As you all know, I was pretty nervous about running the Casper Marathon. I debated dropping down to the half or even not running at all. One thing that was never up for discussion, though, was whether or not I would go to Wyoming. After all, my flight was already paid for and even more importantly, this race would be a long overdue reunion with two of my favorite people (running or non-running) – Patty and Kate! It had been too long since we have all done a race together and I miss them like crazy. It’s kind of funny how you can build such a strong connection with people you met during races, but here we are, lifelong friends!

An oldie but a goodie – New Hampshire Marathon 2012!

The days leading up to the race actually turned out to be pretty crazy in a good way. Although I haven’t talked about it on the blog, AJ and I are moving and I recently accepted a new job (same position, different company). So, in the five days before the race, the following things happened:

  1. We received and accepted an offer on our house (much faster than we expected to sell it) and found out we have to be out in less than a month.
  2. I had my last day of work at my former company.
  3. I received complimentary upgrades to first class for my flights out west – my first time ever flying first class! They made me an omelette for breakfast. It was basically the pinnacle of my life.
  4. We are in the process of trying to find somewhere to live before we close on our house.

So, yeah. Lots of changes afoot. You could say it’s not the ideal time to be out of town, and it definitely was not, but I chose to look at it like these were all positive signs from the universe. None of these things, with the exception of leaving my job, were things I expected to happen any time soon, and yet they happened in the span of a week. That has to count for something, right? This race was either going to go awesome OR I was going to crash and burn in payment for all the great luck I’ve been blessed with lately.

After the glorious experience of traveling first class for free (thanks to hard-earned American Airlines elite status), I arrived in Denver and waited on Patty and Kate, who had both been delayed. They got in eventually and we had a lovely 4 hour drive to Casper! Seriously, the drive was gorgeous. Sweeping view of the plains, rock formations, and mountains in the distance. Have I mentioned before that Wyoming is my favorite state? It is.

Friday afternoon consisted of heading to the expo, which was conveniently located in the host hotel where we were staying. It took us 3 minutes to walk through the expo, and that’s only because we sampled some soup. Otherwise it would have been more like 90 seconds. Gotta love small races!

At dinner on Friday night

On Saturday morning, got up early to head to a sporting goods store and buy matching shirts for the race (seriously) and then we went for a shakeout run through the city of Casper. It felt good to move our legs after being in the car the day before, but damn if us flatlanders didn’t notice the altitude! We were all huffing and puffing while chugging along at a 10 min pace, which didn’t seem to bode so well for the next day. We also ended up finding a veteran’s parade going through the streets of downtown Casper and stopped to pay our respects while simultaneously catching our breaths and trying not to panic about the thought of running a marathon with no oxygen the following day.

That awkward moment when you have to stop for a picture to catch your breath

The agenda for later in the afternoon called for a trip up Casper Mountain to see some waterfalls, which were really beautiful. We were able to look out over the valley, but there was some (minor) hiking involved. I did that in flip flops and a dress because I was unprepared, but at least I looked cute while not breathing.

Worst hiking outfit ever

The night before, we went to dinner with some friends and discovered that they knew people who own a CHRISTMAS STORE in Casper. Now, you may not know this about me, but I practice Judaism. I grew up in a non-religious home that celebrated Christmas and I went through the conversion process later, but that’s a story for another day. ANYWAY, old traditions die hard and I still love Christmas trees and ornaments, and AJ is Catholic, so I buy Christmas ornaments every I go. So knowing that I was about to have an entire store at my disposal was pretty much more excitement than I could handle. I restrained myself when we visited on Saturday and only bought 3 ornaments, which was a victory.

I may have a problem. Yes, I wrote on the ornament myself.

When we got back to the hotel, I headed to the “expo” to buy shot blocks and was immediately accosted by some of my most favorite Marathon Maniacs! It was great to see everyone after what seems like forever! These are people that I used to see every few weeks, and now it’s sometimes only once a year. Reconnecting with them made me realize just how different my life is now compared to what it looked like just a couple of years ago. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just different. We had a mixed group of Maniacs and normal people (ha!) for dinner, and I had a blast catching up with everyone and reminiscing. It was like the good old days all over again.

Maniacs and Fanatics at dinner!

As I went to bed on Saturday night, I was reading “Think and Grow Rich.” It’s an old book about how to use the power of positive thinking to obtain various forms of wealth and achieve your goals, so I decided to try it out for the race the next day. I put my anxiety as far out of my mind and came up with a mantra based on the book: “Faith and strength.” I decided that I needed to have faith that my goal was achievable and possible, and that if I put all my energy into it, I would succeed. I needed to have strength to push through when the going got tough and remember why I was out there in the first place. I made the promise to myself that I would repeat that over and over and not quit until I had no choice, and when I woke up on race day, the first thing I thought was “faith and strength.”

To be continued.

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