Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Week 30: Everything but the race

Our final week of training was physically very easy, but mentally a bit challenging. I was dealing with a bit of "taper madness"--anxiety about the race and whether we were really ready. On top of that normal anxiety was concern about the weather; it appeared that a hurricane named Sandy was coming to town  right on the day of our race. Checking the forecast became my new obsessive pastime, ceased only for scheduled runs (3 miles, 4 miles, 2 miles) and breaks to eat some more carbs.

Wednesday evening was spent packing all of our running gear for race day. You'd think this would be simple (shorts, shirt, socks, shoes) but with the uncertainty of the weather it suddenly became a lot more complicated. We had our hydration packs, stocked with gels, gum, and bandannas. Two pairs of shoes in case something went wrong with the pair we planned to wear. Running shorts and leggings in case it was colder than expected; long sleeved shirts to go under our Fisher House jerseys for the same reason. Hats and gloves. Jackets in case of rain. Throwaway clothes to wear to the starting line for warmth---I ditched a 20-year-old ripped and frayed Brown sweatshirt, while Chris left some torn track pants (the clothes in wearable condition are collected and donated to homeless shelters). Clothes to put on at the finish to keep us warm on the walk back to the hotel (sweatpants, sweatshirt, dry socks, dry shoes). Clothes to put on AT the hotel after we showered. A lot of items for an 8 hour time span!

Our final run on Thursday was a lot of fun and very meaningful, as the whole family joined in for our last 2-miler. Even the dog ran with us! It was a wonderful way to wrap up training; the kids have been very supportive and understanding when we have been too tired to move or spent a whole Saturday morning on the trails.

Friday evening we travelled to Maryland to stay with my parents, who had very generously agreed to watch the kids while we ran the race. (In fact, I cleared this with them back in March, before we even registered--we couldn't have done it without their help!) We all had a nice breakfast together Saturday morning and then Chris and I headed off to the Expo to pick up our race day packets and Fisher House gear.

The Expo was huge, with tons of people milling about and Marines everywhere you looked. Our first stop was the packet pick-up tent. Fortunately there were no lines and we had our bibs in two minutes flat. We then headed to the Fisher House table, where we received our duffel bags and race jackets for raising over $1000. We also received special challenge coins, which were presented to us in the traditional way, through a handshake.
Our bib numbers

Lightweight reflective jacket

Close-up of jacket


Challenge coin, front and back

The Expo itself was full of booths advertising future races being held all around the world; running clothing and shoes; running nutrition; running accessories like watches, GPS, ID bracelets, and light strips for running at night; and framing services to display your race day photos, bibs, and medals. Our most important stop here was to pick up our official Marine Corps Marathon shirt. It is very nice and cozy, but being cotton, it is heavy and I can't imagine running more than a mile or two wearing one!
Front of shirt

Back of shirt

Sleeve. Oo-rah!

After the Expo, we went to our hotel in VA to rest and shower before the Fisher House pasta dinner.  This was an amazing event; we were inspired by our teammates who raised thousands of dollars, and even more so by the Allen family. Chaz Allen was wounded in Afghanistan and lost both of his legs; his wife Jessica and their two daughters experienced life in a Fisher House firsthand. Jessica spoke movingly of Chaz's injuries and rehabilitation, as well as the support and friendship she received at multiple Fisher Houses during her husband's recovery. By the end of her speech, there wasn't a dry eye in the house. We were all ready to run and conquer the marathon--for ourselves, for Fisher House, and for families like the Allens.

A little while after we returned from dinner, I noticed the message light blinking on our phone. When I called, I was told the message was simply that our room had not been cleaned that day because we had left the Do Not Disturb sign on the door. This made no sense as we had just checked in around 3pm, and the room had already been cleaned; still, we opened the door to check whether the sign was there or not. Upon opening the door we were greeted by red, yellow, and blue streamers and a wonderful note:
Better than Do Not Disturb!

A final check of the weather forecast provided some good news--Sandy was not going to be an issue race morning. However, the images coming out of the Carolinas Saturday evening were frightening enough to impress upon us that this storm was not to be trifled with. As we all know now, Sandy brought devastation, destruction, and death to many in her path. Our thoughts are with all those affected by the storm; may you return to some peace and normalcy as quickly as possible.

I will post again in a few days with a race report. Thanks for reading!

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