Less than 24 hours from now, it's on.
My last-minute change in plans has turned out to be a blessing in surprise. I got in to South Bend last evening and now have an entire day to relax in the city of the race. This morning, I went out for a quick two in the cold, rainy air, feeling like I was cutting through without too much effort at all. Given that my legs were not warmed up at all, I was very pleased with my pace, and everything points to success in the morning.
The extra day here has changed everything. The real downside with traveling all over the country to do these races is, oddly enough, the travel. Time spent in planes, trains and automobiles causes muscles to cramp up and the body in general to revolt. Not only that, but you also have the shift in weather or altitude that comes with being in a new location. You have an unfamiliar bed, a different breakfast, and a whole host of other changes to which you have to get acclimated, and quickly.
So this time, I've got a whole day. I will not be rushed getting through the expo this afternoon. I get to visit a lot of my old haunts from college. If I'm lucky, I might even meet up with some other friends who might be in town. Cap this off with a dinner among friends whom I have not seen in a while, and I've got quite the Friday ahead of me.
And now, I have time to do all the other little things that come with running a marathon. I get to eat regular meals on time. I checked all my equipment last night, verifying that I have everything I need. Today, I'll spend some time putting everything into its proper place, once I've gotten my bib and safety pins. I'll stack up all my clothes in order of putting them on to avoid having to think too much in the morning. The plan is to be able to move on autopilot in the morning, avoiding mistakes and stress.
This has been an incredibly long training season for me, encompassing more than 900 miles and five months. I trust my training. I'm proud of my accomplishments thus far.
And tomorrow, I qualify.