I haven't posted much lately. Sit down, I make up for it in photos in this one post. Promise!
last Thursday I headed down to Houston. I decided to treat this as a mini-vacay and booked a weekend at the Magnolia, my favorite Houston hotel. It's beautiful and best of all, only blocks from all the action. It is totally worth the extra to not have to worry about driving to the start line in an unfamiliar city. You know you're set up for a great weekend when it involves track pants, peanut butter, chocolate milk and a ginormous bathtub. You better believe within minutes of checking in I was soaking in a warm Epsom salt bath, eating a peanut butter and honey sam, watching "Pawn Stars" on Netflix on my iPad. I really know how to live it up.
Friday I slept in some and then headed to the race sight. Oh yes, the Olympic Time Trials. I snagged a coveted volunteer spot and a tee shirt that read "Race Crew" to prove it. My job involved standing around, wearing a huge yellow vest and answering questions. And gawking over all the elites as they milled around like they are regular people or something. It was so exciting to see all the action as the rest of the Race Crew worked hard to get ready for the time trials the next day. And I had a front row seat!
My yellow vest read, "Got Questions? Ask me!" I spotted a woman who looked vaguely familiar and she said, "Can I ask you a question?" Answering, "Of course!" She hesitantly asked, "Are you That Pink Girl?" It was Tina from Gotta Run Now! How fun to run into another blogger! Tina, it was great to meet you and I was so excited to read the that you had such a GREAT race!
One of the perks of volunteering, besides the snazzy yellow vest of course, was that we got to eat lunch in the Nike VIP tent. With the elites. Ball so hard, that's me. I even got to see Ryan Hall eating lunch! (no, I didn't bother him...) The food was incredible and the other volunteers and I were just in awe. We took lots and lots of photos and I was so thankful I didn't have to be embarrassed demanding, "take my picture!"
No kidding, since the food was for the elites, it was delicious and healthy. I didn't expect to eat so well!
After my shift was over I darted into the Expo and picked up what has to be the world's largest race bib. The timing chip is IN the bib. Which is cool; one less thing to keep up with. Unless you're like me and you prefer to fold your bib up itty bitty like and pin it to your shorts. Sadly, this monster had to go smack dab on my tummy. Sigh. Love that they allowed for personalization but "girl" somehow didn't make it on my bib, ha!
I managed to sneak in a quick nap and another soak before my sweet friend Natalie arrived. She graciously agreed to drive in from Boerne to spend the weekend with me! We took in the Olympic Ceremony on Friday night, followed that up with some Chipotle and and evening of catching up. It was so good to see her!
Saturday we got up bright and early to secure a spot downtown to spectate the Olympic Time Trials. There was NO WAY I was going to miss seeing my beloved Kara Goucher race!
We got a great spot in the sun (it was chilly) and before we knew it, here came the police cars, the pace truck and well in the lead, Ryan Hall! Look at that kick! I saw him race the half last year but it was just as amazing to see him again. What an athlete. I'll spare you the video. Mostly you can just hear me yelling like a crazy lady.
There goes Meb, Abdi and some other fast dudes. Anyone know, is that Josh Cox in the black?
Next up, the ladies! My dream come true to see Kara, Shalane, Deena Kastor and Jen Rhines - all at once! Look at little Desiree Davila!
We eventually moved a little closer.
And then closer still...right before the finish line.
I was having such a great time! To see these incredible athletes run was such a privilege. Now, don't get me wrong. I adored seeing my favorites. But seeing the other "regular people" runners was pretty amazing too. Most of them pretty much knew they wouldn't gain one of the three coveted spots on the Olympic Team, but the fact that they qualified to even try...wow. We talked to a group of high school girls and their moms from outside of Lansing. They were there to cheer on their track coach. They got choked up telling us how supportive he was of the girls and what an incredible coach he is. I love that they came all the way from Michigan to holler for him! One of the woman running had on a bright pink Lululemon ruffled running skirt, I cheered for her yelling, "Go PINK!" The night before we met one of the ladies who was staying in our hotel. You can be sure we hollered real loudly for her!
Here you can see Ryan, Abdi and Meb. Side story, Meb and I ran NYC '09 together, the year he won. He also had a hip injury so because of these two similarities, we are pretty much twins, no?
And here is Meb winning the Olympic Time trials in a record 2:09:08. I'll let you think for a moment on just how dang FAST that is! 26.2 miles in just over 2 hours. Oh mah guah. And in Sketchers no less. Shame on you Nike.
Here come the ladies again. They ran loops so we got to see them several times!
And Shalane bringing it home to win the women's race in 2:25:38. She's something else.
Not far behind her was my girl Kara at 2:26:06. I missed Desiree - she was too fast for my iPhone to recover between Shalane and Kara!
Oh, it was a great morning! I yelled myself hoarse for every runner out there. I'm so proud of everyone that ran. It was touching to see the tears, even on the men's faces, as they crossed that finish line. Running a marathon is a huge accomplishment in itself, but running for a chance to represent the USA in the Olympics...an experience of a lifetime. I'm so glad I was there and so glad I got to share it with a sweet friend!