Sunday, October 15, 2006

We're off on the road to Des Moines!

Bob Hope and Bing Crosby never did one of their "Road to..." movies about Des Moines, but perhaps they should have. As I learned last year (and would realize again this year) it is really a fun place!

Saturday morning I was off on the road to Des Moines to run in the IMT Des Moines Half Marathon. It was a beautiful, albeit windy, day to travel. A couple of brief notes about the drive down:

-I had a great breakfast in downtown Faribault at Bernie’s Grill. It was a cute little cafe in the old part of the city, where they still park diagonally on the streets. It was a like a trip back in time.

-I stopped in Clear Lake, IA, to see the Surf Ballroom. I have been through this town on numerous occasions, so I thought it was time. Astute music historians will know that the Surf Ballroom was host to the last concerts of Richie Valens, the Big Bopper, and Buddy Holly, a tragic event in 1959 that became known as ”the day the music died.”

Arriving in Des Moines, I went immediately to the packet pickup area. This was at a huge sports expo with athletic vendors, speakers, and displays. I went through the line and got my number, timing chip, and the coolest shirt I have ever received at a race. They gave everyone long sleeved, microfiber running shirts. This is great! Something I can actually use for running, as opposed to the normal cotton blend shirts you get at most races.

Having some time to kill before checking in to my hotel, I wandered into the “East Village” of Des Moines where Wells Fargo was hosting a World Food Festival. This was intended to showcase some of the diverse offerings in Des Moines, and they had all kinds of Indian, Asian, and Latin American cuisines to offer. I did not partake, since I would be eating dinner in a few hours. That, and I because most of these foods are, shall we say, aggressively seasoned, I wanted to be careful because I was running tomorrow. When it comes to racing, bland is better! :) But it all smelled so good that it was hard to pass up.

The World Food Festival in the shadows of the Iowa State Capital

I finally checked in to the Renaissance Savery Hotel. This is easily one of the nicest hotels I have stayed at. I was on the 9th floor and had a view overlooking the State Capital building. The room even had two bathrooms and featured such exotic toiletries as mint-thyme shampoo and lemongrass scented soap (it is not everyday that shower soap makes you hungry for Thai curry...hey, perhaps I should have eaten something at the World Food Festival!). Anyhow, it was a beautiful room and a quiet hotel, which was nice. The start and finish of tomorrow's race was just outside the door, too.

Dinner this evening would be at the Raccoon River Brewing Company. A little carbo loading with some lobster mafaldine, and I would retire to my room to watch a little NASCAR night racing and some rest. Tomorrow would be a busy day.
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