Let’s admit it… running a marathon (that’s 26.2 miles for those not quite sure what level of crazy I’m referencing) is NUTS. People who run half-marathons regularly for fun also seem unstable to me. But watching these events is actually kind of… fun.
First of all, I was surrounded by thousands of people anxious about the race. We’re talking ginormous lines for porta-potties (anxiety is released as bowel movements, dontcha know). But I was cool as a cucumber, meandering away from where I left Todd to find his starting corral, while meeting hundreds of people rushing towards the starting line. Maybe they didn’t leave themselves quite enough time to make it to the porta-potty?
So while those thousands of people lined up to start the early morning race, I started walking to my first stop– St. Louis Bread Company. Because I needed my breakfast fuel for this spectator business!
After my breakfast stop, I found my first perch for waiting. It ended up being just past the 5-mile mark and I was plenty early. I had printed a course map and outlined estimated times that I thought Todd should hit each mile based on an 8-minute mile, leaving space to update my estimates based on real time. So with my extra time, I set up our Bluetooth radio to some Pandora jams, picked out my first poster (“Smile! You paid for this!”), and finished sipping my caramel latte.
The first runners came by and I couldn’t help but think “Whatever. You’re only running the half.” The orange numbers designated the 13.1-milers, while the green numbers designated the true crazies running the full marathon. I didn’t have to wait too much longer to get my first glimpse of Todd in the race. I stuck around a little longer after he passed because I finally got to cheer on some runners who thought my sign was just hilarious. Then it was off to my next stop.
During my jog to the next stop, let me just say– those runners were lucky they didn’t have to run up that part of Chouteau. Annnnnnnnd I was lucky I wasn’t running any freaking race.
I had hoped to get race updates sent to my phone, but we somehow missed signing up for that option correctly. Luckily, Todd continued to prove how un-human he is and he actually texted me most of his mile markers. I made it to my next perch without too much extra time (I guess I spent too much time humoring the racers who laughed at my last sign, or took too long jogging up Chouteau) and updated the mile estimates on my map. This stop was right before the 10-mile mark, where the half marathon racers continued straight towards their finish line and the marathon runners turned to get further away from the finish. I held my sign that read “Harder! Faster! Stronger! (That’s what she said)” but I was on the side of the street closer to all the marathoners making their turn, and they were a serious bunch.
Off I walked from there, heading towards the 16-mile mark where the runners would come out of running to and from Tower Grove Park, but before their trip to Forest Park. My running legs weren’t opposed to jogging, but my shoulders were against it as the backpack started to feel heavier. So I walked, carrying the radio connected to Pandora from my phone. The “Running (Radio Mix) Radio” channel was a hit, because I got a lot of appreciation for the music from the runners. I knew to pack snacks, water, and my posters but I will never watch another race without that Bluetooth radio.
Here I broke out this poster:
A handful of runners validated this as motivation so I like to think I helped them with their goals. Ha! And of course Todd came through like he hadn’t reached a struggle yet.
My next stop was super easy– I crossed the street. That marked where the runners came out of Forest Park to head back to downtown, at mile 21. I got to cheer on the speedy people looking at only having 5 miles to go, as well as the normal people hitting that 16-mile mark on the other side. But after Todd ran by, saying “I’ve got a 7:08 pace”, I knew I was running out of time to see him finish.
The last part of my plan was to hop on the MetroLink to beat Todd to the finish line. Long story short (long, frustrating, impatient story short), that part of my plan failed. I actually didn’t even see him finish his first marathon. Luckily, I’ve got people in all sorts of surprising places so I do have some pics documenting his last mile. And I’ve learned that if I try to see him in the farthest places on the course, I need to come up with some other mode of transportation to get me back. Possibly a jet or bullet train. Oh— and I need to assume that he might actually start running faster at the end and screw up all of my estimates.
So are you going to watch a marathon? Wear your running shoes. Find a roomy but comfy backpack. Google or Pinterest for the funniest and most motivating posters, and I highly recommend a Bluetooth radio. Pack yourself a snack and some water. And you will most definitely need a well-charged smartphone to keep yourself on the course, find the nearest MetroLink station, or at least find a latte.
And let’s not forget– be prepared to feel uplifted and encouraged. Watching these “crazy” people reaching for their goals will make you feel a part of something much bigger than just being a spectator.
Next up: qualify for Boston??? I’ve got some posters I haven’t busted out yet!