Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Lucky #13... Not Quite... Part the Second

So, Race Day. I had not slept well, despite the luxe accommodations. We scored us a sweet suite at the Marriott, courtesy of the very last of my dwindling status as a road warrior, so we had plenty of room for Kris & I to have our own queen beds, Megan to have a rollaway twin and Jason & Mel to share the pull-out bed in the living area. But, I had some family issues to contend with, pretty big ones, along with work stress toward the end of the week, so it had been several nights since I'd had solid sleep.  Didn't matter. Alarms went off at 4:45 and we slowly started stirring in the room, getting dressed and prepping mentally and physically for what was ahead.

Getting dressed. Ah, yes. The shirts. Once we determined we had critical mass for this race, and that this was the event at which we were all going to gun for Sub-Five, it was decided that we should have shirts. The original idea was bright yellow shirts, the better to see us with, but when that didn't work out, we ended up with these superb white shirts with a custom logo designed by Fawn's husband Jack.  We had them printed and shipped, and then we personalized them with our nicknames on the back, so people could cheer for us as we ran through town, happy and smiling and having a grand time.

Organizing the shirts! See how pretty!! SQUEEE!

Missing our cheerleaders Megan, taking the picture, and
Shannon, who couldn't make the trip last-minute =(

Megan in her tutu, ready to cheer, wet weather be damned!

The question for me had been whether to wear shorts, my Texas skirt or capris, especially as the temps forecasted continued to drop. I believe the best decision of the day was when I went with the capris, as I figured they were cool enough that even if it hit 80s later in the morning I would still be OK, but it would provide some warmth on my legs early on. Going with that logic, I'd pinned my bib on my leg, ultra-style, the night before, and laid out everything else I would need so it was easy to grab, even bleary-eyed and drowsy as we were.  As we all finished getting dressed, we fueled up on bagels, bananas and Nutella, watching the clock and making our way downstairs at 5:30 to meet the other girls for the four-block walk to the start line.

Going down the elevator, we saw Marci and Bojana coming into the lobby, and then found Fiona shortly afterward. We all hit the very comfortable and clean Marriott lobby bathrooms one last time; while we were waiting for everyone to get done, I stepped outside and got a sneak peek at the weather - it was cool and VERY breezy.  First reaction was "crap, it's COLD!" but then I quickly said, "That there's PR weather!!" a comment which a couple of other runners walking by applauded.  After our required group photo, we gathered ourselves up and then headed out toward the start. No sooner did we walk out of the lobby, into the same morning air I had been out in FIVE minutes before than it started to rain. Wha?? This wasn't supposed to start for a couple of hours yet. Dangit!! Oh, well, let's just head over and see what's what.

We get half a block down the street and are greeted by a flash of lightning and a roll of thunder. And not the OKC basketball team, either.  Seriously??? Then, a couple  of folks walking toward us say there is a half-hour delay.  A quick check verifies that the official marathon twitter account had tweeted the same, so we grabbed space under an awning to wait it out a bit. No use heading down to the crowded start when we didn't need to be there for another half-hour. We stood around for a while, then I turned on the mothering and made all the full runners sit down - no need to be on our feet any longer than necessary.

Waiting and watching the light show. No, we're not freaking out at all... Not one bit... 
So we're waiting. And watching Twitter explode (those of us with phones, at least. My phone had been left behind and my camera was entrusted to Megan) with news of the weather and the delay. Meanwhile, the rain is NOT letting up. Nor is the thunder and lightning. If anything, the rain is getting heavier and wetter. And the anxiety is starting to mount.  Nutrition is the first concern - our fuel is going to be off by the half-hour delay. Then the worry is about whether we will be warm enough. We're dressed for 40s at the start, but DRY 40s. Some of us have throwaway jackets, but they're cheap cotton, not designed for rainwear. Mel and I have nothing but our team shirts. Fiona gives Mel her bright green NTX Runner shirt since she has her jacket. Mel needs it more than I do - I have built-in warming with my extra layers of bulk - not being able to lose these last pounds has a benefit in the cold, I tell ya!  Very quickly Bojana decides to run back to the hotel and get the disposable ponchos and angelically returns with big black garbage bags for the rest of us. Lifesavers!! So, now we are huddled in the dark, looking like the California Raisins in our big black bags, under an awning, furiously checking Twitter for updates and wondering if we are even going to get to run this stupid race. It doesn't look good, so we start checking for May races, because dammit, we're trained and ready. Oh, and by the way, I NEED this damn race to level up for Maniacs. I'm going to freakin' Minnesota next month to complete my 6 in 6 months, so I HAVE to run this stupid race. How dare they consider calling it because of lightning?! And then, there's another strike of lightning, closer this time, and we all look at each other and shake our heads. 

Thanks, Bojana! We would be dry for a little bit!

Marci & Bojana were super-styling in their clear ponchos! We were jealous!

Pretty soon, it's nearly 6:45, and it's time to do this if we're going to do this. And it's still raining, but we head down to the start. We pass the church with the pancake breakfast, and we pass the Memorial gate, but we're in too much of a hurry to stop in and see it, even though it is most striking in the early morning light, and even more haunting in the drizzle of that day. As we get closer, we see the big banks of the porta-potties, with no lines, thank you, small blessings, so we all hit them one last time before we try to find the start.  And the wheelchair runners are off, and we hear the music, and if you've ever been at the start of a marathon, you know that there are basically two songs they play at the start of a marathon (unless you're in NYC and then you get Sinatra, natch), so we don't get Black Eyed Peas today, no, instead we are treated to Bono telling us It's a Beautiful Day. But it's not. Bono, you're a freakin' liar. It's not beautiful. It's STILL raining, and it's wet, and we haven't even started yet, and my shoes are wet and we're wearing garbage bags!! What the F$%@!! 

We shoulda just had pancakes. 

Picture makes it look like the rain stopped... it hadn't.

Throngs of people in the corrals. One day I will get into an OKC corral properly...
But, then, really, if you stop and think about it, he's not a total liar. It IS a beautiful day, because we get to do this crazy thing whic is our passion and our love, and we get to do it together, and we don't know what the next four, five, six hours holds for us, but we are starting together, and we'll be together at the end, somehow. We hand our sunglasses to Megan, because we realize, no we probably won't need those today. We stay together as much as we can, but it's crowded now, so very crowded, and it's hard to stick together. We wind our way through the crowd, then realize we are in the wrong corral - we are in the freakin' 5K corral!! People, MOVE! We have a race to run! And the gun goes off, and it takes a few minutes, but then we get into the right spot, and we've lost each other a bit, but it doesn't matter, it's time to run. Just run. Wet or not, thunder or not, whatever the day brings, we are in it now, so just Run It Out. 

Next: The Actual Race. Promise!! 


hokgardner said...

You are a far better marathoner than I. I think I would have gone back and climbed into bed. 26.2 miles is too long to spend cold, wet and miserable.

Sometime when we run together, I'll tell you about the lightening delay at Danskin (I used to be asst. race director). Loads of fun.

Adam said...

Wait wait wait. I thought this was only two parts!? :)

that is SO frustrating that you were in the 5K coral. I got caught up in a MASS of people trying to check my bag before the start and had to climb the seemingly 80 foot coral fence to get on the other side.

Mama C said...

Adam - I climbed the corral last year and promptly twisted my ankle and bruised both knees when my foot caught at the top of the fence. The girls were not about to allow me to jump over anything. Maddening situation. My only complaint about this race is corral disasters.