LEWIS & CLARK MARATHON (2008)

So we knew it was up in the air. Hurricane Ike had just blasted the Texas coast and was moving northeast as a tropical depression. Forecasters were predicting gale force winds and heavy rains sometime on Sunday. I’d been hoping that the worst of it would hold off until after the marathon.

We’d arrived in the St. Louis area on Saturday afternoon after an interesting 3 hour trip. Usually it’s a little shorter, but when my wife asked me if I brought the map to the hotel, I gave her that “I thought you brought it” look.

After we found our way to St. Charles, we went to the Ameristar Casino Convention Center to pick up the packet. An amazing place, it seems that Las Vegas has found its way to the Midwest. Still, we kept wondering where the boat part of the riverboat was. It looked like a bunch of lights and buildings to us.

A quick dash upstairs to the Convention Center yielded my race packet with the all important race number and the computer chip that somehow tells everyone when you start and when you finish. It kind of reminded me of those ear tags they put on cattle.

We left for more conservative digs over at the Country Inn & Suites. Actually it was pretty pricey too, but I was counting on the fact that there was a hot tub in every room. That and the last time my wife and I had gotten out of town for something, we’d stayed there and had a good time.

After bumming around for awhile, we decided to go out and get some supper. There were quite a few fast food joints, but only two restaurants, the obligatory Denny’s and Country Kitchen. Wanting to save Denny’s for breakfast, we decided to go back to Ameristar to try our luck at the buffet.

If you get over the $21 price (each) to eat, it takes top honors for the best buffet we’ve ever experienced. At that price it should.

They had everything, and I mean everything. I thought I was on a cruise ship. Knowing I had to run the next morning, though, helped me keep things in check. I sampled five different salads (out of the 15 possible), and tried 3 different kinds of pasta (out of the 10 possible).

My potluck and buffet strategy, and it usually works, is to take a little bit of a lot of things. I had a couple entrées, and was particularly impressed with the mandarin chicken & rice (rice is good for carb-loading). The salmon was nice too.

I lucked out and found a banana on top of one of the dessert displays. I think it was a display, but we squeezed it and it was real, so we filched it for in the morning, with a couple of oatmeal cookies—perfect. Now my pre-race breakfast was taken care of, and that made the $21 seem more worthwhile.

We also tried a couple desserts and they were fabulous. They usually are. Again the strategy was to have just a little bit of several different things. The discipline comes in when you push the plate over to the edge of the table where the waitress will grab them on the way by.

You have to do this before you eat everything. The waitress also has to get there and take the plate pretty quickly. Otherwise you pick at it until you’ve actually eaten everything. It worked out. She took the plate early. I gave her a good tip.

Back at the hotel, we tried out the spa. We’ve got to get one of those for home. It was just about the same size as our garden tub—it just had jets in it. I wonder if we can get those retrofitted. This is definitely going on our “need to get after we get out of debt” list.

The alarm was set for 5:00 am but never rang, because I was up before it. Anticipation had gotten me up every hour on the hour at 3:00 and 4:00am. Just before 5:00, I woke up from a dream with my mother, of all things. I had only dreamed about her once, a year after we lost her to a stroke three years ago.

In the dream, she was helping me calm down before a musical competition of all things, and I’d been having trouble finding my sheet music and the right clothes to wear. Once I was convinced that everything was going to be alright, I woke up. That’s mom, still helping me after all these years.

Dressed and ready, I went downstairs with my wife to check out the weather, since it was tough to tell from the room. The forecasters were right. It was extremely windy and raining cats and dogs.

After chewing on it for awhile, I decided to call it off and go back upstairs. I know Kathy was pretty happy about it. There were a lot of things that factored into the decision.

When you run such a long distance, research shows you can compromise your immune system. Add running in the cold and windy rain for five hours, and there was a good chance to get sick.

It also bothered me that Kathy would have to wait for me in the finish for an unknown length of time—in the rain. The real kicker was the hour I’d have to spend standing in the rain—before the race began. That was too much.

After we got upstairs, I started second-guessing myself. Finally, I told her that we were here, and I was going to give it a try. After all, it’s what I’d been working up to, for all these years.
Like the amazing wife she is, she didn’t say anything. Just opened the door and we went back down. This time, the winds were gale force. I mean it was crazy.

After another few minutes, I was able to let it go, and told her that it was really about the journey to get there and all the training along the way. The race was just one event, and there would be another chance—even if it was my 3rd try there at the Lewis & Clark.

At peace with things, I went back up stairs and we hit the sack for a couple more hours. At 8:00 am we got back up to more wind and rain, and got ready to hit the road.

My wife found out that they started the race, but things were pretty tough on them. We checked out and headed to Denny’s for breakfast, before we started our swim, I mean drive home.

While we were talking, my wife had this funny look on her face and I thought she might be choking, or getting sick. She said “no, I’m listening.”

It turns out that the two guys in the booth next to us were getting carryout, and had people in the race, so she asked them how it was going. He told her they just called it off—they’d actually stopped the race!

Apparently, the wind and rain was so bad, it was causing extreme flooding in the St. Louis area—and the course was right by the river. It got to the point where it was becoming dangerous, so they called it to a halt, stopping everyone at mile 10.

There, at mile marker ten, the runners were waiting (in the rain) for people to come and pick them up. Suddenly, my day was getting brighter. I couldn’t have done it anyway.

So I’ve got to find another one to run this fall. Or, there’s always next year. But now, I’ve got to go run off that buffet!

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