I arrived in Huntington around 2 PM and quickly headed off on the 1.5 hour drive to Williamson. I took a wrong turn at first when Google Maps wasn’t specific about directions (it said to take 52, but didn’t specify north or south), but it was quickly remedied and otherwise I made it to Williamson without incident. Arriving at the packet pickup, I found it to be a far cry from the expos at most marathons. There were just four folding tables in a parking garage, all in a row: registration/bib pickup, t-shirt pickup, dinner ticket pickup, and a 50/50 raffle. When I got to the t-shirt pickup, the ladies behind the table politely asked where I was staying, and I told them that I was participating in the new bed and breakfast program (local families volunteer to host runners at their homes for a nominal fee), and that I was about to call Joyce, my host. Turned out it was her behind the table!
Joyce offered to take me back to her house right then to rest before the pasta dinner at 6 PM, and I gratefully took her up on that. Much better than sitting in my car reading for a few hours, even if I was in the middle of Stephenie Meyer’s page-turning adult novel, The Host. When we arrived at Joyce’s house, she introduced me to her equally hospitable daughter, Kathy, and the three of us sat down to chat for a while. They were both so friendly that I felt instantly at home. Around 5 PM, I excused myself to go rest (meaning, get back to reading The Host) before dinner.
Just before 6, Joyce and I headed over to the pasta dinner. Turned out it started promptly at 6, which was a surprise to me – usually the start time is when people start arriving, and then the actual speeches and events don’t happen till later. I was impressed! We only missed a few of the race director’s opening remarks, and while the tent was packed, I managed to find two seats together for us at one of the far tables.
The announcements seemed to go on forever, while the buffet was set up just a few feet from my table and was looking and smelling delicious! It was hard to concentrate on the race director, but I did my best. He seemed very caring and genuine, reminding us that now that we were running this race, he considered us part of his family forever. He encouraged us to come back next year, and told us that anyone who came back would have a special sign made for them and put on the course! What a cool personal touch.
Finally we got to eat, and I filled my plate with tons of pasta (three kinds to choose from: fettucine, angel hair, and ziti) and sauce (again, three options: marinara, meat sauce, and alfredo). Better than that though, I got two pieces of garlic bread – which turned out to be awesome! Even though I was stuffed from the pasta (so stuffed I didn’t even have any salad – so not like me), I ended up grabbing one more piece of the garlic bread for good measure. I vowed that the next day, I would not pig out after the race – I was already pigging out enough beforehand.
While we ate, we got to watch a really cool skit about the history of the Hatfields and the McCoys. Two local guys played the parts of the fathers of each clan, and they did a great job acting very realistically while still managing to convey the whole story to the group. I had read through some pamphlets in my race packet, so I already had a good idea of the story, and I found my thoughts wandering to Boyfriend and if he had gotten home and found all my surprises yet. I forced myself to pay attention, and when the skit concluded, I was rewarded for my patience with a call from him telling me that I’m absolutely amazing and unbelievable to have done all that for him. Nothing like a little self confidence boost before the race 🙂
After the skit, I ran into my friend Walter, whom I had met at the Honolulu Marathon expo. Hawaii was Walter’s 50th state, so it was really a celebration race for him. We bumped into each other again on the course there, and actually ended up crossing the finish line together, so he’ll always be one of my special marathon buddies 🙂 He told me that he was going for another time around, and because he had driven the Hatfield McCoy course that morning, he was able to give me some good tips (e.g. though the elevation profile only seems to show one big hill at mile 6, there’s another nasty one around mile 23). I have to say, that’s my favorite part of marathoning so frequently. I love traveling to so many different places only to see a lot of the same people, especially when I’m traveling by myself. In addition to Walter, I also saw my friend Fran, whom I had met at the Lincoln Marathon and shared dinner with then. She’s closing in on her 50 states, with only three states to go! Fran introduced me to several other frequent marathoners who were from Canada and were very nice, and I’m looking forward to seeing them at future races. Again, I can’t emphasize enough how I love making all these new friends all over the world!
After dinner, not much to report except that I got to bed fairly early, and hoped that I wouldn’t suffer too many consequences from eating all that garlic bread. Stay tuned to find out!