2:30a.m. 3:20a.m. 4:05a.m. 5:35a.m. Drew’s patience could stand it no longer. He turned off the alarm clock set for 6:00a.m. This 14th day of December is not unlike another famous December day for this father of two. It came with similar anticipation of a Christmas morning and had been circled on his calendar for the better part of six months. Both days required strategic planning and forethought if all is to go as desired. And at the end of both days, he hoped to be filled with immense satisfaction and no doubt some well-deserved weariness. However, that is where the similarities ended.

 On this day, Drew Cargile made his way to his Hampton Inn bathroom, grabbing a Gatorade bottle on the way. Although he would have rather not, he turned the light on so that he can note the color of his urine. It appeared to be yellowed ever so slightly, which indicated he needed to hydrate a bit more. Considering he was slated to run the Huntsville Marathon’s 26.2 miles with a total elevation change of 563 feet in the coming hours, such a thing was not to be taken lightly. He took big gulps from the bottle, followed by bites of an energy bar designed for just such days. Even though he was a bit restless during the night, he was feeling confident and was anxious to get to the starting line. It had been a long wait for this moment in time. But his patience would come in handy by day’s end.

Drew was on his weekly 50-mile Sunday morning road-bike outing with his training buddies back in April. Just a week earlier, they had all competed in the International Powerman Duathlon in Birmingham which consisted of a 5-mile run, followed by a 38-mile bike, ending with another 5-mile run. Raymond Boone, one of the training buddies and best friend, embarrassed Drew at Powerman finishing more than nine minutes ahead. Typical of their relationship, Raymond needled him mercilessly during the ride. Of course, had their times been reversed, there would have been no less teasing. At some point during the ride, Raymond challenged Drew to run a marathon with him. It should be pointed out that Drew was not the strongest runner; in fact, it was his running that generally got him in trouble in his multi-sport events. For the most part, that is attributed to the fact that he used to pour his competitive passion into body building, and still looked the part. Characteristically, before Drew rationally thought through the challenge, he smugly accepted the marathon invitation. It was officially on.

5:55a.m. Drew stepped out of his hotel room to get a visual on the weather. Overcast and cold. He brought enough clothing to set up an expo down in the hotel parking lot.  From the wet chill in the air, he knew he probably needed his running tights and a long sleeve moisture-wicking running shirt, along with some sort of cover for his shaven head. Accessories would have to be carried along and decided upon right at race time. He noticed that the whole hotel seemed to be coming alive with fellow runners doing their own weather forecasting. Suddenly, the butterflies took flight.