After the carbo load on Friday night, I dropped Zoë off, then went to the store for a balloon and a piece of posterboard. I got home around 10 and had no energy left. I went to bed pretty late and was mad at myself for it because I wanted to get up early to go spectate at Seattle Rock ‘N’ Roll.
Originally, I had planned to meet all my runner friends before the start, but I could not figure out the logistics of that and scrapped the idea. This gave me a little extra sleep, too. At 5:45 Saturday morning, I got up and got dressed. I still had to make my sign and figure out where I was going. I was almost ready to go and still couldn’t think of what I should write on my sign. Did I want to be funny? Inspirational?
I thought about, “This is one of the greatest days of your life!” I liked it, but I wasn’t completely in love with it. Then, as I was deciding to just bring the Sharpie with me and figure it out while I drove, it hit me: victory lap. Perfect! (See why here.) Here’s what I came up with:
I finished packing my little backpack with my huge brass cowbell (that you can sort of see on the left there — I stuffed it with a towel so it wouldn’t wake anyone up), which I think was actually worn by a cow originally. Not totally sure it’s a legit cowbell, but I bought it at a thrift store a few years ago and it looks well-used.
The plan was to go to Mile 3.7 and then move somewhere else. I don’t know the area around Mile 3.7 at all. I looked at the map before I left and the just sort of “used the Force” and found it! I parked about a half-mile away and walked with my “You Rock!” heart balloon, bright pink poster and my backpack containing the heavy bell. I didn’t see anyone else walking there so I got worried I was in the wrong area.
But soon I heard music and knew I was in the right area. I got there at about 7:05 and decided to stand on the corner at the top of a hill.
Just past me, some sort of junior or high school cheerleading troupe was warming up.
I quickly snapped a photo of myself for blogging purposes. No makeup; not enough sleep. Yikes. I would have to pay extra for those things at the airport.
I knew the elite runners would be there shortly, and less than 10 minutes later, up the hill they came!
I don’t know what my problem was, but I started crying. Luckily nobody was looking at me and there weren’t a whole lot of people spectating (other than the cheerleaders and their crew behind me) where I was stationed.
I rang my cowbell and cheered, but it felt awkward since there were like 5 runners and nobody else was saying anything. Except I think maybe the cheerleaders were chanting something. Soon, though, came the big wave of runners! I just started shaking that bell in my left hand. I held the sign with my right hand (the balloon was clipped to it), and my huge camera hung around my neck.
The race was thick! There were so many runners and I had so much fun cheering for them after I warmed up a little. I yelled, “Lookin’ good!” and “You guys rock!” and “Lookin’ strong!” and “You can do it!” and “Have fun out there!” and “Woohoo! No Rain!” I heard lots of runners read my sign out loud and then say, “I like that.” A few didn’t get it. A handfull of runners stopped to take my picture. That surprised me.
I had a couple runners who recognized me, but I didn’t recognize them in their running gear, so I’m sorry if that was you! It was hard because you all were running by so fast! I think someone even ran by me and said, “Mom vs. Marathon!” Not sure, though, because my bell had deafened me a little. Once, I heard someone yell my name and it was a former co-worker of mine. That was pretty exciting since I didn’t know she was running.
Soon, it occurred to me that I didn’t know what any of my friends (except Zoë) would be wearing. I worried I wouldn’t see any of them. But then I spotted someone waving her arms and speeding up the hill. It was Amanda! I dropped my sign and picked up my camera, but I think I kept shaking my bell…
After she ran by, I was excited and even more amped. I shook my cowbell like crazy. I wondered how long it would be till one of the nearby homeowners ran out of their house, ripped the bell out of my hand and punched me in the face. I was loud.
Next, I saw Lorian! Well, she saw me first and I grabbed my camera. Got her!
Then it was Jill‘s turn. I almost missed her, too, but she saw me. Her first marathon. My eyes got blurry. So proud of my running buddy!
After I saw Jill, I was planning to pack up and move to Mile 12 of the half/14 of the full. But I didn’t. Why? 1) I didn’t know where I was going and had no time to waste getting lost; 2) I wasn’t really sure of the race math at this point and was not convinced I’d see anyone; 3) I had to leave at 10 and was not sure that would be enough time to drive, park and cheer; and 4) I felt bad abandoning all those runners coming up the hill at me.
So many of them smiled at me and said thanks. I heard lots of, “Need more cowbell!” They laughed at my, “No rain!” cheer. How could I leave them? There were no breaks. It was a consistent solid street filled with runners of all speeds, shapes and sizes. I could not sneak away. I did not want to be that person that was like, “All right. Saw my friends. See ya.” I felt like it was rude.
Here is one of the lovely ladies I didn’t recognize! (Thanks for leaving me a comment!)
So I stayed there on the corner, much to the chagrin of the homeowners, I’m sure. I switched hands with my bell around 8 since my left wrist was getting tight, and my thumb and index finger felt numb. My bell was even annoying me, but the runners seemed to like it. I regretted not bringing a water bottle with me. My throat was scratchy. My head pounded. But all I had to do was think of the runners and any little annoying spectator “injuries” didn’t seem like a big deal.
I’m so glad I stayed, too, because I got to see my friend and running buddy, Heather! I wondered if I’d see her and I did! Heather helped me train for my first 10K and my first half. She is an inspiration to me!
I wanted to hug her, but my hands were full and my camerawoman instincts took over.
Around 9 a.m., after two hours of cheering, the runners and walkers started to thin out. A man from the neighborhood came up to me. “Is that you makin’ all that noise?” he laughed. At least he didn’t punch my lights out.
I packed it up at 9:30. I didn’t wait for the last racer. I should have, but the neighborhood man just kept chatting with me, making it impossible to cheer anyway. Plus, I was pretty hoarse by then. And I had a bell injury on the top knuckle of my index finger: a nasty, bruised and skinned raw spot.
Totally worth it, though. I loved being a spectator and hope I can do it again! I’d want to be a volunteer, too. Of course, I’d like to be in the race, but we can’t run ’em all, can we?