Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Beginnings of an Epic Race Weekend

Golly Jeepers, I hardly know where to start!!! I just had THE most amazing weekend with all things running related!!

Friday afternoon, after getting my hair did  (Thanks AJ), I headed for Grand Rapids to meet up with my lovely Abbey Road Runners teammates at our hotel.  I'm not going to lie, we were in the hood....Ann St., kinda industrial and sketchy, but close enough to downtown.  We were assured by the front desk that the place was full with runners.  Now if that doesn't make a nervous nelly long distance runner feel better, not sure what will...LOL.

As soon as I threw my bags in the room, we jetted for the expo to get our packets and race singlets.  The second we got downtown on Monroe St., I fell in love with Grand Rapids.  The Devos Center is absolutely gorgeous, and the energy of the race was electrifying.  We enjoyed the expo for a bit, but by then it was getting late and we were all starving.  We had decided a week or two prior to have dinner at Founders....a pretty well known Michigan brewery, and I'm so glad we did.  The atmosphere was so cool as the whole side of the building opened up to a large porch.  I was practically drooling over the specialty beer selection that they only brew in-house, and the bartender seemed more than excited to concoct his own pairings for us to sample.   The food was also great.  We shared a Tomato-Basil-Mozarella sandwich, a sandwich called the Tree Hugger (lots of veges with honey mustard), and chips and salsa (They were out of quacamole).  Being that Leah and I are vegetarians, they had many options for us to choose from.  We all made a pact that we HAD to come back and enjoy this town without an impending race.

The Abbey Road Runners....Carb Loading the only way we know how  :)

If it wasn't enough that we had to rip ourselves away from the most awesome beer Grand Rapids had to offer, our hotel had a D.J. dance party going on in the lounge when we stopped at the front desk for a few forgotten toiletries.  I was more than ready to get to bed, but my teammates, I'm pretty sure, would have been willing to take the chance and check it out.  Sorry ladies for being so "Mama" on your ass...but we had a race to run in the morning!  Hopefully, you don't still hold it against me  :)   We were in bed by a little after 10pm (way late for me, and way early for Leah), luckily I slept great!

With no surprise, my bowels internal alarm woke me up at about 4:20.  I'm got them trained, finally!  LOL.  After getting that out of the way, I spent the next hour or more hanging out in the bathroom eating my bagel, peanut butter, and banana....pinning my ribbons to my singlet...guzzling water....and planning my parking situation.  It was imperative that I parked somewhere that I could get out of Grand Rapids with the quickness.  Kyle (or team DetermiNation organizer) had stuck a number of options in my race bag...LOVE HIM!   I decided to park at the American Cancer Society's Hope Lodge and walk the half mile to Charity Village.

At about 5:30, I could hear Lainie starting to stir and promptly make the decision that it was a reasonable time for us to get up on a race day....I was more than ready to get things repacked so that I could leave at 6am to get downtown.  As the girls continued to get ready, I headed out.  I arrived at the parking lot with no problems and was actually very surprised at how quiet it was.  The 5k was set to start at 7 at which time lots of roads would be closed off....I think I expected more traffic. 

It's tradition to have a rainy day, and this morning didn't disappoint.  As I'm walking I am looking down to keep it from getting in my eyes, it dawns on me that I'm sloshing around in the shoes I intend to race in.....FAIL!!  Why...when I had a backup pair of Kinvaras in the car didn't I wear those to get all soaked in?  I had a vision of Jeffrey being very disappointed in me...he would have never done that...LOL.  I got to Charity village at just the right time as it started to pour buckets not two minutes later!  I can't tell you how blessed I felt to be in a cozy, wind breaking tent.  Oh and did I mention we had one of these.....

Oh yeah...our very own porto john.  Rock on!!

I can't tell you enough how well we were pampered by being charity runners!  We also had our own table of tasty snacks, coffee, our own bag check.....Amazing!!!  By this time...7ish...Lainie and Leah had made it to the parking lot, and texted me to let me know they were going to try and wait out the heavy rain in hopes that it would stop.  I got a call from Red....I'm not sure what all I said, but I know I wanted to puke and that I was freaking out enough to want to let her go to spare her from it.  She always has the most perfect things to say to invoke calmness and confidence.  Thanks girl!!  The rain actually did let up, and  it wasn't long before my teammates walked up.  They were excited to see the 5k finish.....an instant energy boost.

I went through my bag and did my last minute preps....imodium (check), three gus in my spibelt (check), my race band from Races2Remember (check), my wrist rocker (check), Garmin (check), Bib and D-tag (check), Sanity....Well....kinda.  We took some photos with our team.....

My Race Band I designed from Races2Remember after wining a bloggy contest!!  Thanks Marlene!!!

Check em out!!

Getting Ready to Race our Brains Out!!

Before we knew it, Kyle announced we should get going to the start....all we had to do was walk down a flight of stairs and we were dumped into the coral.  The pacers were starting to line up and it was quite overwhelming.  I started to get a bit emotional...as I always do...so I ducked into a parking ramp to do a little warm up.

As much as I was hoping for a decent time, it didn't take much reminding of why I was actually running this particular morning.   I thought about my surgery and how I DIDN'T have cancer....I looked down at all of the ribbons pinned to my spibelt and how even though some of them are no longer with us, they were certainly about to run this race with me.  I prayed that their angel wings would help to carry me to the finish.....and how next year I hope to see more "In Honor" ribbons and less "In Memory" ones.  I can only hope that the money I raised during this experience will somehow change a person's life....I just know it will!!   I was really glad I took that final ten minutes to be alone and find clarity. 

As I came out of the ramp....Leah, Lainie, and I wished each other a good race one more time before we split up and found our spots in the crowd.  There was No looking back now....the whole crowd started to do the final countdown followed by lots of cheers and it was GO TIME!!

I get goose bumps just thinking about that moment....Next up, the race!!

Peace and Blessings

Jen B.


  1. Gah!!!!!!! I already know what happens next and I'm still excited to read! :) LOL! You ladies look so cute in your singlets! That one is going to mean a lot to you for years to come. The call you made to me was pretty priceless, I just had to laugh because I know how crazy it is pre-race. Can't wait to read the rest!!!!