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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Marathon Eve

Where does the time go?

When I decided to register for the Vermont City Marathon, it was just a date on a calendar. Sure, I had a schedule and did the training runs/workouts, but it seemed so far off. It felt like the day would never get here.

And now, it's TOMORROW.

I'm a mixture of excited, anxious and impatient. Now that it's almost here, can we just get on with it? PLEASE??

I woke up on Marathon Eve, ready to do my last run before packing up and heading out to meet John and Ted. Coach gave me a 25-30 minute run to do with 5-6 10 second strides at the end of the run. I've always liked running 2-3 miles the day before a marathon. I'm not sure if the benefits are more mental or physical, but it seems to work for me. And, as they say, if it ain't broke...

After my run (which felt great), I got myself cleaned up and ready to go. I was meeting the guys in Windham, NH at 10 a.m. Ted offered to take his car for the three hour trek to Vermont, so the three of us could keep each other company.

Oh, and I almost forgot the most important part: this weekend, it was all about me.

Sing it with me: me, me, me, me, meeeeeeee...

This was my personal quest for the Holy Grail which, for me, was a BQ (Boston Qualifier for those who haven't been paying attention). And, I had two men fighting over who was going to pace me for it (okay, maybe they weren't "fighting", but they were both willing to step in and be "that guy" for me). Cyndi Lou was the princess this weekend and she was going to take FULL advantage. Even the marathon eve dinner reservations were all about me:

From: fircrakr
To: cyndi; ted
Date: Wed, 26 May 2010 14:57:39 -0400

Cool! I sent a message back to Christina to add the three of us to the reservation and told her that you were the one that found the restaurant. It's all about Cyndi! :-)

From: cyndilou
To: fircrakr; ted
Date: Wed, 26 May 2010 14:35:01 -0400
Works for me. I would say 6.


From: Fircrakr
Sent: Wednesday, May 26, 2010 2:38 PM
To: Cyndi; Ted

Hey guys,

I think I mentioned that there are other friends of mine who are staying at the same hotel as us and are running the marathon. They would like to know if we can all do dinner together at the Italian restaurant that Cyndi found on Saturday. Is this okay?
If so, time suggestions as we would want to make a reservation.



See? I told you. I even had the email thread to prove it.

My husband offered to drive me there so I didn't have to leave my car unattended for two days. We arrived first, because I accidentally told John and Ted to turn right off of the exit instead of left (not only do I have issues with FOLLOWING directions, it appears I also have a challenge GIVING them too). I said my goodbyes to Michael, camped out in the backseat and off we went.

It was such a nice day for a drive and the scenery is just beautiful. We listened to music and chatted about our plans for the weekend. Once we checked in and got settled, we planned on driving the route before meeting our running friends for dinner. They had a course map and description on the webpage, which is nice and all, but sometimes, you just have to see it for yourself.

About 2 hours into our drive, we started plotting lunch. We ended up finding a good thai restaurant in downtown Montpelier, which is one of my favorite types of cuisine (remember, it was all about me). After lunch, we walked the long way around back to the car, taking in the sights and checking out the little shops. Having the longest part of our journey behind us felt good. But, we weren't there yet.

Back in the car, we cruised up to Burlington. We ended up booking our hotel later than anticipated and lots of the hotels were already booked. John totally came through and found us the last room at a hotel 8 miles from the start of the marathon. And, the best news of all: there was actually a shuttle that would pick us up and drop us off at the start.


If memory serves me correctly, I believe we went to the Marathon EXPO in Burlington BEFORE going to our hotel, so we could pick up our race packets. I also wanted to get a Keybank Vermont City Marathon 26.2 sticker for my car. We also came upon free Green Mountain Coffee there, which John and I found particularly enjoyable. Ted found...peanut butter. If I never mentioned it before, I'll mention it now: Ted is addicted to peanut butter. He loves the stuff. He loves it so much that he doesn't allow himself to have it on a regular basis. He will only indulge post-race.

Hey, we all have our vices. Some people have internet porn. Ted has peanut butter.

Once we had our fill of exhibits, coffee and peanut butter, we headed to Colchester, where our hotel was. Check-in was a breeze. We went off to our room.

Yes, you heard me correctly: our room, which had 2 beds. Yes, we were all going to stay in the same room. Yes, my husband knew about it and, yes, he was okay with it.

Feel better now?

Ted brought his own sleeping bag and insisted that he slept very well on the floor. Since it was all about me, I didn't argue. :-) And besides, I couldn't have come up with two better roommates. Real friendships come from the heart anyway, no matter what your gender may be.

We all unpacked our stuff and decided to rest up for a bit before heading out to drive the course. We talked a bit about race strategy but, mostly, we just enjoyed each other's company and had some laughs. I could feel myself starting to relax more and think less about the impending race, which is always a good thing. We can think ourselves into insanity sometimes. Lord knows I had made an art form of that in the past. Besides, the race was still a good 16 hours away.

Driving the course was a challenging task. In the early miles, you run through the pedestrian marketplace which, obviously, is no place for a car. And, the last 4.5 miles were on the Burlington Bike path. Again, no go. But, we were able to drive around and get a good feel for what most of the course would be like. Plus, the website described the path as "flat to slightly downhill terrain". There is only one phrase I like better than flat when describing a marathon and that is "slightly downhill".

Satisfied with our exploration, it was off to dinner. The restaurant was across the parking lot from our hotel. Not only was it convenient, but it was good too! Here, I'll give them a plug:

I got to meet a few of John's friends from another running group that were also in town for the marathon. As predicted, they were very nice people and lots of fun to be around. I've always maintained that runners were the friendliest athletes. You can call me biased if you want. Maybe I am, but I really believe it. We ate, drank (well, some of us did) and talked about tomorrow. A few of them were doing their very first marathon, which made John, Ted and I veterans (VCM would the 2nd, 3rd and 5th marathons for us, respectively).

I sat with Ted to my left and John to my right. Ted and I opted to enjoy some red wine with our food. Some people have reservations about having alcohol the night before a race, let alone a marathon. And that's fine. I had tried both strategies and found, for me, the action was much less important than the intention. What I mean by that is, you can decide to abstain from a glass or two of wine the day or two before a big race and still be a big, hot mess of nerves. That's pretty much what happened in Hartford. In my coach's words: "you had built so much emotion, energy and some level of anxiety building to the event that relaxation and confidence didn't have a chance to work itself into the execution of the race". It's not so much about what you eat or drink as it is about how you feel about what you are doing. Your body is pretty good at asking for what it needs while using whatever you give it to perform at its highest level. We just need to learn how to listen.

We finished our delicious meal, said our goodbyes and went back to the hotel. Ted had picked up a bottle of dark rum at a liquor store in Montpelier, so he and John decided to have a nightcap. I decided to pass and it wasn't a matter of virtue, here. I just couldn't imagine red wine and dark rum coexisting peacefully in my stomach.

It had a been a long day. We were all ready to retire for the night. Ted was more ready than John and me; he practically fell asleep sitting up in the chair with the glass in his hand! We chuckled at his ability to sleep anywhere while agreeing that he was the best candidate to sleep on the floor. And, with that, decided to call it a night.

Before I drifted off to sleep, I thought about the race, but not with dread or trepidation. Besides, all the work was over. It was done. There was nothing left to do in preparation. Instead, I welcomed the opportunity to run a marathon with friends and decided to enjoy the experience as much as possible. This wasn't a training run, nor was this a "just finish" kind of undertaking. I knew this was going to be the race of my life.

I was ready.

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