I’ve been feeling like a T-Rex with my head cut off lately, and this weekend was no exception. Kristen, Kate and I were heading to Knoxville to compete in the Covenant Health Knoxville Half Marathon and Full Marathons, respectively, but first, I had to make my mark on a fine southern tradition: the 80th annual Carolina Cup. For those of you who don’t know, the Carolina Cup is a steeplechase (horse race over jumps) held in Camden, South Carolina, which bills itself as the steeplechase capital of the world. The running joke at Carolina Cup is “I never even saw a horse!” This is because everyone is belligerently drunk the entire time while wearing their Easter best.
“Cup,” as it is known here, is a really big deal. I’ve never gone before since I never had anyone to go with, but AJ’s family goes every year. Naturally, Cup was scheduled on the day I was supposed to leave for Knoxville for a race. It is now a can’t miss family event, which means I had to figure out a way to squeeze it in. The problem? I had about an hour and a half window in which I could attend, and I had to find a suitable dress and possibly a hat, like any good southerner.
Naturally, when AJ informed me of his outfit selection, it completely clashed with the dress I was planning on wearing, so I went with plan B. The good news is, AJ’s mom liked it and I got a lot of compliments, so at least I could breathe a little easier. Kathy is hard to please.
The most entertaining portion of the morning involved watching AJ try and tie his bowtie. If I could have videoed this, I would have. We had both phones going with youtube tutorials, frantic text messages exchanged between all the guys, etc. And in the end, two hours later, who had to tie the tie? And who was the one who found the “missing” step in the video that AJ overlooked? I’ll let you guess. Don’t dare suggest that they use clip ons, though. The only thing more embarrassing than a poorly tied bow tie is apparently a clip on bow tie. So now you know.
I was sad to leave Cup. I was having a great time and I knew it was only going to get better, but alas, I have states to cross off the list. Too bad I missed the 225 college students that got arrested, including the two that got caught having sex in the police horse trailer. Sigh. Turns out you can wear Lilly Pulitzer dresses and bowties and still shame yourself effectively. But I jumped in my truck and headed home to meet Kate and Kristen, who were convening at my house for the 4 hour drive to Knoxville. I promptly called the backseat so that I could disco nap with my sleeping bag, and it was delightful. Except none of my naps lasted longer than an hour because those two fools have bladders the size of two year olds. We literally stopped 3 times on a 4 hour drive. T-Rex Mom raised me right – you only go to the bathroom when you’re getting gas, which is also when you’re getting food – so naturally, I was appalled. However, we did enjoy the very scenic drive through the Cumberland Gap and the gorgeous Tennessee mountains. At one of our 21301943982 stops, we saw a person in some type of animal costume.
I will give you a hint. Kate thought a distant relative of this animal was going to hop through people’s yards on Sunday and leave Easter baskets. “LOOK! It’s the EASTER BUNNY!” No, it’s blatantly a cat. But that’s what a few hours in the car will do to you. Also, we have yet to determine why a cat was the mascot of choice for a bicycle store, but no matter.
Along the drive to Knoxville, Kristen and Kate liked to
annoy me shout out things they wanted to do based on billboards that they saw. These include, but are not limited to : visit the Ripley’s aquarium, go to Dollywood, go to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede, purchase a log cabin, visit Bat Cave, NC, go on ghost tours, etc. I will say, the T-Rex enjoys a good dinner show, so I could be convinced to go to Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede. We arrived in Knoxville around 6 pm, but not before nearly killing no fewer than 3 homeless people along the way. Much like Birmingham is the land of ignoring parking laws, Knoxville is the land of stupid pedestrians. People just amble across the road. They don’t look. They just walk. It’s insanity. This isn’t fucking Disney World. We eventually found my friend Blake’s apartment, and he began plying us with alcohol immediately. It was evident he was in a fraternity because he handed us strawberry flavored beer as soon as we walked in. Well played, sir. We then headed over to the race expo, which was a mere quarter mile walk from his apartment. What a country! Walking distance! Amazing! Along the way, we noticed some tennis shoes slung over the electrical wires.
Kate insisted that this was a sign people had been killed here, but uh, that’s a lot of people. Kristen thinks this is how gangs mark their territory. With Keds? I think not. I think Knoxville is probably just full of rednecks with nothing else to do, so they throw shoes.
We made it to the Expo, where Kate’s biggest nightmare occurred – they couldn’t find her name on the registration list. The look on her face of sheer panic was priceless. We went back and forth trying to figure it out, but apparently the issue was the kid just couldn’t read, so eventually she got her number.
With that, we made our way over to Downtown Grill & Brewery to continue the pre-race tradition of sampling local beers. We got to see a lot of the city on our walk, and Knoxville is extremely cool. It has a really fun outdoor feel – lots of people sit outside and enjoy the weather at restaurants and are walking around all the time, so I greatly enjoyed it.
Here’s something you should know about me. I have exceptional people skills most of the time, but particularly when it comes to getting first-come-first-served tables at busy restaurants. The line at Downtown Brewery was huge, but I have an uncanny ability to spot people sitting in the bar section who are about to leave. Some people feel nervous or shy about asking these people if they wouldn’t mind giving you their table when they’re done, but remember, T-Rex don’t care. So before Blake had even made it up to the front of the line to put in our name, I had swiped a table from a very nice couple who were about to get their check. I told them all about my 50 states quest, lots of the marathons I’ve done, etc. That’s what dinosaurs do. We make connections.
On the way back, we decided to stop and take pictures at the starting line, since we had to pass under it on the way to Blake’s house. First, we took a picture like decent human beings.
Then we made approximately 40 attempts at taking a picture of all of us jumping.
Upon navigating through the possible gang territory/killing zone/redneck playground/homeless people skating rink, we arrived back at Blake’s apartment and set up our air mattresses basically as one giant air mattress since we had to fit a lot of people in a small room. Kate and I went to sleep in preparation for the race, while the insomniacs stayed awake and drank beer. When was the last time that ever ended poorly?