Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Don't cha know, Minnesota is great, fer corn sakes!

Downtown Minnie
I've now checked off 13 states on my list of 50.  Lucky number 13?  Well, I did set a new PR.... for my slowest time yet.  Two days later as I write this, I'm still incredibly sore.  And really for no particular reason other than... I think I must simply be tired.   There were some gentle hills (with the exception of a short steep one that was faster to walk up than run), most of the course was in the shade, and the heat wasn't too bad until about mile 21 when the shade disappeared and the temperatures were in the 70s.  Not sure why I was so slow, except for a few times I just felt like walking, so I did.

The Stone Arch Bridge, with science project pools
The course started near Minneapolis' Stone Arch Bridge which had a deep Jack-Handy-esque message on it; "Think and Wonder."  And this course was great for thinking and wondering.  Really, it was a beautiful course, running along the Mississippi River, past some cool old saw mill ruins, through a forest preserve and through Fort Snelling. Quiet and serene; great for thinking and wondering.  I thought about all the generous people who contributed to my fundraising efforts for Girls on the Run (thank you, I raised $859!!!).  I wondered how a 50-something Indian man develops an affinity for B.o.B., Christina Aguilera and Adam Levine (he was playing music sans headphones from his phone attached to his belt).  I will say for first time runners or if you're someone who thrives on crowd support this course may not be for you.  But if you don't mind some silence and enjoy running through forest trails and along rivers, then I really recommend the Team Ortho Minneapolis Marathon.  They have some areas they could improve upon, like I had no idea when I had passed the halfway point, since they didn't have the mile markers in the dense forest part.  And they could  have passed out full bottles of water at the end of the race rather than handing out those small Dixie cups of water.  I mean, come on, I just ran a marathon, I need more than a couple cups of water!  But overall, I was having a good time while I was out there. 

Ignore that finger that tainted an otherwise cute photo.
I also had the pleasure of visiting fellow RUS runner, Miri, in her hometown of Minneapolis.  Thank you for your hospitality Miri!  And true to crazy RUS runner form, Miri signed up last minute to do the half-marathon when we went to the Expo on Saturday to pick up my race bib. 

Look, I'm in front of the Falls!

Prior to Miri's temporary moment of insanity (I love that she signed up the day before), Miri showed me around her town a bit.  We had a nice lunch al fresco looking at Lake Calhoun, one of the 10,000 lakes.  Who doesn't love a cold beer on a sunny day overlooking a lake?  We visited an area across the river called Saint Anthony Main, which has quaint cobblestone streets, cafes, and some great access to view the Saint Anthony Falls, which my research (Wikipedia) tells me  used to be the only natural major waterfall on the Mississippi.  There was also some kind of science lab out there too.  I'm not sure what those mad scientists were growing in all those buckets I saw sitting in pools of water.  I also had a chance to meet Miri's cousin, Karen, who was totally cool, and I was able to see again on the race course handing out water at miles 14 and 18.  She welcomed me with a ice cold hand to the forehead, which felt amazing, of course, and I couldn't help thinking, wow, she sure is a dedicated volunteer to touch my sweaty, salt-crusted forehead.  To carb load, Miri and I had dinner at a place near her house, called McCoy's Public House, which had a deliciously cheesy and customizable mac-n-cheese.  Of course, the portions were way to much for one human being, especially after downing a pail of truffle parmesan tater tots.  Oh, how I love tots!  
Like my sausage?

After the race, she took me to Hell's Kitchen for brunch, a really cool joint in downtown Minneapolis.  Sadly, both of us were feeling less than stellar after the race, so didn't have much of an appetite.  I did, however, manage to try one of their famous bloody marys, which lived up to the hype. I actually think the sodium in that thing might have helped me out a lot.  And I also had some of their homemade peanut butter, yum. 

I enjoyed my relaxing weekend in Minneapolis, well, relaxing except for that pesky marathon. The only annoying thing about the weekend was my flight delay getting home due to a bomb scare at the airport.  Unfortunately, I spent a long hour sitting in a parking garage waiting for the OK from the bomb squad for people to be allowed back inside.  Nonetheless, I'm looking forward to visiting Miri again so we can do a few more fun activities we couldn't cram in this time, like the sculpture garden with the famous Spoon and Cherry sculpture, or maybe kayaking on one of the 10,000 lakes.  And with the sweet low fares on Spirit Airlines from Chicago to Minnie, I might be able to make this happen sooner rather than later!