|After the power was restored; before I lost my glove|
I made my way to the bus pick-up line, scanning the area for two ladies I was trying to meet up with, Kristi and Kris. I'd connected with both of them via social media -- one amazing part of this marathon PR-chasing journey has been meeting amazing women like these two from all over the country who I wouldn't have met otherwise. Coordinating meeting in the dark at an unfamiliar location with hundreds of buses and thousands of runners when you don't have cell phones is not easy! By some miracle I spotted Kristi, and went to the back of the bus line with her so we could sit together.
When we boarded the bus I realized I was missing something: the glove on my right hand. Before I exited the car, I put my phone on Do Not Disturb mode since my dad was going to hold it while I raced, and I hadn't put my glove back on after taking it off to use my phone! I planned to start the race in gloves (until I got warm and threw them off), but I could only laugh about this, and be thankful that it was 44* and not 20*!
Kristi and I chatted the whole ride up, and I really enjoyed her, plus it took my mind off what I was about to try to do. She is such a kind person and also so humble about her achievements. I drank two scoops of vanilla Generation Ucan mixed with almond milk on the bus ride up (I also managed to lose my shaker cup somewhere), and she ate Ucan pudding. Ucan, you can sponsor us anytime!
When the buses arrived at the starting area, we went into a nearby gas station in lieu of sitting on the bus so we could stand and stay looser. In the gas station I met some of Kristi's teammates and their coach Susan, who I had also connected with via social media (it's amazing how once you have this public 2:45 goal you end up connecting with so many women with similar goals, and for that reason I am glad I made mine public). One of the men with the team was not going to start his race in his gloves, so I acquired black gloves to start in -- not as cute as my pink ones, but I was so thankful for him, because at 44* I will race in a crop but I sure like having light gloves.
We calculated when we wanted to go outside and begin warming up down to the minute (because no one wants to stand around in a race crop at 44*), and around 6:35 a.m. we headed outside. The race organizers did a really good job with signs and making it very clear where you went for everything (gear check, bathrooms, the starting line, etc.); at Phoenix I would have been really lost from the buses if I hadn't been with a man who had run the race before -- so kudos, CIM! I checked my bag but kept on a throw-away long sleeve shirt from a road race circa 1993. Kristi and I had different warm-up routines so separated with plans to meet back in the elite corral. Kris and I spotted each other for the first time in the elite corral. She had reached out to me a couple of weeks before the race and asked me about my race plan and if I wanted to work together, and I was so thankful she did because not only is she a super talented runner but she is a super sweet person.
I was only about halfway through my warm-up routine when the starter announced that he needed all of the elites in the corral 10 minutes early -- in 3 minutes! I had to quickly prioritize, and peeing one more time was the top priority, so I headed into the woods along with several like-minded ladies. I ended up laughing so hard because here are 20+ women who have never before met, decked out in professional racing gear, dropping shorts/buns to pee beside each other like it's completely normal. There were separate men's and women's starting corrals on opposite sides of the road, which was extra helpful for this situation! I got back to the corral in time, and positioned myself near Kris and Kristi. I looked around for Jamie but didn't see her. I started worrying that she was missing the start, since I knew she was getting dropped off there, and road closures and traffic were crazy. I saw several women I knew or knew of, including Carrie, Courtney, and of course Sara Hall, who was positioned on the front line. I was in awe that I was in this group of fast women, but for maybe the first time in a real elite corral, I didn't feel like an impostor (in the elite corral at Rock 'n' Roll Arizona, I'd sure felt like I did not belong).
As the final countdown began, I took off my long sleeve shirt and tossed it to the man collecting discarded clothing, and he caught my perfect throw right on! I felt so excited to put my training to the test, and ready to execute my pace plan: starting with two miles at 6:25 and then dropping to 6:20-6:22. Just 26.2 miles stood between me and the possibility of a new PR!