First off, my friend who was going to start the race with me, had to cancel the day before. So then I tried to meet up with another friend, Laura, who was also running.
I headed out to meet her, trying to find parking in the mall parking lot I always park in for this race. I've never had a problem finding a spot before.
Today was going to be different.
After realizing the first couple levels were full, I drove all the way to the top level, only to realize (after driving around in a panic), that this, too, was totally full.
I spot employee parking for "Nordstrom Employees Only" and feel desperate. Yes, the sign said violators will be towed, but I'm late and need parking!
I park there.
Then I pray. A lot.
I get out, and stretch a tiny garbage bag around my upper torso - because it's freezing outside and that's a trick runners use to stay warm until the race starts. Except they normally use bigger bags, but I didn't have any. So I just look like an idiot. But I'm a warm idiot, so I don't care - and I try to push out of my mind the thought that I may run 10 miles, and come back to no car, due to towing. I rush down the several floors to get out of the garage and on my way to the start line -what's this I see? The garage just opened another floor? Yes, that is definitely rows and rows of beautiful, empty, non-risky spots...
I begin to run back to the top floor to rescue my car from certain towing. I'm literally running, panicking, and still wearing the trash bag, which has my arms trapped. I look like those people who play soccer inside zorb balls:
Or like this:
But I finally make it back and re-park my car on the newly opened lower level. Crisis averted. But now I really feel late.
So I start to walk very quickly through the tunnel that leads into the Pentagon parking lot, wearing my tiny trash bag - which is also Febreeze-scented, to add to the ridiculousness that is me right now - and I feel a tap on my shoulder.
It's my friend Ryan! And immediately, he explains "yeah, I saw this person rush past and I was thinking "that trash bag is too small..." and it was you!"
Typical. There are 30,000 people walking into this thing, and I'm recognized while wearing a scented straight-jacket.
We start walking together and head into the starting area. There, we separate, because he is in a faster corral, and I need to find Laura.
In 30,000 people.
I call her and our call goes something like this:
Me, staring into a sea of humanity: "Hey I'm here!"
Her: "I'm right behind the purple arch of balloons!...wait...the arch is now moving..."
Me, staring into a human sea while chasing an arch of moving purple balloons: "K....Um...Which side are you on? I'm now chasing the balloons."
Her:"Um...I'm kind in the middle..."
M: "Well I'm over by the table with water. I'm Jersey Shore fist-pumping so you can see me."
*pumps fist like an idiot*
Her: "Oh! I know where that table is. Keep pumping! keeping pumping!"
Now I feel like I'm being punked but I keep pumping my fist anyway.
We finally find each other...And then she leaves me two miles in. Sigh. (It's fine, I told her to. I'm slow, I know, save yourselves...)
But before we separated, we got to experience: The Pee Bridge
|That's the area next to a bridge that has now become famous for being the spot where males realize they need to pee -- and since the whole world is a men's room, they fix that problem right here.|
I trot along alone for a couple more miles and I start seeing the things that always inspire me in this race. Amputees running on prosthetics, people running with shirts in memory of old friends, and this:
Ooops, sorry, sweaty camera.
Here we are:
Yeah, that guy's doing this race in boots, carrying a giant heavy ruck sack.
And he's ahead of me. *Sigh*
Somewhere around mile 4 - I see my old friend Jose! This is now the second time I've ran into a friend in this chaos:
(At least I was no longer wearing the trash bag.) I went on to also spot a guy from my church, and a former band mate as well. My internal homing device is still strong...
Jose and I kept each other going (OK, he had to physically drag me by my arm...multiple times...) until the end. He headed out and I linked back up with Laura:
|Laura is like half my height. I TRIED to fit us both in a selfie....|
And that's when I realize the race people are only letting people exit the Pentagon one way -- the long way -- and our trek back to our cars (and brunch) starts uphill.
A guy behind me makes a comment about how cruel it is, and we start walking together. He's wearing an Army Ranger shirt and tells me he served in Mogadishu and that he's old.
He. Is. Hilarious.
We are trudging along with the masses like cattle, forever, and every few steps he announces something new:
"Everything south of my nipples hurts..."
"....In case anyone's wondering, there is no one that needs to pee more than I do right now!..."
"...I'm just gunna say I did a half marathon now, since we're walking this far..."
"...They should have another water stop out here..."
"...If the Pentagon was a square, we would've turned by now...stupid place...."
And when we came up behind some other military guys, he announced "I would start ragging on the other branches, but I'm too tired to defend myself....I'd just let them beat me up for half an hour while saying I'm sorry..."
I was sad to leave him.
But brunch was calling, so I had to go. I met Ryan's other friend Beth who was also at brunch-- and it turned out she works with the Other Goldfish Poodle. So that's now random encounter # 5, for those of you counting at home...
We had a great time together, and then Beth found out that her friend, who was also supposed to join us, was no longer coming because:
Her car got towed.
*Facepalm* Now I've come full circle to my nervousness from that morning. We end brunch, and I rush to make sure my car's ok, and then head home to shower and sit on my couch. And maybe look proudly at this a little more: