My Weekend Down South – Knoxville, TN
This past weekend was my marathon in Knoxville! It was amazing, but I am definitely relieved that it’s over. I love racing, but I was so stressed and frustrated this training cycle, that it’s nice to just breathe and relax. But the marathon is another post. This one is for the actual Knoxville experience. Finally, a traveling post for the win!
Dave picked me up from work at 4pm on Friday and we headed over to Pittsburgh Airport to find that our flights had changed and we were now leaving over an hour earlier. Good thing we got there when we did. It also changed our connection from New York to Atlanta and our layover time from 40 minutes to a few hours!
Once we got into Atlanta, we got on a wait list to take an earlier flight and met up with another girl our age heading back to Knoxville. She was awesome, giving us tips on where to eat and assuring me that Knoxville’s hills were the good kind where, “just as you start to get tired, you reach the top and feel really accomplished.” I can handle that!
None of us got on the earlier flight so we waited in the airport, chatting and getting to know each other. Our flight turned out to be (way) delayed. Around 9:30 Dave and I finally gave in and hunted down some airport food.
We landed in Knoxville sometime after 11 and Elizabeth was so kind as to give us a ride to our hotel so we did have to take a cab. We stayed at the Four Points Cumberland House Hotel. The staff was so friendly- even at midnight! Plus, they had a signed Peyton Manning jersey framed in the lobby! <3
We didn’t fall asleep until 1am and since sleep before the marathon is sooo important and because, well, I like sleep, we slept in until 10am on Saturday, then got up and ready and headed down to the hotel restaurant for an early lunch.
Our waiter really delivered, too. When I asked if I could have 4 pieces of untoasted white bread to go for an early breakfast the next morning he brought them out and only charged us half. Score! He must’ve thought I was A) really strange, B) a runner or C) both. (correct answer: C) But hey, I need my pre-race peanut butter breakfast sandwich!
The Four Points was a hop, skip and a jump from the expo and starting line, so we walked over and picked up my bib and T-shirt. More on the expo in the marathon recap. 🙂
It was rainy on and off and we had no umbrella, so we meandered back to the hotel, sightseeing along the way.
As soon as we got back to the room it started pouring, so I didn’t feel bad that we just relaxed, enjoyed the Harry Potter marathon that was on ABC Family, and I hydrated like a champ.
For dinner, we went to a pizza place called Dazzo’s that we found on UrbanSpoon. The rain had stopped, so we walked since it was only a little over ½ mile away. On the way, we passed the Starting Line that they had already set up.
I don’t do pre-race pasta. I tried it once or twice, but it always makes my stomach turn wonky. I’ve learned that pizza, especially the thick-crust Sicilian style, is usually my best bet. What a pity. At Dazzo’s, we ordered it Sicilian style, half with just cheese and half with bacon. Yummmmm.
Dazzo’s was fantastic. The service was great; the pizza was delicious. There were tons of framed concert posters covering the walls. We sat at a table that had Willie Nelson posters from the table to the ceiling! I love Willie Nelson.
I also have to mention the bathroom. It was trippy! Big, bright and bold paintings that looked like they were celebrating Dia de los Muertes. But none of the rest of the restaurant had that theme so…I don’t know?
We timed it right and the rain had mostly subsided for our walk back (it poured again during dinner), so we took our time and enjoyed the sights.
When we got back, I picked at some of the leftover pizza we had brought with us and we continued our HP marathon until we decided to hit the hay around 9:30.
Sunday was the Marathon! AHHHH!!! Stay tuned for my next post on that, but read on for the afterward. 🙂
I’ll be honest, after the marathon, I was kind of a bum for most of the day. Dave said that was justified because, as he said, “You ran a fucking marathon!” He got me ice from the vending machine for my legs, while I made coffee. Three cheers for Dave being the best! And three more cheers for coffee!
I tried to take a nap, but it only lasted about 20 minutes, so I just relaxed with Dave and continued with HP. We rarely watched so much TV, but the background noise was nice and I was perfecting the couch potato look. I also acquired an old lady walk from sore arches, hamstrings and incredibly sore hips. Dave laughed. Hard.
Eventually I showered and we decided on a place called Calhoun’s On the Water that one of the other race supporters suggested to Dave during the marathon. I requested we take a cab, so we did. It was my first time in a cab. Our driver was nice, inquired about the marathon, and told us to give him a call when we needed a ride back. I think I now have high expectations for cab rides.
We sat outside for dinner since the weather was so nice and it was a gorgeous view. We ordered fried pickles, or as I like to call them Frickles, for an appetizer and I got strawberry lemonade while Dave tried a local beer. Almost every post-race, I order a burger because they’re freakin’ delicious and it’s a totally guilt-free opportunity, but it really wasn’t appealing to me that night, so I got a prime rib sandwich au jus, served with French fries and horseradish. So a burger in a different form? It hit the spot, though!
We took our time as the sun set, then got a cab back to the hotel. On Monday morning, we left the hotel by 9:30 and a cab took us back to the airport. I rocked my new T-shirt and my beloved ProCompression socks. On the way we got to see the Smoky Mountains and they are incredible!!
The plane trip back to Pittsburgh was another lesson in patience. We got to Michigan (our layover) at 1:30, right on time. But our flight that was supposed to take off at 5:30, got bumped back to 7, then 7:30, and ended up not taking off until 7:45, so we didn’t get to Pittsburgh until 8:30, two hours after our scheduled time. We flew Delta the entire trip, and they just did not have their act together. NOT COOL, DELTA, NOT COOL.
Flight times aside, it was a great trip and the whole time I just kept thinking about how lucky I am to be able to travel and do things like this. Long weekends, races, traveling, conquering the map. And to be able to share so many with Dave. I am so blessed and I know it. Knoxville is such a quaint, yet spunky city and the people are some of the friendliest, relaxed, most personable people I have ever met. And the backdrop is beautiful. It reminded me a bit of Alaska’s mountains, though on a much smaller scale.
There is a refractory plant (or something) outside of Knoxville that does the same type of work that Dave does and we toyed with the idea of, “yeah we could live here.” It’s just talk, but I think I could definitely live in a place like that.
Have you ever traveled for a race? Have you ever fallen in love with a place, if only for a weekend?