Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Chasing Al Capone

This past weekend, Kendra and I went to Chicago to make another attempt at qualifying her for the Boston marathon. This was three weeks after my pacing failure at the Delaware marathon and a week after an usual taper of wine tasting and vineyard tours. It occurred to me that in that time we were also chasing Al Capone's history.
Al Capone
Al Capone
Capone may have started his career in Brooklyn but he became notorious in Chicago. At 26 years old he became a mob boss controlling illegal breweries and a transportation network. For about four years he was infamous and had the backing of local law enforcement and pretty much could do whatever he wanted.

Rockford Marathon
Meanwhile,  Kendra and I cruised around Navy Pier before heading out west to Rockford the home of______. I still haven't figured that one out. I'm sure that there is something special about this town but I just couldn't find it. It could have been in one of the numerous strip clubs or pay-day loan centers in the town though.

Oh it can't be that bad though right? Well..... morning of the marathon, runners were presented with exceptionally long porto-potty lines. Not enough? Not quite. Instead someone had burned down about 10 of them the night before. Seriously. It looked like a city of Smurfs was massacred.

Speaking of massacres, supposedly it was only after the Saint Valentine's Day Massacre(an attempt on rival Bugs Moran resulting in 7 of Bugs' men being gunned down) that put Capone out of favor with the public. Soon thereafter Capone sentenced to 8 months for carrying a gun in Philadelphia.
Al Capone's Cell
Capone's digs at Eastern State Penitentiary
As I mentioned before, that sentence was spent in relative luxury at Eastern State Penitentiary in Philadelphia(he had a radio, oriental rugs and fine furniture) in 1929. A newspaper reporter for the Philadelphia Public Ledger described Capone's cell.

"The whole room was suffused in the glow of a desk lamp which stood on a polished desk... On the once-grim walls of the penal chamber hung tasteful paintings, and the strains of a waltz were being emitted by a powerful cabinet radio receiver of handsome design and fine finish."

As we had biked by the prison while in Philly a few weeks back, it didn't look like a four star hotel but at the time, it was one of the most expensive buildings in America.

Back to the race
After Delaware's fast start and painful finish, I decided to start us out a little slower this time. We were clicking off miles right around 8's for the first 13-15 and she was looking strong. The wind started to pick up a bit and our time started to slow a bit but still she was doing well. The culminating fatigue from having run a marathon three weeks before and the increasingly challenging wind did make us drop off pace a bit. We ended up finishing 7 minutes off qualifying for Boston but still with a huge 4 minute PR for her! It was a far more evenly run race and, with rest and a nice big build, I bet she will be qualifying for sure next time.

Back to Capone
After getting out of Eastern State, Capone was then free until 1932 where he was famously convicted of income tax evasion and was soon sent to Alcatraz in San Francisco Bay. From what I've read, while Eliot Ness, a Chicago native, gets the credit for pinning Capone, it was actually IRS agent, Frank Wilson, whose investigation led to Capone's downfall.  Capone entered Alcatraz at age 33 and already was showing signs of dementia from neurosyphilis. He was released in 1939 and was determined to have the mental capacity of a 12 year old. He died 9 years later at his home.

We visited Alcatraz when in San Fran and it definitely didn't look like Capone's 7 years there were spent like his 8 months in Philly. Goes to show. Crime never pays. Or if it does, it pays you back with syphilis.

Up Next: Hollis Fast 5K(Danny and Kendra) June 11th; IM CDA(Amber) June 28th

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