Wednesday's workout called for 6 miles easy. I enjoyed my last Des Moines run with sole sisters who will compete this weekend. Ashley- in the Trials, and Coll- in the Houston Marathon, held on Sunday.
We met at our usual early-morning-hour and had our "social hour" of miles and shared our excitement for the weekend.
Wednesday night was to be my last night in West Des Moines, before an early alarm clock on Thursday- to jump in the car with Bob and Kath (and Justin) and to make the 3 hour drive to Kansas City Airport. With the midwest winter weather that quickly rolled in on Wednesday afternoon, my parents arrived to pick us up at 8:30pm on Wednesday night. Thanks to my Dad's safe driving and intelligent road-tripping knowledge, we were all sleeping in a hotel near the airport by midnight.
I enjoyed a long conversation with a fellow trials competitor on our ~90 minute flight to Houston. It will be so fun to meet so many women that seem to live my life. My mom shared her excitement on the plane, not only to be witnessing my marathon (her first) but also to return to the city that was her, and my Dad's, home after they married... almost 37 years ago. She shared memories of having drinks at the top of the downtown Hyatt, revolving restaurant, just to enjoy the city sites from above, with my Dad. They would hit up the Gulf, traveled into the city every weekend to experience the festivals and city life... something that their small home-town of Iowa scenes had not offered them before marrying.
We arrived in Houston by noon on Thursday, hopped into our bright red, Mazda2 rental car and arrived at our downtown hotel. Justin and I headed out for a "shake out" run, along the streets of the course. 2 miles easy, 2 miles at marathon pace (6:10-6:12 minutes/mile), 1 mile easy. Houston seemed to have strong winds from the West, so the wind pushing me back toward the hotel brought my average "marathon pace" of 2 miles, to 6:08. We finished out our afternoon as we walked to the Hilton, host hotel, with Ashley to obtain our athlete credentials and check in.
As I walked into the Hilton Gardens, I was suddenly hit with the feeling "this is it, I am here!" Olympic Trials signs and posters surrounded us as we made our way to the athlete check-in area. Ashley and I showed our identification and retrieved our goodie bags and packet information. Justin is my official "athlete support" credential, which will allow him into the areas that most "family and friends" will not be able to access on race day and leading up to race day. (This would be the credential that a professional runner's coach would have). We hit up the Elite Athlete hospitality suite for some food and comfy seats before heading back to our hotel. Justin, my Dad, and myself enjoyed an afternoon snooze before preparing for our dinner.
The BP VIP Dinner was put on by the Trial's official sponsor (BP) at the Museum of Natural Science, a few miles from downtown. This event was SO fun! The Museum was completely dim lit, with the dinosaurs haning out above and various artifacts surrounding us in the Great Hall. Drinks were offered to all guests, a variety of small plates were offered for dinner and dessert selections, and tables lit with candles for all guests to dine. A presentation was held in the main auditorium, where BP honchoes gave opening remarks, and the legends of marathoning also spoke: Frank Shorter (1972 Gold Medalist), Bill Rodgers, and Steve Jones. I enjoyed Frank's emphasizing comments, that no matter what your (rank) number says on your bib on Saturday, that you deserve to be here. After our dinner and dining, I worked up the courage to grab Frank and Bill for a quick snapshot... they were such nice gentlemen and wished me the best of luck.
We finished out our night making a quick-trip to a (very interesting) supermarket on our way home. "FIESTA!" was bumpin with rap music and Houston folk, as Justin and I found their Chocolate Milk stock. This is a MUST pre-race drink, and I needed to load up my hotel mini-fridge! Mom said "NO, Justin" to the "sodee-pop" he found... apparently, not everything is bigger in Texas?
MAN, what a GREAT start to our Houston experience. My parents also had a great first day, going on a goose-chase to find a supermarket, for groceries downtown... it sounds like they met some interesting corner store owners, but had a lot of fun doing it. My dad is thoroughly enjoying the home-state brews of "Shiner Bock" and seems to be excited to witness my 3rd go at the 26.2 race.
Thanks for following and stay tuned for a Friday update, hopefully later today! Today's agenda: LAST run of 4 miles easy with Ash, Elite athlete meeting, number/timing chip pick up, and meeting my Saucony reps to get the uniform and shoe hook ups. Can't wait!