As for the race, we were impressed and pleasantly surprised by the weather. We had expected midwest heat and humidity, but it turned out almost pleasant. The race started and finished at a very scenic Park on the River then transitioned to a walking/running/bike path for the rest of the out-and-back. It was through a valley, generally shaded and only nominally uphill for the first half, but then that same downhill for the return which, psychologically, still makes a difference. We managed times that, although still short of our PRs, were pretty good.
What made this race special for us was the hospitality and welcome. We had coordinated some things with the Race Director and he ended up with our "story". He put us in contact with a writer for their local paper (Red Wing Republican Eagle) who did a story on us and our "quest". The story - with a front-page lead-in, ran the day before the race. (Yes....we came home with a number of copies! http://republican-eagle.com/sports/ from 8/1/08) Since the race didn't have any finisher's medals, the Race Director presented us two pieces of Red Wing Pottery during the awards ceremonies - it was kind of cool!
This trip will be among our favorites for the pre- and post-race travel and activities. (It was also our first without Rachel, who stayed with her Aunt Kathy in Chicago. That was kind of weird - and we kept wondering why she wasn't in the back seat!) We spent an afternoon in Madison on the way up, visiting the Capitol and Univ of Wisconsin. This gave me my first taste of the lakes the area is so famous for, as Madison sits between two very picturesque lakes. The next day we spent a leisurely day traveling 60 miles on a National Scenic Highway along the Mississippi River between La Crosse and Red Wing. The river, the bluffs, the forests and the scenic hamlets contributed to this being a great drive. Even managed a hike up onto Brady's Bluff at Perrot State Park with some sweeping views of the river valley. In Red Wing after the race, we visited the pottery store and the factory shoe store - leaving with 3 more pairs of shoes than we came with! Later, in the Twin Cities we inspected the Capitol in St Paul and spent a few minutes in their magnificent cathedral, followed by a Twins baseball game in the Metrodome (very interesting venue). On our return day Karen insisted on seeing the Mary Tyler Moore house in Minneapolis - and, of course, I obliged (nothing spectacular, but the residences/estates in the area along Chain of Lakes were pretty amazing) and we later stopped at Devil's Lake State Park near Baraboo WI - another scenic gem - with a hike to Balanced Rock and Devil's Doorway. All in all, I learned that Wisconsin is worth a visit - even if they CAN'T claim to have any decent skiing.
As for any profound thoughts - isn't discovering Wisconsin enough?? I might only add a thought about expectations - which you have read here before. They can be powerful obstacles or enhancers to performance. Although we expected dreadful weather - I think we were prepared and, as a result, were able to take advantage of pretty good conditions. The moral - don't let expectations dictate performance.
Nineteen down - thirty-one to go!