Friday, June 15, 2007

Setup for tomorrow's Marathon to Marathon

Marathon to Marathon is a small, uh, marathon held each summer in Iowa... usually, if not always, the same day as Grandmas. You can guess why it is named this way: it's a point-to-point course from one little town (Storm Lake) to the even smaller town of... wait for it... Marathon, Iowa. It ends at the community center, which is an odd place that consists of the old high school gym, a bathroom, and a couple hallways. The rest of the high school? Torn down. But they left... just... that... much... :)

I ran a 3:45 on this course last year, which is pretty good for me. The course is absolutely pancake flat; it is perhaps the flattest course I have ever run. However, that doesn't mean it is a super turbo fast course. There are a couple significant weather gotchas. For one, it's the middle of June. It could be thunderstormy... which is what it was supposed to be last year, but just stayed humid instead... or it could be H O T. And it is supposed to be H O T tomorrow. The second gotcha is wind. It is always windy here, and this course heads north and east (but not northeast... I'll get to that in a second). If the wind is coming from one of those directions, well, you are in for a very long day. Then again, if the wind is coming from the south and/or west, then that can help balance out the heat. Tomorrow it is supposed to be blowing from the south. I hope this is true, but I got burned last weekend at my race in Port Angeles. We were supposed to get a tailwind, but we got a headwind instead.

So why am I writing this race report the day before the race?

Tomorrow will be my 25th marathon-or-longer of the year. That's an artificial milestone number, but it is a lot in any case, and sometimes I kind of run out of new and cool things to say about races. This part of the US has its charms, and it is pretty in its own way, but there will be no jaw-dropping sights for me to write about afterwards. Corn. And I'm not going for a super PR or a BQ. I won't be writing about how I employed great strategy to win the race either.

So writing comes down to two things at a race like this. And, believe it or not, these are two of the main reasons why I like to travel around to race anyway.

1) I like to meet people at these things. Sometimes it is people I already know... it is a real kick to find someone from Florida at an Iowa race that I previously ran with in New Mexico. Sometimes it is new people. Sometimes I help them with their goals. Sometimes they help me with mine. I may have stories to tell about this. Then again, I may not. Youneverknow.

2) I like to come to places considered "the middle of nowhere". A race gives me a reason to travel to places I otherwise never would have thought about going. The places don't have to have jaw-dropping sights. Most places are unique in some way(s). Collecting little observations is fun.

Tomorrow, I'll add a post with some race stuff (assuming I find internet access).

For now, here are some observations about middle-of-nowhere Iowa.

Roads in Iowa go north-south or east-west. All of them. If where you want to be is diagonal from where you are, forget about going "as the crow flies". You will not utilize the hypotenuse of the triangle. You WILL go over here.... turn... and then go over there. Pythagoras would have an aneurysm.

I managed to hit Okoboji, Iowa (population: very small... SAL-UTE) at 5p. And I got stuck in rush hour traffic. Really. Who knew?

And so I stopped at a convenience store to get a drink. The store was (and is) called KUM & GO. Oh, man. This is a fairly common chain of stores in this part of the country, but it still makes me laugh every time I see one. You have to wonder whether that was an unfortunate choice of names... or completely intentional.

Here's the thing about Okoboji. There is the University of Okoboji Marathon. Fair enough. One of my coolrunning buddies, Aamos, has run that one (winning it last year, and coming in second the year before while managing to almost get lost).

Except for one thing. There isn't really a University of Okoboji. HA. Here is their entrance exam, however.

Later on, I stopped at Taco Johns to eat. Like K&G, Taco Johns is pretty common in these parts too. At this particular Taco Johns, there was a TV for customers to watch... like at a bar. They had the US Open cranked up. I can tell you that televised golf is not improved by cranking it up.

And with that, as I sit in the lovely Super 8 in Storm Lake Iowa, I realize that I need to go to bed. I have to get up at 4:30a. Too bad my body thinks it is 6:30p. Sleep ain't happening.

Besides, the guy across the hall is watching wrestlin'.

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