When I decided, a few years back, to make this goal of racing in each of the 50 US states, I really had no idea what I was getting myself into and what an incredible journey it would be along the way.
As I detailed in yesterday’s post (check it out here!) I just completed my 12th state by racing Missouri’s St. Louis Rock N Roll half marathon this past Sunday.
My first few states were done either by traveling to them completely on my own or with a friend or two – but each time, I was the only one running. My last 4 races, including this last one, have been different in that I have been able to meet up with other runners (who I have met through Twitter), runners from across the US, and have an absolutely amazing time not only sharing the race experience with them, but exploring the city/state with them as well.
This past weekend was by far the biggest “Twitter reunion” yet – I met up with 9 “tweeps”. It was A-MAAAAAZING. Aaaaaaand, they were so kind to let me plan almost every single minute of our weekend together….I miiiiiight have even emailed them a full itinerary, had them buy tickets to tourist attractions and made dinner reservations a month in advance of the trip! Me? Type A? Never. lol
I flew out from Ottawa Friday with a pint of beer length layover in Toronto…
…before flying down to St. Louis where I was spoiled and had one of my Twitter friends, Sean (who I call Poodie…long story) come and pick me up. Poodie is from Minneapolis and drove down for the race.
We dropped off our bags at the hotel (awesome hotel – Peach Tree Inn Union Street) and headed out for dinner (the others were arriving the next day or were doing the 5k early the next morning and so were headed to bed!).
We went to the Brewhouse Historical Sports Bar in the Hyatt Regency. I ordered a beer and what turned out to be the most stereotypical “LARGE American food portion” I have ever experienced.
The next morning Poodie and I headed out for a Walking Tour offered through Revitalize St. Louis that featured sites in the heart of downtown. While our tour guide desperately needs some public speaking help, she was very nice and we learned a lot from her. Starting with the old Courthouse…
Like many of the buildings in St. Louis they have a mixture of architecture – below you can see the Greek influence with the columns…
And below is an Italian influence, trying to emulate St. Peter’s Basilica with the dome.
Below was one of my favorite buildings. In an effort to not have this tall building prevent light from reaching the sidewalks below, it has multiple roofs all at different levels – 17 to be precise.
See this building below? All the windows up the side of it?
Look again more closely. Only the top 6 floors actual windows – the ones below are all painted onto the side of the building! Cool, eh?
After the Walking Tour, Poodie and I headed over to the Expo to a) pick up our race kit and b) buy some warm clothing…I didn’t realize I was bringing the cold weather with me so I didn’t bring enough warm running wear with me. Sigh.Then it was on to meet up with more of the crew for a Riverboat cruise down the Mississippi!
My selfie stick was well used this weekend!! While this was a guided riverboat cruise, I think we spent more time gabbing with each other and enjoying finally meeting each other in person, than listening to the tour info!!
Yes, I am Canadian. But I have never pretended to not be a cold weather wuss. I swear, Poodie is also wishing he had his flip flops on in this pic.
After the cruise, we were off to dinner at Angelo’s Taverna and added some more onto our crew with Twitter friends who actually live in/around St. Louis! Carli and her husband Greg, and Chrissi and her husband Jeff and their son!
What did I eat as my pre-race dinner? Veggie pizza…
Carli and her hubby, Greg, made sure we tasted some traditional St. Louis food by ordering us all Toasted Ravioli for appetizers
After dinner it was back to the hotel and into bed to try and get some sleep before an early morning call for race day!
After the race we met for lunch…Greg had run 20 miles Saturday and then did the half…so he was a little hungry and basically ordered a chicken wing for every mile!
I have been to the US many, many times…and each time I learn new things. This one is a warning for Canadians: Beware that when you order nachos while in the US, the cheese they say is on them…well, it very likely could be nacho cheese…you know that kind they sell in jars here? Yeah, none of that shredded (real) cheese we use.
I felt so bad for the waste, but this is all I could eat…my poor nachos were DROWNING in plastic cheese!!
I have been on MANY brewery tours and I have to to say, this is THE MOST beautiful one I have ever been to.
…contain 3600 barrels of beer which is 7200 kegs or 220,000 six-packs. And there are 66 tanks in this building alone. 21 million gallons total. The yeast they use in this process is the original strain of yeast used for the very first batch made over 100 years ago. It’s top secret. Yup, top secret yeast. lol
The tour concludes with a 16oz sample of your choice of about 20 Anheuser-Busch products…this was mine
We then went straight to what was probably my favorite sightseeing thing we did all weekend.
The Arch. The Gateway to the West.
To me, this structure is unbelievably beautiful and majestic. It was built between 1963-1965 for what today would be $180 million, it is the world’s tallest arch and the tallest monument in the Western hemisphere. Visually it’s hard to believe, but both its width and height are 630 feet. You can see it from many spots in the city and, in the morning from our hotel, the arch with the sunrise in the background is unreal. I wish I had an Arch like this here in Ottawa.
Ok, so if the outside wasn’t cool enough…YOU CAN RIDE TO THE TOP OF THE ARCH!! Yup, they have tiny pods that take you up to the top…and when I mean tiny, I mean Hobbit-sized.
At the top you find yourself on an observation deck…
…with incredible views on either side.
We ate at Pi Pizzeria (yes, I had pizza two nights in a row, don’t judge!) and it was soooo yummy!! And it was great to have one last meal with everyone again!
St. Louis is a beautiful city with lots to see and do, but I would like to give a big thank you to Poodie, Jen, Jenn, Mark, Carli, Greg, Chrissi, Jeff, Ryan & Tim who made this trip so memorable!! Can’t wait for our next one!!
Happy Wednesday (and Back to the Future Day)!!!