Sunday, April 24, 2005

A Day in Mannheim

We had a nice sight-seeing trip in the City of Mannheim yesterday, site where my first marathon will take place. Mannheim lies about an hour north of our town. The marathon will start in the middle of the city in the Rose Garden area. This was actually very easy to find, we turned off the main Autobahn, then followed the highway straight into the city. There are numerous parking garages, so we had no trouble finding a parking place even on a busy Saturday morning.

We parked in the first parking garage that we found and set out to find the Mannheim Congress Centrum (MCC), where the start packet will be passed out. Coming out of the pedestrian exit from the parking garage we turned around and realized we were standing in front of what we were looking for! We had unknowingly parked in the MCC parking garage! We quickly located the main entrance, noted the street and set out to find the Rose Garden and the Start – 200 feet later we were there – wow!

So my stuff was done, so we set out to find the shopping area. A couple hundred feet more and we found the beginning of the street containing the main shopping area of Mannheim, hundreds of shops and large store selling about anything you can imagine. So for the next couple hours or so, I played tag along while my wife did her thing. I could see she was enjoying this, at least one of us was :) I new at this point that I was only there to carry things, so I tried to carry on my function as cheerfully as possible. Luckily (for me), my wife grew hungry so we made our way back to the Rosen Garden to a restaurant that we noticed on our way through.

Now from time to time I love to eat a good steak, unfortunately most steaks in Germany just can’t match a good USDA hunk of beef (steak in Canada is good too). My wife loves to eat baked potatoes so we were one in our decision to eat at the Buffalo Steak House, just around the corner from the MCC. Hungry from my wife’s power shopping we enjoyed a meal of steak, baked potatoes and unlimited salad bar – I almost felt like I was back home! The steak was surprisingly good. The good news is that they will be open late the night of the marathon.

We chatted with the waitress for a bit about the marathon, she mentioned that the city will be closing the streets off quite early for the marathon, so we should try to be inside the city middle by 1 p.m. (the marathon starts at 6:15 p.m.). Now my wife started thinking out loud about what we (she) can do for 5+ hours before the marathon and 4-5 hours after the marathon, especially if the weather’s nasty. So we talked about it and decided to check on a hotel for that night.

Now when we drove in we noticed one down the street, so after the meal we walked to the hotel to enquire. Yes they still have rooms available, the price was reasonable, we can check in any time after noon on the 21st, so we booked a room. The hotel said they have parking available, where else, in the parking garage where our car was. The MCC is the building behind the hotel - they have skyline that connects to the Congress building - the Start is about 2-300 feet away from the hotel. I would say that pretty much takes care of logistics!

So after this little adventure we took a nice leisurely walk around the Rose Garden, they have really beautiful fountains, the tulips were in bloom, the sun was shining, what a finish!

Eventually we made it back home, my wife collapsed on the couch for a nap, I took an hour ride on my bicycle. Had to work off all the food I had for lunch.

I did see a little bit of the route that I will be running on the marathon, all flat, even the bridges are almost the same level as the streets. It appears that most of the route is either asphalt or concrete, which will be kind of hard on the legs. I would prefer a little dirt or forest ways. Oh well, I will definetely have to make sure I don't go out too fast. Happy running:)

Marathon countdown 26 days 23 hours 13 minutes 10 seconds

I can't imagine planning a trip for a marathon going any smoother than that! Hotel on site (at a good price), shopping areas for the non-running spouse, restaurant nearby with good steaks (were they really Buffalo?). Can't ask for more. Free massages in the hotel? :)
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