The Road Trip and the Expo.

Our alarm went off at 6am this morning, and we were up and out the door, heading to the kennel to drop off the dogs, and then full speed ahead to Washington, DC!

We had a really fun drive – an absolutely beautiful time of year to drive through the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia.  The pictures do zero justice, but the trees were seriously like a rainbow of colors.  I must have said, “Casey look at the TREES!” no less than 20 times in 6 hours.  

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I drove the first four hours, and needed a quick Wendy’s stop for hot caffeine.  After a very scary bathroom break at a country road BP, we decided any and all breaks from now on would be at restaurants instead of gas stations.

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When we stopped to switch drivers, we ended up at a McDonald’s and we were both hungry for lunch.  After looking over the nutrition brochure (buried around the corner from the counter), I settled on the fruit and yogurt parfait.  Casey saw that the vanilla ice cream cone was only 150 calories, and went for that.  When our order arrived, the “parfait” I was handed was basically a dixie cup of congealed fruit swimming in syrup, in a cup the size of my cell phone.  It was laughable.  I ate two bites of yogurt and threw the “fruit” away, and majorly regretted not having an ice cream cone of my own!  No wonder people don’t try to eat healthy fast food.

When we got to DC, we were totally surprised to see that the road leading us to our hotel was actually the marathon starting corral!  We literally drove through the starting line to get to the hotel – so cool!  Excuse the blurry photo – I was in motion…

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When we moved to Charlotte, we ended up making several trips down to try to find housing, visit schools, etc.  Each time we stayed in a Hyatt near the airport, since we figured we knew where it was, and it had a good rate.   Somewhere along the way I realized that Hyatt had a rewards program, so I signed up and had all of our visits credited – might as well, right?  Casey always makes fun of me and calls me grandma when I try to get points for things, or use coupons.  But guess what grandma did this time?

I managed to get us a $250 city view 9th floor hotel room at the super swanky Hyatt in Arlington, where the finish line is literally AT the door of our hotel for…

FREE!  We are seriously steps away from the finish party and marathon meet up area, which will save us soooo much hassle tomorrow!  I somehow racked up a lot of points, and was able to get our entire DC stay for no charge.   I don’t know why I have so many freaking points – when we checked in the concierge looked at our reservation and asked me if I worked for Hyatt hotels – so weird.  I’m not asking questions though – I’ll take it.  Check out our fancy room!

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Once we were all checked in, we headed out the expo.  I wanted to take a bunch of pictures of all the finish line stuff outside our hotel, but it was pouring rain:(  There are a lot of disabled veterans staying in our hotel, and all the super fancy hand bikes were stationed outside – very cool to finally see in person. 

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The expo was pretty good, and Casey was a good sport and posed for lots of embarrassing photos.  It always feels weird to me to be at an expo for a race I’m not running – I feel like a fraud.  But that didn’t stop me from taking my share of yummy samples…

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I had a delicious Odwalla drink (chocolate something?) and there were all sorts of fun things to sample from the Clif family.  They have a new Shot Rok product that is a peanut butter protein ball that tastes like pure candy – yum!

After the expo, my good friend Blake picked us up and the three of us headed out to dinner!  We ate a cute Italian place called Trattoria Luna, and I got yummy eggplant penne.  I definitely ate as if I was running the marathon – ugh.

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We were back at the hotel nice and early to rest up for the big day tomorrow!  When we got back to our room, look what Casey discovered…

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The Art Institute of DC was right out our window, and it was a big lit up fishbowl at night.  Check out the top right window – a culinary lab class!  We watched the students baking and working for a few minutes, and then decided that we were creepy and closed the blinds.

Time to unpack all the marathon loot!  Casey stocked up on shot blocks, body glide, and drink tablets, and got all his gear together for tomorrow morning.

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While Casey tried to figure out how to get his timing chip attached to his shoe, I played on the computer and snacked on a power bar for dessert (my pasta was gooey, but not filling).  I also went through Casey’s bag o’ goodies…

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There was lots of junky paper and flyers, but he did get this really cool patch.  What does one do with a patch?  We don’t know, but we still thought it was cool.  He also got what was described as the “highly coveted mock neck competitors shirt.”

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I think it’s cool, but he wasn’t so sure about the embroidery, and he felt like a phony wannabe marine.  Anyways, look at what I bought for me at the expo…

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RUNNERS SLEEVES!  I have been threatening to get these for a while, and they were only $10 at the expo!  They are supposed to keep you warm and improve circulation when you run, without all the bulkiness of wearing lots of layers when you run.  Plus, Kara Goucher wears them, and let’s be honest – that’s really why I want them.  Love me some Goucher.

Tomorrow, we are getting up at 5am, and I’m going to take the train to the start with Casey, to keep him calm and distracted, and then head back to the hotel to meet up with Blake so we can get our cheer on.  By this time tomorrow, we’ll be back in Charlotte, and Casey will have fun his fifth marathon! 

I am so so sooo excited for tomorrow.  I promise a race recap and lots of pictures as soon as we get back.  When you get up tomorrow, think happy thoughts for Casey and the 40,000 other runners running 26.2 through DC!  And now, it’s bedtime for this cheerleader…