I’m glad I didn’t really know what was going on or what I was in for. Here I am, 2:30 in the morning, 1 and 1/2 hours of sleep and ready to get on the shuttle. Ready to go, I think. By 3:10 I found myself on a bus full of wide awake, adrenaline junkies. I remember getting on the bus, scanning the crowd with my over eager grin, thinking “Holy crap, I am a runner, this is just nuts, I wonder if they can tell, is it obvious? “. I’m sure I wreaked of the sweet scent of ‘rookie’.
I found a solo seat, to my relief, because really, who knows what would have come out of my mouth, it was safer this way. I didn’t want to reveal my inner nerdness and blow my cool cover. Nor did I want to over explain that the pin I was wearing “I Run for Fun“, was given to me by my kids, and they are the coolest, then I might start to cry because they are pretty cool and they made the best cheer signs.
I don’t remember much else of the bus ride, once we came to a stop I just got off and followed the masses. First thing I did was find the JDRF tent, introduce myself and got a quick hug and a “good luck!” from Jennifer. I remember walking through the gates to the meeting area thinking, “What is with these lights?“. I know we had to see but good lord those lights were bright. People were walking around, stretching, dancing…doing the conga and watching themselves on the jumbo tron. It seemed a bit surreal. I tried to fit in, so I stood in line for the port-a-potty.
I walked around a bit and I don’t remember what time we started to move, but we were shuttled through the bag drop area so we could stand and wait some more before our long, or what seemed long, walk to the corrals.
I kept looking around nervously, wondering if I was in the wrong area, did I miss an e-mail, what the hell am I doing? What corral am I in? “D”? I casually look at my bib. But my last name starts with “D”, so everyone in my corral has a last name that starts with “D”? No, that doesn’t make sense, they don’t have “Z” corrals. By this time I swear I hear someone say “Can you smell that? I think I smell a rookie“. Oh my god, I just want to run already! I convince myself that once we get through the bag drop off we’ll be in our corral and then we can start running. No, not exactly. Upside, at least there were more port-a-potties to help me fit in, and seriously when should I eat my GU? I wanted to take it 15 minutes before starting but I had no idea when that would be, so I held on to it, waiting.
There was so many runners squished together that it was pretty easy to strike up a conversation. Some runners had no idea what was going on, like myself, and luckily for us, we were so close to each other that another runner could quickly chime in and give us the details of what to expect next. Like “Oh, just wait, this is nothing. After this we get squeezed through this little walk way, blinded by lights, walk on a dirt road to a paved road, blinded by more lights and then we get into our corrals….and wait some more“. And we did. Right about now you might be reading this thinking “this is supposed to be fun?“, oddly enough, it was.
The massive crowd started to move, I imagine that we looked like those birds, starlings, as we shifted and moved together. We were funneled from hundreds of people across to only a few to get through this little stretch of a road before it widened again. As we were approaching I hear someone yell “Watch out for the post!!“. I looked up and there was this pole with some type of metal post sticking out horizontally at about eye level, at least on me and I’m 5’9 1/2″. I probably would have hit it as I didn’t have time to notice the crowd split into two. The young woman next to me said, laughing, “Oh, that bastard got me my first year doing this event, I was hit square in the nose, thought I broke it, it bleed the whole way but I made it.“…I smile and share a little nervous laugh with her and think to myself, “This is the Disney 1/2 right? Not the Tough Mudder?” I doubt myself for a minute and had no choice but to move on with the other starlings. I spot a woman wearing Mickey Mouse ears and sigh.
I have to admit that I could have totally freaked myself out while we were walking on the gravel road headed to our corrals. I looked around me and decided it was better to just look straight ahead, and seriously, get in the middle girl! Who knows what’s going to jump out of the bushes. And those lights, I had to keep my head down because the lights were crazy bright. We looked like a bad Zombie movie, shuffling along, glazed over, arms hanging, expressionless at times.
We finally made it to the corrals. My internal chatter sounded something like this, “Oh god, this is it. Turn on your Garmin, get your GU, oh wait, you had to eat it at the last port-a-potty because it had a hole in it from holding it in your mouth every time you stopped to pee. Get to the back of your corral. Wait, more people are coming into the corral. O.k., get out of the crowd and move to the back to the corral.”
I spotted a young woman, I can’t say that she was a rookie, but I felt she was a kindred spirit and moved towards her. She was at the very back of the corral, she must have gotten the same memo that I did. More people started to come in and we were getting squeezed up to the front again. We stepped off to the side, I looked at her and nodded to the fencing, “We still have time to jump”, she laughed, but I think she may have been contemplating it even before I mentioned it.
I’m in corral “D”. I can see some lights, hear someone talking on the PA system but I can’t really see the starting line. Then they announce that corral “A” can start moving. We all move forward. They call “B”, then “C” and then finally “D”. My first thought was, “Maybe I can start with E”. By this time we had waited so long that I had reset my Garmin at least 5 times. The waiting kind of sucked all the juice out of me, but never once did I think, “Oh god, I have to run 13.1 miles“. I just wanted to start already…and then we did.
Sorry, but I need to take a break, my Nighty-Night tea is working. Stick with me, one more post and I should have all the magic wrapped up. But before saying good night, a bit of TMI, so men, feel free to leave now.
I was so excited not to have Aunt Flo visiting, in fact I practically celebrated that I was going to be able to run my first big event without her. Then on the way to Florida I was feeling really tired and my lower back hurt. I chalked it up to weeks of previous travel, sleeping in different beds, falling down the stairs…you name it. Then at around 11:30 p.m., a mere few hours before I would get on that bus, Aunt Flow made a surprise visit. I was mortified, I didn’t bring ANY supplies because you know, she wasn’t coming for at least a week. I was so ticked off. Lucky for me, my husband schlepped to a Walgreen’s off Disney grounds to get what I needed. What a guy.