This past week, I realized just what an unhinged individual I truly am. Don’t get me wrong, the thought has crossed my mind more than once over the past 26 years, but it really came to fruition this week. I had been violently stalking glancing casually at the forecasted temperatures for the Madison Marathon since the 10 day forecast had come out, and it was calling for a hot one – high temperatures in the 90s. Obviously that’s not my ideal situation, especially since the Green Bay Marathon had been cancelled two hours and thirty minutes into the race on the previous weekend due to the heat, leading me to suspect that people in Wisconsin are wimps. Sure enough, on Tuesday, the Madison Marathon staff posted on Facebook that they were considering cancelling the full marathon due to the heat and would decide by Friday at 4 pm. Not exactly helpful since I had to leave Thursday night to start the first leg of the drive up to Wisconsin.
So I did the only logical thing – I immediately started searching for other marathons in less wimpy states that were less than 4 hours away from where we were staying in Madison with my aunt and uncle. Turns out, I was in luck – the Med City Marathon in Rochester, Minnesota was supposed to be the same day and was just three and a half hours from Madison. They were no longer accepting online entries, so I called the local running store in a panic and tried to give them my credit card number over the phone, since they had been accepting walk in entries. No luck, but the guy on the phone said “Really, they’re canceling another race in Wiscahhhnnsin over the heat? What a bunch a wimps ooover there!” Oh Midwestern people. So I called the number for the race director listed on the website. Much to my shock, it turned out to be his cell phone number. And he answered and then listened to my desperate plea and graciously agreed to let me overnight my entry form. SUCCESS! Now I just had to convince T-Rex Mom and my Aunt Magda that this was a totally reasonable plan.
Here’s the thing. I’ve got a very specific schedule laid out, and I already DNFed one state this year. I can’t be having races canceled or it’s totally going to screw with my plan to get done with 25 states by the end of the year. T-Rex Mom confirmed that I am, in fact, both an insane and ridiculous person. The drive from their house in North Carolina to Wisconsin was 12-13 hours, and then we would add another 3-4 on the next day to Minnesota? Well, it sounded reasonable to me. I knew that even if the Madison Marathon ended up deciding to start the race, it would probably get canceled midway through, and that was not a risk I was willing to take. It was Minnesota or bust! Fortunately she is somewhat used to this type of behavior and eventually agreed to the scheme.
T-Rex Mom and I set out bright and early on Friday morning. I drove up to their house in NC on Thursday night just to make the drive a little shorter. Kristen had graciously offered to let us borrow her car for the journey since my truck, an exquisite Dodge Ram, is not exactly fuel efficient over the course of a 2000 mile round trip weekend. Kristen’s car is now officially known as the T-Rex Mobile. I’ll be getting it some type of decal, or perhaps a car flag for future trips.
The drive took us about 13 hours on Friday because my mother is anti-cities and did not want to go the shorter route around Chicago, fearing that the traffic would make it take longer. It ended up really not being such a terrible drive, although this was now my fourth trip through North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky in less than two months. Let’s just say I’m getting very familiar with the sights. We even kept the Fro-yo Friday tradition alive on our drive through Indiana. My aunt Magda placated us with local Wisconsin beer and cheese when we got there. For the record, beer and cheese are the way to my heart.
I got the special pleasure of waking up at 5 am thanks to the very violent thunderstorms outside my window in Madison. It was pouring rain, thundering and lightning, which angered me because I had great intentions of going for a shake out run that morning. Instead, I sat in bed and worked on the strategic business plan for my company for four hours, which is…not the same as running. Eventually we got up and braved the elements, since we had a busy day ahead.
My aunt was very excited to show us all the tacky things that Wisconsin has to offer while we were there, so first on the list was a visit to the Mustard Museum. Yes, such a thing actually exists.
Apparently this guy started collecting mustards from all over the world and eventually he decided to make a museum about it. It ended up being actually pretty cool. There is a gigantic collection of mustard, a mustard tasting station, and a ton of merch for sale, thank goodness. Their educational materials refer to “Poupon U,” a school for mustard enthusiasts. I can’t stop laughing about it. I bought a blue cheese Dijon mustard that is ridiculously good. Despite mocking the mustard museum at first, it was actually pretty cool. In an “ I like tacky crap” kind of way.
Next we headed downtown so I could pick up me and Kristen’s packets for the ill-fated Madison event. Kristen had signed up for the half, but ended up not going, so I grabbed her shirt and picked up mine. The full marathon had officially been canceled, but the volunteers informed me that I would be able to run the half instead. Bitch, please.
The best part? The race shirts for the Madison races were black. How hilarious is that? It could not possibly be planned worse. It’s as if they want all the first timers to get heat stroke, since you know it’s all the first timers that are wearing the shirt to the race. I thought it was just so deliciously ironic that I almost couldn’t stand it.
After packet pickup, we headed over to the Great Dane Pub and Brewery for the traditional pre-race local beer. I had some type of seasonal wheat something that was pretty good and picked up pint glasses for the crew. I also had my pre-race burrito there since there are no Moe’s in Wisconsin. Yes, I checked.
Then we began the drive over to Minnesoooota. And by “we,” I mean I slept in the backseat while T-Rex Mom and Magda chatted about menopause and a variety of other topics I’m too young to hear about. When we got there, we found the next object in the ongoing trend of me doing races in cities with painted animals.
The expo in Minnesota was a far cry from the Madison expo, which was huge. In Minnesota, you basically could pick up your number and then buy a pair of shoes from the local running store, and that’s about it, but it didn’t matter. I was so grateful that I was even able to run. On the way out, we decided to stop and ask some volunteers for pointers on the locations of good spectator spots. One of the voices sounded familiar, so I asked the man if his name was Wally, the race director, and sure enough, he was! He sent me the race info packet right from his iPhone and was so nice as I babbled on and on about how grateful I was that they had opened the race up to all the runners from Madison. Oh yeah, did I mention that? Med City knew that Madison was going to get canceled, so they decided not to cap any of their races and let anyone register who wanted to. They said they might not have enough shirts and medals for everyone, but if they ran out, then they would order more and mail them to everyone who didn’t get one. How AMAZING is that? My little T-Rex heart of stone grew two sizes that day.
Then we went to the hotel, where my heart of stone promptly reshrank. I had used hotel points to pay for the hotel because that’s what I do. Now, I stay at a hotel for either work or a race probably 7 nights a month minimum. I have a lot of hotel points. I have never had a problem at any of the hotels I have stayed at while using them. However, the girl at the desk of the Holiday Inn in downtown Rochester, Minnesota, was apparently having a bad day.
Me: “Hi, I’m checking in!”
Slore at the front desk: “I see. It appears you’re paying with points. Parking would be free if you were a paying customer, but since you are using points, that will be $12. Please provide a credit card.”
T-Rex Mom: “Uh, here’s $12 cash.”
Slore: “We cannot accept cash. I will put it on the credit card you used to reserve the room.”
T-Rex Mom: “ We don’t want to use that card. Put it on this one instead please.”
Slore: “We can’t. Our system is down.”
Ok, so you wanted us to provide a credit card that you can’t use anyway? Makes sense. Perfect.
My mom and Magda decided they wanted to map out the different spots where they would try to see me on the course the next day, so they insisted on driving the course, which is one thing I absolutely hate doing. I don’t mind running 26.2 miles, but driving that distance in the car just reminds me of how long it actually is. So I laid down in the back seat and didn’t look. It was a good thing we ended up doing it, since my mom got totally lost on the first attempt to find the starting line, where she would be dropping me off the next day. Fail.
It had already been a long day, but it was time for dinner. We went to a place called Whiskey Creek, which I had seen on the drive in and thought it looked pretty good. What I did not realize was that the nicest human being in the entire world worked there. His name was Josh. It should be pointed out that I already borderline cannot handle the Minnesota accent because I just find it so cute and funny that I almost laugh every time someone with one speaks. It’s really bad. Combine a really strong Minnesota accent with someone who is excessively nice, and I will laugh every time. He was just so sincere. One of those people who puts his hand on his heart when he speaks just to emphasize how truly sincere he really is. Imagine someone who is looking and sounding like they are doing the Pledge of Allegiance, but instead of promising not to bomb our country, they are actually asking you if you want another bourbon and ginger. It was exactly like that. My mom determined that he must be gay because no straight men are that nice. She was even worse than me and couldn’t help but laugh as soon as he left the table. Oh sweet Josh. We left you a very nice comment card on the table. We hope you get a raise. Please stop putting your hand on your heart when you speak. It’s unnerving.
We headed back to the hotel room, where I tried to go to bed but suddenly realized that I wasn’t sure anyone had let my dog out, since I had a weird petsitter situation this weekend and my dog was sick when I left. I was belligerently texting and calling AJ, who wasn’t answering. Meanwhile, my stomach was very upset, I was hot, and freaking out because I thought my dog was crapping all over my house. He eventually got back near his phone and texted me to let me know that my dog was fine, but the damage was done. I barely slept at all. My stomach felt awful, but I was hoping it was just nerves. Turns out, it wasn’t.