I’m not going to lie. I was disappointed that I couldn’t run Richmond this weekend. It’s been on my bucket list for years. But, my friends and I had rented an Airbnb and had been looking forward to this weekend since about March, so I decided to go and be their cheerleader. While I much prefer running a race, there is so much that goes on in a race that you’ll never even realize until you watch one.
- I was following about 16 runners running either the half or the full. That’s hard to do, folks! This was especially difficult at mile 2, where I started out. While I had a good idea of each friends’ pace, I had no pace feedback at that point and it was hard to know who to look for next. Plus, the sun was shining in my eyes, making it hard to see! Also, at mile 2, I stood too close to a water stop and got hit with a half-full projectile water cup. The runner who tossed it and I shared a laugh. It was much easier at mile 10 when I knew their exact pace and wasn’t staring into the sun.
- I took my bike to Richmond because I thought that would be the best way for me to cover as much area as possible during the race. I could easily get to multiple stops along both courses. At the finish line, I locked my bike up and walked because it was difficult to maneuver a bike in the crowd.
- I also wore a ridiculously large sequined bow on my head, a sparkly skirt, and rainbow socks so my friends wouldn’t miss me. This was a good idea and it also made a lot of other runners laugh.
Here are a few of the things I would have missed had I been running:
- I didn’t see a ton of signs, but I saw a funny shirt: I play real sports. I don’t try to be the best at exercising.
- There were several runners wearing Megan Strong shirts. Although she’s much younger than I, we went to the same church in Lancaster, PA growing up. Megan played field hockey at VCU and was diagnosed with breast cancer in her 20s. It made me happy to runners supporting Megan in Richmond.
- Speaking of Lancaster, I saw several Amish and Mennonite runners. In fact, there was at least one man wearing suspenders and pants and one woman wearing a long turquoise dress AND A COVERING who I would assume BQed or came pretty darn close. I know these folks are great athletes and I cheered “Yeah, Mennonites!!”
- At mile 25, a guy came hobbling over to the sidewalk near me with painful leg cramps. I’ve been there too, and it sucks. Spectators rushed to help him and began massaging his calf. When he was ready, they RAN WITH HIM and everyone cheered. Later, near the finish line, I saw 2 men scoop up a woman who fell and they helped her complete the race. The crowd roared. I love this comradery that running creates!
- I really enjoyed watching the slow half marathoners, many of whom were older and/or overweight. Some were grimacing, but most had smiles on their faces. Many groups of friends were walking together, and many were supporting a cause. Perhaps they have overcome some significant challenges to train for and complete this race. It may have been the biggest endurance race they’d probably ever do. While they were incredibly inspiring, I was thankful for my ability to run and race.
- Cheering for people by name is the best! I love this when I’m running and was happy to reciprocate.
- Evidently, the Richmond race allows you to print whatever on your bib. Had I been running, I would have never noticed the things people put on their bib just to get you to say it out loud like Dude, Be Awesome, Cake, Stoner, Racehorse, Mama Bear, Yo Papa, 39 Year Old, and things a lot less appropriate. When I caught myself saying things like “Go Be Awesome”, it gave me a good chuckle.
- Watching the elites. They make it look so easy!
- Seeing that people of all shapes and sizes can run a good marathon. Because, you know, I continue to believe the lie that I would run faster if I were thinner, had longer legs or less of a tushy, etc.
- People do have gas in their tanks and smiles on their faces at end of a marathon. Maybe I can too one day!
- Seeing a high school classmate on the course. He missed a BQ twice in his 20s but hit it yesterday. This guy was always a phenomenal athlete, but I’m super glad he got his goal and proved there is hope for those of us approaching masters age!
- I watched coaches from a local running group running their people in. They ran back and forth, back and forth to ensure their runners finished the race STRONG. I want to do this one day (run people in and also finish a race strong, haha).
- Of course, there’s always the one guy with bloody nipples. This isn’t blog-worthy, but I want to know, how does this continue to happen?? Do these people not read any articles about what NOT to do on marathon day??
- And of course, THE BEST was cheering my friends on to reach their goals. I am still so happy for each one of their accomplishments, I could explode! Especially for Karen who shaved like 20 more minutes off her marathon time and finished happy and strong. And Kimberly, who finally broke the 1:50 mark in the half. She’s had this in her for a long time and I’m so glad she finally got the result she trained for – just a week after an amazing 10K PR. Also, Amy and Jennifer who PR’ed and made it look easy, and Lindsay who ran a stellar half coming off hip surgery. And all the Happy Runners from Apex!
There is so much good in every race and I’m grateful that I got to experience some of it!