Losing faith in humanity? Go watch a marathon. Want to be inspired? Go watch a marathon. Want to feel like you can do more? Or be more? Go watch a marathon.
Last Sunday I went out to cheer on my friends in my local running club who were running the Houston Aramco Half (13.1 miles) Marathon and the Chevron Full (26.2) Marathon.
I ran the full 26.2 last year with a time of “I finished.” 12 months and partial knee replacement later, it was time to cheer on the seasoned runners to the first timers. I had always heard that this was one of THE best marathons to run in the country and that is why I chose it to be my first and my last. Everything I had heard about it from a runners standpoint was spot on. Best support of spectators for the entire race. So now it was time to give back as a VolunCheerleader, not a runner.
I wanted to experience the spectator side of this great race, and seriously just give back to the runners. This would give me the other perspective, off the course. It’s the spectators cheers that make the runners get that extra pep in their step. The crack of a smile when their entire body is aching. It’s no wonder that race entries spike after people witness these types of “human races.” People are inspired.
I was staked out at mile 7 with my running club. That is where we could see all of the runners that were participating in the half and the full before the full marathoners split off from the halfers.
My running club was out in full force cheering and running. I had my tambourines, my megaphone and my iPhone to cheer and snap pics. Mile 7 is fantastic! You can see all the adrenaline flowing and most runners are still smiling! As runners ran by I’m screaming their names as I read it off their bibs! “Go HOT MAMA!” “Go Jeanell!” “Go Kathleen!” “Go Forrest Gump!” “Go Random Stranger, I can’t read your bib!” And they ALL smile. Cheers are everything! This is the last time I will see the halfers.
I’ve seen all my friends except one. She’s a Colo Rectal Cancer Survivor who is runner for kids with cancer, the Snowdrop Foundation. Her last chemo treatment was about three weeks ago and she’s running a half marathon. We are starting to pack up to move our tent and goodies to head to mile 22. I hear a friend yell, “Jennifer!! You’ve missed Rebecca!!!” I drop everything and I see her running right past me. I am not going to miss this moment. Me, the 7 week post op partial knee recipient RUNS, OK, maybe a gimpy trot after her, screaming her name repeatedly! The blaring speakers of music drowns out my calls and she can’t hear me. I keep running.
I finally yell, “BECKY!!!”
She and her entourage of her fantastic 71 year old mother and another mutual friend finally hear me. Rebecca turns around, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?” Me, “We need a selfie! This is kind of a big deal!!” We get our picture and I send them on their way. She is a survivor. She is running for those who can’t. She once said, “If your legs work, then you can run.” She’s an incredible being.
The first runners to pass are seasoned runners. They don’t walk, they run. They carry all their own nutrition, run with determination, all they need is a a high five as they blow by to the finish line that is just a “short” 4.2 miles away. My cheer team is still a welcome site.
Then the middle of the pack come by. Some have had special requests. Twizzlers, Coke, pretzels, oranges, Oreos and etc. The cheer team is happy to have what they need, not just for our runners, but for ANY runner who needs assistance with nutrition an extra high five or the beat of a tambourine. Most of our club runners for the full have passed. Some stopped to chat, some did a grab and go.
As the pack thins out, here comes Mr. Steve Boone. This man is a legend. Today is his 600th marathon. Yes, 600. I’ve been trying to do the math in my head. I have to go “run” with him. I told him how much I admired him and congratulated him on this huge accomplishment! He’s very thankful and kind. Yes, I’m running again. A quick sweaty hug and a pic and he’s on his way to number 600. Wow. That was cool.
I check my marathon app to check on my friend Kathleen. The tracking has stopped. WHAT? I message her to see if she’s OK. She writes me back to say that she’s had some “issues,” but she’s still going. This is her first marathon. I’ve been her “I have all stupid newbie questions about marathoning” coach. I get it. I did this last year and had all the anxiety, fears and excitement. They have closed the course. She’s no longer trackable on the app for runners.
The cops come and tear down the cones and open up traffic to where we were in the middle of the road, the road where there were thousands of runners. I text her “DO NOT GIVE UP!” She continuously updates me with where she is at in her mileage. I send her a photo of Rocky Balboa. Anything to keep her going. I walk nearly .5 of a mile to see if I can see her. She’s found a buddy to finish with! Her name is Teresa. She and Teresa will be life long friends I’m sure. I walked with Kathleen and Teresa for a bit and then cheered them on from afar. Kathleen got her medal and a second one for running a 5k the day prior…and some SERIOUS bragging rights!
I watched a cancer survivor run for those who can’t.
I watched a man run his 600th marathon.
I watched my friend’s sheer determination to finish a race that she started.
I watched blood, sweat, tears, goals achieved and hard earned medals.
It was a great day…I signed up to run the half marathon next year, just don’t tell my doctor.
All the pictures that I took are in the following link below set to music, enjoy!