26.2 – Here Goes Nothing!

I’m writing this blog on my phone from my car at the start of the Heart of America Marathon in Columbia, MO. My brain did that typical ‘freak out about oversleeping and wake up too early’ thing this morning.

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I signed up for this race on a whim and I think it has me more nervous than races I’ve spent months preparing and training for. I guess that makes sense, since, ya know, I haven’t spent months preparing for this one.

This race is considered by some to be in the top 10 toughest road race marathons in the country because of the six major climbs along the way. Plus, temps average around 80-90, with humidity just as high. (Today’s high: 83)

I am approaching the race as just a long training run and not trying to set any records. That’s hard, because lately that is what I have been doing! This course has very limited course support, which I’m not used to for this distance. I like to be able to count on my precut bananas and m&ms along the way. Today it will just be me and about 200 others, with a handful of aid stations speckling the 26 mile course.

I did convince a few friends to come out along the way, including my girlfriend Lauren who will be at Mile 21 to help me through the last of the hills. At the finish I’ve talked my other friend Zahra into running across the finish with me too!

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It finishes in Downtown Columbia, which is where I did my undergrad. I have exactly enough time to enjoy a few slices of Shakespeare’s Pizza, shower, and then be Madison bound. I think the 8 hour drive home will honestly be the hardest part of the day!

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Well, I have killed enough time that it is finally time to go mingle with the other runners before the gun goes off. Wish me luck!

Signed Up for a Marathon in SIX (6) Days!!!

I think it is widely accepted that marathoners are pretty nuts. You have to be more than a little crazy to run 26.2 miles, for fun, and pay for it!

That being said, I don’t think it should be too surprising  that this morning I did something pretty insane and signed up for a marathon just six days away. Not just any marathon either. It’s the Heart of America Marathon in Columbia, MO – one of the most difficult, non-mountain road races in the country.

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This is all because this morning I impromptu decided to visit friends and family in Missouri over this upcoming Labor Day weekend. My training plan for the Quad Cities Marathon later in September called for one final long run this weekend, 23 miles, and I was a little worried about not getting it in while visiting everyone. Naturally, the practical solution was just to say “to hell with it, let’s go all the way!”

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I was already driving through Columbia on Monday and the race was only $40. How could I say no to a planned route, water and aid stops, camaraderie, AND a medal?! Once I thought about it like that it just seemed way more fun than running 23 miles solo. Plus, I might wrangle some friends into joining me for a few miles along the way.

So now I’m registered. Committed. Locked in.

Of course, it was after I paid my entry fee that I thought to look up the weather. 90 degrees.

Bring on the heat wave and the hills I guess!

Now let’s talk goals. I have absolutely none other than to finish this race. It’s so hilly that I don’t expect any PRs, and it is longer than I had planned to go. It will definitely just be a training run. BUT, it will help me achieve one other goal I made at the beginning of the year – to become a Marathon Maniac. If I finish Heart of America, Quad Cities, and the Madison Marathon I will meet the criteria to get my first star and become a Bronze Level Marathon Maniac. Whoo!

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Look for a race report soon and wish me luck!

Touristy Tuesday: Columbia, MO Edition

The way I would describe our time in Columbia would be like a week long speed dating session, but with friends. Columbia is home to Mizzou and I still have a lot of friends still in town. In our seven days in town I crammed as many friend dates in as possible! I didn’t get to see everyone, but I did have a blast seeing everyone I did get to hang out with.

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In addition to meeting absolutely everyone I know, I also dragged Eliot all around Columbia. First I had to show him campus, the quad, the columns, and all the highlights of Mizzou.

My first night in town I met up with Zahra. Those familiar with Columbia would probably say go to Shakespeare’s Pizza, Harpos, or the Burg as soon as you get back in town. For me, it’s India House. It is just down the street from my old apartment (home sweet home for Zahra now) and is one of my favorite places to go with Zahra. I mean, she obviously knows the best choices on the menu too!

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We had some much needed girl talk and then Kevin joined us for dinner. Remember him? He’s the one who called me Hot Dog the whole time we hung out over Thanksgiving break. Not much has changed there!

After dinner we walked down the street (another reason to love CoMO – everything is in walking distance) to Ragtag, which is an independent movie theater/cafe/bar. It gets to be a lot of different things because it is just that cool. I mean, they have couches for seats in the theater! We were going to see all the short films nominated for Oscars this year. I had a great time, but don’t remember much. I managed to stay awake to finish a glass of wine, but was knocked out almost as soon as I put the glass down! Big surprise, but I slept through the whole thing. (Here’s a fun fact about me: I need my movies to END by 9 p.m. – this one started at 9 p.m. so there wasn’t even a glimmer of hope I would make it through without falling asleep.)

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Eliot and I were actually in town for recruiting at Mizzou, looking for the next class of Hotdoggers. As we were walking around campus on Friday putting up fliers we stumbled across a show setting up in Jesse Hall. It turned out to be the traveling broadway production of Shrek the Musical. Both being big Disney fans and having limited amounts of shame, we joined a hundreds of small children and went to see it that night.

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I’ll be honest, Mike Myers did such a great job with the film Shrek that I was leery of how it would translate to the stage. It was pretty good. I’m not going to say it blew me away, but it was definitely fun to see and the set was great. Of course, that final number with I’m a Believer is always the best. Even before the show, that was the official theme song for Eliot and I anyway.

Saturday night Eliot and I went to another show as Jesse Hall, but of a much different kind. There were absolutely no children in a theater this time!

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As part of the 1 Billion Rising campaign, we went to go see the Vagina Monologues.

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Eliot had never seen them and I love them, so I felt we just had to go! Let me tell you something, going to see the Vagina Monologues with a co-worker you’ve only worked with for a month is something that will definitely test a partnership. But we both survived, probably due to never speaking about it or uttering the word vagina again after the curtain closed.

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Luckily, Zahra and Kevin joined us along with one of their friends and their infusion of goofiness dropped the awkwardness level down a bit too.

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After the Vagina Monologues Eliot and I headed downtown to meet up with a bunch of my friends. It was Emily’s birthday and she always has the very best birthdays. Last year she had a bucket of champagne with sparklers coming out for goodness sake!

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It worked out great that it was her birthday weekend because a lot of people were in town to celebrate! There was another added bonus that the journalism career fair was also this week and so a lot of grads were back in town as well.

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Talk about a great night. We started at Room 38 and let’s be honest, since it is one of the classiest places in town the night could inevitably only go downhill – in a good way anyway!

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From Room 38 we headed to Shot Bar, which is a relatively new place. Take a shot and leave. (“It’s SOOOO European,” said all the undergrads fresh from their study abroad experiences that left them feeling like the epitome of cultured.) Really it’s just a chance to charge insane amounts for a drink and get quick turnover.

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At Quintons, my favorite bar back in college, Eliot and I were getting drinks when I looked down the bar and recognized a familiar face. Sure enough, it was Adam Hickey, another Hotdogger and Mizzou grad who we had met up with in Chicago a month before. Talk about a small world!

The night ended with quite a lot of dancing and quite a lot of tacos. Isn’t that how it always goes in college though?

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Along the way, I introduced Eliot to some other Columbia staples including $1 Burgers on Sundays at Big 12. I made sure he got the waffle fries so I could eat them! We also tried somewhere new for me – Main Squeeze, a local vegetarian place. I had a sunflower burger (?!) and it was deeee-licious!

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We did make one final reappearance in Columbia, driving through for lunch this past week, where we remembered to bring cash to try the sliders at Booches and I got to catch up with Emily and Tyler one more time as well!

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I had done my best to show Eliot the best Columbia had to offer in our one week in town. He saw the classy side of things on campus and the fun side downtown. Sadly, he never got to really experience the sports side, but I think I might have gotten Mizzou to be his SEC team of choice now!

Being back on campus was a blast, but I’m even more eager to get to grad school now. I’m ready to have my nose in books, coffee cups, and pint glasses again!