It’s the last day of work before my marathon weekend and I’m thinking about how great everything has worked out. No injuries, no illnesses and no logistical snafus. We were home free! Marathon weekend was on its way free and clear!
An e-mail from the head of our TNT chapter came over my cell phone and the subject was: “Hilton Hotel SF on Strike”
What?? We were scheduled to arrive the next morning. Don’t tell me the hotel is on strike!! Where in the world are they going to find another hotel in San Francisco at this late date!!!!
I figured we’d be stuck in a Motel 6 in Oakland and they’d have to bus us to the start line. Which would mean getting up two hours earlier than the already inhumanely early wake up call at 2:30 am! Not to mention spending a long weekend in a roach motel instead of a nice luxury property with concierge service. Damn!
I opened the e-mail and was relieved to learn it was basically business as usual at the Hilton SF. Only housekeeping and catering would be effected. We would however, have to deal with protestors outside.
That’s ok. I can deal with protestors.
I was pretty nervous the night before we left. I was worried about leaving a key piece of gear behind. My husband kept saying, “Don’t worry. If you forget anything we’ll just buy a replacement in SF. Stop fretting.”
I wanted to use my own gear. The stuff that got me through the last five months of training and was proven on the road. Every endurance athlete knows you don’t try something different on race day. That is commandment #1:
Thou shalt not try anything new on race day.
As it happened, I almost forgot to pack the bladder to my waist pack. My waist pack is very old and it is unlikely we would have found the same model in San Francisco. My husband would have suggested just buying a whole new waist pack/bladder set. But then we’d be breaking commandment number one.
Though I did make it to San Francisco with all my important gear my compulsion to always pack light failed me later in the weekend. But more on that later.
As expected the ride up in the team bus went by quickly. When we arrived at the hotel you could see the protestors in full force. They were loud and angry. I was not looking forward to walking through them.
The bus circled the block and stopped on the opposite side of the hotel where there weren’t any doors. So not only would we have to battle our way into the hotel, but we would have to schlep our luggage around the block first. Great.
So I grabbed my bag and rolled it behind the line of runners and followed the leader around the corner. Where hotel staff had a secret side door opened for us to ‘sneak’ into. Yeah!!!
I was waiting for the line to move so I could get in, I heard the picketers grow louder. I looked up and here they came marching around the corner making a bee line for us. Their leader was in the front head down yelling at us through her bull horn. The doorman immediately grabbed his phone and dialed for back up.
I was willing the line to move faster so I wouldn’t get caught with a bull horn in my ear before I could reach the safety of the interior. But they were ascending on us FAST. I started yelling to the runners in front of me “GO! GO! GO!” The line moved only a fraction faster and the protesters reached me just as my running partner Cindy made it in. I executed a perfect dive roll into the door pulling my luggage behind me and managed to miss the brunt of the cacophony of anger.
Phew! Who tipped them off?
The hotel was packed and the line for registration was a mile long. But they did such a great job moving the line that we were checked into our rooms in record times. There was a live band in the lobby probably to try to drown out the noise of the protestors. And they were serving lemonade and cookies. I was too freaked out to partake as I was trying hard to eat healthy before the marathon.
All weekend they had complementary wine in the evenings, and again I wouldn’t partake. God forbid I have any empty calories before the marathon!