False start, awake at 2 a.m. Head to the washroom in the dark to the sound of heavy rain and run into the end of the partially opened bathroom door, smack on the bridge of my nose. Why, why, did I ever decide to run this marathon, why!?
I was able to fall back to sleep for nearly two hours. Rising just before the planned 4 a.m. I go down to the lobby and step outside to a light drizzle and warmish temperature. I have never run a marathon in the rain. Will this marathon my 20th, be the first?
The tedious but important decision of what to wear looms. I decide on the short shorts, lighter vest and tank top over sports bra and lightweight microfiber cap. Then I bundle up with tights, warm up pants and t-shirt, arm warmers and jacket. Since rising I have been constantly drinking Gatorade.
There is a bus to the start line that stops at the hotel. I head downstairs and am the last runner to trundle on. My seatmate is eager to converse. All very well, since I discover that she is a pacer and only running about half the course. She is assisting a blind female runner who is hoping to run 3 hours and 30 minutes. We chat briefly about the Achilles Track Club, which I correctly gathered was the source of her involvement. Any other time I would have liked to converse more fully but I am feeling quite apprehensive, especially when I find out that the race starts at 7:00 a.m. not 7:30 a.m. as I had thought. D’oh!
My friendly seatmate offers to lend me her cellphone to text my husband this news. I confess that I’m not really sure how to send a text message. I start to think about how disappointed he will feel if he misses the finish but force myself to FOCUS on the task at hand. The 26 mile drive takes nearly an hour so by the time we get to the start area, it is nearly 6:30 a.m. and I am feeling quite tense. There is a long, line-up at the porta potty so while waiting I strip down to race gear. The day is dawning with no rain and I decide to forgo the singlet, wear the vest, which can be worn around my waist should conditions warm up markedly.
Liberated from the need to pee, I dash to the baggage truck and toss my bag. Having read the runner comments about this race from marathonguide.com was helpful in giving me confidence in the bag check process. Generally, I never leave anything I would mind losing, with baggage check.
My competitive hope is to place in the top three so having noticed that age-groups prizes are awarded on gun time, not chip time, I make my way close to the front, near the 3:10 marathon aspirants, recalling the thrill of being the oldest woman in the 3:10 corral at the Chicago marathon in 2006.
Daylight is upon us with a mainly blue sky defying the predicted steady rain. I feel ready so let the party begin. Three, two, one and we are off . . . Hallelujah!
Listen to KD Lang sing Leonard Cohen’s HALLELUJAH at the opening ceremony for Olympics. Stunning!