Saturday, March 3, 2012

In Search of Coffee and Clinton

As I watched the 5k race participants run under my 10th floor hotel room window this morning, I realized that what I really wanted was to go find a cup of good coffee.  I lingered at the window to watch not only the lead male runner go by, being led to the finish line by a police car, but I stayed at the window until the "back of the pack-ers" passed by 60 minutes later.  Now it really was time to get that coffee!

Just a few short blocks away from the hotel is the River Market, a format so popular in other cities:  A warehouse-like structure housing food concessions along the walls and with seating in the middle.  From Boston's Haymarket Square to the River Market in Lansing, there's always something fun about these buildings.  I found a counter serving cappuccinos, ordered mine, and then, with coffee in hand, went in search of a likely table of folks to join. 

As it turned out, I joined a group of race volunteers, identified by their white long-sleeved shirts with the words "volunteer" running down the sleeves.  It was a very nice husband-wife team and two other men.  The husband-wife team have been volunteering for 10 years and in fact her husband was the Volunteer Coordinator for many years before stepping down.  One of the other men is currently the "boss man" of volunteers, with his red jacket and microphone headset.  They were on lunch break and were glad to have me join them.  I pumped them for details, tidbits, and race history factoids for nearly an hour. 

I told them I wanted to walk on down to the President Clinton Library and they encouraged me to do so.  It was the perfect day to take a little walk!

The library sits right on the river and is nicely situated to take advantage of the views.  I spent an hour or so taking it all in, then headed back toward the hotel in search of a light lunch.  That cute little place, 4Square won my lunch business and I had a small cup of corn chowder and some hummus with pita chips.  

On my way back to the hotel I stopped back in to the Fitness Expo and bought an inexpensive long-sleeve shirt to wear over my running outfit tomorrow morning.  I didn't pay too much for it, so won't regret peeling it off and abandoning it somewhere along the route as the temperatures warm up. 

While I was there I got to shake Bart Yasso's hand again.  I met and chatted with him back when I did the Runners' World Challenge at the Cincinnati Flying Pig marathon for the first time in 2010. 

When I got back to the hotel I decided that I'd not had enough to eat and stepped inside the hotel restaurant for a half sandwich and cup of chili.  Now I'm full!

This evening was the Pasta Party and as I headed down to the ballroom, a fellow got on the elevator...he was alone, so I invited him to join me for dinner.  He was from Atlanta and when he learned I was from Houston, mentioned that he was there in January for the Houston marathon.  We found a table with a couple of open chairs and spent a delightful evening with three folks from St. Louis and five women from Dallas.   We shared info about past races and what races were up next on our calendars.  There was live entertainment and, at one point, Bart Yasso took the microphone and talked to the group about running and his exploits and then got some audience participation going by having first-timers raise their hands, and then he introduced a few folks who had accumulated some remarkable running stats. 

Now I'm in my room, feet up, relaxing in front of the movie National Treasure and hoping I'll get at least some sleep tonight.  Start line is three short blocks from the hotel...all I have to do is step out the front door, turn left head down the street until I run into the back of the pack, then wait for the start gun.

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