the wake-up call was the first to go off.
i had passed out quickly and deeply, and didn't even hear my roommate sneak back in to the room. i knew the alarm was going to go off shortly, so i allowed myself a few minutes to wake up while laying in bed. i managed not to fall back asleep and jumped in the shower.
i was happy i had my clothing all ready...and i started eating my roll with peanut butter and banana and chugging water as i got dressed. L and i ran around the room making sure we had goos and transportation bracelets and phones and hats and water.
as you can imagine, i was a bundle of nerves. i was cursing myself for making my big declaration at the team meeting the night before. why couldn't i just keep my big trap shut and surprise everyone if i was feeling well? nooooooo i had to be all public about it. it was kinda like when i signed up for the marathon originally - i talked about it constantly so that i couldn't back out. i think i was thinking similarly about this...if i told people, i'd have to run.
of course this time was a little different, in that i honestly wasn't sure if i could make it. in my head i still thought about that 13.1 mile escape hatch. we hung out waiting to go to the bus. the producer for the video spotted me and i did a little interview. ramon came over and put his arm around me "baby, if you do well today, i'm going to have to incorporate some of your training tactics." i laughed "yeah well, we'll just see how i feel when i get to 13..." ~sigh~
we finally got on the bus, and spent the ride applying TNT tattoos. it was still dark, and it was a bit misty. we arrived at the park, which, thankfully had more porta-potties than i had ever seen. we found a good spot and everyone dropped their things and began making their first of many trips to the bathrooms.
it was night and day from phoenix, where we barely had time to get ourselves in order before we began. the race was starting at 6:30, and it was only 5:20. so many runners. one woman obviously had been there for a while, had set up a little bed, and was sleeping in a garbage bag.
next was applying sunscreen. even thought it was cloudy, i knew you could still get burned relatively easily, so i lathered on the 30. the nervous energy was certainly palatable. next was the body glide. someone had made a joke about how there are some people who are far too comfortable about putting on body glide in front of others, and yes, my friends, that would be me. chafing was the last thing i wanted to deal with on top of all my other...obstac...er...challenges i would be facing that day. so body glide on every single possible location of friction was the solution. oh yeah.
after a few more trips to the bathrooms, soon it was time to check the bags into the ups trucks. my number had already fallen off so i scrambled for extra pins to refasten it to the rope. some of the trucks had really long lines, but luckily for me not the Ga - Hi truck. i ditched the back, strolled back to the spot to see if i could find the rookie, but only cap and another mentor was left. cap had sent the rookie on his way to make sure he had plenty of time.
i was supposed to be in the 6th corral, which is pretty high for a slowpoke like me but i figured what the hell. i actually spotted the rookie and his roommate right there in my corral, so i maneuvered my way over and we all hung out waiting for the start. there were sooooo many people. a military general (a woman) was playing mc and announced the national anthem, someone sang...and before you knew it, the gun went off and we were all cheering and headed out - walking of course for the first minute or two waiting for things to get moving, and finally at a slow jog.
the first few miles were fine. i was freaking out but it was kind of good to be "back out there" running. my shins seemed to be fine, it was cool, and there were so many runners and even spectators out. the beginning of the course took us by the zoo and balboa park, through downtown, by the water and back north again. this part of the race was about 7 miles. and for just about all 7 miles, i alternately felt great and like crap. at points i thought, sure no problem! and other times, i felt winded, cranky, and tired. we saw the coaches around the 3rd or 4th mile, and they so ridiculously enthusiastically cheer for us, you can't help but smile.
its funny, but the first 8 miles, even with the hemming and hawing, went pretty quickkly. as we approached the 8th mile i was on a downswing, feeling like there was simply no way i could run 26.2 miles today and i would be a complete idiot to attempt it. but then, as we headed back through the main area, and the crowds thickened and they cheered and cheered and there were so many signs thanking team in training...i started to perk up.
my body seemed to finally settle into the run, and with each passing crowd i got more at ease. i began to smile more. running a marathon today seemed less...impossible. between the miles of 8 and 10, the marathon seemed painful but possible. i might have to walk, but it would be possible. there was no way i was going to beat my time, but did that really matter? finishing this thing was reachable.
at mile 10 i finally found a bathroom stop with only one person ahead of me - time to stop. i stretched while i waited and was in and out of there quickly, continuing on. we were on the highway, which was a bit sloped and slanted, but even that wasn't bothering me too terribly. there were some hilarious straight men dressed in bad drag; spectators with banners on the overpasses above us; cheerleading squads galore. and before i knew it i had passed mile 12.
while my brain was nervous, my body still felt great. and for bouv, for anthony, for all the survivors out there, for that 83-year-old womand, for all the people that believed in me the first time around and, because i had faith that i could, at "the moment of truth", when the time came that i could bail out, at the 13.1 mile mark....
i continued on.