Monday, September 14, 2015

Center of the Nation Series day 1: Montana

Day 1, Baker, Montana, is DONE! 

I admit, I was nervous going into today. Would it be well organized? Would people be nice? Would we be able to park at -- or even FIND -- the start? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. 

We had a hot breakfast -- scrambled eggs and toast -- at our hotel. I felt a bit bad for the server; I don't think they usually have 40 people in the restaurant at 5:30 a.m. 

Arrived at Triangle Park at 6:00 and found a nice set-up: a registration / packet pick-up table, where we got our bibs, our series medal starter (the series name medal and the ribbon and the 2015 year charm), and our t-shirts. Mine is PURPLE TIE-DYE. Duuuuuuude. 

this board was updated every day with the weather and some trivia
Norm, the running chef, had made cherry French toast (wow) and a bunch of goodies. It became clear that we don't have to worry about food again this trip!

Lots of Fanatics and Maniacs, of course, including several we had run with before. Nice!

We decided we would run the first 5-ish miles, then walk the rest to save our legs. The course was an out-and back around the lake on a bicycle path. Each leg was just under a mile long, so we had to run 7 laps.

Clint - the race director - made some announcements a few minutes before the start, and then we all set off. We kept track of how many laps we had done by collecting a rubber band after each lap. Best shirt of the day : I RUN FOR RUBBER BANDS. 

Each lap also brought us back to the aid station, which was brimming with an ever-changing mix of food, from "ultra kibble" (potato chips, gummy bears, Oreos) to homemade brownies, Rice Krispie treats, and DEVILED EGGS. My kinda aid station! There was also a hydration station with water and Gatorade, and later, Coke and chocolate milk. We all wrote our names on our cups so that we could use the same cup each time. Nice, eh? Also, there were two Sunnys and a Sunshine -- sweet!

There was a nice, festive feel, with veterans greeting each other and cheering as they passed in the out and back. We all also had our names on our bibs, which meant we could cheer for each other. 

After our third lap, we decided to make ourselves walk the rest of the way. This is always difficult when you're not super tired, but we knew it was the smart thing to do. 

If anything, that was even nicer -- it gave us a chance to chat with our fellow runners, see their names, and relax. 

It did get a little blustery and cold out there, but otherwise great running weather. Leanne got these shots of us as we finished ... Holding hands, of course!!

After the race, we went back to the hotel to shower, but soon were on our way. 

First, we stopped in Wibaux, Montana, where Theodore Roosevelt once punched out a gunslinger. Or maybe a lumberjack. (The same historian tells the story differently in two of his books!). We considered lunch, but instead poked our heads inside the Rainbow Club... a cavernous bar, restaurant, and "casino" (slot machines in the back) with taxidermy mounts on the walls, a full grizzly bear mount, pressed tin ceilings, and a slightly befuddled old dear who told us we could have schooners and poured us full pints of the local beer. 


Then to Medora, where we tried to buy lunch (not possible???) and then into Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Was thrilled to see the Maltese Cross cabin where TR lived on his ranch -- that makes three of his houses I have visited. Oh, and of course, I did a plank...

Theodore Rooseplank
We also drove around the loop road in the south unit, seeing prairie dogs, wild turkeys, and even a BISON. 

We then drove to pretty Bowman, ND, where we dropped off our things at the lodge and went into town. We went to Has Beens, a local bar, where Wil ordered a Jack and Diet, while I ordered a Shocktop. For $7.50 I was handed a tray with two J&Ds and a pint of beer... and was told, "It's happy hour. Let me know when you finish your beer and I'll get you your other one "


Then over to Hibachi House, which was slammed because an extra 85 people turned up all at the same time. I felt bad for the staff, as people were getting anxious. But it was food, and amusing. 

Now back at the North Winds Lodge, a perfect little motel -- super clean rooms, a comfy bed, a gem of a pool, and a really nice owner? Manager? It's also very, very quiet. I am looking forward to a good night's sleep!

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