On October 22, 2017 16 teams started and 16 teams finished the 42nd Marine Corps Marathon in DC!
I can't say it was a flawless weekend, but seeing those tired post-race smiles in the team tent Sunday afternoon makes me consider it a success.
I (and most of our athletes) arrived Friday and this year we had a planned happy hour which was actually two hours in the hotel lobby. I have a love hate relationship with our hotel...won't go into why I hate it so much, but if you were one of our people who tried to check in Friday you already know. I LOVE it because it's close to the start and has this little restaurant/bar in the lobby. Is it the best? NOPE. Convenient? YES.
Friday evening of these events have become really special to me. I get to see and catch up with all our people and get those hugs I miss!
Saturday tends to be a roller coaster of emotions for me. It's the last day of planning and prep before the BIG day. Bib pick up, tent set up, morning of logistical planning....it all happens on Saturday and is the last chance to make sure we are ready.
I realized this weekend that I compartmentalize these weekends, step-by-step. Get one big thing checked off the list (bib pick up), take a deep breath, then move on to the next bullet point (how do we get these people to the start?)....I watch this long, long list I've had for months dwindle down to just a couple of things.
Saturday night is the team dinner and it's the only time I get to see ALL of our pushers, their athletes and everyone's families together in the same place. We always ask an athlete and volunteer to share their stories at this dinner which is my favorite part. I love getting to hear everyone's unique perspectives and stories! This year didn't disappoint....and I definitely didn't cry. At all.
Sunday morning comes after little to no sleep. It's early....painfully early and I can't quite describe the feeling of nerves mixed with adrenaline, but it apparently calms me. I wouldn't say I'm relaxed, but I'm not stressed. I'm moving forward and checking those tiny things off the list and I'm in a good place....
I was in a GREAT place this year because we told everyone to be in the lobby at 4:30am, check in with me, then load into their perspective caravan vehicle. I am beyond proud to say that at 4:46am, every single Kpeasey athlete was in a vehicle and on the road to the start. After all the logistical cluster effs, this was a massive victory!
At this point, for me I know I'm in the home stretch of nerves because I have 3 more objectives:
Get them to the tent
Get them to start
Watch them finish
I always love seeing our people on course. We did our counts, "OK...we've seen this team and this team, we have this team and this team still to come". We cheered them on when as we saw them and I loved seeing their smiles...I can't imagine the long day they were in the middle of enduring, so seeing them smile while we checking in with them makes my heart happy.
It's a long day. For everyone....our athletes on course do the majority of the work, but the volunteers, the cheerleaders, the families, all play a huge role in how the day goes.
As we waited for everyone to finish my list dwindled down to 16. 16 teams that I wanted to see at the tent.
They all finished!
Check and CHECK.
The rest of the afternoon was filled with packing up and I can't take credit for that....that's all on Brent and our volunteers.
Everyone made it back to the hotel, showered (hopefully) and then slowly started gathering in the hotel restaurant.
This may be my favorite part of the weekend because it's also become very bittersweet for me. The victory of the day sets in along with all that hard work and then the reality that we're all leaving to go back to our lives.
I spent Sunday evening hanging with my people. Drinking wine, catching up, asking about race day and making plans for 2018. I got to know more about our new people, too! I usually leave Monday morning, but I have this thing called a job and couldn't do that this year, so I took a late flight back home to Denver which meant that I had to leave the celebration a little early.
That, in Helen's world means TEARS. All of them. Leaving meant it was over and that it will be a few months before I am reconnected with these people I love so dearly...it was a long Uber to the airport!
If you were a part of this weekend, athlete, parent, volunteer, cheerleader from afar...THANK YOU. And congratulations! One of the many lessons I've learned from being a part of this little family is that it really takes a village to make success happen and we did it!
Thank you for being a part of our village.
I know this is a long post, but I want to leave you with MY favorite pic from the weekend taken by "happpenchance".
It's our people, in front of the sun rising over our beautiful Nation's Capitol, overseen by Brent and I. So maybe we were in the way of what was supposed to be a pic of our team, but to me, it perfectly captures how this event came to be...