Monday, April 30, 2012

Race Recap: Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon

Wow! Go figure! I'm actually writing this post the same day as the race!! lol!

Race Day -1

The husband came with me this trip since it was only a 5 hour drive. Woohoo! Another driver!! ;) We left home at 6am and made our way to OKC without incident. We went straight to the expo at the Cox Center to pick up my packet, walk through the expo and listen to some speakers (Dick Beardsley and Bill Rogers were who I was looking forward to). We did manage to hear Bill Rogers do his thing as well as last years winners but by the time Dick Beardsley was to speak we were hungry and headed to go get some lunch instead down in Bricktown. We ended up at Zio's Italian Kitchen to continue my carb loading. After that I decided that I indeed did want to get a tech shirt for the race so we walked back to the expo just so I could get it. Unfortunately they only had long sleeved shirts left, but that's okay with me...that way I could spread my race shirts across the seasons.

Media setup in Thunder Alley (Reno Ave) for the
Dallas Mavericks & OKC Thunder playoff.
Inside the expo.

Me at bib pickup.
Me with Bill Rogers.
We headed to Tinker AFB to again stay in the temporary lodging facility but this time I had brought food to prep for dinner (shrimp in a light butter sauce over whole wheat linguini). Since I had totally forgotten to pack a towel for my post race shower (we wouldn't make it back in time for the late checkout they offered) or post race pants/shorts we stopped at the BX and picked those up plus some Biofreeze since my hip and lower back were hurting. We headed to the registration desk and checked into our apartment. We walked across the street to pick up some food for breakfast and drinks/desert for dinner...we actually ate desert before dinner (Haagen-Daz ice cream pops with chocolate and almonds). I tried to go to sleep at just after 10pm but, as evidenced by my previous post, ended up only getting just barely 2 hours sleep. *yawn*

Race Day - 4/28/12

Race gear
The morning started out after the just barely 2 hours sleep...not race nerves (at least I don't think) just my typical pre-race insomnia. I actually did hit snooze on my alarm  once when it went off at 3am but before it repeated I was up and moving. I had originally tried to plan to get on the road by 5am or 5:15am but between having 2 of us needing to get ready, needing to tape up, pack and check out we didn't get out the door until after 5:15am. In the process of getting ready, I found that I hadn't checked my supply of KT Tape to tape up my feet/ankles/knees so I could only tape my feet...the one place I must tape for sure. Unfortunately, I apparently didn't do a good enough job because I noticed that I still had way too much play in the flexion of my great toe but had no more tape to correct the situation.

By the time we were on the road, I had realized that I forgot to check directions for a back way into downtown OKC since traffic was sure to be congested trying to get into the parking lots (and yes, it was). Due to traffic we missed the opening ceremonies and the 168 seconds of silence...something I had wanted to be there for but since I still have to run the marathon I'll see it one day. We arrived at the Survivor Tree at 6am on the nose and unfortunately didn't find any other Half Fanatics there (was I the only HF running the actual half marathon...I know there were a bunch doing an early start for the full).  So we headed up towards the back of the starting corrals and gear check. After getting my gear bag stashed we waited in the port-a-pot line (I seriously hate those things, but as the saying goes...when you have to go you have to go). It was 6:25am by the time we got our turns and they had already started the wheelchair division. I said a quick goodbye to the old man and got in the what I though was the middle of the last corral...hopefully amongst the slower runners but not quite with the walkers! lol!

You see those lights in the lower middle of the pic?
Yeah, that's the starting line. LOL!
As the race started it took me about 8 minutes again (seems to be my "groove") to get across the finish line. The crowd began an actual jog due to the congestion before finally breaking apart for a more comfortable pace. I had forgotten to turn on my MotoACTV so my watch was running a minute or so late compared to my going over the line. The weather was cooperative so far with more humidity than I am used to, overcast, temps in the mid 60°F range and overcast...but so far no rain or thunder.

Sucky pic, but the best I could get of
the guy in uniform and full pack.
As we ran through downtown towards Reno Ave I saw a vet or active duty guy in  camos carrying a full pack walking the course. We went through Bricktown the local entertainment area then headed over an overpass...the first hill. At this point I had realized that I had forgotten to take my e-cap before the start of the race so I popped one since I knew that even if it was overcast with the humidity I'd be sweating like a dog and losing much needed electrolytes...I really didn't want to have issues with cramps. We headed towards the capitol area with a few more light hills and during this portion there were numerous firefighters in full gear...and I do mean full...walking the course. I also passed more vets/active duty guys (they looked like an organized group) also with full packs. As we wove our way through the capitol and into a medical center type area with several hospitals located there. There were some great signs in that area that I took pics of...hopefully I remember to post them here!  I also so quite a few 5K participants who had missed their turns who had to backtrack to get back on course before (hopefully) hitting the 5K mark on the marathon/half marathon course.

Bricktown by the Johnny Bench Stadium.
The first of several groups of firefighters
in full gear walking the half.
Here comes the rain!
As we moved through a more residential area I passed a guy in shorts carrying a full pack...I'm guessing he was a vet since he wasn't in uniform. I asked him how much his pack weighed and he replied, "Fifty pounds and with the rain a little more." We had gotten some drizzle by this point but nothing significant. I, myself, could not imagine doing 13.1 miles in full firefighter gear or military gear...but then I am a wuss when it comes to being like a pack mule! lol! The course brought us past a Sonic which had a cheer squad outside (not affiliated with Sonic as far as I could tell) and at which I wished I had brought some money...something I intended to do but forgot...I could sure use a small Real Fruit Lemon Slush!! I told you I was addicted. As we went in through some older neighborhoods and past some parks with intermittent rolling hills including one hill that the neighborhood had dubbed "Gorilla Hill." There was a house, near a park, where the occupant was offering cups of vodka to runners, another house that was offering...bacon and Snickers (yes, I did grab some bacon)! Somewhere in this area there was also a crew from Cruzan Rum offering some of their product to runners...I just had to stop and take a picture of that! lol! I think it was at about 6 or 7 miles the rain started. Nothing drastic, but a light, steady, welcome rain. Just having the cool liquid fall on me felt so good. Good enough that whenever they had lawn sprinklers or overhead sprinkling systems set up for runners I took full advantage of them even though it was raining!! :)

I need a lemon slush!
I didn't think this was the worst of the hills!!

For some reason most of the hills didn't bother me so far and even, surprisingly, running up most of them by this point. Maybe it was because I was just running to run rather than trying to beat a time...but then that's what I've been doing anyway in my past several races! As we came out of the residential district we moved into the International District (at least I think that's what they call it). There is no specific Chinatown in OKC but they use Chinese style gates and markers to indicate an area of high international flavor. As we were in about the middle of this area there was a fender bender, yes...traffic was restricted, in full presence of no less than 4 police officers at that intersection facing the accident! Oh my! ;) At about mile 9 the first marathoner went past with a full escort. After than a slow stream of marathons seemed to pass off and on and seemed to mostly from two Oklahoma running clubs, but I just don't remember seeing any of the female marathoners go by although I when I asked a volunteer course marshal at about mile 10 he said that 1-2 had indeed already passed by. With this race I didn't hit my usual wall at mile 9 although I did slow down just a little.

We went into an older mix of residential and business area past some schools and yes, more hills. After that we were headed back towards the memorial. I remember in a residential area at mile 11 there was a volunteer saying "Only 2 more miles to go!" I was kind of surprised that we were already that far because I was feeling pretty good. As we passed into mile 12 volunteers were yelling "1.1 more miles, you can do it! It's almost all downhill from here!" Even though I was hoping for about a 2:40 - 2:45 finish I was a bit slower but I didn't mind. I was feeling the best during a race than I had in a few weeks. I increased my running intervals again (hadn't really followed a set interval since about 7-8 miles) and crossed the finish at 2:50:20 and I'm good with that since my ultimate goal is to try not to go over 3 hours at any race.

I'm very happy with the finishing medal, it's not the biggest but there's a lot of meaning behind it. The marathoners have a slightly bigger medal and I believe a blue printed ribbon in comparison to the half marathon and relay medal. I've got to say that the food/fluid set up is one of the best I've been at so far with the drinks (water and sports drinks) being nice and cold, bagels, bananas, Dole fruit cups, Carl's Jr. burgers (fresh), chocolate milk, etc. I was full by the time I got through and I hadn't even hit my own normal post race snacks! Unfortunately there was a delay in the timing reporting so I just headed over to gear pick up where I was to meet the husband. When he didn't show I called and he didn't know where I was because the tracking and the results are linked. I told him to just stay at the church (where they were serving free pancakes and sausage) while I walked to the YMCA just a block away to take a shower. Unfortunately, they were closed...and I think they were just administrative offices I'd have to wait and drive back to the base for my shower.

The first marathoner passing me at around mile 9

We made it back to the base right about 11am and I got my shower at the gym...ahhhh! We headed over to the BX for a meal at Popeye's which for me turned out to be larger than normal. Typically I have a 3 piece with 1 side, biscuit and a med drink. Today it was 4 pieces, 2 sides, 1 side and 3 large drinks! After that the trip home began. I started out as the driver but just as with previous trips when I try to drive the day of the race I was tired within an hour of the drive starting so we switched off just outside of OKC...yay for having a 2nd driver!! I must have immediately crashed out because it was about 2 hours later that I woke up and we were not too far from the Gray County rest area in Texas where I chatted briefly with a man who ran the full marathon (yay for people wearing the race t-shirt on the trip home!).

Troy at Cadillac Ranch
As I drove we decided that we'd stop at Cadillac Ranch just outside of Amarillo. Even though we've lived in the region for 20 years we had never made it there. It really was pretty cool. I don't know exactly why, but I always thought that it was built to resemble the formation of Stonehenge, but it doesn''s just a row of 10 end up Caddy's. If you're not familiar with it just click on the link above. After that short stop (about 25 minutes) during which I took pictures of the "monument" and of people/kids spray painting the Cadillacs we were on to finish the slightly longer than 1.5 hour trip home...with a side trip to Sonic. I really need to have a second driver with me on my long trips! ;)

What I liked about this race - I thought it was a really nice course. Excellent support and cheer squads...I saw multiple super heros, multiple canines (the most I've ever seen during a race), and just great energy. Location...only a 5 hour drive from home, yet a great race. Close to a lodging.

You don't see a lot of Irish Wolfhounds around,
 but this one was watching the race with his female human!
What I didn't like about his race - Really...nothing. Other than the results being delayed I thought it was organized great! Well, maybe more port-a-pots at the start? Oh, and the traffic for parking...but hey, it is what it is!

Would I do this race again? Resoundingly, YES!! I'd be sure to make it to the opening ceremony and 168 seconds of silence too!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Since I Can't Sleep #2: I Can't Believe I Won Something!

Well, maybe this post title will be a lucky theme for me! In my original "Since I Can't Sleep" post, I was notified about winning a prize! Of course, since I hadn't been blogging regularly I didn't see the notification and I don't remember getting and email notifying me of a new comment from Blogger. Oh well! I'll be getting a doozy of a prize to help pamper my feet and those hard, dry heels I've dealt with for most of my life (started when I danced as a kid and running isn't helping much!). I'll be receiving the Emjoi Micro Pedi sometime in the next week or so and once I've used it awhile I'll post a review. Thanks to Valiant over at For the Love of the Run for picking me!! :D

Anyway...tonight I'm sitting in the little temporary lodging facility (TLF - basically a small 1 bedroom apartment) here at the Indian Hills Lodging facility on Tinker AFB, Oklahoma on the eve of the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon/Half Marathon/5K (I'm doing the half...maybe the full in a year or two). Of course my alarm (the first of 3) is set to go off in 3 hours and 3 minutes with subsequent alarms going off in 15 minute increments (no, I'm not just hitting the snooze button). The loss of 1 hour due to crossing an eastern border is not fun. I've been in bed for the past hour trying to sleep and I dare not take anything (natural or man made) that might cause me to sleep through my alarms. I'm really half tempted to open up the sofa sleeper and see if I can fall asleep on it. But truthfully, although I'm tired I'm not "sleepy" tired. Maybe it's also the fact that I'm sleeping next to the A/C unit and getting the air blown on me. I wonder if he would notice if I turned it off? Or maybe it's the fact that we sleep in a king sized bed at home and here we're in a double. Or maybe it's the noise from is bi-pap (similar to c-pap) machine and the fact that he is that much closer to me in the bed. I really don't know, but I guess I'll give it a try again. 

Another sticker I have to add to my car...
with all the others that still need to be added!
Well, please wish me luck...between the inevitable lack of sleep (which will improve at the memorial/prayer service at 5:30am) and my left hip/pelvis/piriformis/ITB./whatever...being pretty achy I'm definitely not looking for PR. However, if you ever have the chance to visit the OKC Memorial/Museum I recommend it highly. We visited it a few years ago when we were in town and I was in tears the whole time...very moving! Tomorrow will be a new experience being there in the memorial at sunrise, the 168 seconds of silence,  the service and finally the race...I can't wait! The race report will hopefully follow not too soon after! G'nite!

Oh, did I forget to mention that we're in a thunderstorm watch until 2am with the potential for 3" hail, severe lightning and wind gusts to 70mph...and I can hear it starting outside now? Not the hail...yet...thankfully! Check out the wonderful race weather I can expect...I'm just planning for rain and packing an emergency poncho in my hydration belt since I'm not too fond of being Last year the rain threw down and the runners got pelted with large hail. I'm hoping it's not going to be a repeat!!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Welcome to My World

Sorry, I couldn't help it! ;)
OK. So it seems that tweaking my race schedule has become my favorite thing to do. Why can't I just leave well enough alone? Early this morning I thought that I had my total 2012-2014 schedule planned out. The way I put it when I posted it on one of my Facebook running groups was: "Races will only be canceled due to lack of $$/vehicle, gas over $6/gal, severe injury that can't be supported with tape/other eternal supports, severe illness/death. I'll sleep in my Explorer if I have to if I can't afford hotels or I'll tow our tiny travel trailer if gas isn't too expensive." Well, I got thrown a curve ball when a new "local" marathon/half marathon/5K was announced today. Plus I knew I needed to add a Ragnar Relay in but was focusing on my marathon planning instead. So now I have to make some adjustments.

I'm changing my double half of the Rock & Roll Denver Half Marathon and a planned half marathon in either Jackson Hole or Omaha. Instead I'm going to fly into Denver Friday, race on Saturday, fly back to Amarillo ($60 cheaper than flying into Lubbock) and drive to Lubbock to stay overnight and race on Sunday in the full marathon. I had been hoping to do the Goofy Challenge in Walt Disney World in January, but since I can't I may as well make my own challenge on this particular weekend.

As far as Ragnar goes...I'm thinking the Napa Ragnar Relay in September of this year or next. I don't know if 4 months will be enough time to plan the logistics for a 12 person team (each person runs 3-8 miles three times). We'd need to coordinate the team, wrangle two 15 passenger vans, get the snackage together, etc. Maybe 2013 would be a better choice...

I don't know. I'm a total lunatic about running now. It's an illness. I know...(as I start getting ready to clean and pack for the Oklahoma City Memorial Half Marathon...)

Race Recap: New Mexico Centennial/NM-TX Challenge Half Marathon

4/20/12 - Race Day -1

For some reason, I was thinking that the drive down to Hobbs was a 3 hour drive when it is just barely a 2 hour drive. If I had realized that I would have just left early Saturday morning since the half marathon had an 8am start time. From where I live it is pretty much a straight, long, boring drive to the south in order to get to Hobbs. Now, I've only been there once in the middle of the night and I was surprised to see that the population was about 20, 000 more than my town. I had always thought that Hobbs was a small town by New Mexico terms. Anyway, it's a city based on the oil that is pumped from it's fertile grounds. If you've ever lived near an oil field or refinery you know the smell that comes along with them. It wasn't really bad, but it was noticeable at times.

I met my local running friend, Teresa, at the race packet pick up and we chatted at bit making plans to meet for the free pasta dinner that the race was putting on. Since I had left home without having any breakfast or lunch I was hungry at 3pm so I headed over to Schlotzky's for a sourdough pepperoni pizza. After eating I headed over to WalMart because I hadn't brought a swimsuit to go into the pool or hot tub but found on checking into the hotel that my room didn't have a tub. I looked around for a bit and decided against getting a suit so I headed back to the hotel where I got my gear together, took some pics and played on Facebook a bit.

At 5pm I headed down to Teresa's hotel to pick her up and we made the 20 minute drive to Lovington where the pasta dinner would be and were the full marathon would start the next day. The food was pretty good...can't really complain when it's free! lol! I had a large serving of linguini with alfredo sauce, a big serving of spaghetti with meat sauce, salad, 2 breadsticks, cake and 3 glasses of lemonade. After dinner I dropped Teresa off and went back to the hotel. After sitting around for awhile I decided that I, indeed, did want to soak in the hot tub (I was still a little achy from the previous weekend's double). Luckily, I decided to go see if the pool and hot tub were busy before heading back to WalMart only to find both full of teenages. Nope! Not happening. I went back upstairs and got ready for bed. I think I actually fell asleep before 10pm...a record the night before a race!

4/21/12 - Race Day

Race day outfit.
I woke up before my alarm which I had set for 5:30am. I quickly got showered, taped up and dressed then headed down to toast my Bagel Thin. Thank goodness some hotels are leaving their breakfast appliances out all the time now! :)  I thought that I could get ready fast enough drive over to Lovington to take some pictures at the start but I guess I was moving slower than normal...or I should've gotten up at 5am instead of 5:30am. I headed to the start at the Western Heritage Museum at around 6:45am and just wandered around until starting time. I saw that this was going to be a small race maybe 100 in the half marathon. I lined up in the back third of the need for corrals...and then they asked us to move back a bit. Somewhere in the movement they started the race which caught a bunch of us by surprise and then we were off.

Half marathon, 10K and 5K starting line pics.
Things started off fine early on but by the middle of mile 2 my pelvis and ITBS was acting up and I began walking more than running. I kept trying to push harder but the pain, while not severe, was enough to make me walk most of the least half, probably closer to 3/4. I did see some cool things like the remnants of the old Hobbs Army Air Field (which I didn't know ever existed) and the state prison (lol!). I had no issues with cramps as the weather was very cooperative with a strong breeze and comfortable temps. What should have been a fast, flat course ended up being a slow, flat course for me. I finished with my worst time ever so far 3:07 and some change.

Sign noting the location of Hobbs Army Air Base from WWII.
A lone marathoner heading towards the turnaround point.
That's NM Junior College in the distance,
not too far from the finish line.
Psych...still have to run around the front and around it!
After the race Teresa saw me at the finish...she had finished the FULL marathon about 40 minutes before me!! lol!! And we chatted a bit before I headed over to see how long the wait for the massage therapist would be. With a list of 5 people ahead of me and the time past 11am already I decided to walk back to the hotel, stopping at a convenience store to get some chocolate milk since I had to be out of the room by noon. As soon as I got in the door, I jumped into the shower threw everything haphazardly into my suitcase and made my way downstairs.

Because I didn't have my usual beef teriyaki I think I got a major craving for beef going. I decided to stop at a local steakhouse and ordered a teeny tiny 6oz prime rib was the first time in a very long time that I haven't finished a piece of meat that small...I only got through about 3oz!! After a quick stop at Sonic for my addiction (Real Fruit Lemon Slush) I headed home for an uneventful drive...other than heading north on the wrong highway! I arrived home around 2:15pm and immediately fell asleep for 3 hours. I guess I was tired!! ;)

Race Recap: GO! St. Louis HM

4/15/12 - Race Day

Race day gear.
 For some reason I had a really good night's sleep! Woke up easily and even just slightly before my alarm at 3:30am. Did my getting ready necessaries (shower, eat, Facebook...not necessarily in that order) but luckily I didn't have to tape up since I had taped up fully the day before, all that was required was some trimming of lifted areas.

Driving into St. Louis from IL.
I was on the road by 5am and had planned for a 40 minute drive which in all actuality only took about 30 minutes. Parking was pretty simple, although I did have to hang around the Explorer and ask a couple of people if the meters were actually free on Sundays...come on St. Louis, put up some signage for us out of towners! I managed to park on the street just 2 blocks from the starting area...score! Once I was sure I had all the gear and my gear bag...yes, I was actually going to use gear check for the second time in my running career, I headed towards the venue. The weather was cooperating, no need for my garbage bag on this day. I wandered around for a bit before noticing that one or maybe both of the silicone toe sleeves on my right foot felt wrong. I use these, or try to use them, to protect from anymore black toenails. I stopped and adjusted them and put my sock and shoe back on. I wandered around while eating a banana trying to figure out where the gear check area was. I finally found a volunteer who directed me towards city hall...yay!! Once I dropped off my gear I headed for what I knew would likely be the last indoor restrooms available. The line was loooong! I had been waiting about 15 minutes with another 20 or so in line before me, to top it off it was nearly 6:30am already. They wanted us in our corrals by 6:40am or we risked having to start in the last corral. A few ladies came by and told us that there was another restroom on the other end of the building and I made a beeline over to it...the line was much shorter, but I still had about a 5 minute wait. After I visited Mother Nature I  headed at a light jog to my corral..."D" out of "E" corrals...yes, I was just about in the last starting block since I'm so slow!! lol! This race was huge...something like 15,000+ participants it was by far the biggest race I've participated in. Now, waiting in the corral is a great place to people watch. Because they were offering free beer I was looking for someone who looked like they were active duty to give my beer coupon to since I don't drink. No luck...anyone who fit the description was either too far from me to hear me over the din or I really can't pick out my active duty people anymore because guys are wearing their hair short again. Oh, and if they're females it's almost impossible to tell who's active duty when there out of uniform!

View from Corral D
As I people watched I realized that I still had my phone with me. Now I don't typically run with my phone anymore since I got my MotoACTV. I was a bit irritated that I had forgotten to stash it in my gear bag and that it was too big for the case for my camera that I wear on my hydration belt. Hey, if I'm not going to win the race I'll take pictures while I run the race! ;) I was wearing my running skort that has fairly large pockets so I stashed it in the one on my right leg and hoped for the best. I snapped a couple of pictures and then the national anthem started. I could barely hear the singer or the announcer since I was so far back in the crowd. I heard them start the race, but it took a full 8 minutes for me to actually get across the starting line...that's how big the race was.

Around mile 8, I think.

We started down towards the Anheuser-Busch brewery where there was...wait for it...hills! They also had one of the Clydesdales out there to cheer us on...why didn't I stop for a picture? Once down those hills we headed down closer to the river and before turning I noticed that the toe caps were bothering me again. I finally had to come to a full stop and sit on the sidewalk to check them. Since I had had the same problem in Indiana (but didn't notice until I got to the hotel) I just went ahead and took them off hoping for no problems. I joined the race again and kept to a pretty steady 4 min:1 min run walk interval. Did I mention that the fastest marathoners and half marathoners passed me when I had barely passed the 2 or 3 mile mark? Ugh. Anyway, I ran on dealing with some relatively low hills without much problem...actually running up most of each of them. There seemed to be quite a lot of flat areas in the downtown portion but it was also at this time that I saw a woman fall down for the first time during the race. The weather wasn't too hot, maybe in the high 60's but it was pretty humid at around 60% if I remember correctly. As I ran on I began seeing a few more people pulled off to the side being attended to by race monitors or EMS. At some point, later in the race, I saw the same woman fall again. I was feeling pretty good myself sipping on my G2 and using a Hammer Endurolyte capsule each hour that I was on the course. At around mile 8 I check the time on my watch versus my projected pace and found that I was actually 10 ahead of pace!! I was shooting for a 2:40 finish but I was running 10 minutes ahead of what I needed to be. Whoohoo!! Possible new PR!! Especially on a course with hills!! But my joy turned to irritation when I hit that dreaded wall again at 9 miles. Boy, that was some shortlived joy! lol! The hills started up again...walk up, jog down. Watched the new relay members join the race after the transfer looking all relaxed and stuff. Jerks!! lol, just kidding! :) We were heading back into downtown and I had thought we had finished with the hills, then I saw a downward slope leading to a decently sloped overpass. Damn! Made it over that obstacle and turned the corner...and there it was, probably the biggest hill in the race at around mile 11...NO FAIR!!! I struggled up that long hill and at the top all I heard was "You're almost there!" They weren't lying...the last 1.1 miles was ahead of me. I decided that I was so tired that I'd just walk so that I could at least run the last quarter of a mile or so to the finish line. Time didn't matter anymore. I crossed the line jogging and almost as soon as I got over the timing mechanism I slowed to a walk. I ended up finishing 13 minutes after my goal time. I got my medal (a nice one, my second favorite behind Tink!), took a finisher's photo and grabbed some snacks. I immediately headed back to city hall while munching a banana to grab my gear and my much needed chocolate milk.

I sat down on the marble steps and grabbed my "The Stick" (a massaging stick) and began using it on my legs. Ahhhhhhh! I'm going to have to remember to keep that in my bag every race. I drank my chocolate milk, had some beef jerky and another banana. A few more girls (in their 20's I think) sat nearby and we were soon talking about the race and our future goals. One was another nurse who had lost over 100 pounds and began to run, another was going to be joining Half Fanatics after this race as her qualifyer, I gave some of them the name to our Facebook Bling Whore group and we just enjoyed each others company for probably close to 30 minutes just commensurating about our aches and pains.

Finishers medal, new #2 fave.
One of the cheer squads on the course.
Love the signs!

As we slowly broke up the group I headed back to my car...very slowly. I looked up the nearest YMCA so that I could take a shower and luckily it was only less than a 5 minute drive away. I got there, filled in the guest use form (I'm a YMCA member at home) proceeded to the showers. While the shower felt great just to wash all the dried salt from my skin, it would've been nice for there to actually be some water pressure!! lol! I contemplated what I wanted to do in town as a tourist.  One of the girls, a local, recommended the old location of the World's Fair but I wasn't really in a mood to walk around. So, I figured I'd just go see the Gateway Arch and find a nice steak for lunch. I got to the parking lot for the arch and headed in. The visitor's center was actually underground and you have to purchase tickets to go to the top of the arch as well as for some of the movie presentations. I hung out since I only had to wait about 20 minutes and looked in the gift shop and having a soda before getting into line (they assign times for your tours). I have to say that it's not really all that take the "train" (really some tiny pods) to the top where you look out of 16 tiny windows and you come down. The swaying of the arch was pretty pronounced since it was so windy that day. After taking a few pictures and noticing that there was a Cardinals game in progress I headed down after less than 10 minutes (translation my whole stay cost more than $1/minute). I headed back outside to take some exterior shots but felt so tired that I even took a few minutes to lay down on one of the stone benches for a quick few minutes (literally) of napping. Food then became the focus. I didn't have the energy to walk around downtown to find a steakhouse and parking on the street was rough so I decided to find a steakhouse close to my cousin's house and eat there.

Inside the visitor center.
The Gateway Arch and I.
I drove back to the town where my cousin lives and found the restaurant...but it was closed either permanently or for remodeling. I got back on my phone and Google maps and since there was no other steakhouse that sounded good I went to a Japanese restaurant that had good reviews and a moderately priced menu. Good choice! After having my fill of shrimp/veggie tempura, soup, 12 piece sashimi and a new type of roll I headed back to my cousin's. It seemed that everyone was either gone or in their rooms so I headed downstairs and watched TV for a few before heading to bed for a nap. I'm not sure how long I slept but when I woke up I still wasn't the least bit hungry so I just watched more TV and chatted with my cousin and bid an early goodbye to the family. I went to bed pretty early after packing as I wanted to be on the road around 5am.

Cardinal game in progress.
View to East of the Arch.

Boy that's tall!
4/16/12 - Race Day +1

I managed to wake up and get on the road as planned but realized that I should have filled up before leaving St. Louis. I had to fill up in Illinios (I probably could've made St. Louis but I didn't want to deal with Monday commute) at nearly $4/gallon. I got back on the road and once I reached Six Flags St. Louis I pulled off to have breakfast at Denny's. Now, the weather was cold and I was wearing shorts, a tank top and sandals. I was thankful that I had 2 race shirts and grabbed one to wear just to be a bit warmer. The drive was pretty routine, but as I got closer to Oklahoma City about 9 hours later I decided that it would be smarter for me to stop overnight and get a good night's rest before finishing the last 5 hours of driving. I managed to get a room on Tinker AFB then went to the BX/Commissary mall initially to buy a steak and fixins since I was in temporary family lodging and had a full kitchen at my disposal. I walked around the BX first and noticed that they had a Popeye's in the food court...the idea of cooking quickly went out of my head. I got the meal to go and headed back to the room kicking up my feet, playing on Facebook and eating. I then decided that since it was light out that I'd print up the Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon/Half Marathon map and go drive the route. I drove to the memorial and followed the course as best I could. I'm okay with it, yes there are some hills but nothing huge (I actually think my perception is changing or at least becoming more accepting) and fairly pretty as well. It was dark by the time I got back on base so I just headed to the room and crashed out for the night thinking that maybe, just maybe I'd take a short 5K run on the running path that I had noticed on base in the morning.

4/17/12 - Race Day +2

View on the Greenway just before getting lost!
I woke up at around 5:30am and decided to indeed hit the trail. I got dressed and walked the few blocks to the lodging office to see if they had a map of the trail since the one that was supposed to be in my room was gone. I got the map and began on my run. Now, let me explain, this map was a full page but the print was minuscule and you had to have a magnifying glass to read it. I managed to go where I planned on the Urban Greenway (reclaimed land) but got lost so bad in base housing that my run ended up being over a mile longer and 20 minutes longer than planned. By the time I got back to the room it was nearly 9:30am and I still had to shower, eat and pack. I managed to get that all that done by 10:50am and headed out to the office to checkout. I got through the first half of the drive with relatively no problem but had to stop at the Texas Welcome Center in Gray County to wake up a bit. As I headed into Amarillo I decided that since I had to go right by the Big Texan (a restaurant known for it's 72 oz. steak challenge and featured on many food shows) I'd just stop and get that steak I've been craving since Saturday. Yep...a nice, thick, somewhat "mooing", 18 oz rib eye!! Yeeeeeha! After that big meal (bread, salad, steak, loaded baked potato) I walked around the gift shop to let nature do it's thing before heading back on the road. I think I got home around 6pm and almost immediately went to bed! I had survived my first lone, long distance road trip of over 2,000 miles for a run...

This is what where I live looks like...except FLAT!
Yep...Texas shaped BBQ grill! lol!
Nice welcome center at Gray County 60 miles east of Amarillo.
Free wifi but you have to be outside near that big white thing to the left.
Not an uncommon sign in this region...the rattlesnakes, not the climbing.
My 18oz rib eye at the Big Texan!