July 24, 2009

All-Nighter Before the Race

Around 5 PM yesterday, I started getting cold feet about this whole trip. My mom was initially supposed to come to Salt Lake City with me, but she got sick early in the week and didn’t think she’d feel up to traveling. Totally understandable, but still a bummer for me. As my coworkers started to clear out of the office, it was getting quieter and quieter, and I just wanted some company and someone to talk to. I no longer wanted to go on my “big adventure” of two states and two marathons in one weekend; I just wanted to stay home and spend time with my friends.

This feeling was compounded when the flights to and from Salt Lake City started filling up and the standby lists started getting ridiculously long – now, I would probably not be taking the red eye home on Friday night, but would instead need to go through a more complicated routing, like Salt Lake to Los Angeles to Boston to JFK. I love to travel, but a three stop itinerary is a bit much, and I just didn’t feel like going through that all by myself.

At 6:45, I checked the flight status and found that my plane was two hours delayed because of weather. Great – not only did I now have two extra hours to kill at the office before heading to the airport, but I would now be getting in at 1 AM, and would only have time for a quick nap before catching the shuttle bus to the start at 3:15 AM. Depressed and on the verge of tears, I realized that I needed some sort of human contact to perk me up, so I headed to the pub across the street where my coworkers were having a few pints for happy hour.

On the way, I called my roommate, who was vacationing in Denver for the week. She does triathlons and still works in consulting, so I knew she’d understand the feeling of not wanting to travel and of being too lazy to work out. I didn’t quite know what I wanted her to say, but it turned out that just hearing her voice and having a friend to listen made me feel better. When I then walked into the pub and grabbed a pint (Blue Moon with orange – yum!), I felt my depression dissipating, and chatting about the flight delay with my coworkers went even further toward allaying my concerns. I headed to the airport at 8 PM not quite psyched about my trip, but at least not dreading it and not trying to come up with excuses not to go. The beer also went a long way toward raising my blood sugar, which I think was probably too low from not having dinner yet.

When I got to the terminal, I checked in and quickly assessed the food situation. The lines at most places were long, so I opted for the bar of hot food by the pound, selecting grilled pork, Spanish rice, mashed potatoes, and grilled vegetables – healthy but carb heavy. In the crowded seating area, I shared a table with two guys headed down to Fort Lauderdale for a bachelor party, and the combination of the delicious food and the conversation was finally making me excited about the trip. After all, I’d be traveling home in less than 24 hours, and could always decide to skip Michigan if I really wanted to stay home. With that short time frame, I knew I could get through it and be happy.

Arriving at the gate, I settled in to wait for the flight, and was disappointed to find that the free wireless was uncharacteristically slow. I spent a little time online, and then pulled out a book I’ve had for a while and never gotten around to reading: Alison Wright’s Learning to Breathe. It’s an autobiography of her experiences as a photographer who spent a lot of time in many of the poorer Asian countries, and while traveling, got in a horrible bus accident that doctors said over and over again she shouldn’t have survived… but she fought for life and made a miraculous recovery. Her story is really inspiring, and it’s interesting to hear about her experiences as well, so that kept me fairly entertained.

Once I finally boarded, I was pleased to discover that I had an exit row seat – extra room for me to stretch out! I usually wait till after takeoff to sleep, but the captain came on and announced that because of all the delays, the runway was really backed up and we’d be hanging out for an hour before takeoff! Our new arrival time would be 2 AM, and I realized that because I needed to be With that, I put on my eye mask and neck pillow and promptly fell asleep, not even waking up for takeoff. It wasn’t until they made the announcement about landing that I woke up, and wow, that felt so good to get some sleep.

Unfortunately, that’s the only sleep I’m going to get. I didn’t make it to my hotel until 2:30 AM, and I had to leave at 3:00 AM to get to the shuttles to the start, so all ai had time to do was throw my bags in my hotel room, quickly change into my race gear, and head out. Hopefully that lack of sleep doesn’t take a toll!


7 thoughts on “All-Nighter Before the Race”

  1. This is why our sport is so awesome! We are “endurance” athletes and any other sport, the participant would be freaking out! But NO! You embraced it, because really… what are you going to do?!

    I hope you have a great race! See ya at the finish line!

    (great blog too, just started following!)

  2. Wow, I can’t even IMAGINE what no sleep before a race would feel like. Not to mention the possibility of two races in a weekend! You’re a machine.

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