I guess the race day really began with our drive away from San Jose. Back Hwy 17 over the Santa Cruz mountains, and to the coast at Santa Cruz - this is a beautiful jaunt, and one we have become accustomed to in the nearly 5 years Chris has lived out there. And I have to say, I have gotten so I can really relax as he comfortably hurtles his Saturn ION over this stretch. Chris is such a relaxed driver, and it's always easier for us flatlanders to have him driving these windy roads. (Not that I don't enjoy driving myself. I do. But others tend, um, not to, so much.)
Our goal was to hit the Marathon Expo in Monterey, at about 5pm, an hour before closing. With this event, there is no race-day registration, because the starting lines (at least the ones we were headed for) are down the course, on a road that closes by 6am. We were enjoying our family day too much to give ourselves more time at the Expo, and knew that in a pinch all we really needed to do was pick up our bib numbers, D tags, and sweats bags. Afterward, upon leaving, we would call the cabin again and let the guys know we were on the way, and pick up some final supper supplies for our pasta dinner there.
Traffic got a little odd south of Santa Cruz, and I started to sweat the timing. Not the registration stop at Portola Plaza, but our arrival for supper! We arrived in downtown Monterey around 5:15, and found an open free parking space, with the odd time limit of 24 minutes. 24 minutes? Just around the block, up the steps, and within about 3 minutes we were picking up our race material. That gave us almost 20 minutes to browse the Expo and then back to the car. Walking down one of the aisles, I saw a familiar face - it's Adam, on the phone it turns out with his wife. Adam was supposed to be at the cabin ... waiting for Italian bread that we were supposed to find and buy! Well, it turns out Todd was also at the Expo, and we ended up connecting for a few minutes while I bought a Big Sur themed technical singlet.
Todd said to the cashier that I should get a senior citizens discount, being a 54 year old first time marathoner. Her quick and cheerful reply: "anyone who can run a marathon doesn't need a senior discount!" Ha!
Chris and I headed down Hwy 1 while Todd and Adam handled the final supper purchase, and we got to see the course from the finish end, the beautiful road we would come back across the next morning. It was breath-taking (it always is) and, for me, intimidating. Seeing it now, with the run in mind, made me really question the validity of my training. Oh well, it's why we were there, and there was no turning back now!
Rich greeted us at the cabin and before long the rest of the food arrived. The 3 guys finished dinner prep, and we enjoyed a simple, fun, conversation-filled meal. I was especially happy to see my friends draw Chris in so immediately and completely. It was obvious Chris was having a good time. The meal lasted through sunset and into dark. It was no sooner over than Todd suggested walking up to the camp store for ice cream! Well, we all went up, but only Todd ate more!
Then it was "home" to bed. The guys had got in on Friday, and had 3 nights in this compact, well-stocked joint. Chris and I got the "living room" - me on the sofa bed, and Chris the better deal with a sleeping bag and camping pad. I mean, a sofa bed in a rental cabin? You can imagine. It was almost decent, but I do think he got the better arrangement. It sure sounded better ... and I should know: I was awake a lot, and I never heard a rustle or a turning over from him.
And so ended my week of jitters, poor sleep, and trying to visualize the course while I lay abed at night. But there we were, with friends, in a redwood forest, together on the eve (not to say, brink) of a great adventure. We were sleeping one mile from the marathon starting line, from which Chris would catch a shuttle to the 21-mile walk start at milepost 5. Just one more sleep till Christmas.