It was getting late and I had to cut my losses.
I had a banana and tried to eat another croissant, but nothing was staying down or up. My stomach wasn't as settled as I'd like it to be before running 26.2, but I had no other choice at this point.
I got off the toilet and made my final preparations before heading over to the start area with Fil. Even though our hotel was about a mile away from the start, we decided to drive and park as close as possible in order to stay warm as long as possible. Wussies for life.
The forecast for the day was a high of mid 40's with a chance of showers. No wind. No fuss. Pretty much perfect conditions for a marathon.
As far as wardrobe, I decided to go with the GLRR shorts to protect the the family jewels, GLRR singlet over a thin compression shirt to insulate the chest, my usual warmers for the arms, Injinji tetra compression socks for the toes and calf, K3's for sneakers, beanie cap for the head and ears, and mittens for the fingers. Only wardrobe adjustment I wish I had made before the start was to wear my running cap instead of the beanie.
We found the main parking lot, where everybody else was parking, around 6:15AM. We double checked that we had everything we needed before making the short walk up towards the start.
Bag check was inside a non-descript building. It was warm inside and we had some room to stretch out. Considering the amount of people at the race (1500+), the whole start area didn't feel cramped or over-crowded. I kept to myself for the most part, and did a short warm up run outside at about 6:30AM.
I was hoping for another poop before the start, but I resigned myself to the fact that it wasn't going to happen. I was basically living my worst nightmare before a marathon. I opted instead for a piss in the bushes. I felt a little bit better after the piss, but still felt heavy from carrying some unnecessary poopage.
I made it back to the start to wish Fil luck right before the blues rendition of the national anthem. Jimi Hendrix style. Pretty cool, but not the same without the effects of 'shrooms.
Just from looking around at the start I could tell that there were some speedsters here. However, we were mixed in with the half-marathoners, so that probably skewed my unscientific survey of the competition. I had to remind myself to take it easy at the start, since we were running the first few miles with the half-marathoners.
I usually get really amped up right before the start of a big race, but there was something about this one that kept my energy levels low. Perhaps I was getting too use to it all now. The distance didn't really faze me anymore. I knew I could cover it. It was just a matter of how fast could I do it, and how I would feel at the end. How much was I willing to sacrifice this early in the season? Was I going to red-line myself to get under three hours? Or perhaps it was the doubt that was creeping into my mind, or the piece of poop that wanted to creep out of my butt. Whatever it was, it was really affecting my game this morning.
The only pace calculation that I did before the race calculated what I would need to stay at or under 2:59:59. That pace happens to be 6:51 per mile for 26.2 miles. This. This was going to be my magic number for today. I was going to use, and need, every last second of it.
I was hoping for a gun start considering that we were in the deep south, but unfortunately, it was just a simple countdown and GO!
The front of the pack thinned out pretty quickly with only a few clump of runners sticking together after the first mile. I was right behind the lead females, which consisted of five fine-looking athletes. It's like what you would see at Boston, all of them right on each other's shoulders, matching stride-for-stride.
The race was now on., and my clock was ticking down.
T-Minus 2 hrs 59 mins and 59 secs.