I’ve never met a hill I couldn’t walk
St. Louis Missouri is definitely a great place to explore. I would say it has everything! From fine dining to street vendor grub, many parks, the Arch National Monument, the Angry Mississippi River and one of the largest breweries in the nation: Anheiser Busch. St. Louis is home to over 300,000 people and I guess I can see why they like living here. This is the true “Gateway to the West.”
When we choose a destination marathon, we always look for 3 things; -Good Food, –Good Music, –Sleazy City. We decided to drive this time and actually sleep in my Chevy Suburban. We’re signed up for lots of events this summer and need to save as much money as possible. So we headed out late and drove through the night, arrived in St. Louie about noon the next day. Our Massachusetts friends flew in about the same time and we all met up for cocktails at The Beer Garden Pub located across the street from Busch Stadium. It’s always great getting together with these guys knowing we will tear up the town and have some new fun. We still had one more full day before the Marathon so there was really no reason to take it easy.
After a few rounds of beers we found a nice place for dinner and reminisced about old times. We’ve ran lots of marathons together in all parts of the country and plan to do this for many years to come. We toasted every round to where we’ve been and what the future holds. These are truly the greatest times of my life. We finished up dinner and decided to hit the town. It was one pub to the next. We spent a couple hours at The Beale on Broadway featuring a 4 man blues band, with all 4 members over the age of 65! They were awesome. It was a good night that eventually had to come to a close.
The next morning came much too early but we got moving quickly to explore the rest of this great river city. We started our day by touring the Arch. It’s an amazing piece of our county’s history indeed. We then headed up to the Health and Fitness Expo where the 15,000 runners would grab their race bibs. We’ve been to many of these and we try to not spend too much time walking the aisles and trying on new shoes. We had pubs to hit and deep fried food to sample. So that’s how the rest of the day continued. Walking around the outside of the Cardinal’s Baseball Stadium, we were amazed with all the entertainment this part of the city had to offer. Bars and restaurants, outdoor dining, gift and memorabilia stores. We definitely had to try out the dark beer selections whenever we could find some open seats in the sun. Every place was full of patrons and we could only imagine how busy they would be during a ball game.
We were having a great time and had shorts on for the first time since last fall! As the evening approached we promised each other we would find the best BBQ Rib place St. Louis had to offer. We were directed down to Hannegan’s Restaurant and Pub. They brought out piles of pork ribs, beef brisket, baked beans, cornbread and of course a small salad so at least you felt like you were eating something healthy. We finished the night off with some fine red wine before heading to bed. It was another great day and we were excited to run in the morning.
The alarm went off and we met for coffee before heading down to the marathon start. We took every minute we could just to relax and stay off our feet until we decided to walk down to the crowded start area and the smell of Ben Gay. It was time and we were about to get this show started. As I’ve said before, these days I don’t care about my finishing time. It’s more about “Quantity then Quality.” Finish smart and stay uninjured for the next. The gun went off and we headed down the crowded streets with nothing else planned but to run 26 miles. The first mile took us to a bridge across the Mississippi River and we spent the next two miles running in the State of Illinois before crossing a different bridge back into Missouri again. The course ran through a fair amount of Industrial area for the next several miles until we reached the original Budweiser Brewery. This was by far the most interesting part of the race. I was amazed by all the massive brick buildings that went on for many blocks. Most of the original structures are still in use after their construction in the late 1800s. This business also played a big part of St. Louis’ economic history. I looked long and hard for the free beer samples but I didn’t have much luck.
At the 13 mile mark the half marathoners split off from our course and headed to their finish line. I just kept plugging along and started some conversations with a few other runners. We came upon an older gentleman who seemed to be staggering a little and his head leaned to one side as he ran. I asked him is he was feeling ok? He replied “I feel great”! So our conversation continued and I learned that this was his 15th Marathon. And that he has Parkinson's Disease. And he didn’t start running until after he was diagnosed with the disease. He also said the University of Missouri is conducting a major study on his situation with his disease and running Marathons. We talked for the next 7 or 8 miles and it was really a blessing to have met this man and hear his positive outlook and imagine how he must inspire everyone he meets.
The last few miles of the race brought us through Forest Park. A large 1300 acre park featuring an Art Museum, History Center and the St. Louis Zoo. There was also a large golf course in the park witch I’ve found makes a great location for high school cross country meets (but not much else).
The last mile was a straight downhill descent to the finish line. The temps were starting to get hot and I was ready to be done. It was another good day, one more victory. One more finish line of a race against myself.
We will keep doing this. We will keep challenging ourselves at high level endurance events in interesting places and make personal victories. This is what we do.
Life is Good, take it all in.