Wednesday, April 30, 2014

No Gas Stations for You - Indiana Recap Part One

This weekend saw the auspicious start to my 2014 marathon season by traveling to Indiana. Aw yeah.
We unfortunately did not see the famed Indiana bison or lumberjacks.
I kicked things off by driving down to Michael's on Friday night and caught up with a close friend. It was strange being back on campus after having a big girl job for three months. I really felt like I was separate, though I can't say it was a bad thing. We even got super lucky and were not awoken by the other tenants that tend to favor partying between 4 and 6 AM. 

We had an early wake-up call on Saturday and readied ourselves for the drive. Michael was awesome enough to do the driving so that I could relax the whole way. It was nice to catch up after so long apart. The only issue on the drive was when we decided to start looking for a gas station, at which point we saw one for 60+ miles. I guess there are so few people that there aren't any off the highway. We ended up having to stop just outside West Lafayette...good thing my car has good gas mileage.

Instead of going right to the area of the race, Michael and I planned a stop in West Lafayette to visit a former teacher of our who had moved there for work. (No pictures because I'm not a creeper.) After meeting his dogs, who were the least scary big dogs I've ever met, we drove downtown for some lunch, which was spectacular, because I was about to gnaw my own arm off.

Their first choice of restaurant was closed, but the back-up across the street had a great shaded patio, which was perfect given how wonderful the weather was. I managed to eat most of a margherita pizza to fortify myself for the day. 

After relaxing, the group of us trekked across the river to get to campus. The downtown area was really cute and had pretty much every shop a college kid would need, definitely a big difference from the abandoned mess that is East Lansing's downtown. There was also the added bonus of this being a special weekend at Purdue, aka everyone dressed up in ridiculous costumes and were wasted by the early afternoon. My personal favorite was a guy who attempted to a roll up a hill. Mad skillz.

I had really wanted to see the Boilermaker train, but apparently it doesn't always park in the same spot, so we went to see the Boilermaker statue instead.

No Sparty, but it has its own charm.
We were obviously by the basketball arena and football stadium when we got this photo. I know Purdue is not a bastion of sports prowess, but it was almost comical how small their football stadium was. I felt like I could just reach out and give it a hug and pinch its cheeks and tell it how cute it is. I might look into seeing MSU play there next time that game is scheduled away, it seems like it would be a pretty stress-free game day experience. 


After the Boilermaker came a stop up on a patio to get a good view of campus. It makes me feel like a traitor, but I think I liked Purdue's campus better than MSU's. More of the buildings seemed older yet well-cared for, and there were nice lawns spread throughout.
Forever...I'm a...Spartan.
We also stopped to see the Neil Armstrong statue, which was hilariously chill. For some reason I can't find my picture of it, so here's someone else's. 

About to pop off to, you know, the freakin' moon.
After a quick stop for ice cream, we headed back. Michael and I stayed longer than planned, so we knew we knew we wouldn't be able to make packet pick-up (which closed at 5 PM, seriously?), but we were really happy we got to maximize our visit. From other blogs I read of people doing the 50 States, half the fun seems to be seeing out-of-state friends. Indiana isn't exactly across the world, but West Lafayette was still too far for just a quick day trip. 

The race was to be held in Lowell, IN, heard of by exactly no people, including any hotel owners, so we drove on to Merrillville, which had actual places to stay. We decided to overnight at the Extended Stay America, which was not the best choice in hindsight. The rate was good, and the room was fine, but the other guests all gave me creepy vibes, and it took the receptionist three tries to make our room keys. I also got to listen to the cleaning ladies have a screaming match in the back room. Professional.

But the most important thing about Merrillville was it had a Portillos. For anyone not in the know, this is only the most amazing restaurant on the planet. I generally only get this a few times a year when we see family in Illinois, though we occasionally indulge and get a box delivered to make ourselves. Italian beef and fries is not the best pre-race meal by any stretch of the imagination, but I knew this race was going to hurt, so there was no way I was skipping my favorite place.

This basically put us into a food coma, and we went to bed at a crazy 9 PM for our early wake-up the next day.

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