Minnesota was a state that I was looking forward to; my cousin Michael T Merrill was coming out to run with James. We showed up at the pool, and Mike was there waiting to greet us. He had his cowboy hat on and was ecstatic to be there with us! It was an outdoor pool, and there were several people there to watch the swim. There was a young family, with lots of little kids. It reminded me how it was when I paled around with when my kids, when they were much younger. There was also a girl that worked for Target corporate there. Her name was Anna and she had brought us some goodie bags. She was an Iron Cowboy fan, and she wanted to be there to support us.
The Wingmen made their appearance. Casey Robles, did you guys get to go down that big, white slide? They swam for a while, and then prepped James’ things for his completion of the swim. I knew that James would be in the locker room for a while, so I made my way out to the RV. I was met by some people in the parking lot that wanted shirts. I pulled all the boxes out of the Mazda, opened them up, and asked which colors and sizes they wanted. Mike was out there with me, ready to purchase a shirt, and flattered that it was gifted. Even being my cousin, he was still star-struck and couldn’t believe all of this was happening!
James got into a different car, and headed out to start his bike. The house we were going to station at in Minnesota was on a lake (pretty sure it was a lake), and it was beautiful. We had to park the RV up the street, because there wasn’t much room on the narrow street. I am not sure if it was the ambassador or not, but he welcomed us, made sure that we were comfortable, and immediately went on his way to support James for the day. I got right to laundry (since everything was soaking from the night before), and we just relaxed for a bit. We didn’t really have a plan for the day, but I had a few things that needed to be done first. We had taken a bunch of things out of the RV, garbage, laundry, etc. This helped get the RV cleaned up a bit, and I had several loads of laundry to do with all of the bedding.
Liz texted me to see what the plan was. We decided that we would meet at the dollar store. When the laundry was under control, we drove over to meet Liz. The kids took their time, searching for treasures that would be lost or destroyed within 24 hours, and Liz and I visited. When we were finished there, I had received a text from my new Target friend, Anna. She offered to meet me at Target so the kids could school shop. Liz had a couple of errands to run, so she planned to meet up with us later. (She ended up driving to Iowa, since she couldn’t drive through the night like us.)
I almost drove really far away, 45 min to the wrong Target, but Anna texted me to see where I was, just in time. “Pull over! You are headed the wrong direction!” It was a good thing she texted when she did, because she was waiting for me at a Target just minutes away. We arrived, she met us out front, and we visited as the kids shopped. They all got everything they needed for school, and they had a blast trying things on as they went. Again, they will remember these school clothes as the ones they got in Minnesota, not just normal school clothes shopping.
When we had our bags all full, we said ‘good-bye’ to Anna and went out to meet up with everyone at the 5k. I remember some weird things happening when we arrived at the park. I can’t remember exactly what… Maybe the RV wasn’t there yet, and didn’t come for a while… I can’t remember, but there was some sort of disturbance arriving at the park. We just hung out in the shade for a while, and when it got too hot, we would go into the van and turn the AC on to cool off. We visited with people at the park, and I think Mike arrived then too. He had never ran a marathon before, and was planning to do the whole run with James. There was one family there who lent us some toys. They were balls that had mazes in them, and you had to weave the BB through the maze. They ended up letting us keep all 3 of the balls, that they had lent us while we were at the park. To this day, it is still everyone’s favorite toy, especially the kids who are guests at our home.
I also remember gutting the RV and cleaning it out. I had emptied a few things earlier in the day, but I remember doing one more overhaul in the parking lot. It was SO HOT because we only had the dash AC. I cleaned that entire thing up and down, creating better space for all the people in the RV. The kids were playing on the playground while I did this, so it must have happened earlier in the day, not later (like during the 5k).
I vaguely remember James coming through to start the run. I only remember it because Mike was super nervous to do the run, and I remember him running off, starting his first marathon!
Lots of people started to show up! Sunshine, from the Biggest Loser, was there to support James. We loved her so much on the show, and obviously I remembered her well because of her name. Seriously, she was so sweet on the show; little did we know, she was 100 times sweeter in real life. It was funny to see her and James meet…they were both star struck! He was freaking out meeting her, she was freaking out meeting him, it was seriously hilarious! She called for a prayer circle, and we all prayed together. So grateful to meet such a sweet and humble person!
We had a great turn out for the 5k. It was awesome! It was hot, and I remember everyone trying to find shade. I saw Mike and knew that he would need some nutrition, having already done quite a few miles with James. We often take for granted how much we know, and I knew that Mike was going to need some of our knowledge. Let me reiterate, he has never run a marathon before. I took him to the RV and loaded him up. I had him drink V8 (my favorite, and I was thrilled to find out that he loved it too!), filled his water, gave him some nutrition to pack with him, poured water on his head, and sent him back to the group. James spoke, they took a group picture and they were off on their run.
I remember eating dinner during this time, not sure what. And I remember wishing we had the generator working in the RV, because we couldn’t get that thing cool! The night grew later, people came and went, pictures were taken, and James was tired. I am not sure if we left early, but I didn’t see James finish. It wasn’t until later that I was told the story of Mike’s finish. That guy fought hard, and James thought he was going to die (unofficially). Mike texted him that night to let him know that he had made it back okay to his hotel, because James was worried. But the dude finished, a full marathon, in the hot sun…and with the Iron Cowboy in state #42! What an amazing memory for your first marathon!
Minnesota was amazing! Another state that I thought I could live in! We met so many great people, and had another amazing experience! These were the days that made the hard days worth it. I always see them as the ‘tender mercy days’ that came every so often, to refuel me for the days that were harder. We were into the single digits, and we weren’t far from only having 1 week left!!!!