My flight to Dulles went without incident. It was raining when I arrived in the DC area, so I opted for a cab to my hotel. The $55 cost was much less than renting a car.
Glitch #1: No late checkout: I had a reservation at the Crowne Plaza Hotel National Airport – located on Crystal City Drive. At check-in, I immediately asked if I could get a late checkout for Sunday afternoon, since I needed a place to clean up after the race. They said I had to checkout by 12 noon since they had 300 people checking in on Sunday. There were no showers or anything to use, although they offered the public restroom sink.
Elegant resolution #1: Local friends: A local friend who was going to meet me for dinner on Sat night. She was part of the reason I signed up for the race – since we planned to run it together. Because of some personal events, she was unable to train and had to postpone until next year. I asked if I could clean up at her place since she lived right in Arlington, 10 minutes from where I was staying in Crystal City. She told me it was no problem!
Next I headed to the race expo to pick up my race number, shirt and packet. That went really well – and there were no lines on Friday afternoon.
I had dinner at the hotel and met my first runner (that I spent time really talking to). I don’t recall her name, but she was a bit older than me and in town from Nashville I think. She sat down at a table next to mine as I was finishing up, and I ended up joining her while getting a cup of decaf. We had a really nice conversation about marathons, training and life in general. I went to bed a bit late – but planned to sleep in (which I did).
Saturday, after a good breakfast, I headed out back to the race expo. This time I met a number of runners also on their way to the expo. The expo was held at the DC armory past the main portion of DC via the subway (called the Metro). Many of the race participants stayed in Crystal City where I was, so I met lots of runners on the metro during the entire weekend. I sat with one runner on the metro who was heading in to pick up his race packet. Upon reaching the expo area there was a long line leading up to the number / chip tent, so, since I already had my race packet, I said my goodbyes and headed directly into the expo.
At the expo I listened to Danny Dreyer, author of “Chi Running”. Then, I stood in line for the free 5 minute massage (worth every bit of waiting). I walked around the expo for awhile, bought a few things, then decided that I had better get back to the room – enough walking around the day before a race.
Back at the room, I took a nap for about an hour and a half before meeting my friend for dinner. My friend Karen is a co-worker of mine who works in our McLean, Va. Office – a place I have traveled to frequently. We had a lovely dinner together, complete with leftovers which we thought would make a nice meal on Sunday when I come over after the race to clean up. After reviewing the race course, Karen said she would try to catch me around mile 3 since the course came very close to where she lived.
After I got back to the hotel, I began the process of getting everything ready for the race and also for checking out the next morning. I pinned my number on my shirt, picked out all the clothes and items I would need for the race. I packed two bags to take to the race start. The larger one which I would check at the bag check-in to retrieve after the race, and a smaller one to take to the starting area that would be a throwaway. Since the temperatures were going to be cooler than I am used to, I packed a dry short sleeve shirt, my ¾ length running pants and my new MCM running jacket in the bag to be checked. I also included a credit card and $20. In my small throwaway bag I included some Icy Hot packs and some wet wipes to clean my hands afterwards, a garbage bag for additional warmth at the start if needed, and a packet of Bull Frog in anticipation of the sunny weather.
As I got into bed, I set 3 alarms (yes, I wanted to make sure I would wake up). I set the one in the hotel room along with my cell phone and BlackBerry. I have had hotel alarm clock mishaps in the past, so I wanted back up. I could have asked for a wake up call, but decided the alarms could cover it.
I slept pretty well for a night before a big race. I was set to wake up at 4:45 am but woke about 3:30 am with a headache (I had been suffering from headaches for the past couple of nights). I took some ibuprofen and prayed that it would knock out the headache by the time I had to get up. Sure enough, the hotel alarm went off just fine and the headache was gone. I was dressed, packed and out the door by 5:30 am.