Bib # 51
I checked NASports yesterday and I have my bib #. I was expecting something in the 2000's, so the double-digit number threw me for a loop. Turns out that 51 is the first number outside of the pro field. (1-50 reserved for the elite athletes) Hopefully nobody will see my number, think I should be cruising the course in a 9-10 hour pace with the pros, and feel sorry for me because I am obviously not going to win any money.
Getting the number makes everything more real. As I watch the leaves start to fall from the trees and the nights turn cool, it hits me how much I have prepared for this event. I don't know where summer went. I only remember summer as experienced from the saddle of my bike or the soles of my running shoes, and in those moments I thought summer would last forever. From May until now, being outdoors was a playground for my training but not a playground for leisure. I have absolutely no complaints about that. This summer will be remembered by the adventures in Wisconsin farm country with routes I know by heart; farmhouses, cows, and pigs that marked my way; smells and sounds that sparked my curiousity and soothed my soul; and the feeling that something bigger was in store for me. Sure, I missed the cold beer and sunsets at the Union Terrace, hanging out with friends around a hot grill, softball & kickball leagues, and camping, but I wouldn't trade this journey in this year for anything else.
If you're out on the course next weekend, 51 seems like an easy number to cheer for. It's ok if you say 5-1. Or fifty-one. You can call me IronMin. Or Mindee. You don't even have to cheer at all really, because so many of you have been there for me throughout the journey: reading my blog, sending supportive emails, adding motivational comments. I can't tell you how much I appreciate all of the advice and friendship. You've pulled me up when I was down, celebrated my little victories with me, and walked beside me the rest of the way.
So this is #51 reporting for race week next week. Let's get this party started!