Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Starting Line

After my last marathon (Twin Cities, October 2010) I took too long to blog because I did so much back-story. I'm going to avoid that to get to race day, Sunday, January 15, 2012. 

I didn't sleep well for a few nights before the race, including Friday and Saturday night. I woke up at 5:30am (7:30 EST) to start eating. Thanks to Ryan and Chris, I had peanut butter, Fierce Grape Gatorade, and plenty of water. I had my usual number of trips to the bathroom in the half-hour before we left (4 trips) and we were out the door. We parked a couple blocks away from the start and walked right to the front of the race (with a pit stop at the Porta Potty line for good measure). We secured a comfortable spot on some steps about 20 feet away from the entrance to the front corrals and I went for my warm-up.

I went out and back on the course for a mile and a half total. Some kids were warming up too, running way faster than I thought to go. My pace was barely moving at all. It was pitch black still, and the streets were already closed. The main road down Phoenix, which was maybe the first half-mile, was pretty nice. Their courthouse was huge and gorgeous. They had such clean streets. I was impressed. It was a very lonely warmup. I couldn't escape my thoughts about my life being so focused on the next two and a half hours, but I felt like it was irrelevant compared to the other things happening. I'm not trying to be spiritual or profound or anything... I was just having a tough time focusing on the race.

On my way back in, I saw a black guy running really slowly. Based on his pace and body type, I figured he was the foreign talent. Turns out I was right as I'm pretty sure he got 7th place. Back at the line, I put on my headphones, listened to my emo music and tried to prepare Charlie's orb. Things were starting to pick up around the line and the "rock and roll" aspect was in full swing. I probably blew out my ear drums trying to drown out the classic rock tunes coming from the speakers. I stretched and drank and stretched and drank. Chris found a nice bathroom in a deli around the corner so at 7:05, I went to explore. The manager of the deli was turning people away, but there's was a side entrance that we found leading to a very large and clean bathroom. Luxury, as Justin Neibauer would say!

I returned with 12 minutes to go and quickly downed my GU and took off my tights and shoes. A wasted effort, as at 7:20, the announcer came on to share that the race would be delayed at least 15 minutes. Apparently the traffic between Phoenix and Tempe was worse than anticipated, causing the official race shuttles transporting runners to run behind.  So they made the decision to wait for those a runners. It sucked for those of us at the line (more so for the people already in their corrals and without Sherpas like mine), but I support their decision to wait for those runners. I wish I'd had more liquids than I did. 15 minutes turned into 30 minutes and we were underway just before 8:00 am. I peed several times during that time and found myself worrying about the heat an extra half-hour of daylight would create as it was already in the mid-50's when I woke up at 5:30.

After the National Anthem and the wheelchair start, I got into the corral. I had to wiggle my way around some people to get myself right up to the bouncers "protecting" the elite runners. When they stepped aside and everyone moved up to the line, I made sure I was as far up as I could be. I couldn't get on the line, but I was first behind it at least. I couldn't find KC in the crowd and that made me nervous for the first time all morning about the race itself. But the gun was up and we were off! 

So much for no back story! 

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