban sprawl met them with a Starbucks influx and the Noodles and Company invasion on every corner. While folks who live in Kane County consider them suburbanites, I do too--any place within less than 20 minutes from a Pottery Barn is suburban to me. However, these towns have a big agricultural presence.

I'm digressing.

My point is, Team Beef was not just represented by myself and my three friends. Passing out top sirloin, fresh off a charcoal grill at the finish line was the Kane County Cattleman's Association.

The crowd was primarily suburban. These friends are true Chicago-suburbanites, stereotypes who gauge distance from anywhere in the suburbs and city in minutes. These folks cheered on the dude wearing a Bears jersey in front of me the whole time with great gusto. These people take the Metra downtown from the Park and Ride. Amongst all these folks was a large group of farmers, cattlemen, specifically. These friends gave up their Sunday morning, to serve real beef. They gave their name and money from their group to be a sponsor, so says my long sleeved tech t-shirt!

That's awesome.

Beef is in the 'Burbs, baby!

It's funny. Running for Team Beef the first few times, just in Champaign and in my home town, made me more nervous than running in this venue. Sure, this time I knew I was running with friends, for starters, but also the presence of farm life in this area was palpable. Old barns dotted the landscape amongst strip malls and cul-de-sacs. Farmsteads were converted to nurseries, using old barns as places to pick your fall mums and straw bales. Nothing says suburban like a straw bale. The young cattlemen representing Kane county were young, active advocates for beef, their corn fields mere minutes from a Crate and Barrel. These western suburbs have roots in farming, and the advocates and farmers in this area, specifically in this venue, beef is getting good press.

I was hollered at on the race route, not heckled. "We love it! Team Beef!"

One group of men runners teased me about packing steak flavored GUs at mile 10.


At the finish line, I was grabbed by a few runners, congratulating me on a good run, thanking me for pacing them in my red shirt.

That's pretty awesome.

I highly recommend finding something you love to do and pair it with a cause. It doesn't hurt that pairing my cause with a baked potato also makes it delicious.

Go Team Beef!
Done! And in just under 2 hours (unofficially...)

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