We left around 1pm on Saturday to head to Kalamazoo. Kalamazoo is about a one hour ride from home, and we planned on staying the night in Kzoo so we didnt have to have quite as early of a start on Sunday morning. We headed right to the expo and packet pick up. I had my heart set on buying a official jacket from the race, and by the time we got to the expo things were pretty much picked over. Luckily enough after grabbing my packet, we headed over the running store in town that was selling the jackets/shirts/etc and I was able to score a sweet jacket :)
After that we drove around Kalamazoo a bit, and then headed to the hotel to check in and hang out for a bit before meeting up with friends for dinner. We stayed at The Four Points by Sheraton and it was a great hotel! Completely redone, very clean, and friendly staff. Fair prices too. ANYWHO. While at the hotel I got my stuff all situated for the morning so I felt a little prepared.
A bit after 5, we headed out to BDs Mongolian BBQ (LOVE THIS PLACE, I used to work at the Lansing location in college, and actually almost went into the management development program with them. Anywho...)
At Mongolian BBQ, we met up with Erika and Tim, and also Nicole and Sammy. Tim, Nicole and Sammy were all running the half on Sunday, and Erika (who I ran my 16 miler with) was currently sporting a boot due to some foot issues, and was planning on doing a walk/hobble for the 1/2 (She ended up finishing in under three hours...I think she was doin more than a hobble ;-) ).
After chowing down, Shane and I headed back to hotel, watched a little TV and I ended up falling asleep around 9:30ish.
My alarm went off a bit before 6am, and I got dressed, and ate a banana and 1/2 an english muffin. Erika and Tim were going to meet us at 6:45 and we would all ride in together, and have Shane drop us at the start (before he headed off to spectate :-D ). On the ride to the start, Erika gave me a red envelope that I knew immediately would make me cry. A little back story real quick here. Erika is the reason I started running. I watched her go from not running to running a marathon, and she just inspired me. She has pushed me through so many runs and taught me so much about this sport. Not only has Erika been a huge support, but she recently married a really great guy and got him into running, and he has been a huge support to me also. He ran the second 1/2 of my 20 miler with me, and is always up for talking running.
So I opened the card and this is what I saw:
Not only did those words make me cry (for the first of many times that day), she also included an amazing braclet that could not have been more perfect.
"Dreams become reality one choice at a time"
I immediately put it on, and knew that I would turn to it many times throughout the day.
Not long after that Shane dropped us off close to the start. We were able to hang out inside of the health center, use the bathroom and stay warm until the start.
Me and Erika before the start
The marathon was starting at 8am, and the half would start at 8:20. At this point, I was still unsure of what I was going to do. Was I going solo? Was I going with a pace group? And if so, what pace group? As I headed to the start I could not help but have numbers and goals rumbling around in my head, some of which were probably aiming a little high.
As the start time approached, I decided I would head out with the 5 hour pace group. This was the slowest pace group available. If there had been a 5:15 or 5:30 I would have been there. But there wasn't and so I went with 5:00.
Before I knew it, the national anthem was being sung, and then the gun went off.
The announcer said "You will all be marathoners" or something along those lines, and I cried for the second time of the day.
Tomorrow I will tackle writing about the actual miles. Thanks for getting through this crazy long post!