The destination race is the new weekend vacation. It was perfect. I flew into LAX Friday morning and took a shuttle to my hotel in Universal City. My room wasn't yet ready when I arrived, so I had an hour and a half to enjoy a leisurely lunch with my book. When I walked into my room, I whispered to myself, "Yesssss!" My friend Tara, who was the instigator of this whole thing, is married to the general manager of the hotel, and was able to get us a screaming deal on our room, which turned out to be an executive suite! Brit and I shared a room, but she was unable to fly in until later Friday night, so I had it all to myself for a few hours while Tara and Mariani drove in. They both live in SoCal, but stayed at the hotel the night before the race. The three of us gathered along with Tara's 4 other runner friends for dinner at Bubba Gump's on CityWalk. Carb-loading was achieved.
No one slept well the night before the race. Brit didn't even arrive at the hotel until about 11 pm; I awoke almost every hour and had a terrifying dream that my alarm didn't go off and we missed the gunshot. The race began at 6:00 am, so Brit and I got up at 5:00. Mariani and Tara (& co.) arose at 4:30! We all donned our apparel and gear, ate some breakfast, and walked together to the starting line.
Everyone ran extremely well. The Hill nearly killed all of us, but we all arrived at the finish line with hearts still beating. In the months preceding the race, we decided that the winner would buy lunch at In N Out for the other three. Yes, the winner. As I knew I wasn't in the running for 1st place, I fully supported our arrangement. Mr. Ernest Nicholas Mariani, winner by about 2 minutes, graciously treated us girls to burgers and fries (and a Diet Coke and chocolate shake for me).
After lunch, Tara drove home to her awaiting family and Mariani dropped Brit and me at our hotel for some R&R before dinner. We both laid down on our beds to read and woke up 2 1/2 hours later. We then headed down to the pool to soak up some California rays (it was snowing when I left my house in Utah) and relax in the hot tub.
Mariani and his lovely girlfriend Mel took us out to dinner at the Smoke House, where we enjoyed way too much food, an Old Hollywood atmosphere, and uninterrupted conversation. I could not have asked for a more perfect end to the trip.
[He speaks animatedly and tells great stories.]