This past weekend, I had the opportunity to run #RNRSTL as part of the #RockNBlog crew (the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series comped the entry and provided swag to us, very generous Ambassador program). Since I have been struggling all year with my running (what a difference a few years and many, many pounds make!), I switched from the half-marathon to the 5K, knowing I could finish, even if it wasn’t pretty.
Friday afternoon I drove down, listening to a James Bond audiobook – love long drives when you have a good book or good company. This was a solo weekend, since the family was just too busy for us all to make the trip. Stopping off at the expo to pick up my bib and shirt, I was kind of surprised at how sparse it was. Maybe the Saturday expo had more vendors, but on Friday it was just a handful. No lines to pick up my bib or shirt though, so that’s a plus for sure.
For this trip I opted to try AirBnB, in lieu of a more expensive hotel room. It was a hit and miss all in one. The room was in Lafayette Square, a historic area just south of downtown, filled with beautiful old homes, funky little shops, and lots of interesting restaurants. The room itself was okay, great location, but it was in the basement so: LOW ceilings, musty smell, noises from upstairs were quite audible. I’ll probably keep an eye on AirBnB in the future (if it has one, there have been legal rumblings…), especially for trips like ORShow, since hotels are hard to find and very expensive.
Dinner was half a block away, at a local brewpub called Square One Brewery and Distillery, and I highly recommend searching it out if you’re in the area. Old time bar inside, funky cool patio outside, with a great enormous wall fountain on one side. Good beer, good nachos (HUGE appetizer portion that I tried to finish but thankfully could not).
Race morning dawned flat out gorgeous, around 40 degrees and an amazing sunrise. My warm up consisted of a mile and a half walk from the room to the start line, which gave me the opportunity to see the skyline and marvel at all the cool buildings St Louis has been able to save and reuse.
We were off and I only took a few opportunities to stop running, either to take photos or take off extra layers. even though it was chilly, it was ideal for running and I got hot relatively quickly. It’s an out and back (sort of) loop course, running away from downtown, then coming back on a parallel street, and, except for the far turnaround, really gave the runners an opportunity to see the downtown area. A lot of beautiful older buildings and it doesn’t have the vacant feeling some smaller downtowns have these days (even though it was deserted except for us runners).
A better finish than expected, but still horrifyingly slow compared to previous years, I grabbed my medal and headed back to the room, hungry for breakfast. This was had at Park Avenue Coffee, an independent shop known primarily for their Butter Gooey Cakes. “If you’re not from St. Louis then you may not be familiar with Gooey Butter Cake. Gooey Butter Cake starts out with a dense yellow “cake-like” base (the crust) and it is filled with a mixture of powered sugar, butter and cream cheese.” While certainly tasty, even the lemon blueberry was far too sweet as a breakfast. Good to try local specials, though.
The ride home was uneventful, more James Bond stories, except for one awesome surprise. Scott (of Hiking Forward) and I managed to coordinate meeting up for lunch. He and his daughters (who are great girls and obviously take after his wife, haha) toured me through Scheel’s (an enormous sports store, like Dick’s Sporting Goods on steroids), followed by another local microbrewery for lunch, Engrained Brewing Company, which focuses on local products to the fullest extent possible and makes a lot of their food in house. I couldn’t resist tasting a flight of beers and I’m glad I did, very tasty indeed.
If you’re thinking of running a Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon Series race, and you can make it to St Louis, I’d recommend this as a low key option. Downtown St Louis has a lot to offer, so stay nearby and leave time to visit all the great sites.