I met my friend Serena (on the right in picture below) at the DART rail station just before 6am to catch the earliest train to American Airlines Center (AAC) we could. We were quickly joined by many other DRC friends on the train platform- all nervous with excitement.
Once we arrived at AAC, the corridors were PACKED full of runners just looking to stay warm before heading to the start line. It is impossible to describe how much excitement and enthusiasm lined those hallways!! I can't think of anything close to even make a comparison.
Once sunrise finally came around, we began our way to our start line corrals. This is where I finally ran into my very good friend Ashley (below), who would be running her very first marathon that day!! I can't even begin to describe how excited I get for people running their first marathons. Of course they are all exciting, but nothing quite matches the experience of your first. Ashley was already teary and emotional at this point, and I was too. I was so glad to see her then and give her one last good luck hug! Ashley runs a faster pace then I knew I'd be running, so I figured this would be my last opportunity to see her before the finish line that afternoon.This is also where I met up with another very good friend, James. We had made last minute plans to start the race together and I'm so glad we did! James has been such a great friend and supporter of my fundraising the last two marathons. He also survived the infamous Oklahoma Marathon with me back in April. Thankfully, he managed to recover from that as well, and had since run the Chicago Marathon in October. Today both of us would be running our 3rd marathon (all three in 2009). Hard to believe!
And here's me, #3097. The 'E' at the end of my number indicated what corral number I'm in. Corrals are assigned by expected finish time (faster runners up front) in order to help space out runners and avoid anyone getting trampled. I was in the last corral (with the slowest runners)- although this was no problem because I've also learned that the last corrals also have the most fun people in them. Case in point, not far from James and I were all four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! :=)
This was my attempt to catch a photo of some of the start line chaos from way back in Corral E. It was a sea of runners as far ahead as we could see. The start line wasn't even in view yet (up ahead and around the corner).