Thursday, February 24, 2011
The weekend of November 20-21, I had registered for two races: one in Arkansas, one in Oklahoma. Since we knew I would feel exhausted after the Arkansas race, my husband and I agreed that I would drive from St. Louis to Cotter. Then, after the race, he would drive to Tulsa while I rested. And this is how our weekend began. I went to be very early on Friday night so I would be well rested. We got up very, very early—at 1:30 a.m.—and I packed up the car. Steven and the dog both slept as I drove.
There was no traffic, so we arrived very early. After we parked at the school where the packet pickup was, I slept some in the driver’s seat. It was very chilly and humid, so the longer I could stay inside, the better. I waited until the last moment to board the shuttle bus to the start line by the river.
After being bussed to the start, the other runners and I waited in the cold fog to begin. Most of us jumped around and fidgeted to warm our frozen limbs. The few moments before the start were, admittedly, miserable. But once we began, the race was quite pleasant.
The course was an out-and-back on the road on the edge of the White River. As we ran, the mist settled on the river’s surface. It was beautiful—a quiet, peaceful race without any pretense.
Steven, still exhausted, slept in the car during the race. I didn’t want him to meet me at the finish area, so he stayed in the car until I was bussed back to the school. After letting him sleep for a while, I woke him for the post-race lunch. It was a lovely potluck that several race volunteers organized. I fueled up on chicken soup and brownies, and felt refreshed. Then, I did something that I haven’t done in years—I showered in a high school locker room and changed into clean clothes.
After such an early morning and a decent race time (despite a broken toe), I fell sound asleep as Steven drove to Tulsa.
My bloody broken toe
The plane crash that killed 37 football players from Marshall University occurred in 1970 (eight years before I was born). Last year marked the 40th anniversary of that tragedy. Therefore, the race directors of the Marshall University Marathon and Half Marathon decided to honor those players during the 2010 race. During a section of the race that went through the grounds of the university, runners carried carnations to honor those who passed in that crash. It was very touching, making this one of the most beautiful races I’ve ever participated in.
This race was also fun. The last 100 yards of the race are run across the football field. As you arrive onto the field, a volunteer passes you a football. You then race to the finish line with your football. Upon scoring your touchdown, you get your medal.
The course was lovely, and, for a small race, had more volunteers and supporters than I expected. The best way to describe this race is to say it was charming and southern. In fact, the refueling options were very small southern town. There were hamburgers and hotdogs aplenty. The potato chip supply was staggering, and there were varieties of Little Debbies that I didn’t even know existed. You could also grab a fried pie and wash it down with your choice of Pepsi product. It was fun to look at the selection of food products, but I was really glad I had packed a lunch at Grandma and Grandpa’s. (I stayed at my grandparents the night before the race since they live less than 3 hours from Huntington, WV.) After eating my prepacked meal in the stands of the football stadium, chatting with some locals, I changed clothes and headed back to my grandparents.