Boyfriend and I are in no hurry to leave for New Jersey so I had planned to let my body sleep as long as it wanted. Unfortunately my stomach did not want to sleep as long as the rest of me and after much resistance I finally gave in and woke up for some breakfast. A bowl of cereal, a bagel, coffee, water, and some yoga later, Boyfriend is awake and we are soon ready to begin our trip. Bags packed, I run through my checklist one more time before we head out the door. I am excited to get going, I love running expos, bib numbers, T-shirts, and being surrounded by other runners. Conversation during the drive up blurs in my mind, focused only on getting to our destination.
It is mid afternoon as we arrive on Rutgers Campus. Everything looks so clean, organized, and green. Sure my college had a campus but it wasn't exactly sprawling green lawns and trees. We followed the GPS to a parking lot, unsure of our surroundings and feeling more than a little out of place on a campus. Luckily there was a map close by, but we must have looked out of place because I didn't even get close enough to see the map before someone stopped to ask if we were lost. "Oh I'm just looking for the expo" I said, not wanting to use the actual name of the building knowing it would make me stick out even more. Boyfriend and I try to navigate the vast layout of winding sidewalks, buildings and parking lots, obviously fish out of water on a "real" campus. We have become such city people and are used to being able to easily navigate our way around the symmetrical grid of downtown.
After much wandering we finally found the gym! Actually after much wandering we found the gym, went back to the car and drove it to the right lot. I could feel the excitement build but I was skeptical about the size of the expo, the website said it would be indoors and out. When we arrived at the front entrance to the gym there was only a lone, vacant white top tent. So much for indoors and out. The smell of chlorine hit you like a wall as you entered the gym, and we followed signs to the expo area. My heart sunk a little bit the second we entered the gym and I could tell the expo was only a tiny space in the center.
Approaching the back table to collect my bib and T-shirt I confidently recite my number "1766" I tell the yellow shirted volunteers, much to their excitement. I decided it better not to mention I was disappointed in my number as it was not 1776. As it turns out 1766 was the year Rutgers was founded, and if I had gone to Rutgers I probably would have known that. But I did not. I was handed my bag and Boyfriend and I began to browse the merchandise at very tiny expo as I dug into my bag to check out my T-shirt. The expo was not the only thing that was incredibly tiny, my size small T-shirt could have fit a 10 year old. The volunteers who just moments earlier had yelped with excitement at my bib number were less than thrilled I wanted to exchange it. No dice. Apparently all shirts came in to small and they can't exactly size up everyones shirts. Fail #1 for CGI racing.
With the expo over, and the rest of the afternoon ahead of us we decided to find some lunch. Coincidently we were ten minutes away from where Boyfriend often meets friends of his for a yearly get together and we knew there would be lots of stores and restaurants to entertain us. Just my luck we happened upon a Friendly's (my favorite). A lunch of crispy chicken wrap, fries, and a small sundae had me in a very good (and full) mood as we made our way to the hotel.
It wasn't until we were in the hotel that I realized just how much time stretched before me and this race. I don't know what I expected but I didn't like having so much free time. I am no very patient, and not a good waiter, although I am working on strengthening both those skills. Boyfriend and I flipped through channels on TV while deciding what to do for dinner. He kept asking "don't you need to carbo load?" but when I asked him if he even knew what that was he admitted "no". He is too cute. We decided on Olive Garden, which is a big step for my all italian boyfriend and the only time I will make him go there is before a big race in a strange city where I need something familiar. Aka now. But on a Saturday night we aren't the only one's with a hankering for some spaghetti the place was packed! I agree to the 50 minute wait until I look at my watch and realize it's 8pm. I am paranoid about getting enough sleep so I come up with the brilliant idea of getting take out and eating in the hotel. 25 minutes later we are zipping back to the Hilton with a bag full of hot pasta, fresh salad and garlic-y breadsticks. I can hardly contain my excitement.
Part of me feels like we are just on vacation. But part of me knows why we are here and that part is really nervous. I lay out my clothes for the next day, running tights, sports bra, socks, and decide which of the three tops I have brought will be best for the weather. My white Nike Dri Fit long sleeve ends up being the winner and I pin by bib neatly on the front. I fold my D-tag on my sneaker and lay it all out on the floor. I am as ready as I'll ever be. It feels so strange to be getting ready for a race. Something I haven't done in so long. I know I am ready but a part of me is still disappointed to know I will not be able to beat my PR. My goal is to finish, to stay strong, watch my breathing and not burn myself out. Most races I go out with a bang and suffer at the end. I wanted to finish this race strong. I wanted to prove to myself I can do it.
I prepare a nightcap of watered down gatorade on the rocks and planned to crawl into bed and read a few chapters of "Once a Runner", but the second I am under the covers all I want to do is sleep. I close my eyes and try not to think about tomorrow.
All I want to do now is sleep.