Friday, May 3, 2013

Best Grinnell Run--ever

Saturday was The Mike's big race of the spring.  TransIowa version 9.  320 miles of gravel and dirt roads ("Level B") in Iowa.  Fourth year for him doing this race.  We hurry on Friday to Grinnell for the preliminary items for the race. Then try to get some sleep unnaturally early, as racers start at 4am, are suppose to be downtown at 3:30am and they all try to eat something ahead of time.  Our alarm clock was set for 2:15am (yeah?).  

Racers lined up-almost go time at 4am
After watching the cyclists depart downtown, I headed out to the north/south road to head to the hotel. One of the other cars pulled off the road at the next spot, assuming where there were police at 4am meant that the cyclists would be coming.  She was right and they had traveled a long way, from Pennsylvania for the event, she loved the quaint town of Grinnell, plus that the big city of Des Moines as not far away for exploring and shopping :-) 

Police were on hand to block vehicle traffic on a state highway, as cyclists exited Grinnell and headed towards the gravel--those lights behind the truck are ALL cyclists.
 I tried to get warmed up and back to sleep at the hotel. I finally succeeded about the time I normally awake. I slept until 8am and then awoke to a beautiful day for running and errands.  This is the first time in four years that there was beautiful weather for this event of The Mike's.   Normally it's rainy, overcast, 30mph wind, etc.  
Nature on my run. The lake in Grinnell
 I took a pause at the lake to watch the geese and ducks and then spied a turtle sunning himself. He ducked back in the water before I was able to capture his photo.   

The run takes me on the gravel shoulder up to the wide bike path which winds around to this lake. Then the trail runs out and you have the option of running streets (along the "bike path" with regular sidewalks) or running up to the cemetery (which is on the other side of the trees). There's not much difference in the end, but only on how to do the next few blocks.  I always choose to run through the cemeteries. I find they're peaceful and full of history.  This one was technically blocked off due to some repairs of the underground drainage, but I'm a farm girl and can walk through rough terrain, so I went that way (and there was a slight opening in the orange fencing, so I didn't break through anything). 

Up and around on the residential roads where I can run on the asphalt streets without much traffic instead of the hard concrete sidewalks, and then I returned the same way, but did a different loop  in the cemetery. Each time through is a new experience. I found this man's resting place. . . came from the East and settled in this town, helping to create Iowa College which is now Grinnell College and attended by many east coasters :-)   Interestingly, he married twice and both wives were named Sarah! 

As I exited the cemetery on a new road, I realized it'd be perfect for hill repeats, so I did a few. . . and then found a dime on said road, and a couple of beer cans by a few headstones, so I did some litter control as well.    This was definitely the best run I'd ever had in this town--beautiful weather, not much wind, and I found money! 

People always ask "What do you do while Mike is out riding all day?!".   I am so lucky that I'm comfortable in my own skin and can figure out what to do on my own!   After the run, eating and freshening up, I tried to get a pedicure but there were no openings. I did a bit of local shopping and then I went to the outlet mall and helped the economy :-)   I ate some more and then took a "short nap". I decided I didn't need to set the alarm since I rarely sleep that much during naps; I was very wrong.  I awoke two hours later and  just shortly before the Negro Spiritual event at the college.  I hate arriving late, but I wanted to hear this event:  "Soprano Randye Jones & pianist Marlys Grimm performing Negro spirituals. Ms Jones is working on her vocal literature doctorate" at Univ.of Iowa.  It was a great way to spend the evening, a free cultural event, and I was the youngest person in attendance by at least THIRTY years!  

Back to the room I listened to Trans Iowa radio for updates on the event from the coordinator, as well as watched Twitter for updates on racers. This year I didn't hear The Mike's name at all and figured that was good news.  I read a bit and watched Pawn Stars (we don't have cable at home, so it's  a treat to watch the History Channel) and then I waited for morning to come and hoped the phone didn't ring early in the morning from The Mike.  

Sunday morning came about with beautiful skies and gorgeous weather in the forecast. I packed my stuff in the car (less to carry out later) and headed out to the finish line.  If you're ever in Iowa, this is what our low maintenance roads look like, AVOID them if you have no idea where they end, or if it's rainy, snowy, or icy.  Most of them are gravel roads without gravel laid down for 5-30 years.  There usually are no homes along these roads and only used by farmers to get to the roads, or for critters to travel at night. 

Level B road signs. . . amazingly, people enter this race without knowing exactly what is a Level B road! 
Four years ago I walked out of the hotel at 10am for my run and there were about 20 muddy bikes on cars. There was a gent sitting on the hotel parking lot and I asked if the race was canceled (there was lightning earlier that morning).  He said no, that his race ended because of "mud on the Level B roads. Do you know that Level B means mud?" Apparently in the months leading up to this race, he had no idea that B means dirt roads. There are also C and D roads, which means the farmer basically has a key to a fence gate to keep out others. 

A Level B road in "GREAT" condition up to the farmer's barn.
I was suppose to run two miles or so on Sunday. My legs felt pretty good from Saturday, but knowing I'd be standing around waiting for the Mike and that I had parked a bit away from the barn, I knew I'd get some running in. I didn't do the run, but I did get to run back to the car and to the barn for the first aid kit (not for The Mike).

The rest of the Level B road after the barn driveway--this is good condition too, as it's grass.

The Mike's finish.
Two other gents road in with him,
but I don't have their permission to put their pic on the blog. 

We got home and took a nap after the exhaustive weekend.  Monday I got up for yoga and felt tired and thought I just overdid things this weekend. Instead, I realized later in the day that I was dehydrated and I was slow and sluggish from this!  

Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!  

Kaua'i island  Spouting Horn

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