Alright, now to business. :-P So I've been struggling over the past week to put into words the amazing experience I have been blessed enough to be able to participate in. I still have not sorted out those details, but I figured I would just do as I always do - jump in feet first, head up. Hopefully I can get at least within sniffing distance to describing how wonderful the experience was from beginning to end. Wednesday, Mark got off work early and came home to help me finish packing and getting ready for the trip. I spent the previous week stressing and worrying over the entire deal. I suddenly suffered from a severe case of traveler's anxiety. I had not flown in 16 years and even if I could remember it all, everything has changed! I worried about packing liquids, getting through the TSA checkpoints and the airlines losing our baggage. I went through a small airline that had crazy baggage fees and poor reviews about being uncomfortable, etc. It's only a two and a half hour straight flight to Fort Lauderdale, so I was not terribly concerned about comfort and luckily all we had was one checked bag and one carry on. Even with a rental car and the baggage fees, the tickets were cheaper than going with a larger airline, so it worked out nonetheless. As for being nervous about the airline losing my bag, I packed everything essential to running the Ragnar Relay in my carry-on bag: 3 sets of running clothes, my tutu, water bottle, Clif Shot Bloks, all our electronics, wet wipes, and a whole slew of other necessities. My gym bag was STUFFED! Another disadvantage to going with the smaller airline was that the closest airport they fly in and out of to the OKC area is DFW, so we had to drive to Dallas Wednesday night to make our 6:00 am flight Thursday morning. The perk to this, however, is that Wednesday after finishing packing, we drove down to Dallas and had a drink with my lovely SIL before crashing at her place for an early evening.
I did not sleep well at all Wednesday night, I was nervous about travelling, but on top of that I was nervous about the reason I was travelling. I had gained what I thought was 7 pounds over the holidays (later, ON the flight, I found out it was freaking Mother Nature and I ended up coming home weighing in at 132.8, only 2.8 pounds up from where I've been maintaining the past year), and I was slowly filling with self doubt and self loathing. I quickly fell back into that trap where I did not feel worthy, where I felt fat and like a failure and however did I think I would pull this off without letting my teammates down. And on top of the travel anxiety and self doubt, my knee still had not completely healed from my Marathon and I was terrified it would cause problems for me during my runs. I worried about my knee completely fucking up on me and having it documented that I failed. I started freaking out about being on camera and what people would think about me for having gained. I felt as though I had somehow let everyone down, all this over a few measly pounds! Logically, I was not concerned about the weight gain, I know how to lose it now and many, many times throughout my weight loss journey I've gained and lost the same few pounds and instead of ignoring the problem now, I face it head on and fight the pounds. But it all goes back to my core fear of being fat again. I think in my own mind, the worst thing would be to regain all the weight I lost. In my defense I have experienced just that before, when I went from 280 lbs at the end of high school and got down to where I maintained between 150 and 170 for several years and then in 2007 I started gaining until I got back up to 260 lbs. And I suppose I fear more than anything the self-loathing that comes with that. As I reiterate time and again, I'm my own worst enemy!! . Anyway, I digress. So I'm going through all this emotional turmoil the week prior to leaving for Florida and by the time we boarded the plane Thursday morning, I just really did not even want to go. Luckily I was so wired on lack of sleep and adrenaline that I did not have the attention span to dwell on these thoughts.
When we unloaded the plane in Fort Lauderdale, before we even got through the jet bridge, my jeans were plastered to my legs and I was sweating. My first thought was "Oh shit, I have to run in this." We picked up our rental car and got on the road to Miami. In Florida, I got a sense of nostalgia, it reminded me so much of California, where I lived until the age of 10, it was almost as if I were coming home. Everything felt familiar and beautiful and strange all at once: the palm trees, the bodies of water, the sunshine, the busyness.. I loved it. What really kept coming to mind though, the entire time we spent in Miami, was Dexter Morgan in his button up shirt, strolling the same docks we were passing. Obviously I did not actually expect to see him (and yes I know his real name is Michael Hall), but it was kinda neat pretending I was in Dexter's territory! ;)
When we got to Miami, it was still morning and we had time to kill before check in, so we decided to take care of a few errands, we got Mark a hair cut, got some Subway for lunch and by some miracle, found a Walmart. I do not think I've ever seen so many people in a Walmart in the middle of a workday afternoon! I imagine Miami probably has a lot more night jobs for people than Oklahoma City. While trying to navigate the city of Miami, at one point we took a corner and I heard this horrible screeching/meowing sound. You know that awful some cat somewhere is getting some kinda sound? Yeah, that one. And I asked Mark if that was a cat, and he replies "No, it was that man!" and points to a man with a very bizarre expression on his face as he stared us down while we drove past him. Mark and I both cracked up and decided to get the hell away from that intersection. We finally got back to the hotel mid afternoon and I felt SO grungy and disgusting. Not only did I have that icky travelling feeling, but the humidity had my clothes plastered to my body all day and my hair felt like a huge mat of ick. All I could think to myself was "Please God, don't let me run into anyone in the lobby before I have a chance to clean up". As I was pulling bags out of the trunk and turning around I hear a "Lealah!" and low and behold was Katie, looking even more beautiful in person with one of the prettiest smiles I had ever seen and Jerry not far behind. I apologized about my grunginess as Katie and I hugged and I started in on a nervous babble before I realized that there stood Mr. Awesome himself (John, of course!) and I quickly threw my arms around him. An awkward, yet somehow not at all awkward first meeting for us. John was taking Katie to go interview with the Today Show, so off they went while Mark and I checked in and headed up to the room. I was SO happy to take a nice long shower as soon as we got to the room; and I decided right then and there that I would not wear jeans again whilst we were in Florida, so a dress it was for dinner!
We rested for a bit before dinner and then I visited in Katie and Jerry's room until it was time to head downstairs to meet up with the vans and head over to Randazzo's for dinner. The Today Show met up with us at the restaurant and filmed us "meeting" for dinner and once they left we could all relax and enjoy our teammates company. It was so surreal because everyone felt so familiar, it was ridiculous how comfortable the atmosphere felt.
|All 12 of us, I'm at the end on the right|
with half my head cut out :P
...to be continued...