The day I met Hal Higdon, Superwoman, and M.C. Hammer’s pants – Jacksonville Bank Marathon Weekend, Part 1

I set off for Jacksonville by way of Charleston early Saturday morning – about 7 am. I had to go to Charleston to pick up Summer before we continued on our journey to the Jacksonville Bank Marathon. I wore my T-Rex hat in the car for good luck.

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We made the fairly uneventful drive to Jacksonville and headed straight to packet pick-up, formerly known as the expo. Y’all know how I feel about race expos, so I was slightly saddened that this race didn’t really have one. However, the running store that had it was very nice and had everything you could need before a race. I went to the registration tent and signed up, then walked inside to pay.

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Just inside the door was lurking an amazing surprise.

Hal Higdon.

You probably don’t know who he is, but he’s a former Olympian, marathoner extraordinaire, and oh yeah, I used his half marathon training plan to run my first half. All of you who have asked me how to train for a half? I have sent you his plan. BE IMPRESSED. I geeked out.

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Obviously I bought his book. He signed it JUST FOR ME. We had a moment.

So then I went back outside to get my packet and shirt, and the people outside sass me. They’re all, “What size t-shirt do you want?” I say “small.” They say “Oh, we’re not allowed to give out women’s smalls to people who are just registering today. It’s only for people who registered in advance.” HA! Joke’s on them because I don’t like women’s cut shirts anyway. Apparently they were allowed to give out men’s  small shirts, so I got one of those instead. Suckers.

To say Summer and I got epically lost on our way to the hotel would be a gross understatement. When we got in the car, Summer was all, “I’m a great navigator!” Yeah, equally as great as the one Christopher Columbus had (heyoo, everyone loves a history joke!). On our of our many loops around the same office park, we see a man committing one of the cardinal sins of road racing and one of the things that annoys me most in the world (soon to be chapter one of my book): wearing the race t-shirt before/to the race. I won’t go into the many reasons why this annoys me since I need material for my book, but let’s just sum up by saying that presumably, you have trained for this event and you have other running clothes. Wear them. You look like an idiot wearing a shirt for a race you haven’t run yet. Not to mention, the race shirt is the brightest shade of green ever. It’s not like it can be mistaken for something else.

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I went for a quick shake out run when we finally made it to the hotel. Summer had decided she wanted to visit the 12 thrift stores in the area, and I obliged since I had, afterall, dragged her away from more Christmas parties to come watch me run. I would never have agreed to it if I understood what her idea of thrifting was. Here are Summer’s rules for thrifting:

  1. Spend at least one hour in each store.
  2. Repeatedly hold up hideous things just to see the other person’s reaction.
  3. Try on everything, go back and get more stuff, then try that on too.
  4. Buy the most hideous thing you can find, then say it’s for your mom.
  5. Find the most ghetto thrift stores possible because “they have the best deals.”
  6. See how uncomfortable you can make Danielle in a variety of ways.

She bought $37 worth of stuff at the first store. $37! Did you even know thrift stores had $37 worth of stuff in them? Because I did not. These purchases included, but are not limited to, high heels that were surely owned by a former street walker, a jacket that was actually very nice and most likely never worn (well done), a cute shirt (again, well done), and the most hideous slippers humankind has ever seen, to be given as a gift to her mom, who “really loves that kind of thing.” I don’t know your mom, but no she doesn’t. She does not.

After store number 1, we headed to the ‘hood, where we encountered a thrift store straight out of the show “Hoarders.” The patroness of this establishment was, for unknown reasons, screaming at the top of her lungs about her dog and how he liked to “boo boo,” with “boo boo” apparently being some type of redneck code word for poop. Also, this dog had the most gigantic testicles in the world. I’m pretty sure he had cancer. Summer and I were both taken aback. ANYWAY, this store had a variety of gems.

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Summer found harem/MC Hammer/awful pants in multiple colors and patterns that I’m pretty sure she actually considered buying. It was one of those situations where I was so horrified that I couldn’t tell whether she was just messing with me or not. It wasn’t funny.

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The redneck lady started yelling at everyone that it was time to leave, so we rolled out. It was time to carbo load. Baby can only take so much thrifting in one day.

Thanks to the $5 coupons provided by Mediterrania for dinner, we headed there. It was a Greek/Italian hybrid restaurant – my two favorite kinds. We ate a horrifying amount of food, which is par for the course for me on any given day. We’re talking two bread baskets, an appetizer of spanakopita, bowls of minestrone, and our actual entrees. It was awesome. One thing that was not awesome, however, was another offender of the no-race-shirt-pre-race rule. A man was sitting and eating dinner across the room from us wearing his race shirt, which was approximately 2 sizes too small. There was a lot of man boob. Sir, exchange your shirt for a bigger size if it does not fit as you anticipated. At the very least, do not eat while wearing it.

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We made a quick run to Wal-Mart to buy supplies for posters and some last minute Saltines and Sprite, just in case. There’s funny looking people at every Wal-Mart, but Jacksonville seemed to be especially overrun.  We got out of there as quickly as possible and headed back to the hotel so Summer could make signs and I could question my life choices, aka my decision to run yet another marathon. Our literary greatness will be revealed in part two of the weekend report, not to worry.

Before bed, I read some of Hal’s (we’re on a first name basis now) book, specifically the part about being tough mentally during a race. Little did I know that this information would become extremely important on race day. Dun dun dunnnn.

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