State 2: Missouri (2010 Go! St. Louis Half Marathon)

The second half marathon of 2010 took me to St. Louis for a fun weekend of family, video games, carbo-loading and overall merriment. My cousin Mau, whom I’ve known since before turning double-digits, went to school at WashU and has lived in the city since. We visit each other twice a year, the last time being Thanksgiving 2009, where we ran the City of Arnold Gobble Gobble 5k. Shortly after that, I decided to incorporate the Go! St. Louis Half Marathon as one of the ten half marathons of 2010. The race didn’t become totally meaningful until he too signed up and began training. It’s always fun when you can share these accomplishments, especially with a close friend. Similarly, Mau convinced his friend Matt to sign up, so his training regiment was rarely spent with just an iPod.

Steph came with me for the weekend trip not only to share and contribute to the jocularity but also to visit family in nearby Creve Couer. Between that, Wario Ware Smooth Moves, Mafioso restaurants, Blokus and unruly riots in the Loop, it made for a memorable weekend before the race even started.

Days earlier, I began fanatically tracking the race day weather forecast. As the days went on, the high for the day kept increasing until it was showing risky highs in the upper 70’s. Fortunately, as the gun went off we were enjoying refreshingly low 50’s with a slight breeze. The very beginning of the race runs east on Market Street, easing slightly uphill with the horizon boasting the St. Louis Gateway Arch. This was also the first taste that runners get of the cityscape’s refusal to flatten out. In fact, this largely determined my running strategy, because immediately after turning south on Broadway, it was a long downhill …

… followed by a long uphill, which was then followed by an equally long downhill, and so on and so forth ‘till the finish line you cross. Along the way, we get to run next to the new Cardinals stadium, through the Budweiser brewery and SLU’s campus. Right before entering the brewery, I heard a runner shout “here comes the hill”, to which another replied “Oh, this one isn’t too bad – it’s Olive that really gets you”. They were both right. The inclines during and after the brewery were the steepest, but they were short-lived, which can’t be said about interminable rolling hills of Olive street. I hadn’t exactly trained for any hills because a.) I hate running on treadmills and b.) Chicago has no real hills, so my strategy largely consisted of steeling myself for all uphills and speeding up on the downhills.

But Olive wasn’t the end. The official course map was deceptive in its representation of the city, making the hairpin turn on Forest Park Avenue seem like a short detour. It wasn’t. In fact, this was the part that felt the longest, mostly because we all thought the end was near (but it’s anyone’s guess as to why you’d think you’re almost done when you haven’t even passed the 10-mile marker). My lower back began to act up around then, which wasn’t helping my languishing pace. Shortly after the U-turn, I heard Mau and Matt on the other side, looking happy and energetic, which was more than I could say for myself.

The rest of the course was mostly downhill, but it didn’t feel that way. There was a water station at the end of mile 12, conveniently perched at the top of the last big hill. From there, it was a mad dash on Market, a zigzag onto Chestnut Street and a last ditch effort to kick across the finish line for a personal best of 1:46:35. I made my way through the finish chute and reunited with Steph to wait for Mau and Matt. I was thrilled when they both finished – Matt had been recently plagued with knee pains that weren’t leaving him alone, despite generous stretching. But they made it through the course, not letting their obvious limps mar their excitement.

Matt, Mau, Me

My cousin moved out of St. Louis and back to Costa Rica the following month, so it was nice to be able to share this event with him. With only a few exceptions, it was a very scenic course, which gave runners a picturesque (but also challenging) sample of the city in which he lived for almost ten years.

At that point, I had only three weeks for my lower back to heal before the Wisconsin Half Marathon in Kenosha.

About Dan
Running a marathon in all 50 states because there's no better way to explore the world around you than on your own two feet, for as long as you can, until you hate yourself and everything around you. Then you stop, get a medal, and start over.

4 Responses to State 2: Missouri (2010 Go! St. Louis Half Marathon)

  1. Pingback: Race Schedule & Results « Dan's Marathon

  2. Pingback: Race Medals « Dan's Marathon

  3. Pingback: 2014 Race Schedule | Dan's Marathon

  4. Pingback: Missouri (2014 Go! St. Louis Marathon) | Dan's Marathon

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