Sunday, November 30, 2008


Looking better than I feel, mile 20. Of course I probably
would have been faster not wearing 10 pounds of sweaty
cotton shirt. Good sunglasses though!

Looking exactly like I feel, mile 21. (Devastated family members not in picture)

Tracy, Suzanne, and Mom cheering at the finish.

Nice form for the sprint!

Mom and Suzanne demonstrate the fine art of cheering at the Portland Marathon.

Mile 22 on a much better day!

What is it about watching marathons that makes me all teary-eyed. Otto and I walked down to Lake Washington Blvd to watch the Seattle Marathon. Mount Baker marks the 9th mile for people heading out and mile 17 for people on their way back to downtown. So in my hour of marathon watching I got to see the full spectrum of racers, from 1st place to last place. Really it's only the people near the end who make me all teary-eyed. The people in the front do not look like they are pouring their very heart and soul into the race. Some of the people at the end are giving all they have got (and more).

Some highlights/thoughts: Mr. First Place (I'm sure he's won by now, but I don't know who he was) cruised by mile 17 at about 9:55? That would mean he was running about a 5 1/2 minute mile. He was well in front of number two and three proceeded by a motorcycle and a couple cars. He did not look too tired. Ms. Last place, she walked past mile 8.5 at about 10:25, which would put her at about a 16.5 minute mile. She didn't look super tired either, with all the walking. She was followed by 5 very very very slow moving cars. That I am guessing have to follow her for the full 26.2 miles. That's a long time in a slow moving car.

When I ran my first marathon (pictures above are marathons 1 and 2). My family (having slept in and eaten a nice breakfast) was waiting for me at mile 20 or so. I was not having a good race (though I did finish in 4 hours, a 9 minute mile pace - not too shabby really). My sister said that they kept thinking they'd missed me because I looked so much more fit that lots of people in front of me. And it was interesting watching today's race. People running the same pace look so different. Some people running 7.5 minute miles look like they could run all day. Some look like they've taken their last step. Some are all hurky jerky. Some are so smooth they are barely moving.

I think you could put my friend Owen in the super smooth category. He ran by mile 16.5 at about 10:25 looking like he didn't have a care in the world and was out for an easy jog. Owen ran a 100 mile race with 20,000 feet of climbing in August (that's about 36 hours of racing). So for him I'm pretty sure a marathon is a walk in the park. Though he says they are hard because he has to run fast.

#2 was not having his best day (#2 as in #2 on his jersey and not the second in the race). #2 was probably wearing #2 not because he registered second, but because he came in second at some point, maybe last year. He looked like a real runner. Okay, they are all real runners, but some make their living off of it, and he looked like he could fit that category. He was walking at mile 16.5 wearing full sweats. I am guessing he did not start the race planning to do much walking. He seemed to be taking it pretty well though. I smiled at him when he went by and he smiled back. I was not sure what to say - 'good job', 'looking good', 'keep it up'? None really seemed to fit.

And a word about cheering. Cheering at marathons suck. The good people come up with phrase and keep it up. One guy standing by me kept saying, 'mile 17, you're in single digits' over and over again. Of course the marathoners don't know that. They find it encouraging. Me, I feel stupid doing that so I end up clapping with a little smile on my face saying 'good job' 'looking good' (see picture of mom and Suzanne demonstrating that technique). 'Almost there' isn't really fitting for mile 9 or 17 so you can't say that. Some said '#1507 looking great' or 'way to go 8592', personalizing it. That's probably a good thing to do. The runners aren't very helpful. Some would smile or get excited if you cheered for them. But most just run on and don't even look at you. Now, having run a marathon, I know it helps if people cheer, even when you don't acknowledge it. But it's might tough to keep cheering when you get no love back!

And finally, watching a marathon almost made me want to run one. Of course, watching those people also made my IT bands clench and ache. I'm really not so sure there are anymore marathons in my future. Though I may hit the Mercer Island Half Marathon this spring.

Oh, and Otto wants me to add that watching marathons is about as much fun as watching paint dry!


Jen said...

hey -- i have it band issues too! just finished pt and they got me running again, yay, but they're not totally better. maybe never will be xoxo

heather v keeling said...

rc- i really liked this post. i *used to* be a runner. and lately, the idea of a half marathon sounds alluring. mercer island, you say? hmm...interesting.