Four years on a waitlist is a long time to think about and set expectations for an adventure. Expectations that only build as you tell friends and family that you are going, and they celebrate your yet to be accomplished feat.
How do you prepare for an “other worldly” environment when you can't come close to mimicking it? How do you prepare for an event when the best blogs and advice from former participants is simply, "you need to experience it for yourself!". Cranking the incline up to 5 or 7 on a treadmill for miles on end certainly is torturous but does it really ready you for rumored 40 mile per hour winds, white-outs, hills and ice? My breezy, sunny Oakland provided little to make me feel ready for the run, and for the first time, I missed Chicago winters with temperatures in the teens. I craved the wind hissing off of Lake Michigan and the bundled figures bracing through the gale blowing between buildings. These signals, at least small reminders I could push myself in ugly extremes with those equally unhinged. Dedicated runners, or dedicated masochists.
After a 20-hour journey from San Francisco, I arrived in Buenos Aires. The group of runners, roughly 200 in total, trickled into the hotel throughout the day. Generally, participants were easily identifiable in their athleisure wear coupled with their searching looks as they made and held eye contact for slightly longer than the norm, checking to see if the look recipient too was about to embark on the ultimate adventure.
I've always been proud to have run multiple marathons, but in this group, I was a novice. In response to the commonly probed question of how many marathons everyone had run, "25 marathons", "124 races", "60 I think?", "oh, over 50 at this point", were the types of answers given. These were running gods and I was merely a trail shoed plebeian.