2010.04.10 Race Expo and a Weasel Sighting

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Everybody roused about 9:00 am this morning.  How sweet is that!   10 hours of shuteye two nights before the run qualifies as a win.

Being rested gave both Stephanie and I a little time to reflect on our van break-in yesterday.  In the end, we are better off counting our blessings.  The van itself wasn’t stolen.  Nobody was hurt.  And there are nice people in St. Louis that will go out of their way to stop a robbery in progress.

What did we learn?  For starters, we’re not in good ol’ Tulsa anymore. We should have checked into our hotel at the earliest opportunity and got all of our belongings moved out of the van.  We shouldn’t have parked on a side street, even though at the time we parked it was full of cars.  We tried to turn it into a teaching moment for our kids.  We tell them that the world is full of bad people.  And what do you know, here is Exhibit A.

 

Mallory and PK visiting in the hotel lobby.

 

Our original plans called for us to take in some race-related activities this morning. Marissa was going to run in the 100 yard dash and Mallory was going to run the ½ mile.  But since Mallory’s running clothes were stolen and the glass installer was going to arrive in the morning, we had to cancel those plans.

The installer from the auto glass company arrived at the hotel at 10:30.  He and his daughter cleaned up the glass in the van and installed a new window for us, and were done by Noon.  Turns out that the installer has a brother that lives in Bartlesville, which is just 60 miles north of Tulsa.

 

Installing a new window in the van.

 

#4 had tiny arms, which helped in this project.

 

Once the van was ready, we ate lunch at the hotel and kicked back.  By 2:00, we had done absolutely nothing.  However, we had one task that had to be done – visit the Race Expo and pick up our race packets.

The expo was held at the Chaifetz Arena on the St. Louis University campus.  This was a great expo.  There were dozens of booths set up selling running-related gear, and most of it at nice discounts.  Stephanie and I found out that there is such a thing as retail therapy.  We left the arena with bags full of goodies.

 

Picking up our race bibs at the Expo.

 

The only downside to the expo was that unless you wanted to prowl the streets looking for a rare parking spot, you had to pay $5 to park at the garage down the street.  Of course, you will not find a bigger supporter of parking garages than the Traveling Kings now!!  Wherever you will find the most cars parked, that’s where we want to be.

The SLU campus was gorgeous.  The arena was right next to some large grassy areas and baseball fields.  A flag football game was one of the many activities we saw in action while we were there.

We had dinner plans with Dad’s friend Dan & his wife Jean again this evening.  But before dinner, I wanted to drive the marathon route so that I could get a feel for it in advance of the race.  We had a crude map provided on the race website to guide us.  We did fairly well following the route, but I was pretty distracted by all the hills we were driving on.  I did a lot of training on the hills of South Tulsa, but these hills seemed different.

The drive through Forest Park was definitely the highlight.  Forest Park is bigger than both Central Park in New York City and Balboa Park in San Diego.  Its claim to fame is that it held two spectacular events in 1904 – the World’s Fair and the Olympic Games.  I did not realize that St. Louis had hosted an Olympics until reading about Forest Park.

In 1904, the World’s Fair was the informal name for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition.  The Fair lasted 7 months and had nearly 20 million visitors.  Nations from all over the world provided exhibits, as well as 43 of the 45 states at the time.  The city of Birmingham, Alabama provided a cast-iron statue of the Roman god Vulcan, the god of fire and forge.  It was returned to Birmingham after the Fair.  We visited it in 2006 on the way back from my brother’s wedding in Florida.  Read about that visit here.

When we got back to the hotel, we had a pleasant surprise.  Jean’s son, Kevin, joined us for dinner.  We rode the Metro from our hotel over to Laclede’s Landing, where Dan had found a place for us to gorge on a pre-race pasta dinner.

Unfortunately, there were a few other runners who had the same idea.  Oh, and it was prom night, so there were big crowds at the pasta place we first went to.  A 90 minute wait did not appeal to us, so we quickly moved on to some other options.  We settled on the Morgan Street Brewery for two reasons: they had pasta and they had no wait.

The mood was much more upbeat tonight compared to last night.  Our host, Dan, met Dad in the Marine Corp during the Vietnam War.  Dan has one of the all-time best nicknames ever bestowed on a man – Weasel.  Weasel and Dad like to make it perfectly clear that they did not sign up for the Marines, they were hand-picked.  Not only that, but they developed their lifelong friendship while spending their entire tour of duty in North Carolina.  As Weasel pointed out to me, not a single enemy ever landed in North Carolina while they were stationed there.  I could listen to them for hours.

We hung out at the restaurant for several hours, then took the Metro back to the hotel.  I don’t care what age you are, riding a train is cool.  While we went back to the rooms, Mom & Dad, and Weasel & Jean went to a honkytonk and listened to a band play and did a little dancing.  Dad knew one of the members of the band and they had a real nice time.

The last hour before bedtime was spent laying out all of the race gear for tomorrow’s event.  The entire day had been very leisurely, just like I wanted it.  We did very little walking and managed to stay off our feet for most of the day.  We had lights out by 10:00 with a 5:00am wakeup call scheduled.  Nighty-night, runners…

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