It was 3:00 AM... it was already Sunday, the last day of May. Race Day. I had slept surprisingly well for how anxious and excited I was to run my first marathon. And I know what most people are thinking: 3 AM!?! Why are you up so early for a race that's over 3 hours later?!? Well, let me explain myself:
- 1. The first thing you need to know is that I am habitually early to every thing. This stems from a long childhood of my mother being habitually and very late to nearly every thing. So, like every good virgo, I overcompensated for my mother's behavior and my need to control as much as I can. (By the way, now I have the reverse problem, and I now have to intentionally practice at being late to things just so that I am not That early. Sad, I know.) Also, I had heard how difficult it was to get to the start of the race by car, since freeways and roads had been closed off at midnight the night before, people even missed the start because they were in traffic.
- 2. It was one day away from June. And if you live in Southern California, you know how hot it can be in the summer. So, while I think having a start time at 6:30 am is crazy, it's probably for our benefit.
- 3. I was used to waking up leisurely, reading a book or thumbing through a magazine, grabbing a cup or two of coffee, then making a nice breakfast of eggs and toast in some form, then slowly get ready to head out the door for my run. And if you read the blog two ago titled "My Butterfly Effect" you will see that I was also unemployed during most of my training, so I had the luxury of time on my side, which I so dearly miss right now as I am dead beat from getting up at 5:30 am for an 8 miler before work today. The point being, that I need time, hours, to mentally and physically prepare for a race. I think it's just what I am used to.
We left the hotel room around 4 am. The start was at Sixth Ave and Palm, in the Hillcrest area of San Diego. I was surprised at how easy it was to get to the start and get a free parking spot only two blocks away. Then I realized that it was not even 4:30 am yet, and most people were still sleeping. But that's okay. It was better for my nerves this way. I got to leisurely stretch, do a light jog, eat some food, do my daily duty (you know what I am talking about if you are a runner) and just kick back and watch everyone else scramble.
About 10 minutes before the race start my mom and I headed to my coral. I am not sure if this is how it is with all races, but they had these little neon yellow time chips that you place on your shoe. And as my mom and I neared the coral gates, we noticed that they were only letting those that had this yellow chip in. What was my mom going to do? I was getting nervous and I didn't feel like starting my first marathon alone. But it looked like I might have to. I stopped to show the lady my yellow chip on my shoe and she waved me in. As I turned around expecting to see my mom being detained for not having one, I saw nothing. She was gone? Wow, that was quick. And without even a good bye or good luck. Bummer. Then I turned around to find a good spot to stand and get ready to race and who do I see. My mom. Standing right in front of me. She was like a little magician. Poof. She was able to slip in right behind me as I entered. She's good. Real good. Whew!
We stood waiting for the race to start. I watched all the people around me and the nervous energy swirling around, contagiously jumping from one person to the next. Then it happened. The race started. We must have run for about 60 seconds before we even crossed the start line, but really what's 100 meters when you are about to run 42195 meters more. It was only about a mile or two in when my mom let me continue the race on my own. I wouldn't see her again until around mile 11 (which happened to be where our hotel was). She was really just there to help me with the nerves, from starting too fast and help me find a good pace to run the first few miles at. Now I just had to run the next 15 miles alone to get to my next running buddy, Amber. Running alone in a massive sea of runners.
...to be continued...