I was nervous all week going into the race. I started hydrating at the start of the week, tried to keep my distance from the sick kids at school, and unsuccessfully tried to get to bed early. If you live in our house that is a joke! Every morning we talk about going to bed earlier and every night it doesn’t happen. Oh, well! The week went by and Friday came. I ran my last run before Sundays big day Friday after school. It didn’t give me any extra confidence as I felt my shin hurting, but running next to Ryan did. He reassured me many times.
After our run I got packing and we left around 9:30 p.m. for our hotel in the cities. Of course it was going to be late when we arrived. We never seem to get anywhere early when a race in coming. We checked in our 11:45 p.m. and were in bed around 1:00 a.m. with alarms set for 6:15 a.m . to head to the airport. Our flight left at 9:00 a.m. Not the full night of restful sleep I was looking for, but I am rather accustomed to lack of sleep when it comes to running races. Thank goodness for adrenaline and caffeine.
Our flight was overbooked, but luckily we did not get bumped. We arrived in sunny Phoenix at 11:30 a.m. and headed to pick up our rental car. From there we went to the expo to pick up my packet and switch corrals. When I originally signed up for this race I wasn’t sure how seriously I would take winter training and predicted my time to be under 4:00 hours. Now that I had trained hard, I wanted to move up my predicted time, so I wouldn’t have to weave and fight through as many runners at the start. I moved to the 3:40 corral. At the expo I bought a new shirt, tried some yummy frozen yogurt, and then we headed outdoors to walk around the Cityscape area of Phoenix to soak up the sun.
After a walk around downtown, it was time to head to our hot air balloon ride!
We were both excited, and Ryan scared. It was gorgeous and entertaining. We got to watch the balloons be inflated, take off, and then it was our turn! We were in the air for around an hour. We went up and got to enjoy scenic views of the mountains and desert landscape. We dipped down to see more desert terrain and then headed up again. The heat from the gas was hot! The weather was perfect though.
The only scary part to me was the landing. I had imagined that the balloons would just gently land the bottom of the basket on the ground. So not the case! We came in sideways and hit several small trees to slow us down. The balloon captain told us he thought we would probably tip over and some of us might fall out of the basket . We were told to get down and put our hands inside the basket. I was freaking out with thoughts of being ejected from the basket. Mid-freak out, the edge of our basket hit the ground, and we were bounced back in the air, hit the ground again, and bounced back up. We then proceeded to skid along the ground with the basket at a 45 degree angle. We stopped on the edge of our basket and then used our body weight to keep the basket from tipping over.
I was relieved to not have left the basket during the landing. We then enjoyed a champagne toast and a snack while the sun began to set over the desert. I was happy to check this item off from my bucket list!
The next morning was race morning, which I will discuss in the next post.
After the race I was shockingly not tired. I didn’t even nap or rest. We grabbed Subway for lunch, I took a shower, and we were headed out to hike Camelback Mountain. My legs were tired, but I really wanted to hike this 3000 foot mountain. The views I’d seen online looked amazing. I will say I was not expecting the steepness and lack of an actual trail. I didn’t know we would be climbing up rocks, but it was beautiful and so worth it. I knew my legs would pay for it the next day, and I was so right.
That night we had dinner at a mexican restaurant a high school friend who lives in Phoenix recommended. It was amazing. The blue corn enchiladas and spicy, spicy salsa were perfect after a hard days work!
The next day we visited the Desert Botanical Gardens. Having spent almost no part of my life in desert environment, I was both intrigued and awed by its uniqueness. I had a grand time learning about the desert flora and fauna, and photographing its unsuspecting beauty. The 77 degree temperatures were the icing on the cake.
Ryan and I had a great time! The gorgeous weather and finally feeling the sun on our shoulders certainly helped, too! Oh, how I’ve missed the vitamin D!