Archive for July, 2013

Wyoming

With a little help from my friends… definitely should be the motto of anyone completing their 50 states goals of running a marathon in every state. Everyone is always amazed that someone will complete this goal much less even run a marathon but when people ask me if it has tough I always joke yes… on the wallet! However, it would be near impossible without the people I have met along the way. Today I would like to thank all those that have helped me from advice to rides to sharing hotel rooms. You do not know how much these little favors have helped me along the way.

That may seem an odd way to start discussing Wyoming, but well, a lot of people that have helped me showed up there and it was just a great time overall! I made the semi-bad decision to drive from Des Moines, Iowa to Casper, Wyoming thinking about all the money I would save. I was right – I did save lots of money not flying, however it is nearly impossible to believe there is a more boring drive in the USA. I left at night and actually the darkness did not really hurt the drive. And I was lucky enough to have a couple friends, Karen and Leigh call me along the way. My Bluetooth is awful (some of you KNOW what I speak of) and they were willing to keep me awake and even a little lively during the 11 hour drive.

I hit what looked like a respectable rest stop about 12:30 and was happy to just park it there and try to sleep (insert joke here). Well, it was not a great night’s sleep but it was a cheap night’s sleep. And believe it or not at least three other cars had the same idea. Oh, the cheap people of America still exist I tell ya!

I woke up the next morning and took the exit 60 miles down the road and was informed by the gas station I was filling up at that I was officially I was nowhere. No kidding! They had a sign just above the business name that stated “you are nowhere”. I then took a drive through the small towns of Nebraska. The first thing that shocked me was I was over 100 miles from Wyoming still but it was hilly and there was a good sized lake and everything! I know Nebraska is renowned for being flat but it seems whenever I get off the interstate there is quite a few elevation changes.

I made it to Wyoming and was shocked to see almost immediately I was at over 4000 feet. I knew Casper was about 5200 feet but I did not expect to raise 3200 feet and not even notice. I made it to Casper over two hours earlier than I wanted to and drove around looking for things to do. Luckily Dave’s plane landed early and I was able to go pick him up quick. Dave and I found a breakfast place to eat downtown and then hit up the Western store that seemed to be area renowned. It was pretty awesome. I always make a goal to do something unique to that state whenever I visit a state and as I was not able to take time to visit a national park due to time constraints I cannot think of a more Wyoming thing than visiting a Western store.

Next it was a stop to the expo to pick up our numbers, t-shirts and whatever other freebies we could grab. Dave and I ran into quite a few other runners while there and what seemed like it would be a five minute visit (at most much like Wyoming sights the expo did not have much to offer) turned into a hour of gab and I think we left just so no one else would come by and prolong our stay.

We went to the hotel that Julie had booked for us and already you can see the teamwork. Dave did not have to get a rental car thanks to me and none of us had to pay full price for a hotel (well Julie was nice but she knows we would have kicked in if she wanted us to). We all got to the room at the same time and Karen and Alicia had just got to town as well and were at the expo (see we were smart that would have been another 20 minutes of gab). It was a rather sad situation. Michelle was going to be late to her own dinner she had organized the night before the race! So that was in three hours and she had promised excellent gifts such as Swedish Fish and gummy bears! The horror of no one being able to get such excellent prizes! Well with the help of Karen, Julie and I took it upon the three of us to supply these and hand them out at dinner.

We spent the afternoon getting these and going back to the expo where I ran over to visit Adam in his hotel room and try to talk him into going to the dinner. He had promised to wear assless chaps but apparently he had forgotten them because he refused to go to our dinner. Sad. However he did have an excellent dinner of Chicken in a Biscuit he assured me and my shorts I had left behind in Vermont. I left down hearted but it was nice to see Adam in any case.

Since we were now running the dinner Julie, Dave and I decided we had to show up at least 10 minutes late to honor Michelle (she is always late so it wasn’t that we were just running behind I promise!). We walked in and it was a little less crowded than usual (word may have gotten out about Michelle’s absence). Sigh.

We did eat and take plenty of pictures and it was great to see Karen and meet a couple new friends. Plus Brian and a couple of his friends were in the other room and were sure to join us when we started handing out prizes! The prizes were the usual candy and everyone got so excited and cheered when they won. It really is pretty special when it happens and though it missed that Michelle magic, it was still pretty awesome. Some even groused that they did not win a prize while others won two.

The next morning we all went to a convention center and got ready to run the marathon. I always wonder what the local runners think when all of us show up. Most people wear their maniacs gear and we line up for picture after picture. It was particularly funny at this run when it was mostly us and not too many local runners at all. And there was at least 50 pictures. People could barely walk around with all the pictures going on. It is a sight to see.

We took off and the description of the run will be very brief. We started in the parking lot and went onto a road where we took a left where we circled around to the exact loop we made the first time only to take a right this time. The half started 15 minutes after the full and I started passing them by Mile one. Also the motto of the run is “Run with the Herd” and it was awesome to see a herd of antelope running alongside near that Mile three. We moved along the road until Mile six where we took a turn onto the city’s running path. It was a really nice running path but by mile 10 the river on the left and the wilderness on the left was getting a little odd. Don’t worry – they switched sides eventually but as we ran along the path not much changed at all. We only once ever passed a major street.

The only turn we made was at Mile 21 where we turned onto a golf course for about four miles to get a full 26.2 until we got to make the last run in. The golf course turned out to be the undoing of my running. I watched as four runners passed me easily (I came in like 11th overall) and just stumbled along the entire way. Some same it was the heat and the sun beating down on us. I think it was a bit defeating to take a three mile circle when I knew the end was about a mile away if we did not make that turn. In any case, not a big fan of the golf course!

I finished and chatted with a couple friends then went to get my free beer and they were just giving them out like candy! It may have not been the most interesting marathon or location but boy the volunteers along the way could not be beat and the after race was better than any I have EVER been to with the exception of Louisiana of course. There was free soda, lots of free fruit, subs and pizza! No matter if you were being healthy or a slob – they had you covered. The award ceremony went off on time and it was great to get an age group prize.

Afterwards we headed to the same Western store Dave and I had been to and it was a great time buying authentic gear and taking pictures with cowboy hats on. Sure it was nothing too original but between Dave, Aaron, Michelle, Allison, Julie and I we had a fantastic time talking to one of the store’s owners and trying on all sorts of Cowboy hats. Sadly we ran out of time before we could even get done with seeing the entire store!

Then we went and had lunch at a place with a very small menu but awesome flair and cheap, cheap beers ($2!) to finish our time together. Seriously just looking around the bar was an adventure – sharks, fake blues brothers and Barney adorned the walls. We even had a few other runners stop by and I learned the tale of how Eddie Eleven Star Vega “earned” his eleventh star. I can tell you the tale but ask Eddie instead. I assure you it is much more entertaining. When Michelle, Dave and Aaron could wait no longer for their plane to take off, we all decided to leave and I stayed in town and kept it low key just going to a movie.

I know I run too many marathons and I know that way too much of my money goes to these adventures, but when it comes down to it, the price of friendship and good times has no value. The entire weekend was packed with things to do and afterwards I could only think how I wish I could have spent more time with some of the others as well. Wyoming was a blast!