Thursday, January 12, 2012

2012 Olympic Trials Marathon: Thursday

39 Minutes of Running for 5-ish Miles
5 Strides

Compared to Wednesday, Thursday was much livelier and action packed because over 300 elite marathoners finally arrived in Houston to participate in the pre-race festivities. During an early morning breakfast, the Hospitality Suite was buzzing with all sorts of energy, and runners continued to come in, eager to eat. Obviously, I had been impressed with the Houston Marathon Committee from the treatment I received yesterday, but today showed just how much hard work and dedication these people committed to make this event one to remember for the athletes.  The food was always stocked full and there was always enough water and gatorade to feed a small army.

Since my entourage of support had yet to arrive and since Megan and Meagan were both on later flights, I had the morning to myself.  To pass the time, I settled myself at the hotel room desk, creating a makeshift workstation to finalize the decorations on my water bottles for the big race. I utilized the CRC stickers, hello kitty valentine stickers, and silver wands with stars on the end. As you can see, the final result came out much more "girly" than I actually am, but at least I won't confuse my bottle with the other 206 out there on the course.

By 10am, it was time for my massage and I was lucky enough to land the same guy who massaged me last year, Ed. He massaged my body for 45 minutes and it was quite possibly the best 45 minute massage I've ever gotten. I encouraged him to open his own practice so that he could solely work on athletes, which is where his true passion lies. I think that if I come back next year, he will have done so!

By eleven, my parents and high school coach Holda had completed their all night, fourteen hour drive from Carbondale, Illinois to the Hilton Americas Houston. I rushed them into dressing for a run with Rebecca and I, and we were out the door by 11:45am to run a couple of laps around Minute Maid Park and then for the first 2.2 miles of the course. Since Sunday, I'd been dealing with a sore throat and a nasty cold, but the run made me feel much better than when I had woken up, where my head just felt heavy and congested. The snot rockets I shot out of my nose during the run helped clear my system slightly, but my head was still heavy.

After my run, I didn't shower. Instead, I went to lunch, ran into Ruth at the very end, but had to leave her much too soon to meet Rebecca in the official merchandise tent. Rebecca and Corbett joined me while I bought a sweet Nike jacket and shirt with the Trials logo on it. Completely worth the $120 spent because I can show my grandkids in thirty years, and they will think I am much cooler than I actually am.

Mom and I in the hotel room, with the view of the Finish Line
Afterwards, since my parents and Holda were napping to gain some of the hours of sleep back that they had lost, the Thomasons and I plopped ourselves in the lobby to catch up...and to people watch / try not to stare at running celebrities like Kara, Desi, and Shalane. We admired their tiny, muscled legs and I debated whether or not my body could ever look that fit, and decided that it was unlikely, but was perfectly content with my conclusion. I'm here, after all. I may not be as fast as the stars, but I earned a spot to participate in Houston too and, as I realized this sitting in the lobby with Rebecca, an immense feeling of pride overcame me.  Pride not only for myself, but for all the other men and women who put in the hard work and dedication to be here this weekend.  Obviously, the majority of the people here are on a different level of elite than I am, but no matter where I finish tomorrow, it puts me on a list of the top US Marathoners for 2012.

By later afternoon, Meagan and Jordan still hadn't arrived, so Megan, Ben, Garrett, Mark Hadley and I all made our way over to the Elite Dining Tent to get some grub.  After parting ways with Rebecca, Athletes were only allowed to bring one guest to dinner, so my entourage of my family, Garrett's family and Holda had to dine without me.

The elite dining tent was a runners dream. There was a salad bar, followed by fifteen trays of heated food varying from quinoa, brown rice, white rice, steamed vegetables, black beans, whole wheat pasta, marinara sauce, meat sauce, and then your standard selection of meats. Once you moved past the heated food, you found an assortment of rolls, along with Udi's brand of gluten free breads.  Then there was a cookie stand, along with all bottled drinks except for alcohol (they are saving that for Saturday night).

Garrett and I at dinner
Megan and Ben at Dinner
The Charlotte crew of Megan, Ben, Mark, Garrett and I enjoyed conversation ranging from standard runner gossip to the latest updates in the CRC. I even waited around extra long to ensure that Meagan and Jordan arrived in time for food. If they hadn't, I was planning on filling up two plates with food to deliver to them.  Fortunately for them, they arrived in the nick of time.

After dinner, Garrett massaged Meagan's sore foot on my hotel bed before calling it a night.  We discussed our race strategy as we waited for Jordan to return from his run in the Mexican Barrio.  All in all, Meagan and I had to same race plan.  I figured if we didn't, then one of us would have compromised and met in the middle anyways.  Meagan even stated that no matter what, the plan should be for us to stick together through at least 18, and after that, it's every women for herself.

All in all, it was definitely a successful day, full of positive energy and countless reunions with other phenomenal runners. I've already seen so many women that I met along the way, and it was so inspiring to see them here, with the exact same excitement gleaming in their eyes as my own. I cannot express how grateful I was to have two close friends here to share the entire experience with because it makes it that much less intimidating and that much more exciting to share some of the same memories.


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