Sunday, March 23, 2014

WDW Marathon Weekend 2014 - Half Marathon Day, Part 1

3:14 am……..zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz  Dreaming about bees buzzing and kids blowing dandelion fuzz.

3:15…RINGRING!!!  My heart rate is around 355 as I try to figure out where the heck I’m at.

Thus begins the half marathon morning.

Steve was up and readying for Stage 1 of the Goofy Challenge.  I was going to be cheering today in the Magic Kingdom parking lot.  I chose this spot for two reasons: 1. I wanted to hopefully be at a slightly less-populous place after a longish stretch of not much entertainment; and 2. I had a 7:45 ADR at Kona CafĂ© to carbo load on some Tonga Toast!  While Steve got ready, I got dressed and started figuring out what all I was going to take with me since I was going to MK straight from breakfast.  I was taking the following with me:
  • DSLR camera and bag
  • Foldable Team AllEars sign
  • 2 (yes, TWO) TAE cowbells
  • iPhone for pics, texts giving me updates on where runners I’m following are at, WDW Lines (duh), etc.
  • packet of information that estimates when runners will pass my cheering spot
  • Magic Band (still getting used to it)
  • Baby Powder- doing everything possible to make sure there’s no chafing in the parks  No No, never never…na-a-ah (with apologies to Joe Taricani)
  • Resort room notepad – for autographs of Princesses to bring back to nieces
  • Enough money to live on for the next 10+ hours
This was a new experience for me.  I’m the anal-retentive type that is out at the bus stop at 3:00 for the first bus to make absolutely sure that I’m at the staging area in time.  Steve is a little more low-key.  He promised me that we’d be okay if we made it to the bus stop by 3:30 and would have plenty of time in the staging area.
We were out the door at 3:31, and, within 5 minutes, our bus to the Epcot parking lot is rolling in.

Yeah, I learned to trust the travel agent this morning.

The bus filled up before making it to the last stop in Caribbean Beach.  To my relief, it appeared that staff members were there and were radioing for more buses to stop at the last stop first in order to collect those left behind.  On our way to Epcot, the entire bus had a nervous-yet-oh-so-excited energy buzzing.  This is one of those memories that I love thinking back on…that feeling that a runner experiences in the hours leading up to a big race.  I wasn’t even running this one, but I was feeling it!

We arrived at the drop-off around 3:55-4:00 and began the trek to the early-morning party.  New this year was a full bag check (even water belts were checked) – a reminder that we weren’t too far removed from Boston.  Luckily, they had a dozen or more staff checking bags, so the line moved rather quickly.  I was really getting excited to make it to the meet-up area for the Team as it was like another reunion.  Sure enough, the sea of blue from both Team AllEars and the WDW Radio Running Team (nearby) came into focus as we neared our spot.

I could feel the smile forming.

I saw soooooo many friends and gave/received tons of hugs.  I also got to meet a few teammates for the first time in-person, though we had conversed online a ton (Eddie, Mike, Alex, Rich, Joe, Kim, and many more!).  In what seemed like no time at all, it was time for the group picture.  I’ll admit that it felt weird being on the spectator/photographer side of the picture…every other time I had been here, I was running the half.  A few tried to get me to hop in the pic, but I refused to in deference to those running today.

After the pic, I looked over at Lou Mongello’s crew to see if fellow ISU Alum, Disney freak, and runner Katie McNamara was nearby.  I saw her briefly, but everybody was starting to break up to head to the corrals, so I wasn’t able to finally say “HI!!!”  I decided to make it a priority to look for her when she ran by me at the MK lot.

The runners started their cattle herd trek to the corrals, while I teamed up with Amanda Gonzalez, who was going to be cheering at the TAE spot on the Tomorrowland bridge just past the hub.  I didn’t have the opportunity to talk to her much at the 2012 race weekend, so I had a blast catching back up with her on the walk to the monorail station.  As we headed up the ramp, we were both surprised to see Julia Mascardo waiting at the ramp landing.  Julia’s husband, Irwin, was running the half today with TAE, and she was going to head to the Tomorrowland ramp with Amanda.  This was a pleasant surprise, and the three of us chatted the entire monorail ride to the TTC.  We said our goodbyes as we parted ways to different cheering sections.

Most people were heading to jump on the express monorail to the MK entrance, but there were a few of us heading out to cheer at the TTC or the MK parking lot.  We staked out our respective cheering locations, dropped our gear, and then met back near the middle of the lot.  We talked about how the weekend was going, what races we had done or were doing, and how flipping annoying that “Caution runners…course narrows…please watch your step.  Caution runners…course narrows…please watch your step. Caution runners…course…” recording was getting to be.   After about 10-15 minutes, I noticed a police officer not too far from where I had my camera bag and sign, so I decided to head back to my location for fear of them confiscating my camera.

All of us cheering were curious how fast the corrals would be released, especially with the rather long intervals between corrals the previous day at the 10K.  We heard the first crack of the firecrackers and had a debate on whether it was the wheelchair wave or the elites.  Soon after came the next BOOM, and we all started our timers to check the interval.  Another BOOM about 2 minutes later, and we all started smiling – they shortened the interval!  I was definitely feeling a sense of relief because that meant I would be on the course earlier than anticipated, which meant more time running before the sun came up.  While waiting, I texted Brian Swann to verify what corral he was in.  He knew where I was going to be standing, and he let me know what he was wearing, so we had no excuse if we didn’t see each other.
I made sure the Team AllEars sign was positioned in the barricade so that it wouldn’t blow away. I pulled out both cowbells and scanned the slowly arriving cheerers for the right person to give my extra cowbell to.  A boy about my older son’s age was about 50 feet away, and he had a brother that looked to be 3-4 years younger.  I made sure I had the cowbell clang a bit to see if they took interest, which they did.  That made my decision easy.  The cowbell was offered, and the younger boy immediately wanted it from the older boy.

It’s so much funnier when it’s not YOUR children doing it!

The older boy didn’t put up too much of a fight as he fell asleep soon afterward.

Before we knew it, it was time to start channeling my inner Christopher Walkin and making sure that the area needed more cowbell.  I started ringing it when I saw the bikes that were escorting the first athlete approach.  The first wheelchair racer flew by, followed by several more.  A few minutes later, we saw the first elite runner sprinting past us; it seemed unreal that someone could be maintaining that pace, but he was, and he showed no signs of being too tired, despite the extreme humidity.  The first female runner passed by soon afterward, also holding a really strong pace.
I made sure the cowbell was constantly ringing as I looked at my chart of when the first Team AllEars member was estimated to pass by.  Bryan Camphouse was expected to be the first one, and, as the estimated time drew near, I saw him round the the exact time that Dave Aulen anticipated he’d pass me.  That was scary!  I hi-fived Bryan as he passed, and, though a little hot, he said he was doing well.

The cowbell continued its nonstop ringing as the volume of runners increased.  I saw a couple of other Teammates, including our own wheelchair athlete, Ed Russell.  I missed a couple from the Team passing by, unfortunately, as the crowds really got dense.  I noticed several groups from the Team on the other side of the path, so I’m guessing that some of them may have slipped by on the other side.  I was also helping a women standing next to me who was trying to find her husband; he was supposed to be passing by at any time.  I helped her find him and even startled him when I shouted out his name about 100 feet away (much to the delight of his wife).

I knew Brian was arriving soon, so I really started focusing on people that looked like him.  A couple of minutes later, I saw someone with the same color shirt that Brian was wearing looking at me…same build as Brian.  Wow…if that guy didn’t have a beard, he might pass for Bri….waaaaait a minute!!  
He slowed to a walk and then stopped for a quick second to talk…a little sore and definitely hot (especially with that beard).  We agreed to try meeting up later on during the weekend if the timing worked, and he was on his way to the TTC.  A few minutes later, I saw a familiar face with a WDW Radio shirt on.  She saw me as soon as I saw her, and she screamed, “MUUUUSSSHH!!!!!”  Granted, I was screaming “KAAAATIIIEEEEEEEE!!!!” right back at her as she jogged up to where I was.  Remember, Katie and I had never met in-person until now.  We gave each other a big hug and talked for a quick second (hot and thirsty, but felt good).
I knew a couple of big groups from the Team was set to pass by, so I wasn’t too worried about missing them.  Sure enough, they had a heads-up with the cowbell, and though many were on the other side of the path, we saw each other and  gave each other a shout-out.  A couple of them were recording as they ran, and Dave Aulen caught me as he passed (about 1:45 into the video):

(Video Courtesy of Dave and Holly Aulen)

Right behind that group was another bunch of Team Allearsians.  Pam Harris went by with a huge smile on her face.  I went to check my chart to see who else might be nearby, and fumbled with it as I tried getting it back into my pocket.  When I looked up, Stan was staring right at me.

At least it wasn’t Tom Troost.

Wait…Tom’s right next to him.


For those who are new to my Marathon Weekend escapades, Tom and I have a running joke (no pun intended) (okay, maybe it was intended) about being on the phone during a race.  I was trying to clear out old texts from my flip phone during my first half because I was expecting a message from Sheri sometime soon.  As I’m doing this, Tom passes me and hollars, “Put..down..the phone…...and RUN!” Fast forward to the 2012 Marathon Weekend.  After the half, I was leaving the Mexico Pavilion (yeah, I was at La Cava del Tequila) and was coordinating a meet up with Jay Griffith.  Sure enough, as I left the Temple and paused to reply to a message from Jay, I looked up to see Tom, Molly, and their 2 daughters coming up the stairs.  Both of us just shook our heads and busted up laughing.  Now it’s the 2014 Marathon Weekend, and I’m again messing with something (this time it was the time chart, but I had my phone in my hand) right as Tom comes by.  Thus, the aforementioned DAMN!  I just hollered something like, “I GIVE UP!!” at him.

The volume of runners remained high for quite a while, and there were still several Team AllEars members running by.  Instead of me getting pics of the runners, Jill Bent stopped running to snap a pic of me cheering in a funny twist of fate.  I loved it!

(Photo Courtesy of Jill Moore Bent)

Eventually, the number of runners slowed down.  A few of the runners were trying to get high-fives from the cheerers on the sidelines.  I put my hand up, and I think it stayed up for about 20 minutes straight as everyone clapped it as they went by.  Yeah, they were mostly sweaty-fives, but so what?!  I swapped the cowbell to the other hand every few minutes to keep my high-five hand from falling off.  The number of people cheering was dwindling as many left after they saw their runners pass by.  Soon, I was the only one in a span of over 100 feet.  My ADR time was getting near, and I had a good 8-10 minute walk to get from my location to the Polynesian.  I decided to take my chance and stay out there for a while longer.  Those near the back seemed to really appreciate having people out there cheer for them, and they LOVED the cowbell (tons of “More Cowbell” jokes).  A couple of them asked if I wanted to switch places with them.
Then I saw them for the first time ever.

The Balloon ladies.

The Balloon ladies maintain the minimum required pace to continue on the course.  If you fall behind them, it means you are over a 16:00 pace from the moment the last runner crossed the start line, and you are at risk of being swept off the course (and, subsequently, not allowed to finish the race).  They walked/jogged by, and I then watched the runners behind them.
Yeah, I was going to stay out there a little longer…especially since there were but a handful of cheerers remaining in the long stretch from where I stood all the way to the TTC.  This is one of the great things that Team AllEars was renowned for…we cheered for everyone, and we were some of the last ones out there cheering!  Team Allears cheerer and friend Laura Smith Ozo has a sign on her "thingimajig" that says something like, "I'm more impressed at the last 100 runners than the first 100".  These runners continued to progress through the race, one step at a time.  Some runners were in pain.  Others had resigned to the fact that they were not going to be able to finish.  Many were trying to muster up some energy to continue on.  The runners were getting sparse, but, as one got close to me, I started that cowbell back up and tried to encourage them a little bit.  One had a pretty significant limp, and he said he was looking for a medical tent/table.  About 2 minutes later, one of the staff members on a bike came by, and I let him know about the runner up ahead a bit.  I knew of one member of Team AllEars that I had not seen pass by, and I was starting to fear an injury or a sweep.  This runner stopped at a medical tent about a quarter mile before my location, so I never had the chance to see her go by.

I was past my ADR time, and I knew I was going to be about 10-15 minutes late even if I left now.  The number of runners had dwindled to about 2-3 per minute, and, after a few more minutes, I looked back as far as I could down the course and saw just a couple more, spaced pretty far apart.  I packed my things up and slowly walked along the course towards the TTC to allow those last couple of runners to go by me.  Eventually, I made the turn towards the Poly and, as I always do, I made a bad decision on which path to take to get to the Longhouse quickly.  Eventually (definition: FINALLY), I made it in and was ready for some carbs!

...Continued HERE

Thursday, March 6, 2014

WDW Marathon Weekend 2014 - PreTrip (Part I, Chapter 1, Subsection B)

Day 1, Part 1 can be found HERE.

Now all I had to do was be healthy and hope the weather was okay…


As every runner knows, the smallest ache/sniffle/cough sends one into an absolute panic in the last two weeks before a long run.  I was no exception.  I was back on the NSAID making sure that the foot was going to survive the marathon, and I felt like I was playing chicken with my foot and running.  I did ultimately get two more runs in before the race inside the rec center.

As every runner knows, the slightest change in the weather patterns at the race site sends one into an absolute panic that last 10 days before a long run.  I was no exception.  I knew that the forecasts lost accuracy anything more than 48 hours out, but I still found myself checking every hour or two for a hopeful one or two degree decrease in the forecasted high on the marathon.

I should have been worried more about the more immediate weather patterns here at home in the days before the race.  5 days before I was to leave, we got hit with a strong winter storm, ice, and the first edition of the polar vortex hit us with -15 to -20 temps and -40s for the wind chill.  Across the nation, people heading down for Marathon Weekend were in a dead panic trying to deal with canceled flights.

Taking Team AllEars Captain Mike Scopa’s advice from my first marathon weekend, I started backing up my wake-up times to prepare for the (VERY) early times needed for Marathon Weekend.  I watched as most everyone who was running Dopey started heading down on Tuesday and Wednesday.  Local Teammates Stan and Pam Harris had their flights canceled, so they made the decision to drive down.  Teammate Dave Dunkowski was in a bind with canceled flights out of Buffalo and a reported earliest departure after the 5K on Thursday.  Luckily, he was able to make it to Rochester and get a flight out to make it for all 4 races.  A lot of this was done in the wee hours of the morning, when I was the only one up in the house.

Thursday morning involved last-minute packing and final work on the boys’ pinewood derby cars.  Their derby was Saturday…the same day as my wife’s birthday…when I was going to be down in Florida…and they were in sub-freezing temps…during the absolute busiest time of her job when she really can’t afford to take any time off.  As you read this, most likely my name is still Mud.  I watched the 5K results come in via Twitter and Facebook and couldn’t wait to get down there…

…there was one additional problem, though.  The forecast for our area had freezing rain when I was supposed to be leaving.  I was working on contingency plans in case my plane couldn’t arrive the night before.  I breathed a HUGE sigh of relief when I saw the flight had departed Atlanta that night.  It meant that, unless there was a diversion, there would be a plane for me in the morning.

The weather in Florida was looking pretty good…hot Friday and Saturday, but cooling for the race on Sunday.  I changed the clothes in my suitcase about 30 times, much to the delight of Sheri (who usually is packed 4 months in advance of an upcoming trip and would have already included ¾ of our wardrobe). 
I made some last tweaks to my schedule and realized that I was completely booked the entire weekend!   

Here is the arrival day schedule:

  • Depart BMI, arrive ATL
  • Depart ATL, arrive MCO
  • Magical Express to CBR…meet up with my room-mate, Steve Cantafio (friend, MEI agent, and fellow Team AllEars member)
  • Packet Pick-up and Expo – hope the timing’s right to meet Rudy Novotny and Joe Taricani
  • Head off-site for supper/party with the Nerd Herd at "the Nerdery"
  • Back on-site to the Contemporary Resort for a quick drink with former students of mine who were getting married that weekend.
  • Back to CBR to unpack and collapse.

(Yep…zero down-time…that’s how I roll!)

Friday morning came…DEPARTURE DAY!!!  I, of course, was up 1.5 hours before I needed to be for my flight (thanks, Scopa).  I tried to stay as quiet as I could to not wake up anyone (especially Wifey, who was (rightfully so) getting more surly at my impending departure and her arrival into single-parenthood). 

Does anyone else have the problem where, when you try to be as quiet as possible, you end up making more noise than a B1-B Lancer doing a full afterburner takeoff?

I checked my bags one last time to figure out what I forgot, hopped in the car around 4:15 am, and pulled out of the garage.

When I pulled into the parking lot at the Central Illinois Regional Airport, I couldn’t help but notice that my fuel mileage indicator was at 26.2…foreshadowing?  Everyone’s favorite shuttle driver Marv was waiting for me behind the car…a short 2 minute ride to the terminal, and I was in warmer weather!  I immediately headed for the bathroom and changed out of jeans and into shorts (I didn’t want to die, or worse, chafe in Florida when I arrived).

I/we left on a Thursday for the last two Marathon Weekends.  This year, with the addition of the 10K and Dopey Challenge, the vast majority of people headed down on Tuesday/Wednesday.  I left on Friday, and I think I was one of only 2 people on the BMI-ATL flight heading down for the races.  In fact, I was one of only 3 people on the entire plane! 

Okay…so I may have been a bit early. 

I always like getting there early to avoid crowds, give me time to run home when I realize I forgot something, etc.  Sheri (as is often the case) couldn’t go back to sleep after I left, so we texted a few times, argued on FB, and played Words With Friends (typical marriage, right?).  One of the funniest FB posts I got while waiting was from Holly Aulen, who simply said, “Hurry up and get here!”  While I was waiting, I got to read all the 10K posts and saw all the pics…I was really starting to get antsy to get down there!

 The flight was about 80% full, and there were no problems getting to ATL, though we did the standard touring of the entire airfield after landing on 9L.  Eventually we made it to the gate, and I rushed off to try nabbing a standby seat for an earlier flight.  One flight was already at 100% with a significant waitlist, so I bypassed that and shot for the next one.  I was one of the first to get on the standby list, but my priority was low, and I ended up get bumped lower and lower as more requested it.  I had time, so I grabbed a snack; two people working and two customers asked if I was a radio announcer with my voice (Michelle Scribner-MacLean would love hearing that).  I had one of the Team AllEars cowbells in my camera case, and it was clanging with every step I took…some of the looks I got from people in the terminal were classic!  Yeah, I might have stopped and started a couple more times than I needed to…just to get that bell making noise.
I made it back to the gate and watched.  I knew I was a long shot, but  I had one thing going for me, though: I was a single, and a number of people ahead of me were in groups of 4-5.  As they cleared the standby list, I got up to 11th, and a call for a party of 5 that they called for didn’t show up to claim it. Up to 5th, with a party of three and a party of 2 not on board yet………aaaaaaand the party of 2 showed up. 

I was that close.

Okay…so ended up on the flight I was scheduled for.  This flight had a much higher percentage of Marathon Weekend people, many first-timers.  Most had no idea what corral they might be in, so I helped them try to figure it out.  A bunch had never used Magical Express, so I told them what to expect.  They all agreed to just follow me off the plane.

The flight was uneventful…I listened to a little bit of one of the Marathon Show episodes and a couple of Mickey Miles Podcast shows enroute.  As we started our approach, I could tell that we were landing south.  Being an avid aviation freak, and having flown into MCO a number of times, I knew this was a best-case scenario.  First off, we didn’t have to circle around to land north (usually 36R).  Second, I knew the taxi to the gate was going to be about 5 minutes shorter.  Yeah, I’m channeling my inner Jay Griffith here (Jay is a fellow Disney and running enthusiast who happens to have the job I dreamed of for years…he’s a pilot for Delta Connection.  He’ll show up again in the report later).

My entourage and I departed the plane, and, after making sure that nobody had to hit the restroom (you NEVER do the restroom by the gates…you get on the tram ASAP before everyone else does), we hopped on the just-arriving tram to the main terminal and blew past everyone at warp speed.  Down the escalators…down more escalators…and into an open elevator.  BAM!!!  We were on the lower level in no-time.  Those of us with Magic Bands bid those without the bands adieu.   Now for the big test…will the magic band work?

I placed it on the Mickey post….aaaaaaaannnnnd..........nothing.


Granted, the other person from the entourage in line with the band also had problems.  We were both directed to a cast member who linked up the reservation and ticket to the band, and it worked without a hitch.  The funny thing, though, is that the group of us who didn’t even have Magical Express tickets ended up beating us to the buses. 

I hopped on the good bus, and we were on our way.  We stopped at several resorts first, including Yacht and Beach Clubs…I talked to a couple from Chicago about the races and Team AllEars…they were impressed with the Team and said they would look for us on the course.  FINALLY I make it to the Custom House...about 1 hour and 40 minutes from taxiing to the gate at MCO to the check-in area of CBR.  I didn’t even have to check in as Steve had already been there a night, so I went straight to the internal bus queue. About 10 minutes later, I tested out the Magic Band for real (Magical Express was just a test, right?), and IT WORKED!!! 

Steve was awesome enough to grab some miscellaneous paraphernalia for me from one of the main organizers of Team AllEars, Melanie Camphouse at a meet-up the night before.  Granted, I only looked for a moment, because Steve and I had plans to get to the expo and packet pickup quickly so we could make it to the Nerdery.  We made our way out to the bus stop, and the Expo transportation was there within 5 minutes (cool!).  We caught up on everything over the past couple of years as we made our way to the ESPN Wide World of Sports.  We grabbed our stuff, and, when I looked at the bib for the first time…

…what I was about to attempt really hit me.  I always had a running joke on Facebook (bad pun…I know), where, as the race got closer, I’d make “holycrapholycrapholycrap…” posts.  When I posted the pic of the bib, I included another round of holycraps.  That elicited a flurry of responses, both excited and mentoring.  Gordon Harvey again gave some awesome advice: “dude… when I got my bib for my first I called my friend/coach and said "wth am I doing!? These people here look like real runners!" and she said: "take a breath. YOU are a runner. YOU will do this."  Then he immediately followed with, “Hey Chris: YOU WILL DO THIS!”

Gordon…you rock, man!

We headed over to the HP Center and looked around the expo for a while.  I knew I was already nearly at capacity for storage, so I resisted the urge to buy a ton of stuff.  I remember reading dozens of race reports about how brutal the sun could be during the last half, so I broke down and bought a visor (and cursed myself for not getting a Team AllEars one when good friend Tom Troost was selling them).  My goal was to see if Rudy Novotny (we heard him but didn’t see him) and/or The Marathon Show’s Joe Taricani was around (Joe didn’t arrive until Saturday).  After about 15-20 minutes of browsing (and contemplating getting a pic with the Chiquita Banana girl), we headed upstairs, where Bart Yasso was part of a panel talking about running (kewl).  Steve got a text from Nerd Christine about wondering how to tell when the Portuguese chorizo was done (for the cookout).  The pervert in me gave a response that had Steve nearly in tears, but he didn’t relay it to Christine for some reason.

Steve and I exited the Expo and grabbed a cab to head to the Nerdery for the cookout.  It taxed the GPS, but it actually was pretty close to the Sherberth Road access into WDW.  For those who have stayed in an All-Star Vacation resort, the Nerdery was in the same area.  We went through security (they took it seriously there!) and arrived.

Now, I need to pause for a second to bring you up to speed on the Nerd Herd.  This crazy group started off as an off-shoot of Team AllEars members who continue to raise money to fight cancer. Their recipient organization is  Last year’s virtual racing series brought in a fantastic amount for StupidCancer…the fundraising was far more successful than any member had anticipated (W00T!!).  When they were planning for Marathon Weekend 2014, they priced out options and found that renting a large vacation house off-site was the most economical way to go (read HERE for more information).  I was invited to stay at the Nerdery early on, but the initial plan was to have the entire Mushfam down for the weekend, so I passed.

I knew most of the nerds there, though there was a member or two that had I not yet met.  I hadn’t seen most of these folks in nearly 2 years, and I was really excited to catch up with them!  There was another reason, though.  Fellow Central Illinoisian Sara Rhodes had one of the most emotional days of her life on Thursday after the 5K.  I’ll let the Nerds’ post on their site recap it as it was done very well.  As I watched (on Facebook) the balloon hand-out to the kids to honor Sara’s cousin, Cale, I had allergies starting to hit me.  That was an amazing gesture! 

Oh, and, yes, I’m a nerd again this year with their 2014 virtual racing series (like there was any doubt).
Back to Florida and the Nerdery…we run in, and immediately Mike Paxton is there to give me the first of a plethora of hugs from people.  Team Heller-Yeah (Jeff and Erika), Garf (Brad), Jamison and April, Joelle (Mike’s wife), Erinn, Ermagerd Christine, Julie, and, of course, newly-engaged Sara and Jack, were all there, along with Christina (who I didn’t get much of a chance to talk to, unfortunately).  Several members from the team were also there…I’m afraid to try naming them all, because I know I’d forget one or two.  Tim & Dan, Lee & Laura, and Dave & Nancy (and the rest who I forgot) hung out for quite a while – it was great seeing everyone!!  I haven’t laughed that hard in a looooong time!  The food was great, and many, many beers were offered my way.  I passed on both the beef and the beer to avoid a potential gout attack less than 36 hours before the race.  I loaded up on chicken, fruit, chips, and water.

As the evening went on, I realized that there would be no way that I would be able to make it back on-site to meet up at the Contemp with my former students who were about to get married.  I fired off a quick message via Facebook to them and apologized for not being able to make it (about 45 minutes before we were supposed to meet).  They were completely fine with it – I think they were already a little exhausted.

The pool was starting to hop, and I intentionally left my swimsuit packed at the Caribbean Beach Resort.  Wait…no...strike that.  I’m not saying I was going au naturale.  I just wasn’t in a swimming mood, and I didn’t want to have the hot tub filter get clogged up when I jumped in.  I did have the opportunity to meet a newer Teammate, Brian Thompson, and his wife, Laura, as a group of us conversed around the table.  Their story is another one of those very inspirational ones, and they recently completed their first races on Thursday.   

Congrats, my friends!!

I could have stayed at the Nerdery until morning, but I knew that both Steve and I had to get at least a little sleep.  Steve was attempting the Goofy Challenge for the first time…for those not attuned to Marathon Weekend-speak, the Goofy Challenge is 39.3 miles…a half-marathon on Saturday and a full on Sunday.  Steve called for a cab, but Mike offered to take us back instead.  The cab was canceled (but he still showed up), and we got to talk with Mike for quite a while on the way back to the resort.  We bid Mike adieu and got ready for tomorrow.  Steve and I come from the same mold…we threw SportsCenter on and turned on the sleep timer!

Tomorrow is cheering day for the half!