I set out to complete my sixth half marathon of the year on Saturday September 13, 2014. The starting line for the Bridge of the Goddess half marathon was scheduled to begin on a bridge named Bridge of the Gods, but it seemed like the dark forces were against me hours before the race was scheduled to start.
It all began on Friday afternoon around 1:18 p.m. It was a text from my less-than-a-year-younger sister informing me she was still in Ft. Lauderdale and would not make it to Portland, Oregon at her scheduled time of 8:20 pm. Since she had a connecting flight in Houston, it was uncertain she’d make it in time to her connecting flight and it was therefore a possibility she’d not be able to make it to Portland at all. My little sister (who is more than a decade younger), was also scheduled to come to Portland @ 11:39 pm on a different connecting flight out of Houston. Not only was their delayed flight bad news for the sake of stress and lost time, but they were supposed to stay with my daughters on Saturday morning while I was running the race (my husband had military duty, so he could not stay with them). Thus, a delayed flight that should have arrived 11 hours and 40 minutes prior to my race was like taking a sharpie to a masterpiece you worked so hard on. If my sisters did not land at the airport at least an hour prior to my race, I would not be racing after all.
I pondered whether I should make the three hour trip to the hotel in Hood River I had reserved two months before the race so as to avoid waking up at 4 am the morning of the race (the half-marathon was 3 hours and 45 minutes from the city I live in). I tried to remain calm and I kept a positive outlook, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t feel a heavy weight of disappointment rudely resting on my shoulders – non-refundable race fees, non-refundable hotel, a dent to my 12 halves in 12 months goal, and no sisters on Friday night.
I decided to stick to the plans I made two months and just hoped for the best. It was a gamble I was ready to take not only for the love of running, but because I really had nothing to lose by remaining positive. En route to our hotel, my youngest daughter (two-year-old) got car sick and threw up all over her seat. Because I was in a VERY busy highway with no shoulder to pull-over, we had to suffer the rancid smell for 30 excruciating minutes until we could pull-over to our hotel. Except, the map on my phone sent me to the wrong hotel! I had no choice but to park at the wrong hotel where I changed my daughter’s clothes, wiped down her seat, and tried as hard as I could to take away the stench lingering all her over seat (and right under our noses).
Immediately following clean up and recalculating to find the right hotel, I still had no clue whether my sisters would arrive to Portland Friday night or Saturday morning. I decided to kill time by taking my daughters out to dinner. I ordered pasta to load on the carbs just in case I’d get the chance to race. It was at dinner, while chewing on some bread, that I found out my sisters were going to make it to Portland after all!! The excitement of their arrival was short-lived when I felt the burning gaze of eyes staring my way in a room that fell to complete silence immediately after the sound of shattering glass. My two-year-old had gotten her little hands on a lamp placed right behind our booth and she somehow managed to drop it so that it broke to tiny pieces! I wanted to crawl under a rock and not come out until she was 21.
After apologizing profusely to the diners seated next our booth, the young man who helped pick up the shattered pieces, and our waitress, I headed up to the room with an angry toddler who hadn’t taken a nap and a an angry ten-year-old who wanted to go to the pool. It was only 7:30 pm, and I had to pick up my sisters at midnight! Knowing full well my toddler would wake at 11:00 pm, the time I had to leave to make the hour drive from our hotel to the airport, I had to put her to sleep right away so that she could get some rest.
An hour after wrestling with my toddler to finally fall sleep, I turned on the television to kill some time. I also served myself a VERY strong cup of coffee to help me stay awake until 11:00 pm. 19 Kids and Counting was on The Learning Channel, and the thought of giving birth to 19 babies was enough to keep my mind awake. It definitely takes an individual with an extreme amount of patience to have that many kids! My patience is tested to the nth degree with just two!
It was finally 11 pm! With a ten and two-year-old in tow, I drove from Hood River to PDX. As expected, both of my daughters were wide awake. When we pulled in to the arrivals lane, I spotted both my sisters! We had very little time to exchange hugs, so it was a quick hello and on the road again to head back to the hotel that was an hour away. At this point, I was dreading the wake-up call. The race was starting at 8 am, but we were advised to arrive early because parking would be limited and I was still a 1/2 hour away from the city of Cascade Locks. I figured a 7:00 am arrival was safe, so I’d have to set my alarm clock to 6 am in order to make it out of the hotel by 6:30. Well, just as soon as that thought crossed my mind, the “Empty” light came on. Because I knew my sisters had already had an extremely long day, I wanted to get them and my daughters to bed. Filling up my tank would have to wait until the morning. My wake-up call was now going to be at 5:30 am!!
That crazy Friday afternoon, where I was supposed to have a smooth drive to the hotel room, a nice dinner, and pick up one of my sisters at 8:20 pm turned into an unplanned obstacle course. And finally, at 2 am, six hours before race day and three and a half hours before my alarm was set to go off, I called it a day!
Why did I go through all of this? Because I love running! Because life could be worse. Because so many people who are in much worse unfortunate situations would trade spots with me in a heartbeat if what I went through was all they had to go through.
Have you ever had to overcome multiple obstacles to get to the starting line of your race?