Monday, November 7, 2016

State #33, Marshall University Half Marathon,Huntington, WV, 11.6.16, Part One

I arrived in West Virginia without any travel hang-ups, happy to be here in time to pick up my race number. The drive from the airport to the Marshall University/St. Mary's Medical Center area didn't take very long, and I easily found the race expo at the medical center.
As I drove into and through Huntington, though, I could see what the Runner's World article was getting at. Many homes in the area were run-down and many businesses were boarded up or closed. Aside from the grand university buildings and some surrounding homes, much of the area I drove through looked downtrodden. It made me sad to see the town this way.

Number, shirt and duffel bag from expo. Love the buffalo in running shoes!
The expo was lively and I got my number without a problem. I even managed to meet the race director and get a couple of last minute questions answered. Thanks, mister! I mentioned to him that I had read the article in Runner's World and that it must have been some good publicity for the race. He responded that he was rather upset by the article and the way it portrayed the town. He thought the town was painted in such a poor light and that all the people who lived here were generalized as Appalachian caricatures. I told him that I hadn't had that feeling about the article, but rather that it was showing a growing momentum for health in the area, thanks in part to events like the marathon. He was glad to hear that perspective, but I could see how someone from Huntington would feel differently about the way the city is portrayed in the article.
Placard sign at Marshall University.
Engineering building at MU. 
Science building at MU.
Campus housing along Fifth Avenue.
When I left the expo, I drove around the University campus a bit to get back around the one way streets to the grocery store I passed on my way in to the medical center. I grabbed some fruit and water and gatorade there (the usual), and some garbage bags (so I'd have one to wear in the morning), and then headed to my hotel which was a few miles outside of the downtown area.
Garbage bags for the morning chill.
Once at the hotel, I settled in, called home and then researched where I could get a decent plate of pasta. I settled on Rocco's in Ceredo, WV which was back toward the airport. The restaurant was already very crowded when I arrived at 5:30 pm, but I was able to grab a single seat in the bar for dinner. I ordered my usual spaghetti and meatballs, and it was perfect! 
Carb-ing up for the big race.
The restaurant was obviously a favorite in the area, and crowds kept coming in and the wait got to be fairly long. I ended up chatting with two women who sat next to me while they waited for their table. One lived in Indiana but was originally from WV and was back visiting her friend. They were nice to chat with. We talked a little bit about the race and Marshall University and a few other topics. They wished me well on the run when they left for their table.
It was really dark inside the restaurant, so when I left and walked outside, it felt really weird that it was still light out. Thankfully it was still early (and we turn clocks back an hour tonight for extra sleep!) so that was good. I drove back to the hotel to get my things ready for the morning, do some blogging and turn in on the early side.

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