When I woke up in the middle of the night because I had dreamt I was choking on a Donald Duck egg, I had no idea it was a foreshadowing of things to come. I just thought it was weird. I mean, I don’t even think Donald Duck CAN lay eggs.
I managed to find my way back to sleep, although unable to turn my middle of the night mom ears off (the ones that can identify the whether my 4 year old is getting out of bed or just rolling over by the sound of her sheets), it wasn’t the only time I woke up. There was a change in the sound of the air conditioning, the mysterious cracking noise of a plastic water bottle, but surprisingly, not so much as a peep from the dog across the hall which was probably in his best interest as I had pretty much decided earlier in the day that I was going to take that yippy little sucker out if he so much as sniffed a little too loudly and wrecked my night before the marathon slumber (JUST KIDDING!!! I love dogs).
Despite only sleeping in short bursts, I was happily rested at 5AM and thoroughly excited. Even more so when my husband knocked on the door just a few minutes later. He had slept in the suite with our girls and my parents to spare me from a night of nasal symphony and had gotten himself up at 4:30AM to head over to the start with me and my brother-in-law (Muffin Man) who’d be running, and my sister (RunSis) who would not be, as part of the support crew. But I didn’t think he’d be coming to the race until later in the day. I was thrilled to see him, but even more thrilled that he was short on chit chat and then ushered himself straight down to the lobby to wait so as not to distract me from the task at hand, getting ready. (Yep, he scored big brownie points that weekend).
That 1/2 hour getting ready flew by and felt like just a few minutes. Before I knew it, I was in the car headed to the race. Traffic was sparse until we got closer to the Air Force Museum where the race would be starting. We knew we were there because it looked like this: That’s from our car. Air Force Marathon. Air Force Base. Air Force Runway right? Nope. That’d be traffic. The line to get in the parking lot. Wait…did I say THE line. I meant ONE of the lines. Not even the line we were in.
They tell you in all the race information to get to the race 1 1/2 hours at least before the start (start at 7:15AM). Well, I am here to tell you that is GROSSLY inaccurate. If they say the gate opens at 5AM, get there at 5AM. We were there 1 3/4 hours early and well…you’ll find out in a second.
So needless to say perhaps, but we waited…and waited…and waited. The longer we waited. The hotter (as in angry, not devilishly good looking although he is certainly a handsome fellow) Muffin Man got. After waiting in line for close to 40 minutes, we were FINALLY only a few cars away from the point where we’d make a left hand turn to get in another short line which entered the parking lot, but I saw this dude on a golf cart ride up which I dutifully announced. Now all three of my compatriots teased me a little for my play by play, but my reason for announcing the arrival of golf cart man was that I knew with near certainty that his appearance on scene could not be good. What purpose could golf cart man possibly serve? There was already an Airman directing traffic. We needed not another one and definitely not one with the golf cart privileges. It could only mean one thing and one thing alone…traffic patterns were about to change.
And I was right. No more left turns. “Follow those cars,” golf cart man ordered which introduced me to an entirely new side of Muffin Man I’d never met before, yet all the while in the back seat all I wanted to do was laugh. It really wasn’t funny. I mean, we really truly were now in serious danger of missing the marathon start, but I’m just that kind of person. Sometimes when it’s highly inappropriate, I just can barely contain myself from laughing. What else am I going to do?
We followed those cars to a different gate, to wait in another line to make another left turn that this time wasn’t thwarted by a golf cart, but then still had to wait in yet ANOTHER line once we were inside the gate to park. (Have I lost you on all the lines and waiting yet? Yes, it was that confusing.) You can imagine I’m sure, how at this point we’d had it and we weren’t the only ones. Everybody had. So finally, some (probably enraged) marathon runner, took matters into his (or her) own hands and just pulled right out of line and parked in the open field immediately next to us. We and many many others followed suit. Opting instead to walk to the start wherever it may be. (Turns out w e were actually parked in the field they were parking people in. They were just trying to do it in a somewhat orderly, yet extremely slow fashion from the point nearest the start out. Still, I’m glad we didn’t wait. See how I’m smiling and happy to be out of the car).
We walked for a good 10 minutes, when Muffin Man spotted some port-a-potties. Rookie marathoner that he is (Yep, Muffin Man. Like I told my sister, I’m totally blaming this part on you) even though the lines we’re pretty long, he thought he’d better get in one to…well really, do I need to explain that much?
Me with all my race experience however, did not think stopping at this point was a good idea. We still had only a vague idea of where the start was and couldn’t yet see it. And at a race as big as this one, there had to be more potties, probably lots more, a little bit closer. Plus, we’d be able to hear the announcements if we were closer. If push came to shove we could just skip the potties altogether and hit one on the course. Not ideal, but at least we’d have the option.
But Muffin Man wanted to go and go now and my husband and RunSis were trying to stick together and as she astutely noted, it didn’t make much sense for me to stand around waiting and not do so in a line for the pot. So I relented.
And wouldn’t you know it, a meager 5 minutes or so later, Muffin Man decided to go au naturale and head for some trees. I do not have that luxury. Ok whom I’m kidding, I totally would’ve except I didn’t exactly have THAT kind of business to take care of (TMI? So sorry.)
I was stuck. I had committed now and been in line long enough that I didn’t feel like I should lose all the time I had invested to go get in a new line. So I just had to stand there like the big schmuck I was for not following my gut earlier. While Muffin Man finished his deal and headed for the start. YEP! You read that right. He totally left me there in line. DISCLAIMER: Don’t judge him too harshly. We were not planning on running together anyway. In fact, we did NOT want to run together because we are far too competitive with each other and neither of us wanted to screw the other one up (trust me, we can do that well enough on our own). Besides, I totally would not have wanted him to risk missing the start of his very first marathon anyhow and would have sent him on his merry way had he come back and asked for my opinion. Not that he did. (But I’m totally just razzin’ him here. Really. Swear. Jerk. No seriously, I’m kidding.)
I had overheard the half marathoners in line behind me send another marathoner off on her way a little bit earlier. They sort of seemed to know what they were talking about and now that my watch had crept down to 15 minutes before the start, I thought maybe I should ask them where actually the start was located. “Oh…It’s just around the corner,” they replied. Which made me take a sigh of relief. Still as the minutes passed and I counted a good 15 or so people still in front of me waiting between 3 or 4 bathrooms each taking a minute or so for their turn…well, I’m no good at math, so I don’t really know how that’d all work out, but it felt a little too close for comfort. So I stepped out of line.
Now, do the words “just around the corner” indicate a short distance to anyone else or am I totally a crazy person? Because another 10 minute walk to the start was not what I had expected. Not at all. I actually heard the gun go off just about the time I saw the big gigantic start line banner from afar. It was just great. I guess there was another performance by the USAF Honor Guard Drill Team, a B-52 flyover and probably the President himself fired the starting gun. Who knows? Because I missed the whole darn thing. I would have totally panicked had I not known my bib had a timing chip on it and the announcer just a few minutes later remind all us stragglers of that fact and to take our time warming up. I took that as a green light to get back in line at the much shorter line in front of the massive row of port-a-potties right near the start (Since you can’t see me, I should probably tell you that although I won’t say it, I am totally mouthing 4 words right now. It starts with I and ends in so. I’ll let you guess the rest).
Eventually, I did actually cross the start line and begin running. Only a mere 17 minutes or so after the rest of the participants. No hoopla, hollerin’ or anyone to cheer me on. Not even the announcer was hanging around the podium anymore. Anybody who was still there, was certainly not paying attention as you can see from the picture (except for maybe my husband and RunSis who you can’t see).
But I didn’t care, I was running the USAF Marathon baby.
USAF Marathon Part 4: Ok really, NOW I’m running (and also a duck)
P.S. Ok, I totally expected to be doing a little more running in this post I swear (hence the title I made up yesterday). I really had no idea I had so much to say about port-a-potties, but then again I should’ve known better. After all, it’s not like this is my first potty post. But look at it this way, at least you know now that I am actually ON the course, so there MUST be running next time. I give you my solemn oath that I am making every effort to be brief. I just can’t help myself. It’s a sickness. Really.
P.P.S. I further promise the whole Donald Duck thing will make sense in the next post. Well…maybe.