Monday, October 4, 2010

Twin Cities - Before

This post would be too long for the entire weekend of the Twin Cities Marathon, so I’ll break it into two I guess.
I picked up Charlie and Alison early on Saturday morning, only about 16 hours after I’d left Richmond the day before. We had a pleasant drive to the airport, followed by an uneventful flight through Philadelphia into Minneapolis. We picked up a rental car and headed downtown to find our hotel and some lunch. Jon and Chris joined us at the hotel and the five of us drove to St. Paul to eat at a Subway and go to the Expo.
Charlie was an elite athlete for the weekend, so we picked up his packet at the race headquarters hotel. He got three elite access badges (the Healeys chose to wait outside) and we left feeling prepared. The regular expo for us plebeians was ok. We didn’t spend much time there, and the entrance smelled like a cross between fried food and urine. Instead of pre-race shirts, they gave out socks. Charlie didn’t get any at the elite pick-up, so I went back to grab him a pair and all was well in the world. I also picked up Tim’s packet. We probably spent 10 minutes total at the expo, during which I saw the Saucony booth with a nice big poster of 5000m-record holder Molly Huddle. We saw her break 15:00 in Paris this summer. They also had the update to the Visi-pro jacket that I got last winter with a new, heavy-duty light. I like the blue but don’t care too much for the light. It gives me motion sickness using it anyway.
There was a four-car pile-up on the interstate back to Minneapolis, so that slowed down our return, but we had plenty of time before we could check into our rooms. Charlie and I went for a little run around downtown and the Metro-Dome to find the starting line and the elite pre-race area (that I would eventually bamboozle my way into.) The run was nothing special--- running in a city. At one point we realized we were running on a fairly busy road with no sidewalks and in an actual lane next to a concrete block way in the middle and had to get out of the street quickly before we were hit by cars.

After the run, the runners went for a walk to Target to acquire the necessities. I’d forgotten to bring bread and peanut butter, so I had to buy that stuff, and airline security doesn’t allow Gatorade to fly in a carry-on bag. Lame. Target was only a few blocks away and it gave us some time to just relax and get things done before dinner. When we got back to the hotel, we got online and looked up a bunch of places to go for dinner. This was easier said than done. There were not a lot of restaurants open in the area, I guess because it was more of a business area than a residential area. I don’t know. There were a couple of places within walking distance that didn’t seem to have any pasta. But we found an “Old Spaghetti Factory” that said that we could “call ahead” and that they were “a little busy.”
We’d gone to one of these places in Philadelphia in 2008 for the Philly Distance Run and met with limited success, but we didn’t really feel like worrying about it. In hindsight, it would have been worth it maybe to drive somewhere else. I suspect that there were at least 100 people waiting around in the bar/waiting area for a table when we got there. They told us it would be 25 minutes, which was reasonable. 45 minutes later, they said it would be about 5 more minutes. 15 minutes after that, we were seated. We had our salads within 2 minutes of placing our orders, but then our entrees took a lot longer. It doesn’t really make sense that pasta could take any time at all though, as they likely just have huge pots boiling constantly in the kitchen. None of us particularly enjoyed our meals as they were nothing to write home about. Alison ended up taking sauce from Chris’s pasta to add to hers since it had no flavor. Also, the portion sizes were pathetic. Nonetheless, we ate at a reasonable time of night and went back to the hotel to prepare for battle.

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