Friday morning, February 18th, found me restless and out of bed 7:15. For the past three nights I'd dreamed crazy anticipatory dreams, all tinged with doom. I dreamed I'd lost earrings. I dreamed we got to the race and couldn't find a place to park no matter how long we looked. Yes, it was time to do this thing. My suitcase was packed, and I was ready to get going. I had done all I could to prepare, and I was ready to find out what I was made of.
By ten o'clock, I was leaded up on thick coffee. The dishes were done, we'd taken a family walk, and my bags were out on the porch. Around 10:20, a gray Prius pulled into the drive, and I got to meet walking Coach Cathy for the first time. We'd been e-mailing a bit, and I already had the idea that she had a great sense of humor. She'd warned me that she drove slowly; I'd written back that as long as I didn't have to feed her goldfish crackers and wipe apple juice off her chin, she could drive as slow as she wanted to. A few minutes before her arrival, she texted me not to forget the goldfish and apple juice. Yes, we were going to get along fine.
Also riding along with us was another new friend to me, Easterlan Rumer. Myrtle Beach was going to be a “first” for both of us—only she was walking the full-marathon. And I, I was secretly hoping to come away from this race a runner. After nearly six weeks of power-walking and resting my knee, I had started to feel stronger again. I'd gradually worked back to running by alternating power-walking with running in intervals, and in the final week of training, I was running strong three and four miles at a time. I was going to try to run.
Soon, the bags were loaded. I had kissed Wade and my little people. Now came the adventure. In the hours that followed, Cathy, Easterlan, and I visited, laughed, and talked about the race. The weather was beautiful, and unlike last year's MB marathon that was canceled due to snow, we were supposed to have a gorgeous day in which to sweat! By the time we drove over the city limits, I was extremely excited about everything to come. Enthusiasm replaced all the anxiousness that I had felt over the past weeks.
When we arrived, it should be noted that no nightmare was allowed to creep into our adventure. We promptly found parking. I had left all my earrings at home, so that I could not lose one. Our first destination was the runner's convention, and I was about to get an education. I learned about sweat-wicking clothing and headbands; I learned about enery drinks, gels, and chews; I learned about cast away hand warmers; I learned about runner's socks and body glide. I learned that I was runner 4775.
We left the convention officially registered for the next day's event. We had our race bibs, our timing chips, our shirts, and our free Myrtle Beach towels. With our luggage now increased, we checked into the Sheraton and found our rooms. Cathy and Easterlan were on the 8th floor, and I was on the 9th. Off to meet my roommate, Larissa!
I was the first one to arrive in the room, but Larissa was only about five minutes behind me. She was a very pleasant person, about my age, and also running the half-marathon for the first time. She was in Myrtle Beach with family, but wanted to stay with the group in the hotel. We both had just enough time to get settled, before heading off to the Team-in-Training Pasta Party!
What a racket greeted us! All the mentors and coaches were standing in the doorway of the Ballroom blowing whistles and clanging cowbells. They were already cheering us on! The room was dim-lit and comfortable, and we were seated at round tables that made getting to know folks easy. We got to sit with the Landreth family, and I enjoyed getting to see Caden again. Her father was running his first marathon the next day, and he was also the inspirational speaker.
Back at the room, my belly was full (maybe a little TOO full), and I started to lay out my clothes for the next day. We would have to be up EARLY, so I didn't want to have to think too hard about what needed to be done before I headed to the lobby to meet the group. I tried on my new socks and pants, and I experimented with different layers of clothing. I hooked my race bib and my MP3 player to my light-weight belt. I laid out my gloves, my headband, and my sunglasses. I read a few chapters of the Psalms and thanked God for bringing me to this point.
I was as ready as I was ever going to be, so I crawled into bed and fluffed the pillow. About that time, Cathy sent me a “Goodnight John Boy” text, so I knew they were headed to bed as well. It was 9:30. As I drifted to sleep, I felt like I was a part of something really good, with a lot of good people, for a really good reason. Now that's the way to drift off on the night before the big race.