October 28, 2013

St Louis Rock n Roll Race Weekend Recap and Race Report

"...and the Cardinals are in the World Series"

When this announcement was made, I was anxiously awaiting the release of the schedule and to my delight, game 3 was scheduled for Saturday night after the expo!  More on that soon.

I arrived into St Louis in near record time on Saturday afternoon and headed straight to the expo at the America's Center which is on the back side of the Edward Jones Dome (shouldn't I get VIP parking here?)  The expo was fairly impressive, in particular the Brooks display up front where everyone was given a "Passport" with a chance to win a free pair of Brooks running shoes (I won a tee shirt).  You could ride the Brooks shoe like a bull, or run in place to send your mountain climber up the side of the volcano.  All very interactive and enjoyable!

 Checked out many other fun booths too including spending some time with Frank Shorter who talked me through the course giving lots of great suggestions for race day strategy.  Then it was time to meet up with the REFUEL team.  Decided to shoot a new video and take my chances at qualifying as a November finalist for another round of voting (stay tuned)  It was great to see Tom again (we met in Nashville and connect regularly on social media) and his wife.  Also met a CAF wheelchair athlete and reconnected with my contact for the weekend, Lindsey, who was with me in both Nashville and Louisville!  Besides complimentary entry, the best perk of being on the team - V I P !!! 
 When we were done with the expo, we split up and I headed off on my own to Busch Stadium.  It's only 6 blocks or so and it was a P - A - R - T - A - Y like no other.  A sea of red in every direction and the town was decked out in red everywhere you looked.  As I neared the stadium, a large crowd was gathering and I just happened upon the Budweiser Clydesdales rolling out to parade around the stadium!  Super Cool!

Worked my way through the parking lot where several stages were working like live concerts.  ESPN, Fox Sports Midwest, and local radio stations were quite entertaining to the crowd, most of which probably did not have a ticket to the game (like myself) - of course I had to inquire, and the cheapest ticket I could find anywhere was nearly $400!  Yeah, that's not in the budget!

I needed dinner, and was tired of being on my feet, so I made my way back to the car only to discover a newer casino just blocks away.  I hit up Lumiere Place and found a great sports bar to take in the Mizzou game and carb load on some pizza (yes, I probably didn't need to eat the whole thing, but I did)!  Then it occurred to me - I'm in a casino, and I need $400.  Let's see what we can do.  Found my way to the poker room, and went to work.  Up a few, down a few, but just wasn't getting the cards to make a run.  Enjoyed myself, but needed to call it a day so headed off to my family accommodations in Kirkwood for the evening where I fell asleep in the 7th inning!

Alarm was set for 5:15 in order to meet up with the REFUEL team in the VIP tent by 6:30.  Got parked fine and bundled up for the cold wait for the 7:00 start.  Got some great pics with teammates and enjoyed the celebrity-like treatment.  Seriously, my teammates are great!  Left to right are Tom (aka Ron Burgundy), George Melichar (who is a true celebrity on the RnR circuit), myself, and Shannyn.  Click the links to learn more about them... seriously, do it, they are AMAZING people!

Once the formalities were over, it was into the corrals and time to get down to business.  The scenery was amazing as the sun was coming up from behind the arch while the National Anthem was being sung.  The 7 a.m. start for corral 1 was a 7:11 start for myself in corral 9 which made the 7:22 sunrise gorgeous to run into during that first mile.  Fresh legs and feeling good, the first mile takes you right by Busch Stadium where I stood 12 hours earlier in a sea of humanity before game 3 of the World Series, and yet there was still a buzz around the place as they prepped for game 4 to be played Sunday night.  Miles 2, 3, and 4 are all downtown in familiar areas to me and even miles 5 and 6 took me by the Fox Theater that I last visited some 15 years ago!  (I love this city).
We ran through the St Louis University Campus, across the metrolink and over I-64.  The next several miles brought some hills that took my 10:00 pace average down to 10:15 average as I struggled to keep every mile under 11:00.  I latched onto Laura from Topeka, KS.  This was her first RnR event, and her goal was 2:15, but she'd be happy with anything under 2:20.  We traded stories about life and family, but ultimately I let her go as I struggled up a hill at mile 9.  (The weak hamstring still kills me on hills)
I seriously debated walking many times, but with each mile I continued to count down, and knew that it was a mental battle at this point.  I FORCED myself to keep the running/jogging stride going and stuck with the plan.  Water only at every aid station, and a gel at 3.5, 7, and my last at 10.5.  This one came with the biggest and best downhill of the course which felt awesome, but just like every downhill on this course it was followed immediately by a steep uphill, in this case up and over the last incline brought us on to Market Street as we make the final right hand turn and enjoy the last mile, almost completely downhill with the arch in the distance to the finish line!

The victory for me today was running every step of the race!  My body has not fully recovered from Ironman Louisville nearly as quick as I had hoped, and most of my speed from this time last year has been lost (a year ago this weekend I went under 2 hours at this distance for the first time at the 2012 Muncie Mini) - No shame though, my overall place of 3710/7442 has me just barely in the top half of the field, and I feel very good about that!

As always, I finish my race by refueling with delicious low-fat chocolate milk.  I actually skipped the Gatorade and had 3 cartons of chocolate milk!  And even though, my body thanked me for it, I've decided that this will mark the end of the long races for 2013.  I'm choosing to miss Las Vegas to refocus on my family and my training.  I look forward to recovering for a bit and then getting back to some speed work this winter!

Did I mention how much I love being VIP at these races?!?

LOVE the medal!  Captures the city beautifully!

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