December 04, 2007

The Race--Before

On Saturday I had to pick up my bib, timing chip, and other stuff at Mandalay Bay's Quality of Life Expo, so we drove downtown after Kenna's morning nap, hoping to be able to get the stuff, see the fountains at the Bellagio, and be home in time to do some Christmas decorating and maybe even attend one of the Saturday night church services.

Ha! I think we were downtown for at least 4 hours. First of all, the city was a mad house. I'm sure lots of extra people were there because of the marathon, in addition to it being a weekend. Simply GETTING to the Convention Center was stressful, and then we had to fight our way through the crowds all the way to the back corner (of course) to get the required items, then wind our way back through all the vendors to get out. Had I been alone, I may have enjoyed looking at the stuff and possibly purchasing some things...I loved the girl-y running shirts that said things like "Find your happy pace" and "I run like a girl!" I was also seriously considering purchasing some running tights. Our weather had been quite good, and I was doing fine with shorts and a sweatshirt in the mornings. But Saturday was a different story--after our first rain on Friday since July, some cold winds swept in, and I was worried about what it would be like on Race Day.

But the crowds got to me, and I just wanted to get OUT of there with our kids intact! So we drove to the Bellagio, having promised the kids that they could watch the fountains. Ted dropped the older kids and me off so we didn't have to walk as far, and we found a good viewing point and stood, shivering, waiting in eager expectation. By the time Ted came pushing Kenna in the stoller, an announcement was being made that, due to high winds, the show was cancelled. Grrr. We did get to see some smaller fountain displays as we walked through the Bellagio Conservatory to get to the parking garage, and it was neat to see the area all decked out for Christmas. By this time we were all starving, so we went through the drive-through at In 'n Out Burger for a healthy pre-race meal of cheeseburgers, fries, and chocolate shakes.

Since we were eating in our van, we began crawling down the Strip, as my "brilliant" plan had been to drive the route of the race so I would know what to expect. However, we realized before long that I would be able to run two miles more quickly than we were driving them, so we bailed out about half-way through the route and just headed home. By this time Kenna had been awake for about 5 hours and was more than ready for her nap. I actually took a nap myself in the afternoon, knowing that I would likely not be able to sleep all that well at night. We had a relaxing evening, though it did not include church or decorating as planned, but that didn't matter so much after all.

My friend Debbie arrived around 9 p.m., and after chatting with her about instructions for the kids the next morning, Ted and I headed to bed while she made herself at home in our "Stamp Suite." I tossed and turned for nearly an hour before settling into a fairly good sleep, then woke at 3:15 a.m. and dozed off and on until about 3:45, when I finally got up and turned off the alarm (set for 3:50 a.m.). I took a quick shower to wake myself up more, ate a banana, checked the weather conditions (no wind--praise the Lord!), and dressed and braided my hair for the race. My sleepy but supportive husband awoke about 15-20 minutes after I did, and we were on the road by 4:30.

Getting downtown was no problem, but we did encounter quite a bit of traffic at Tropicana, where it seemed that most other people were exiting in an attempt to get to the parking garages. We found parking plentiful at Mandalay Bay, where the race was to begin, so that was a blessing. We walked back inside through the Convention Center where we were the previous day. Participants were everywhere, causing the whole building to smell like a nursing home with all their patches and cream for pain relief. Had I known how I would feel after the race, I may have been slathering myself up as well, ha!

After eating another banana and hitting the bathroom a couple more times, we were ready to head outside. Ted and I separated, and I was left clutching my "sweats bag" that was handed out at the Expo. We had been told that we would receive labels and be able to put the bags in a holding place in the parking lot, but alas, the location was nowhere to be seen, and a sort of official-looking person told us the area was actually inside. I'm not sure he knew what he was talking about, as everything had indicated otherwise, but as I couldn't find the area anyway, I joined with a couple of other runners in hiding my bag in some bushes, hoping to find it after the race. One more quick trip to a port-a-potty, and I was ready!

"Elvis" was singing the national anthem as I joined the throng pushing its way to the starting line. Fireworks began going off, and I could hear an announcer, but only the fact that he was speaking--I couldn't really distinguish words, nor did I try, preferring to just take in the sight of 17,000 people gathered in one place for one race. The sun's rays were just beginning to shine light over the horizon, but I still needed sunglasses for the stadium lights that were shining over us.

I was positioned towards the back, but I didn't mind so much, as I didn't plan to worry about time. Besides, the new state-of-the-art timing chips would give us exact times from when we crossed the actual start to the finish line. It was an amazing thing to be standing there, waiting, with so many people with so many different aspirations, goals, and dreams. I could have people-watched all day, but before long my focus would be elsewhere...the race itself!

To Be Continued...

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