Well, here we are in Long Branch, NJ. One aspect to racing that I enjoy (besides not being able to drink on a Saturday night and getting up at 4 a.m. on Sunday mornings) is the opportunity to see new places.
Long Branch is, um, interesting. The “downtown” (as it were) reminds me of the horrible neighborhood I used to live in on Staten Island — but with lots of weird public art. There’s sculpture everywhere — or maybe it’s just very interesting garbage — lying around in empty lots full of wall to wall knee-high weeds, hanging in the branches of overgrown trees, littering the front lawn of a Dunkin’ Donuts. What the hell? Did the town get some pork barrel dollars for culture or something?
The boardwalk features a monument to seven presidents, headed up by James Garfield, who came here in an attempt to recover from being shot in an assassination attempt. There’s probably a really great slogan for their tourism department in there somewhere, but I’m too distracted to think it up right now. (He died anyway, but at least he was near the beach at the time.)
We got here hours early, so killed time walking the boardwalk and then previewing the race course by car. It’s flat as pancake save for two little speedbumps. (But very windy along the section where you run along the ocean. The weather forecast says much less wind tomorrow, and it should be a cross-wind, so not too bad.) The course runs through crappy downtown, then to the hoity toity area, where we’ll pass by enormous Queen Anne Victorians and other mansions. It’s actually a nice little town if you can get past the first impression of rundown weirdness.
Since we’re such a pair of goody two shoes, we didn’t dare try to check into our Holiday Inn Express until *exactly* 3PM, instead passing the time in the local Dunkin’ Donuts where I had my first Boston cream donut in about two decades. Then on to the hotel, where the lobby was filled with other runners, sprawling their runnerly legs all over the furniture. We have a king suite, which means two, count ‘em, two!, televisions, a jetted tub (which looks like a cross between a two-seater paddleboat and something that would be used in a hospital rehab unit…very romantic), and a Stuart Little-sized refrigerator and microwave.
Whoops! 4:19! It’s nearly bedtime. More tomorrow.