I was up in the middle of the night and at the airport at 4:30 am. It was dark and cold but I was wide awake, exited to be on my way.
The first leg to Chicago was uneventful. When we got to the gate of the second flight, we were delayed a half hour.
Once we were all on the plane and the door was closed, we taxied a little bit and then the engine was turned off. We were asked to hold because of weather in San Francisco. I was getting a little frustrated because we had such a tight schedule.
Just as the engines started up, I got a text from Shawna. It read, "Our flight got cancelled. We are flying to Sacramento and renting a car from there." Oh, no!!! I felt so bad for them. This was going to be a long day without delays, and now we were all getting in so late.
Once in the air, the flight was pretty good. Landed late, but we were finally there!
There were 16 of us traveling form Rhode Island but I was the only one going to a different hotel. Once I finally made it to my hotel, I found myself alone. This really wasn't a big deal. I flew for 10 years before having my son but I was disappointed to go to the expotique alone.
The Expotique was right across the street, so I went to check it out. The music was so loud, I couldn't even think. (insert old lady comment here). There was a TNT section with a huge banner with pictures of the people we were running to remember. I started to look for Haley, but got so emotional at seeing so many children and babies, I had to walk away.
I found my way to the line to pick up my packet and that went quickly. It was well organized in that department and I was excited to see my number, 19,036. My highest number to date.
Kara Goucher and Shalana Flanagan were going to speak for a little at the expo and were also running. I was so sad to see, that I got in too late and had missed it. This really bummed me out.
I was through the expo rather quickly and as I was walking out, I got a phone call from Shawna. Her and the crew from South Carolina were returning the rental car and were on there way. She told me that three of our teammates were at the expo somewhere and sent me there number.
I gave them a call and asked if I could meet up with them. It was David that I called and he said they were on the 3rd floor over at Nike Town. It took me a minute to realize that Nike Town was different from where I was standing.
I headed over and at the stop light I could see people standing on the side of the building looking at a wall. A women next to me was telling her girlfriend that that was where all our names were written. Wow, that amazed me. I went straight to that wall.
I found David, Robin and Leah after riding the escalator a bunch of times. This store was a mad house! So many people and the music was even louder than the expo. Lines wrapped around for miles and I thought I was on the third floor but soon realized I was on the 5th. Don't ask me, I can't explain it either. Back down the escalator and finally I met the first three teammates.
We stopped at the wall and found our names, snapped a few pics and then headed to the nearest bar. We sat and had a drink and a great conversation. I love meeting new people!
|Me, Leah, David and Robin|
After our drink we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our boat ride to Sausalito. That is where Shawna's aunt and uncle live and they made us a wonderful dinner and we celebrated Haley's 16th birthday. It was a beautiful and emotional evening and it was the reason we were there and I was so happy to be able to share in that special moment.
|On the ferry to Sausalito|
Haley was a little girl who love to give presents more than receive them. Sound familiar? If you know me, you know I am not fond of receiving gifts. I don't like the attention or the fact that people spent money on me. However, I get so much joy from buying and giving gifts for my friends and family.
Shawna had us all bead our own wine charms as a fun activity and then she put our creations in a gift bag filled with little gifts for us. Everything in the bag was special and had something to do with Haley. I will treasure everything I received. Except of course, for the chocolate. I will eat the chocolate. LOL
The dinner was delicious and the company was fabulous. I am sure Haley would of enjoyed every moment and I know in my heart, she was with us.
|Shawna lighting the candles on Haley's cake.|
Since we all got in so late, our dinner and party were also late. We were all so exhausted and by the time I got into bed that night, I had been up for 23 hours and 15 minutes. I barely remember hitting the pillow but I do know that I fell asleep smiling.
Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up in a sweat. I realized I had never turned the air on and went over to do so. I hit buttons but no air. Shoot, my AC does not work. I went back to bed without covers and slept until the morning.
I felt pretty good considering how many hours I was up the day before. I looked out my window and saw a diner. I was staving and was in desperate need of coffee. I got dressed and went to eat. It was a really cute place and I got the biggest breakfast on the menu.
I was joined by Shawna, Patricia and Tracy. From there we went back to the expo so that they could pick up their packets. It was a little more fun this time with people and we snapped a fun picture.
One of the things on my must do list for San Fran, was to see Alcatraz. We had tickets for the 10:30 ferry over. The ride was just about 15 minutes. Once there we made our way up and entered the prison.
|Yes, that is Flat Stanley!|
|The gate in.|
On the way out, they had a man signing copies of his book. He was an ex con who had spent time in Alcatraz! His name was Robert Luke and I had to talk to him and get his book. Now don't think I am crazy. This man was 84 years old, with his wife of 37 years and never hurt anyone physically. He was a bank robber. He spent a little over 5 years on the rock. Not too many people can say they met someone who spent time there and I think it was pretty cool.
From there we got a quick bite at Fisherman's Wharf and then we headed back to the hotel to get ready for the inspiration dinner. I stopped at the desk to get my new room key for a room with AC.
I met everyone in the lobby and we walked to the Inspiration dinner. I wasn't sure what to expect but I was told to bring tissues. You don't have to tell me that twice.
We got in line to go in and you could hear the excitement. As we got closer to the entrance, the TNT mentors, coaches and staff members were dressed in crazy costumes, hats and wigs and they were blowing horns, ringing cowbells and yelling as loud at they could to cheer us on. I got emotional right away and took out my first tissue.
|Our cheering crew!|
As we ate our dinner, they had a slide show of the people who we were running to remember and honor. I had a very hard time looking at all the photos and there were just so many children. I am crying writing this. No family should have to go through this. I prayed for every one of those people up on the screen and their families. And when Haley's picture came up, I lost it. I sent a message to Mr. RWM telling him I wasn't' strong enough to do this. I needed him to be my rock and even though I was with friends, it was him who I really needed at that moment.
I survived the dinner and enjoyed the speakers but I left there a different person.
|After the Inspiration Dinner. Loved our shirts!|
We went back to the hotel and met in Shawna's room to write all the names on our shirts that we were running for. I had a little trouble with the shirt staying in place and figuring out which pens worked best. I was disappointed in how my shirt turned out, but the meaning and the thought were there.
After that, I laid out everything I would need for the morning, set my alarm and got in bed.
Next post to follow shortly.
Run Strong, Think Big!