Friday, April 27, 2012

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!

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