Still a Runner

A Blog by Mary Lou Harris

Archive for Route 66

Route 66 – Mother Road Half Marathon Review

Where does one begin the pursuit to run 66 miles on Route 66 at age 66? Somewhere in the middle of course, at the Mother Road Marathon.  I opted to save Oklahoma for another day and began the Half in Baxter, Kansas.IMG_1314

The Mother Road is a small marathon, 139 marathon finishers and 250 finishers of the half this year. Yet, it operates as smoothly as large marathons I have run and offers all the percs without the elbow-to-elbow start.

My Mother Road experience began at the Springfield/Branson airport where my sister greeted me and drove us to our first stop at Joplin City Hall for packet pickup.  There was a small expo with sponsor and organization information and product tables.

Next stop to the LaQuinta, the marathon hotel. Race morning, a light continental breakfast was available to runners beginning at 4 a.m. Volunteers were on hand to welcome runners on the shuttles to the Joplin Athletic Center. Shuttle service began at 5 a.m.  From the Athletic Center, we transferred to buses for either Baxter KS for the 1/2 start, or to Commerce, OK for the full. From a runner perspective, the shuttles ran smoothly, always departing and arriving as scheduled.

A light rain stopped as our shuttle arrived in Baxter. The morning was cool so I pulled a stowed trash bag over my head and placed my jacket in a carryall provided by the race.  I handed it off to at bag check and made my way to the start. The rain stopped and I passed the trash bag on to a shivering rain-drenched runner caught in an earlier downpour.  A few words from the mayor, a prayer, the anthem, and we’re off for our 13.1 miles.

Chart-Course-Elevation-2013-300x215The first few miles were flat roadway, with a short distance on a water-logged trail where we merged with full marathon runners. Back to the road, the wind was at 10 mph, in our faces and cool. In shorts sleeves and short tights, I was comfortable  but could have used a pair of light cotton gloves.

The road ahead was going up, up, up.  The first half of this marathon is relatively flat, changing to a slight uphill for the second half.

I can handle hills, but although shallow, these didn’t seem to end. The expected downhill when we peaked was nonexistent, only a plateau before the next hill.  Around miles 7/8, a snake-like bend through the town of GalenaIMG_1323was a colorful reprieve from that straight ribbon of highway. Cheering folks in lawn chairs lined the main street. Runners meandered through a section where paving was worn and cracked.

Original roadbed of Route 66

Original roadbed of Route 66

A sign cautioned to watch our footing – we were running on the original roadbed of Route 66.

Soon enough we were back out to the smoother but less scenic main highway. Plentiful porta-potties and water stations were staggered along the hilly route.

Approaching the finish, there was a sizable crowd and an announcer calling the names of first-time 1/2 and full marathoners. My finish was a 2:06, eight minutes shy of my 1/2’s in 2012.   This was my first race to rebuild distance, next working on my time to sneak back under that 2-hour mark.

It’s a short walk to the food tent where a variety of fresh fruit and energy bars were available.  The only thing missing was the hot cup of coffee that I crave post-run.

The atmosphere was festive with 5K participants mixing in.  Beer and pizza were available for runners and a live band played some classic rock numbers.

I retrieved my drop bag, picked up my AG medal and continued up a grassy hill for the hotel shuttle pickup.IMG_1312

From the runner perspective, this event looked flawless. The details required for planning a course through three states and multiple municipalities, synchronizing a marathon and half marathon with a 5K going off in Joplin takes a skilled and dedicated race committee. Congratulations to the Mother Road Marathon and all of the sponsors and volunteers that helped to achieve a seamless and historic race experience.

Next post, I’ll report on the travel, food and sightseeing that are the wonderful side benefits of destination races.ffl

Can Route 66 be Revisited? Oh Yeah, Let’s Run It

Route 66

It’s good to have a goal.  Goals help us work toward an achievement and leave us with a sense of celebration.  It’s also fun to tie a goal to a significant event in life. I can’t remember how I have acknowledged each of the first 64 birthdays, but 65 was different.  I remember that milestone, the goal – and achievement – of qualifying for and participating in the National Senior Games.

But, here I am already at 66.  What to set as a memorable goal?

Route 66 popped into my mind.  Not too crazy, not crazy enough to run the entire 2,000 miles. But why not in my 66th year a goal to run 66 miles of races on or near the Historic Route 66? I pulled up a Route 66 map off google and let my travel bug out for a mad crawl.  As my fingers traced the bright line on the map, I saw that I have friends and relatives in a number of states along the route.  Won’t they be surprised to see me.


DVDs Season 1 & 2

I let the idea simmer for a week or two. Then, one day I walked through the doors of my local library and what did I see on the “recently acquired” rack?  It was a full set of DVD’s with the entire three seasons of the 1960’2 television series, Route 66. The first few bars of that Nelson Riddle composition began playing in my head. I checked out the first two sets and made an evening of it, setting off once again on Route 66 along with Buzz and Tod and that red Corvette.

I’m scribbling notes and ideas to flush out the plan. Historic Route 66 travels through six states and stretches from Chicago to Los Angeles where it ends at the Pacific Ocean.

Route 66 - End of the Trail - Santa Monica Pier

Route 66 – End of the Trail – Santa Monica Pier (Photo credit: Al_HikesAZ)

There is much research to be done to 1) find races that are on or near Route 66, and then 2) select those that logistically fit my schedule and training.

The runners I know come up with some unusual running goals. I’m thinking I am not the first 66-year old runner to dream up such a plan.

So, my dear, knowledgable running friends, have you run races on or within five or six miles of Route 66, or are you located near any that you would recommend?

And as for my friends and relatives near Route 66, keep the porch light on for me.