Not that I recommend training for 20+ months...but if you should find yourself in this situation, I can assure you that the experience will be far more than just the race-day itself for you. So with that in mind I am that I am splitting my tale into three parts.
This is mostly a self-indulgent exercise to simply to drag out the story-telling. But for future old Meredith who will look back at this fondly, this diary entry on the internets will serve to help me savor every last moment of what just occurred in my life: finally achieving my goal of completely a marathon.
And -- frankly -- I've got a lot of tips for any of you crazy kids considering running marathons. And not, like, Runners World tips. Rather I have "Let's get real" MeriG tips (which in my personal opinion) are far more valuable at the end of the day. You will find these sprinkled throughout in MeriG's signature purple.
And so I bring you the first installment: Before The Race.
As you recall, my sidekick on this adventure is Betsy. Betsy is a friend I met a couple of years ago, and quickly realized was a kindred spirits.
|Betsy is the type of friend who will be "not impressed" with me in a cab...for no reason.|
I was so happy to have her with me for the support, the encouragement and -- mostly -- for the after-party. She did not disappoint.
On Friday we had a 3 pm flight to Miami. I made B arrive at the airport about a thousand years in advance because I was still so nervous that something, somehow was going to happen to prevent this [still alleged] marathon from occurring.
I was in full carbo-load and hydration mode: chugging water and peeing every 5 seconds and devouring every bread-like-substance within arms reach.
MeriG Word of Wisdom: Carbo-loading and hydrating are not to be messed with. I attribute positive experiences on race day very much to the fact that I carbo-loaded and ultra hydrated starting on THURSDAY NIGHT.
MeriG Word of Wisdom: Do not trying on your bikini during carbo-loading time.
Sadly, alcohol was not in the cards. So I convinced Betsy to get a beer. In my honor. She complied with verrrrry minimal arm twisting. She was also so cute, telling everyone -- bartenders, TSA security offers, fellow passengers in waiting -- that I was running a marathon in two days. So cute. Like a proud momma.
MeriG Word of Wisdom: I drank up until Tuesday night and I was fine. I do not think you need more than five sober days before a marathon. Take that for what it's worth.
We arrived in Miami without incident, and Betsy's lovely mom picked us up from the airport. From there, we drove about an hour north to Betsy's hometown, Coral Springs.
After a lovely (yet sadly margarita-free) Mexican dinner, we headed back to Betsy's house for a relaxing evening of stretching, hydrating, and internal freaking out. Luckily B's parents have four cats so I felt right at home.
I made sure to get to bed early and get a full 8 hours of sleep before waking up the day before my Marathon. It was a very nice feeling to know the marathon was still on. A feeling I had never had before....
MeriG Word of Wisdom: I was told to get full, restful sleep for several days before the marathon and I did. They say you won't sleep the night before your race and you won't. I attribute a good amount of my success (sorry for the spoiler) to being super well-rested.
I consumed, nay, devoured, a big ol' breakfast (I think I was actually becoming a bagel at this point)...do you see a trend?
We then went to Publix. For the first time. [Yes, on a 4 day trip we did go to Publix more than once...] PUBLIX IS GREAT as I expected it would be. Betsy and I bought enough snacks to feed a family of 6 for a week, because it seemed appropriate. We also bought two bottles of champagne: One for us to drink in celebration after and one for Betsy to drink while she watched me run the race. Because we are forward-thinkers.
I was introduced to Publix chocolate chip cookies which are all they are cracked up to be
|Photo Credit (because I need to start doing them because I steal too many photos from the interwebs): http://shellyandzach.blogspot.com/2011/12/weekend-away.html|
B's Mom was then so kind to drive us back to Miami Beach to drop our stuff off at the hotel before B and I headed over to the Expo -- handily located just down the street.
The hotel was simply lovely. We stayed at the Catalina, wonderfully centrally located, which included free beach chairs and not one, but two lovely pools. One of which was on the roof. More on that later.
We arrived at the expo and I was super duper excited!
But I had been to an expo before so I still wasn't going to let the fat lady sing (as it were). We pressed on.
I picked up my bib...
|This is happening!|
And Betsy made a sign...
|Yay Blog reference!|
Wonderfully, I ran into some of my Team For Kids teammates, which was so great and coincidental and unexpected! Seeing their familiar faces definitely gave me a confidence boost and helped calm my nerves.
Betsy and I scored a lot of free stuff. And I bought a headband and a running shirt (because an expo begs you to buy a headband and a shirt...runners understand the compulsion here). And she tried a lot of samples. I was being stomach-scared so I unfortunately abstained from many of the fun goodies.
We also spent a bit of time tweeting at eachother with hashtag #INGMIAMI to get our names up on a big screen. It worked and we were waaaaaay too excited about it.
|Read Betsy's tweet carefully. You will notice that her main concern at this juncture was how she was going to drink an entire champagne bottle on the street. This is why were are friends.|
MeriG Word of Wisdom: Finding twitter friends who are running your race and trying to befriend them is fun. I did this and it was enjoyable being a creepy stalker.
After the expo, we went back to the hotel to hang out on the roof-deck and rest my tootsies.
|I could get used to this...|
One absolutely wonderful, amazing surprise came from my friend Kelly. We've heard of Kelly's antics before (such as helping me drown my sorrows after the little "incident" last November...) but she really outdid herself this time.
Evidently before she left, she had given Betsy seven cards with instructions on the outside of when they were to be distributed to me.
Each included a note from her -- which basically spoke to the exact feeling she knew I'd be having when I opened it -- as well as really fun quotes. Each card had a really nice message as well, such as this one (that happened to be for #6: Pre-race!):
|And I was! I really was!|
Seriously. How amazing is that?
MeriG Word of Wisdom: Don't run a marathon unless you have seriously awesome friends and family. I mean, they won't be as awesome as mine...but if you can get a close second I recommend you try. Without them, your stupid running shenangians will be unbearable.
I'm gonna get real real with you right now.
My biggest concern at this point was not my feet or my legs (they felt fine) or the weather (it was looking overcast for the next day and not too hot...and no hurricanes on the horizon). No, my concern was with the tummy. Because I was having trouble -- you know -- "going." Yeah, in that way. And honestly, I did not want to spend my marathon that I had worked towards for almost two years in porto-potties on the side of the road.
So I was freaking out.
Betsy handled me well, and we got real familiar talking about gastrointestinal issues real quickly. Runners will hear me on this concern and non-runners will think I'm disgusting but it is what it is.
MeriG Word of Wisdom: Don't judge me for talking about bathroom issues -- this is a very, very real concern!
That night I tried to get some sleep. I really, really did. But to no avail. I maybe got 2 hours of true rest before my 3 am (yes, you heard me) wake-up call.
Stay tuned for Part 2 this week: D-Day