The idea of a double marathon weekend always sounds (to me, at least) logistically simple. You’re saving yourself a plane flight or another drive, doing two states in one weekend, and generally saving yourself time. Despite what I want to believe, they never are quite as stress-free as I imagine they will be. This one was no exception. After finishing the Southern Indiana Classic, Amanda and I headed right back to the hotel and showered. We drove through some fast food, dropped my mom off at my cousin’s house, and then headed to St. Louis. The GPS on my phone hasn’t been working real well, so we were relying on the GPS in my dad’s car. It seems like that would be fine…except for the fact that this GPS sometimes just decides to tell you that certain addresses do not exist. Certain addresses that have been in downtown St. Louis for decades. Things like famous hotels. Well, we got to our hotel kind of late, couldn’t find parking, and ended up meeting Angie, who we were staying with, outside the hotel and just heading straight to the expo. Guess what doesn’t exist in the GPS? The gigantic convention center where the expo is held, obviously. T-Rex Fact: There are few things that stress me out more than not knowing where I’m going, particularly in cities, where there are dumb things like one-way streets. Bah.
We got through the expo pretty quickly despite being foiled multiple times by overly aggressive security guards who were super vigilant about making sure participants used the correct entrances and exits. I mean, I appreciate the effort, but the yelling is not necessary. I had a few objectives in the expo – buy a fuel belt or handheld water bottle capable of carrying my Juicy Juice, and get some new socks that would hopefully cushion my blisters a little bit better than the worn out pair I was planning on wearing. I was successful on both fronts despite the outrageous cost of fuel belts and handheld water bottles ($50?? REALLY?) On our way out, we managed to find Denis, who immediately sent me back down into the expo so that he could introduce me to some of his friends who are fans of the blog! Hey y’all! From that point on, it was a mad dash to get to the restaurant for the Maniacs dinner using the faulty GPS. We were going to Rigazzi’s in St. Louis’ Little Italy for Angie’s first ever Maniacs dinner! Boy, was she in for a treat.
Dinner was a great time as we got to sit with all my favorite people, including JC, Peter, and Denis. Fellow Maniac Terri was celebrating her 100th marathon at Go! St. Louis, and I was excited to meet her, especially since she is a member of Team T-Rex. As dinner wound to a close, we were pretty wiped out and ready to head back to the hotel. It seemed kind of crazy that we were going to run a marathon again the next day, especially since I was a little sore. I’m not usually sore after a marathon, so I was a little concerned, but what can you do?
When we finally made it back to the hotel, we parked in a parking garage a few blocks away and got to carry allllll of our stuff from the car. That happened to include a toaster oven, which my mom had thoughtfully packed so Amanda and I could toast our pre-race bagels. For the record, she says I told her to pack a toaster, but I can guarantee that there is no way in hell I had that much foresight. I didn’t even know what hotel we were staying at, let alone what I was eating for breakfast in the morning. Angie, the brains behind the Marathon Training Academy podcasts, had an awesome suite at the Drury Plaza hotel right downtown near the starting line, and she had invited Amanda and I to stay with her. Anyway, the toaster and 50 bags we were carrying elicited quite the stares from passerby, but T-Rex don’t care.
We set off to walk to the Maniacs picture, which we obviously missed. I’m convinced they keep taking these things early, so STOP IT, you guys. I had my friend Halbert’s bib and was planning on giving it to him at the picture, but he wasn’t there. As the race start got closer and closer, I started to panic. I don’t run with my phone, and I had just taken it for granted that he was going to be at the picture, so I had no way to contact him. None of the other Maniacs seemed to have his number either. I made my way all the way to the final corral, where I expected that he would start, and looked everywhere for him. The other Maniacs were all on high alert and promised to be on the lookout for a bald man in a Maniacs shirt. With 5 minutes before the start, I decided to pin Halbert’s bib on to the inside of my Maniacs jersey and just run with it. I knew he would finish the race, so I wanted him to have an official time, and I figured I would see him somewhere on the course and could give it to him then. With literally just a couple of minutes to spare, he came running up to me, extolling the virtues of all the other Maniacs, who had apparently been screaming at him from across the crowd to run and find me in Corral D. Whew! Close one.
We started the race with Terri and her 100th marathon crew, whose plan was to run the race in around 5+ hours, have fun, and take pictures along the way. We weren’t sure how long we could stay with them, but we figured it was worth a try! Well, holy crap, they went out in the first mile around 9 minute pace. Baby’s legs were much too tired from the marathon the day before, and I started panicking a little. I didn’t want to lose the group so quickly, so I held on and prayed for a photo opportunity. We found one at the Anheuser Busch brewery around mile 3.
Shortly thereafter, Kelly from Race for 50 States came up behind us! It was great to see her. I knew she was there, but thought she would be way ahead of me. I guess since our little group jumped in at the front of the B corral at the start, we were a little ahead – oops! She takes the best on-the-run pictures I’ve ever seen. Mine are always ridiculously blurry.
We managed to hang on as the pace slowed down more, we stopped for more pictures, and our legs loosened up. Miles 6-8 of the race were called “Holy Hill,” and were timed separately to encourage runners to go their fastest on this section. The name is a bit deceiving, since it’s actually more of a series of hills than one 2-mile long stretch, and that was a relief! As we approached it, I hear a girl screaming “GO MANIACS!!” and I look to the right and see a neon green sign with a T-Rex on it! I run over shrieking and instantly know it is Emily, who I have never met, but am eternally linked with because I mailed her one of my Maniac singlets so that she could wear it in the Rome Marathon. When she realized it was me, she started screaming too and we had a big girly reunion right there on Holy Hill.
I’d like to take this time to apologize for the excessive number of pictures in the post. We took about a million and they are all awesome.
As it turns out, Holy Hill wasn’t really so terrible. And although we definitely didn’t set any records for blazing speed, it was definitely runnable. The atmosphere along the course at this point was awesome because in addition to being downtown, the race really encourages residents to come out to this particular section of the course to cheer on the runners. We ran past Saint Louis University and a bunch of other landmarks on our way to Forest Park, taking the opportunity to take a picture and cut the “University” part out of the landmark. Oh well.
The entire time, I was conscious of the fact that I needed to carefully monitor my blood sugar. I was alternating water at one rest stop with Juicy Juice from my handheld water bottle at the next, and I was feeling ok. Of greater concern was the giant blister on the bottom of my foot, which was rearing its ugly head. As we approached the half marathon split at mile 9, I suddenly had searing, white hot pain in my foot at the site of my blister. Holy shit. I could not even begin to imagine running another 17.2 miles like that! I was forced with a huge decision, one that I had been contemplating since my blood sugar crashed at the race the day before. Do I try and finish the entire marathon? Do I do the safe/smart/wimpy thing and just do the half? With my foot screaming at me, that decision had suddenly become much more difficult. Another thing that wasn’t helping? The fact that the marathon leaders were passing by in the opposite direction at mile 23 as we were at mile 9. Ugh, to be fast.
Sorry to leave you hanging, but I’m way too tired to continue writing. Turns out I have
an obnoxious amount a lot to say about an expo, a dinner, and 9 miles of running. Stay tuned to find out if I split off with the half marathoners or stay on and finish the double! Unless you are a fan of my facebook page and you already know. In that case, stay tuned to see a million more pictures of me and my friends, because you like that sort of thing.