The ride down was filled with April and I chatting about the race. The strategies, if we had enough gels, shotblox, etc, what to put in our drop bags, etc. The drive flew by. We arrived in Chattanooga and got to the clusterfuck that was the packet pick-up. Here's the thing... when the directions from the race director say: "turn on such and such street and look for parking" be afraid. Be very afraid. We circled around once and then thought we found some sweet street parking. The sign said: 2 hour parking. No way would we be there longer than 2 hours. As soon as we left the car, some lady started yelling us:
"EXCUUUUUUSE ME." We turned around.
"ARE YOU COMING TO THE THEATER?"
"THIS IS TWO HOUR PARKING IF YOU HAVE BUSINESS WITH THE THEATER."
Because, clearly, that's what the sign says. "Two Hour Parking" Wait, you didn't catch the inferred "for business with the theater?" Yeah, neither did we. But, instead of arguing, we got back into the car and drove around again. No parking to be had... so we ended up having to park in a lot that cost $5. And who profitted from this parking lot fee? The damn theater. That theater can kiss my ass. But, I'm not bitter.
The actual set-up for the packet pick up was good. Although, we seemed to get there at the wrong time, as we had to wait in line for a few minutes. And April got haggled into picking up a packet for someone's wife.
The packet did not disappoint. We received ladies sized Patagonia shirts, smartwool socks, and ear candy headphones.
That's a lovely magenta color, if you can't tell...
After packet pickup, we decided to head to the start of the race. To see how long it was going to take us to go there. Good thing, too, since the garmin and the directions were a little different and we made a few wrong turns. Signal Mountain was gorgeous though and I was starting to get a little nervous about the race.
We got to the hotel to relax for a little bit before hitting dinner. As we were getting our stuff out of the car, April realized that she had left a bag in her trunk in Nashville. No big deal, though.. the bag only contained her breakfast for race day and her SHOES.
We immediately headed back downtown to Rock/Creek to find her a new pair of trail shoes. Nothing like breaking in a new pair of trail shoes on your first 50k, huh? After conversing with the friendly sales associate (who we both decided kinda got on our nerves during the sale) April finally found her some shoes and we headed back to the hotel to get my parents to go to dinner.
After a yummy dinner with two screaming babies seated behind us we headed to Wal-Mart to buy April a ziploc bag for her drop bag and I picked up a snickers for my mid-race fuel. Once back at the hotel we laid out our outfits, got everything ready and crawled into our beds. I dont think either of us fell asleep before 11:30, but we both know that sleep the night before a big race is a rarity.
My alarm went off at 5:45 and I immediately got up and got dressed. I was all about the pre-planning this time around. I even had a morning routine planned which I implemented perfectly. Wake up at 5:45 and get dressed. Head to the free continental breakfast at 6. Eat breakfast: Bagel, yogurt, and a cliff bar. Funny enough, while eating breakfast I ran into one of my favorite relay team members from last year! She was running the 11 miler, so we chatted with her a bit.
I got back to the room around 6:25. I sat on the bed and read over the course description again. I also broke out my meditation book and reviewed a few passages in it. After about 10 minutes, I took care of some business (its all about timing) and went back to my meditation book. I read over some passages about being in the moment and focusing your mind on ONE thing at a time. I also read a passage that I felt was perfect for the day... something about there is the boat, there is the other shore, and people can tell you what the journey is like, but you must go find out on your own. (I annoyed April a few times on the trail saying this aloud. Though I couldn't see, I could feel her rolling her eyes. haha. But, I found it inspirational). I also repeated my Mantra (which loosely translates to Jewel of the Lotus and the literal translation focuses on transforming your impure body and mind into exalted mind and body. It always relaxes me and forces me to focus on my breath and clearing my mind) and did a few breathing exercises.
At 7:00, we loaded up the car and headed up the mountain.
Double thumbs up, indeed.
We made it to the start line (after turning into every wrong parking lot along the way, because no one in the car could read clear signs) and immediately headed to the bathrooms. Bonus: the start line was at a school, and the school was open... so we got to use actual bathrooms! (The fact that they smelled as bad as porta potties is beside the point). Then we stepped outside, dropped off our drop bags and waited for the start. The timing was actually perfect, we didn't have to stand around and wait too long. We said our goodbyes to my parents and took pictures with my broken camera (which is why I have none) and we were off...
Sorry to make this a multi-part post, but there's a lot to write about it...