chapter three - race eve

By October 4th, the Monday before the Sunday race, I was tingling with energy from the taper, a phenomenon Hal had described in his book. I was bouncing off the walls, part nerves, perhaps, but also with a feeling of tremendous inner energy. I began carb-loading, having pasta or rice dishes twice each day, further feeding the energy well. By week's end I was ready to give pasta a break for a while! I was also beginning to feel the confluence of two diametrically opposed emotions - the confidence of knowing I had prepared in every way I could juxtaposed against the fear of the unknown, the last 6.2 miles beyond my longest training run. I kept going to bed at night and waking up one day closer to October 10th.

The day before the race was busy on all fronts. Matt was flying in from Kansas City while Stefan took his SATs and we had to register for the race in downtown Chicago. I took the packets for both me and Stefan, picked Matt up at O'Hare, and drove us into the city. When we walked into McCormick Place the atmosphere was like that of a rock concert in the 70s. Electricity was in the air as 40,000 athletes tried to control the combination of emotional exuberance and physical readiness, walking an inch above the floor, smiling and chatting with fellow athletes, and gathering the necessary materials for the race. I left registration even more excited and pumped up.

I drove Matt back to Naperville so that we could watch Stefan play a hockey game. That's right, the young lad played a hockey game the afternoon before running his first marathon. Unbelievable. As always, he played with abandon, focused on the task at hand. Hollis dropped the three of us at the train station shortly after the game and we rode into the city to spend our final evening at the fabulous Le Meridien, a short distance from the starting and finishing point of the race at Grant Park. One more pasta dinner, then off to bed around 10:00 pm.

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