20 October 2009

A "W" for #TeamDanie

They say the woman who starts the race is not the same woman who finishes the race. I don't know who "they" are, but I have to agree. Training for the race changed me in certain ways. I learned I could run. I found I know a lot of runners, who have a lot of experience and miles of advice. Actually running the race brought me more. If I had to give it a name, it would be "confidence." But I think it's more. I feel stronger. I feel wiser. I feel more inspired. I feel capable and that nothing is insurmountable. I feel I can do more and achieve more - just because I want to do so. I feel great.

Race weekend can be described in three parts:

The Expotique is where we got our bibs. It started the Thursday before the race and I decided to be among the first in line. It seemed like a no brainer: 20,000 runners all had to pass through the same tent. I was on my way to being (very) early to check in when I happened upon Niketown.

One side of the building was wrapped in what appeared to be pink. I first noticed the banner at the top, congratulating the 20,000 runners who had raised money for the LLS. It was my first taste at the size of the event. It's one thing to say "20,000 people." But it's nearly impossible to conceptualize. As I stared at the building I thought "one of those is me," and I started smiling.

And then I got closer. And I saw the pink was really white on red. And the white was a stream of names. And I realized I was bound to be among those names. And I was really excited.

The names.

The name that mattered most to me.

I probably spent 20 minutes at that wall. I emailed the picture of my name to everyone whose email address I could remember. I tried to convey the moment - to channel the feeling - but I couldn't. I saw my excitement mirrored in the faces of strangers scanning and squealing at the wall. Right then I felt both really alone (because I was there by myself) and really connected to the strangers in this special group with me. I could hardly contain myself. And then it was time to get official. I walked over to Union Square and waited for the Expotique to officially open.

The theme.

The tent.

First impression from the inside: organized. If you know me, you know I'm a fan of things being neat and orderly. I could have designed this thing myself. The half runners were separated from the full runners. There were screens facing us, so that we could check and correct our information. Everything was put in front of us - so we could see if anything was missing. They even had the safety pins linked in sets of four, so that they were easy to grab. It was an organizer's dream. The different areas were all well labeled. And there were plenty of volunteers who knew what was happening. It was glorious.

The main stage.

I got my drink ticket and wristband and dinner. There were wraps, sandwiches, cookies, fruit, juices, sodas, smoothies, and margaritas. There was a DJ, and an emcee. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but the mood was that of a real kick off party. Everyone there was excited and genuine. It's rare for a group of women to be in the same place and not trying to hurt / undermine each other. This was one of those times and it was nice.

Bike blended smoothies.

The really girly stuff was inside. There were manicures courtesy of JetBlue. That's not my kind of thing, but the line tells me they were popular. Cole Haan was sponsoring a raffle and an oxygen bar. Luna was offering different kinds of chews to sample. Safeway was there, giving people the option to bike and blend their own smoothies. The smoothies were good, but I chose not to blend. As I told the recruiter - I had a race to run.

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