Me at 4:30am

4:30am in Hotel Lobby

Yep, its 4:30am and I am dressed for the airport, looking like poop on a stick. How did I get this way? It was only 8 hours ago that I was sprinting to victory in the USA Championships for the 5k, and for some strange reason, referencing male genitalia on live television (twice) as the explanation for my finishing tactics.
So what have I been doing since that wonderful moment I’ll never forget? Partying my face off in downtown Des Moines until the bouncers throw me out for table dancing in my bun huggers?
Nope.
Not even close.

I’ll take you through my night, while I wait in the lobby for my ride to the airport, since I sure as hell can’t seem to sleep.

8:29 pm:

Feel as though someone poured a bathtub full of joy over my body as I break the finish line tape and outstretch my arms in celebration.

8:29 pm + 10 seconds:

Drop to my knees in absolute agony as my body FREAKS OUT, overwhelmed with pain in my lungs, stomach, back, and head. Remain there making embarrassing noises for a little bit with cameras in my face. All I can think is “I bet I sound like that lady from the news on youtube who falls off the stage while squishing grapes with her feet and moans like a dead animal. This is karma for how hard I laughed at her and for forwarding the link to everyone I know.”
8:31:

Force myself back onto wobbly legs while seeing stars.

8:32-8:35:

As TV cameras wait patiently, I try to pull myself together for an interview, but its way way way harder than its ever been to get my head straight.
8:35: Too worn out to censor a single word, I explain my race to the cameras in a way that would make my Dad beam (from the time I was 6 and cliff jumping into rivers, he told his buddies I had balls the size of Texas).

8:37-8:40:

Try to stay on the infield to cheer on my OTC teammates in the mens 5k, only to get kicked off the track. Meanwhile, chug down 4 bottles of water and powerade in anticipation of my upcoming urine test I will need to perform.

8:41:

Ask some random person to use their cellphone to call my husband, and the call is unsuccessful (since I accidentally call my own cellphone).

8:42-9:00ish:

Head under the stands for post race interviews, which was a total trip. People have a lot of questions! It was totally exhausting.

9:00:

Get a gold medal and a moving ovation. Finally I’m recovered enough to enjoy the moment, and for the first time, it starts to sink in that I’ve won.

9:02-9:10:

Get escorted by a doping control officer along the outside lane of the track to a far tunnel that leads to drug testing. Stop and sign autographs on ticket stubs, t-shirts, programs, and body parts, and even get solicited by a financial planner, to whom I replied “My income isn’t worth your time, buddy!”

9:12-eternity (ok, actually 11:00):

Buzz is officially killed. Sit in an underground room where I get viles of blood drawn from my arm. Then try to pee in a cup requiring 90 ml of urine, only to produce 35 ml, forcing me to process what is called a “partial sample,” which means I have to fill out loads of paperwork, package the urine according to a ridiculously long protocol, and carry around a box with half a cup of pee in it until I can pee some more. I drink a million bottles of water and powerade. Then I fricken come up short again and have to repeat all the paperwork for a 2nd “partial sample.” I drink a million bottles of water and powerade. Finally I manage to pee enough to do the final paperwork and get the hell out of there. The only plus was getting to hang out with Coach Rowland since you can bring an athlete representative. My agent and Molly Huddle were there for a while too. Molly is the bomb, by the way.

11:15-12:00:

Rowland and I meet up with Ian Dobson, Ben True, and Mark Rinker at some crappy Applebees. Those guys were kind enough to not only wait for me to eat dinner, but they picked the crappy Applebees because it was the only place that would be open late enough for me to get some dinner after drug testing. It meant a lot to me that they made sure I didn’t get stuck celebrating by myself in a Taco Bell somewhere. Those are some good men.

12:00-1:00am:

Finally I get ahold of Jesse and I run around the parking lot telling him everything…every emotion, every moment of doubt…all while a lightning storm rolls in and the wind begins howling.

1:00am-1:30am:

Check my email and facebook and get totally overwhelmed with all the kind words from people far and wide.

1:30-3:00am:

Try to sleep, but I can’t because the race is running through my head and I’m buzzing from all the emotions.

3:00-4:00am:

Start freaking out because I have a 6:30am flight and I’m not going to get one single moment of sleep. I have an enormous migraine from all the damn powerade in drug testing, splitting my skull in two pieces.

4:00:

I pop an Excedrin migraine.

4:05:

Migraine recedes from my left eye socket, leaving me with half a migraine and a caffeine buzz. Pouting, I give up on sleep.

4:06-4:30:

Pack my bags in the dark as quietly as possible so as not to wake my roommate.  Head down to the lobby an hour early for my shuttle.

4:30-present: you’re looking at it.

I wish I could tell you that this is an abnormal way to celebrate a good race, but it would be a lie. 75% of the time, this is the deal. But if I manage to survive the three flights to Sun Valley Idaho for my friend’s wedding today, I will party my face off. So there you go. Now you know.