Sunday, June 22, 2014

"Who Runs a Marathon for a Bachlorette Party?" - Kentucky Recap

About a year ago, my engaged friend Karin expressed interest in running a marathon for her bachlorette party. I thought this sounded infinitely better than doing a scavenger hunt and getting wasted. Hatfield-McCoy seemed like the perfect option - it was relatively close to the wedding, everyone loves it, and the travel wouldn't be too arduous. We paid our ridiculously low registration fee ($50!!) and called it a day.

Fast forward to the present day, when I had to do things like ask for time off and explain to my coworkers why I was running a marathon for a bachlorette party. There was certainly a wide variety of responses: Did Karin force me to run it? Did I force Karin? Was it a surprise? Was I joking? And most importantly, would there be a stripper on the course? (That was asked in complete seriousness by more than one person.)
I guess I should've watched this move for inspiration. I have failed as a MOH.

Karin had also just moved out of state for work, which led to some headaches trying to work out the travel details. The Race Director freely admits that the race is a giant pain in the ass to get to, and he really appreciates everyone that makes what is basically the 50 States pilgrimage. We eventually settled that the best way would be for me to pick Karin up around lunchtime from the Columbus Airport.

The drive to the airport wasn't too bad, until I got close to Columbus. US-23 suddenly takes you through a bunch of towns and really adds time to the trip, but there's no other way. I even checked my phone at one point (while at a red light) to confirm I was going the right way. Finally, I was able to get off at the airport and started looking for signs to the cell phone lot.
Does this look like a freeway to you? I didn't think so.

Jesus Christ, let me just say, whoever made the signs for the Columbus Airport needs to go back to sign school. While traffic wasn't too heavy, the signs were contradictory and made me cut across four lanes of traffic several times. Example - once off the highway, a sign indicates to get in the far left lane to get to the terminal. This seemed on, until the next sign sucker punches and informs you that lane is really just rental car return.

Once I made it out of that debacle and could follow signs to passenger pick-up, I assumed I was finally on the right track. But it turns out staying in the left lane is what takes you to cell phone lot, but there is literally no time to make the lane changes once this sign shows up. Basically, I just hid behind a car waiting to pick up a handicapped passenger so the workers wouldn't yell at me for idling.

Karin reported the inside of the airport was not much better. Apparently the ground transportation signs led her into a wall. For a small, one terminal affair, the Columbus Airport was sort of a colossal disaster. At least Karin's flight was right on schedule.

Getting back on the highway was fortunately slightly easier. There was a rest stop maybe 30 minutes away from the airport, dedicated to Ohio's Spanish-American War veterans of all things, and ate the lunch I had packed the night before. I think we checked out every table available, since most were swarming with ants. Pretty sure the groundskeepers there thought we were up to no good.

Apparently they exist.
After driving through Ohio for what felt like forever, we finally hit the Kentucky border. According to Google Maps, we could cut travel time off by popping through Ashland. After going over a brightly colored bridge we both thought was a roller coaster at a distance, we discovered the Columbus sign maker had struck again. We followed signs for the highway we needed and were led through slow construction back to our starting point.

After what seemed like an eternity, we made it to West Virginia. We stopped to get gas (which was 20 cents cheaper than in Kentucky, interestingly enough). Outside the bathrooms was a giant poster with the entire NASCAR season schedule. The clerk's name tag was also made out of a receipt. Winning.

Karin and I have actually been to West Virginia before, during spring break of our freshman year of college. We didn't arrive until after dark and really struggled to find anything or even follow the curvy roads in the dark. There was also torrential rain, and everything was flooded like crazy.

I may have constantly said "Release the river!" the whole time.
We were hoping this part of the state would be better, especially in daylight. The roads were just as confusing, though a bit better in the light. I have no idea how the locals blast through those curves. I drive a Focus and really had to slow down. We also got stuck behind a gravel truck, so that was fun.

At one point, we were in a two lane passing stretch, and the car beside us honked their horn. Being two women alone in a rural area, we both looked carefully straight ahead. After a few more beeps, I tried to do a careful side eye and saw the passenger making extremely enthusiastic running motions. We mimicked them and saw they had 13.1 and 26.2 stickers as they blasted away. Of course, when they first honked, I was stuffing food into my face. Classic.

Driving in West Virginia is also weird because there's no clear way to know how far you've gone, with the slow speeds and the curvy roads. So very suddenly, we were in Williamson. Or something. I had no idea what city or state we were in most of the time. It was super disorienting to say the least. Honestly, if the RD didn't emphasize that the start is in Kentucky and not West Virginia, I would've had no idea.

Our first stop was packet pick-up and the pasta dinner (included in the race fee). Packet pick-up was a little crowded since it was in a school hallway, but it moved quickly and was well-organized. The pasta dinner had a pretty nice spread, but the portion were a little small. I ended up munching on some mini-bagels that night after getting hungry again.

While we were waiting in the pasta line, the running-driving-lady came up to us and said hi. She was super nice and said to ask if we had any questions, since she was a local. We ended up sitting with two younger guys, whose names I unfortunately never got. I think my favorite part of the dinner was seeing the State Championship football poster.

Defense wins championships has never been a truer saying
After the dinner was what Karin and I had both been really looking forward to - the Hatfield McCoy Feud skit. Before the skit, the Race Director talked for maybe 15 or 20 minutes. He got choked up several times when talking about the growth of the race and the local running club. It was really touching to see how he really pours everything he has into the race.

The skit was well done, maybe 10 minutes long. The re-enactors did a great job, and the playwright does the local Feud tours, so he really knows his stuff. This was a great summary of the Feud for someone who only knew it existed, not what caused it or what happened during it. It also helped to have some context for the historical markers we saw the next day.

The next step was to find the Williamson Fire Department, where we were spending the night. We ended up getting cots next to the two guys from dinner, who were kind enough to share their valuable outlets with us. The atmosphere was really fun, surrounded by other runners, and it was so kind of the FD to let us stay there. (We still have no idea how they were allowed to do this from a legal standpoint.) It also made for some classy photo ops.

This is the tallest fire pole in North America. The more you know.
I hadn't brought my sleeping bag since it was so hot outside, but this turned out to be the biggest mistake ever. They turned the air on, and it only got colder as the night progressed. I ended up putting on socks, my jacket, my poncho from Fargo, and my fleece hat, and I still probably only got four hours of sleep max, since I spent most of the night freezing. When everyone got up, I couldn't stop shivering.

"Refugee chic," as one friend described.
You can read more about the actual marathon here, but keep reading if you want to hear about the nastiest showers in existence.

Once I finished the marathon, ate my post-race meal included in the race fee, and threw out my required banana, Karin and I regrouped at the car. Both of us desperately wanted showers and had three options - the former high school, the National Guard Armory, and the community pool. We had no idea what the former high school currently was and felt weird about barging into the Armory, plus we assumed the community pool would be nice.

Hahaha. Were we wrong.

First off, driving there was asinine, as is driving to anything in Williamson. We went over some railroad tracks, and I had to slam on the brakes because the street suddenly dead-ended into the parking lot on the other side. The pool looked nice and was sponsored by the Kiwanis Club, so we congratulated ourselves on picking a good location.

Okay, I usually don't get squicked out by bathrooms, but this one was disgusting and in disrepair. The only shower facilities were an open shower room, so we took turns, and I prayed no women decided to parade their young sons through. After changing in the changing stall (which had a curtain, though it was too small to be useful), I decided to use the bathroom. Thank God I was still very dehydrated, and it wasn't an emergency. Because this is what I had to work with.

Why are there no doors?!
I opted out. Thanks, but no thanks. There was also no toilet paper or feminine trash.

I did feel much better after getting the grime off, but it was not the relaxing shower I had been dreaming about the whole race. I'm not sure waiting until Circleville to shower would've been significantly worse.

It was about 3.5 hours to Circleville, where we were spending the night. It was the only hotel along the route I had enough points for a free night at, and it fortuitously turned out to be very close to the Columbus Airport. (I booked it months before I knew I would have to take Karin there early Sunday morning.)

We both demolished some bread sticks and pizza at a local place called Pizza Cottage. The food was great, but service was a little slow. Our waitress seemed to only be around when we didn't need her, despite the fact the place wasn't even half full. It was also glorious to finally watch some World Cup, after missing out all weekend.
Though this was also a bit traumatizing in its own way....
I think we made it until 9 PM before passing out. After the cold cots, the warm memory foam mattress felt like a cloud. I slept 8.5 hours before waking up, which is rare, because I usually only can go about 6 before needing the bathroom. I felt much refreshed.

After dropping Karin off at the airport, I drove about an hour more to Marion, OH, where I met the Eager Feet Parents for breakfast. That greasy delicious food was just what I needed to fully recover from the race. It was also fun to show off my medal.

Because bullet holes.
It was only about four hours from there to home, but after doing all the driving the whole weekend, I was 1000% done. I stopped two or three times on the way home when I really didn't need to, just to get a chance to get out of the car before I went bonkers. I think the only thing keeping me going was knowing kitty snuggles were awaiting me at home.

And no, there's no such thing as too many Faramir pictures. Thanks for asking.

1 comment:

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