“We have to find the TNT check in tent so they know I am off the course”.
The most important thing to remember when running with TNT: when you cross the finish line, grab your medal and check in.
There are thousands of TNT runners on the course and TNT has to account for every one of them. So as each runner comes in, we check in so a TNT staff person can record in the computer who’s in.
Those people whose names are left on the “Not in yet” list are search for by the coaches back on the course. If they do not find you they call out the National Guard. If you are found back at the hotel sipping a beer and you just forgot to check in the coaches will kill you. If you are found dead on the course, the coaches will cut you a break.
If you are found on the course crawling to the finish, the coaches will walk next to you cheering you on until you finish. They’re good like that.
I did not want to be killed by my coaches for not checking in. (Actually, I just didn’t want to put them through the hassle to have to look for me when I was already in). Coach April and Coach Jim knew I was in. But they might not be the coaches assigned to sweep the course for the missing runners. So I still risked death if I didn’t check in.
Luckily the check in tent was nearby. I checked in and was given a 26.2 pin that was sort of like a second medal. I planned to put it on my TNT hat. But by the time I got back home to Santa Maria, I couldn’t find it!
I asked the nice lady at the tent where the TNT busses were. She pointed behind me and said, “Just walk that way.”
Sounded like they were close.
Kris and I started walking in the general direction indicated and I didn’t see any signs for TNT busses or anything. But there seemed to be a stream of people headed in the same direction so we started following them.
I was super cold now and I couldn’t wait to get on the bus. I probably should have stopped at the finisher’s boutique so I could have bought a sweatshirt. But too late now.
My legs were really hurting now. I think it was because my body temperature was dropping fast and it was causing them to cramp. (Plus the fact that I had been running on them all day probably had something to do with it).
I wasn’t even sure we were heading the right way as we seemed to have walked a long way already and still saw no signs regarding the buses. As we walked past a building I saw some people bring out a wheel chair. Oh, someone must have told them I was coming! But alas, they settled an elderly lady in it instead. I would have to keep up on my own.
I remembered I had to keep asking Kris to slow down. I could only walk at a snails pace. And it hurt.
Finally, we saw a nice man holding a big sign stating: “TNT BUSES” with an arrow pointed to the right. Finally! I’d be able to sit in a nice warm bus! But as we turned right, we just saw a lovely trail through a wooded area. Surely the buses were just through there right?