St. Louis, Missouri
Location: St. Louis, Missouri
Half: Creve Coeur St. Paddy’s Half Marathon
Date: March 10, 2019
Finish Time: 1:36
Pre-run meal? ITALIAN – had to eat a very early dinner, but still, Italian.
St. Patty’s in St. Louis:
Another month, another race, another state, another adventure! March 10th, just a month after my New Orleans adventure, and here I was again, on a road-trip to the gateway to the West.
As we drove into the city, the 630 foot St. Louis Gateway Arch stood tall and bright in the dark night sky. It was absolutely beautiful. It might not be a monument on everyone’s sight-seeing bucket list, but it should be. It is highly underrated, and way bigger and brighter than you would imagine. It’s one of those sights that makes you realize how small you are in this big world.
I had never been to St. Louis, and wasn’t really even sure what to expect — was it a big city? A small city? Was it packed and populated or spread out and low-key? My boyfriend and I parked at the complex of our air b&b and immediately decided to go take a look around. We were staying near Westport Plaza – the business and entertainment district which is located in the “heart of St. Louis.” If you find yourself in St. Louis, I highly recommend this area. It had a small, modern, feel to it but offered an endless variety of options for food, drinks, entertainment, patios, and shops.
We started our first full day of exploring with the gym. We found a local workout spot and woke up early to get a quick pre-race-day run in before beginning our adventure of the city. So. Get this. We go to the gym and then come back to our Air B&B to shower, right? So as I’m about to get out of the shower, I shouted to Brett to get me a towel. And I SHIT YOU NOT, THIS AIR B&B DID NOT COME WITH TOWELS. No towels. Not even one. Anywhere. I literally had to dry off ALL WEEKEND with fucking hand towels. WTF GUYS? IS THIS NORMAL? This has never happened to me before. But. Absolutely hilarious, so I can’t really complain about the fact that I’ll never forget it.
We started our day of adventuring around St.Louis in Westport Plaza. First stop: FOOD. Gamlin Whiskey House had a BOMB avocado breakfast sandwich and a delicious mimosa – the perfect start to the day. We quickly escalated from a quaint breakfast spot to a place that was a bit more “us” –Westport Social– it had darts, pool, shuffleboard, bocce ball, and so much more. Seriously, if you are in the area, GO HERE. It’s huge. Has awesome drinks. Plus, SO MANY GAMES. We spent hours there playing each and every game and sipping on our beers (since both of us were running the next day). After several hours we finally decided to take the responsible route and go get an early dinner so we could get in bed early. We decided upon an Italian spot close to our place called Vitos. We had just oneeeeee more glass of wine and an awesome carb-packed dinner before finally calling it a night.
In the morning we woke up early, pinned our bibs to our shirts, and ventured off to Malcolm W. Martin Memorial Park for our St. Patrick’s Day races. We sat in our car until literally MINUTES before the race because it was FUCKING FREEZING OUTSIDE. The wind was wild and whipped against your face as you walked, I couldn’t imagine what it would feel like once I was moving a bit faster. Brett forced me to the start line, where I shivered for 4 minutes before they finally blew the horn. Together, we ran the first 2 miles. He was doing the 7k, so he turned around and left me on my own around the third mile marker. As we parted ways, I was greeted by a huge hill that led me up a path towards the wide-spreading fields of Missouri.
I continued along, finally warming up and feeling loose. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the only hill. Sometimes, in half marathons, they love to take you on and off the highway ramps for some reason. You’ll be running along and all of a sudden you’re running straight downhill onto the underpass below the highway. I knew, however, that this was a down & back course, which meant that, in a few miles, I’d be running back up that huge ass hill that I just went down. I tried to conserve some energy, knowing that I didn’t want to screw myself over towards the 8-9 mile markers (those are the toughest miles for me). In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have conserved sooooo much energy, but also, it was cold & I didn’t really care about my pace.
The one thing that I do want to touch on during this race is this: the 9-mile marker hill. I know this is going to seem a bit philosophical and mushy-gushy. But. I think it’s important to share. So. I’m trotting along and loving life with my 7:20 minute/mile pace at mile 8, and then I see it. The huge ass hill that I knew I was going to have to confront around mile 9. Now, there are hills in many races. I’ve ran up my fair share of them. I’ve had races with rolling hills, races with huge ass up and down hills, I’ve ran in Utah for God’s sake. But. This hill was different. It was winding, it was steep, and it was daunting to know that I still had 4+ miles to go after conquering it. As I turned onto the hill, I could see some people struggling up it, some people had stopped to walk a portion of it, and some people who were muscling through it. Here’s the thing. YOU MUST GIVE YOUR ALL ON THE HILLS. And I’m not just talking about the literal hill that I was running up. What I’m talking about is hills of all types – the challenges that we face in the 3rd quarter of the game. The 3 p.m. task that you must finish before you go home. The healthy dinner you know you should cook even though you’d much rather order the pizza. When you come to a hill, especially one that scares the shit out of you, you must give your all. Because something magical happens. When I gave it my all, muscled through that hill, and finally made it to the top, everything changed. You feel it in your entire body – this sense of pride, of fulfillment, of joy and energy. I promise you. It sucks. It’s daunting and scary. It’s exhausting and taxing. But it is so worth it. You must take the hills seriously- I promise you that it will be worth it.
After that hill, I knew I was good to go. The second wind that came as a reward for my determination was immediate. Four miles left. Three. Two. One. And I was done, just like that. I had finished STATE #22 – although it wasn’t my best time, it gave me an experience and an outlook that I’ll always remember, every single time I face a hill in my remaining races, and in life. After the race, we stopped by the Gateway Arch for one last look (and picture, obviously) and finally started our trip back home – a trip full of pride, murder podcasts, and post-race candy.