Monday, December 06, 2004

Race Day!

It's 4:00 am and I'm up getting dressed for my marathon. I eat a Clif bar, start drinking water, and take my vitamins (don't want to be deficient in anything). I've got my drop bag packed with Gatorade, a power bar, my Clif Shots (energy gels), sunglasses and my old socks. As we step out the door, a huge sigh of relief -- stars! No rain, only a few clouds. And it's 44 degrees in Tucson. Of course, as we start driving North, the temperature starts dropping, and it's 37 degrees at the marathon bus pickup area.

I get a great parking location -- within about 50 meters of the finish line (who wants to walk very far after this kind of race). The buses are loaded and we are heading North toward Oracle. Voices are somewhat subdued. Marathoners sharing previous experiences from around the country. (Have you done Chicago? New York? Have you qualified for Boston?) I listen in on bits of their conversations as I choke down my Power Bar and one of my Gatorades (then no more liquid until just before the start). I'm not a member of this somewhat exclusive group of people who have run 26.2 miles -- yet.

As we reach the starting line, some of us opt to immediately get off the bus and get in line for the "porto-johns". The rest stay on the buses to remain warm. I take the early morning bowel movement as a good sign and spend the rest of the time until the start relaxing and gently stretching. The old socks are working sufficiently to keep my hands warm.

With about five minutes to go until the start, I shed my jacket and warm-up pants, stuff them in my drop bag, grab my remaining Gatorade and hand the drop bag to a volunteer on one of the buses. As I'm downing the Gatorade I realize I've left one of the old socks in my jacket pocket. It's on the bus now. Oh well. I move up to a position about three-quarters of the way back in the pack and wait for the start. We're all wearing timing chips on our shoes so I'm not worried about crossing the starting line immediately at the gun. The race begins and for more than a minute, I'm just walking toward the starting line. As I hit the timing pad on the line I start my own timer.

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