Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Big darn anchor.
Predawn in downtown Phoenix; twenty-nine degrees. The marathon began from Wesley Bolin Plaza. In the plaza's center rested the anchor from the battleship Arizona. Runners huddled near this cold metal object, shivering in their trash bags.
I wasn't one.
I was shivering over by the UPS gear-check trucks. They would haul everyone's stuff to the finish line near Tempe's Sun Devil Stadium. Along with TNTers Cesar and Angie, we killed time talking about how stinking cold it was.
The previous afternoon, Coach Katie had presented me with two pace charts. One was for 4 hours and 30 minutes on the nose. The other was a bit more ambitious: 4 hours and 24 minutes. I was shooting for the latter time.
As the sun rose, seven thousand runners reluctantly said 'good-bye' to their warm clothes and lined up for the race. The mayor of Phoenix delivered a cheery message that came out garbled over the loudspeakers. I don't know what he said. He could've still been drunk from a fundraiser and admitted to shooting his wife. But everyone cheered anyway. It warmed the lungs.
A few women sang our national anthem a capella and off we ran. I was excited. I'd been waiting 13 months for this marathon and still couldn't believe it had just started. Rather than marvel over the obvious, I urged myself to take the first mile slow.
The day would soon warm up.
(Photo by Meghan Kroneman)