August 23, 2008

Night before the marathon

Just before 3:30, the Avis guy found me and asked if I was “ready to get out of this boring airport?” I said I was ready to go, but that I genuinely hadn’t had a problem waiting – as long as I had WiFi, I was a happy camper. He apologized anyway, and gave me a 50% discount on the rental – SWEET!

When he sent me out to my car (a big honkin’ Ford Escape), I was shocked to see just how quiet it was. There was no sound at all except my flip flops on the pavement, and then my engine starting. I don’t think I’ve ever been anywhere that quiet – there wasn’t even any ambient noise like in a silent room. The sun was shining, the sky was a beautiful shade of blue, and everywhere I looked, all I could see were mountains and buttes and plateaus. I’m not a nature girl at all – my family has property on a lake up in the Adirondacks, and when they dragged me up there when I was little, I would bury my nose in a book the whole way up, sit in the car and read when we were actually at the lake, and read the whole way down. Scenery is not for me! However, I was just absolutely awestruck by the serenity of Wyoming and the vast expanse of space in front of me. I couldn’t see any buildings other than the little airport, and I didn’t even see any cars on the road until I hit the highway. It was like I had just been set down in the middle of this empty, beautiful place, with no other inhabitants to mar the beauty. I finally got what all those country songs were talking about when they sing about wide open spaces… I always kind of knew, but I had never experienced anything like this!

Checked in at the hotel and was impressed – it’s a pretty new hotel, and the guy at the front desk was very helpful, extending my checkout until 2 PM. When I showered, I also noticed that I had been given a handicapped room: there was no tub, just a shower with a two inch lip. Why haven’t I thought of asking for this before? It will be so perfect not to have to climb into a shower after running a marathon!

I headed down to the packet pickup and pre-race dinner, which was in the town of Green River (about twelve miles away). It was a gorgeous drive, and I tried to snap some pictures out the window as I drove (I’ll post them later). Being on the highway, it wasn’t quite as isolated and peaceful as my drive from the airport had been, but there was still some pretty impressive scenery. As far as humor goes, I discovered that Wyoming has a chain of gas stations called “Kum & Go” (yes, spelled like that), which made me nearly drive off the road laughing. My level of maturity is totally that of a thirteen year old boy. But really… that was the best brand name you could come up with?

At the packet pickup, I discovered something very interesting: I am the only female aged 20-29, so assuming I finish, I will automatically win my age group! Sweet. Though I have to say, at the awards ceremony, it’s going to be pretty embarrassing to be the only one up there and therefore have everyone realize that I totally won by default. I suppose this is my one and only chance of ever getting a medal, though, so I should enjoy it.

The course is supposed to be tough, but I just want to make sure I don’t get lazy with my time – I still want to do the best I can. Miles 1-5 are a steady incline of about 600 ft, then miles 6-9 are rolling with a net 300 ft drop. 9-12 go up a bit more (about 200 ft), then 12-17 roll a bit more with no major inclines or declines. Finally, 18-26 are downhill. They say that the elevation affects some people like crazy and others not at all – I’m hoping I fall into the latter category. However, it’s a tough course even if I do! I’m not expecting a PR, but my goal is to finish under 4:30 – we’ll see if I can do it.

The dinner wasn’t your typical pasta dinner – far from it! It was a Cajun shrimp boil. You went through a long line, and volunteers brought out literally buckets of shrimp that they would then scoop into a huge paper bowl for you (I’d guess I got about a pound). Then you went down the assembly line and got a baked potato, corn on the cob, boiled onion (had never had just straight up boiled onion before, but it was delicious), and a sausage. Totally unorthodox, and totally not raw vegan, but also totally the best pre-race dinner I’ve ever had! It was absolutely incredible. I wish more races would have a pre-race dinner like this.

I sat with a guy from Indiana who was making this his 46th state, and his daughter, who was in high school and was along to cheer him on and also run in the 10K. Joining us were two women from Green River who had no idea there was a marathon and were just there for the River Festival – they were awesome, and gave us lots of local tips. They were absolutely astonished that a) we were going to run 26 miles and b) we had traveled so far to do so. Finally, rounding out the table were Scott and Austin, brothers from Montana who are just a few years older than me (a rarity at the marathons I’ve done, where all the 50 staters seem to be 50 and older). We had met at the packet pickup and really hit it off, so we stayed together and chatted. Austin has done the seven continents, while Scott is almost done (Antartica and Asia to go, with Antartica on the schedule for next year), but both of them are now turning their attention to doing the fifty states (which they hadn’t done before seven continents). I had a blast chatting with everyone at dinner, and Scott and Austin and I made plans to meet up at the finish, grab lunch together, and then head back together for the late-afternoon barbecue and awards. Marathons are such an awesome way to make friends!

No pre-race dinner would be complete without a story from an absolutely crazy marathon. As if Austin’s tales of Antartica weren’t enough, on our way out, we met a guy for whom Run With the Horses is his 298th marathon! (He’s not a Marathon Maniac though, I asked). He was telling us about some of his races, and described a marathon in Kazakhstan at which he DNFed… because they had to cancel the race when there were bandits on the course. Not bandits as in people who didn’t pay the entry fees – real bandits out to steal and murder and whatnot. Crazy!!!

I’m now back at the hotel, with my clothes all laid out (first time wearing my Marathon Maniacs singlet!), a special Wyoming playlist put together (mostly country), and all my various devices charging. Speaking of laying out clothes – does anyone else have problems pinning their race number onto their shirt? I’m kind of a perfectionist and hate when it’s off center or not taut or whatever, but it’s really hard to get it just right. And I used to manage a professional costume shop!

Off to bed. I love that it’s only 9 PM here yet to my New York body it feels like 11 PM, so I might actually be able to fall asleep. And tomorrow when I wake up at 4:15, it will feel like 6:15, which is totally not bad! Seriously, West Coast marathons are the best because of the time difference. I totally pity all the 50 Staters who live on the West Coast and have to travel east to race – it must feel like running in the middle of the night.

Night everyone!


4 thoughts on “Night before the marathon”

  1. Kum n Go is my favorite business name, ever, and still totally cracks me up every time I go to the midwest.

    Good luck, Laura! Enjoy that medal.

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