Sunday, October 26, 2014

Cheering for Marine Corps Marathoners

You know that awesome endorphin rush that you can get from a really good run? The kind that stays with you through the whole day? It turns out you can get that same rush from cheering for other runners - kind of a vicarious runner's high, if you will. Laura, Karen, Freddy, and I formed a "cheer brigade" to support our fellow PR runners for the 2014 Marine Corps Marathon and it was such a rush!

The Metro Ride in to DC
Laura, Freddy, and I met at the metro to head into the city. We were hoping Coach Shannon could come with us but she had to work. This was a major bummer because she played such an integral role in the training of so many PR Training Program runners who were taking on the MCM challenge. And also because she's fun to hang out with! I made a crack about putting Shannon's head on a sign and bringing it with us...which Laura ran with and used to create this inspired piece:

Laura brings Coach Shannon along to cheer

We waited for the train for a few minutes with Elmo the balloon. Elmo's purpose was to help our runners spot us. And to bring smiles to the faces of any runners who needed a chuckle. And sometimes Elmo got caught by the wind and bonked people on the head. (Not runners. Elmo only bonks thoughtless spectators who cross the road in front of runners)

On the train Freddy chose to sit with Laura (or "Miss Yeahhhh" as he started calling her). I tried to console myself with Elmo, who wasn't much of a conversationalist. Laura did have pens and paper and stickers and a fabulous blue wig (also designed to help our runners spot us, and bring chuckles to others...)

Metro selfie (groupie?). I think Elmo is on the ceiling.

Freddy's picture of Laura (blue hair) and balloons

Before we knew it we were at the Smithsonian and we headed out to walk to our cheering location which was a bit past Mile 15.

Setting Up
Karen met us at the cheering location where we had a beautiful view of the Jefferson Memorial and the tidal basin. We got our cheering gear out and tried to figure out how to corral Elmo.

Did I mention Laura is a professional photographer?
©2014 |

No, Elmo was not as well-behaved as this picture suggests
©2014 |

Karen & I display Laura's awesome signs
Freddy with loud clapping hands
©2014 |

Laura is ready with her camera & blue hair!
(that guy behind her has his bib on his back &
will be bummed when there are no identified
photos of him. BIB GOES IN THE FRONT!)

More cowbell!

After we were all set up we consulted our phones which were sending us text messages about our runners with important splits and pace information. When someone reached the halfway point (13.1 miles), we knew they were about 2 miles away and used their reported pace to calculate when they were likely to reach us. We also had a spreadsheet with information about predicted pace, shirt type & color, shoe color, etc. The spreadsheet was sorted in the order that we expected to see the PR runners run by us.

Let the Cheering Begin!

After we finished setting up we knew we had just a few minutes until Coach Adam showed up. We were poised with cameras, cowbells, and signs at the ready. And then we saw him speeding by and looking strong!

my iPhone photo vs...

...Laura's professional eye & camera
©2014 |

Next up on our list was Rob. We were standing with Rob's mom and brother and they had a big pink sign to cheer him on. Rob stopped and stepped up on the curb when he reached them. We thought he was just saying hi and then found out that he had rolled his ankle at a water stop when someone dove in front of him. He fortified with water and went on to finish the race despite the pain. 

Rob checking in with his mom & brother
©2014 |

Rob telling me about his rolled ankle
©2014 |

Next on our list was Coach Jodi. We didn't know what color her shirt would be, just that she had neon yellow shoes. She showed up right on schedule, wearing the beautiful new red Nike top that I have been coveting every time I've stepped foot into the PR store over the last couple of weeks. I hope they still have one left in my size...

those shoes really are neon yellow!

Our next runner was Brena. Brena is one of the most optimistic people I've ever met. She is getting married in a couple of weeks so she treated MCM as a bachelorette party, wearing a tutu, tiara, pink sash and a sign that said "race to the altar" on her back. We knew that she would be pretty easy to spot, and she was. But my phone had died at that point (mental note - it is not sufficient to bring battery backup for your need to know how to operate said battery backup) and I got no picture of her! Fortunately Karen and Laura got some pictures of her later in the race.

Brena at Mile 17
photo courtesy of Karen

the proud bachelorette
©2014 |

Kathleen & Erika
Our final PR runners were Kathleen and Erika. Our text alerts for their splits made it clear that they were running together. We knew Kathleen had a pink shirt. We almost missed them as they seemed to appear out of nowhere and sped by quickly. Again, Karen and Laura were able to capture photos from later in the race.

Erika (orange) & Kathleen (pink) in perfect sync
photo courtesy of Karen

showing off their hard-earned medals
©2014 |

To Infinity and Beyond!
As you may be able to tell from the foreshadowing above, Karen & Laura continued on to cheer from other locations while I did not. Freddy was a trooper, but he was ready to go home after spotting Erika & Kathleen. So we headed back to the metro, dropping Karen & Laura off at Mile 17. We had an uneventful ride home and Freddy took an unplanned two-hour nap. (which meant we missed his track meet with a surprise appearance by Alan Webb!! But I digress...)

I have been on a runner's high all day, looking at photos, checking results, reading bits and pieces about race experiences on social media. Laura made an incredible vimeo to capture the day; tears run down my face every time I watch it. It was truly exciting to cheer for our friends. I am inspired by and in awe of every one of them. I can't wait to hear the full stories over the coming days about what they each experienced on this incredible day. I was so glad to be able to spend part of it with them.


  1. awesome! i also spectated yesterday and saw your friend brenna (i called her my bachelorette) many times! spectating is almost as fun as running :)

    1. Hi Courtney - I love your blog! Thank you for stopping by to visit mine. I'm so happy you saw Brena running yesterday. Spectating really is fun :)