Those of you who have been reading my blog for a long time know that I tend to be long-winded when writing about trips, special events, etc. This blog is my journal and I write the details down for myself as much as for anyone else so I can remember them. This weekend was extremely special to me for a variety of reasons, and so I am going to give a really detailed recap of the weekend, race, etc. Feel free to skip ahead if it bores you. :)
The excitement all started on Friday when the kids got home from school. We had them all packed up to go and stay with a variety of friends. We have some really great friends who were more than willing to take a few kids each for the weekend, and the kids were all really excited to go and stay with friends. Josh brought home pizzas and after everyone was fed and showered we dropped them off where they were staying. (THANK YOU to all of my friends who helped us out. The kids had a blast and we are so grateful for your help). Dani wins as best babysitter! She gave the girls manicures, helped them make "Good luck Mom and Dad" signs that she took pictures of and sent to my phone, AND sent the kids home with all clean clothes. :)
I was sad after dropping Shane and Ben off at Jenny's... I wanted to grab Jenny and stuff her in my suitcase and take her with us!!
Mentally I was feeling pretty good. I was nervous, but not terribly so (like poor Josh was!) I had moments where I doubted that I would be able to run the whole 26.2 miles, or when I doubted I would be able to get as good of a time as I wanted, or when I worried how hard it REALLY would be, but I was more excited than nervous.
We got to bed at a pretty early time, and then we were up super early to be out of the house by 6am. Josh and I took Noah on the weekend trip with us. I had a few moments of wondering if I was NUTS to take him to Vegas, as sometimes he gets really overwhelmed with lots of noise and people and he really likes to be home, but it was our best option and he has been a lot less sensitive since he has adjusted to being off all of his meds. (He did AMAZING the entire weekend and even had a lot of fun. I was so glad we brought him. More on that though later).
We had some fog, ice and snow on the way down but nothing awful, and we got to Salt Lake right on time. Noah did cry in the van for about half an hour when we first started off, but then he fell asleep, woke up happy and was an angel for the rest of the trip. Josh found a parking spot in the "far far away lot" and we caught a shuttle back to the airport. We checked our bags and got through security just fine. I was a bit worried on how it would be getting through with Noah, who is in a wheelchair and has a feeding pump, but they were great and we got through without much hassle at all.
Once we got to the gate we found a spot where Noah could stretch out and Josh and I chatted until it was time to board. It was so great to have that time (and so much time over the weekend) together. I sure do love that man! As we sat at the gate it was easy to pick out other runners getting on the flight. There were also a ton of cowboys around because there was a huge championship rodeo in Vegas that weekend too. We sat there pointing out people like this, "Runner...cowboy....runner... runner...cowboy....runner...cowboy". It was like that the whole weekend!
We weren't sure how Noah would do on our laps on the flight (he just barely made it to travel for free since he turns two this weekend!) but it was only an hour flight so I figured at least it would be short even if he was hard. Good thing I didn't know that our one hour flight was going to be a THREE hour flight because of technical difficulties. ARGH. They announced that something was wrong with the plane and they weren't sure if we would be able to take off, blah blah blah and all of the runners on the flight started to panic. Our flight was supposed to land just after 11am Vegas time. We HAD to pick up our race packets at this big health and wellness expo before 5pm, or else we couldn't run the next day! Luckily they were able to fix the issue with the plane and after two hours of waiting we took off and landed uneventfully an hour later. Noah did great the whole flight and played and catnapped spread across our laps.
It was fun to talk to other runners on the plane and feel everyone's excitement about the race.
We called my Dad and Pam, who had gotten to Vegas the night before, when we landed and arranged to meet them in the lobby of our hotel (the Luxor) so we could check in, get rid of our bags, and then hurry over to the expo. We got our bags, got a taxi and got to the hotel smoothly. It was SO great to see Dad and Pam. I haven't seen them in almost a year (when they surprised us at Christmas last year) and boy did I miss them. They showed us where to get checked in, helped us find our room, and after a quick change for Noah we were back downstairs and getting into a cab.
The race expo was at the Sands Convention Center, which is where a huge rodeo convention was also going on. More "runner runner cowboy cowboy" pointing. :) I was really, really excited to get to the expo and get our race packets! There was lots of music, people and excitement. We got in line and quickly were given our race numbers and packets, then our shirts and our "swag bags".
This pic is from Pam's camera so it is a little blurry, but here we are after picking up our packets. Yay!
The expo was big and pretty cool. There were tons of vendors selling ALL kinds of running stuff, giving out free samples, etc. and then there were some famous athletes and singers that were taking pics and signing autographs. We walked around and Pam insisted I pick out some things (she is super generous). Even Noah got a "Rock Star" race shirt. :) My dad pushed the stroller while we walked around and shopped. We saw rocker Mark McGrath and got a picture, and saw the awesome marathoner Meb Keflezighi and snapped a few pics of him too.
The only "bummer" of the expo was that Pam and my Dad (very generously!!) insisted that I take advantage of the "Potty Like a Rockstar" promo that was going on. The deal was that if you bought $150 worth of Brooks merchandise, you got a special sticker to go on your race bib that gave you access to the "VIP potties" on race morning. Instead of the porta-potties, you got lighted and heated bathrooms, warm running water, no lines and other perks. But when we got to the check out, all of the "potty stickers" had been given away on the first day of the expo. BUMMER! No VIP treatment for me (but I did get some fun tops and a jacket so I am not complaining).
I was STARVING, so I got a turkey sandwhich and a drink and we sat and ate, and then walked around some more. When we were paying for the sandwhich I looked at the girl working at the register and I was just sure she was Ethiopian from looking at her. I asked her if she was and she smiled and asked how I knew. I showed her Noah and we talked for a minute. Cool!
We changed our start corral, checked out the pacing team booth and looked at all kinds of stuff, and then decided we had had enough and headed back to the hotel. We spent a little time relaxing, unpacking and organizing, cleaning up, visiting with Dad and Pam, and letting Noah roll around on the giant bed.
Then it was back into the stroller for Noah and back out front to catch another cab, and on to Caesar's Palace where we had dinner reservations at Rao's, an Italian restaurant. The restaurant was very pretty, although really loud. The food was really good, although I was being super super careful about what I ate. Despite all of the temptations, I stuck to bread from the bread basket, spaghetti and marinara sauce, and water (and even that was yummy). It was getting late and Noah was really (really) tired, so we headed back to the hotel.
We visited with Dad and Pam while I got Noah ready for the night (and morning), and Josh and I got all of our racing clothes and the things we needed ready for the morning. There was LOTS of nervous energy. :) Noah was super happy and so cute with my Dad and Pam. He is a different baby now than he was when they saw him over Christmas (right after his first surgery when he was miserable and throwing up ALL the time) and he was doing all of his tricks and being super sweet.
We gave them a quick "tutorial" on Noah for the morning, when they would be watching him while we ran, let them know when and where they could see us during the race, made a plan on what time to meet in the morning, and then we all went to bed. The crib that the hotel had for Noah was on the small side and I was a little worried he wouldn't sleep well, but shortly after we turned out the lights we were all sound asleep (about 10:30pm). Lots of people say they can't sleep the night before a race because of nerves, but I can ALWAYS sleep. :)
The whole day felt like it was on fast forward, and every time I looked at my watch I was figuring out how many hours were left until the race started. My nerves actually faded as the day went on though, especially once we had our packets and were all set. Having my Dad and Pam around helped a lot. :)
Stay tuned... the rest is coming soon.
Here is an official race photo of our hotel (the pyramid, which is right next door to Mandalay Bay, which is where the start and finish of the race were located).