On Sunday I spent the morning cheering on members of the marathon clinic (and all kinds of strangers, too!) at the Toronto Marathon. I have to admit, I kind of love waking up at 5am for race day when I’m not the one racing.
I was out the door early to meet Kelly and Danya (racing) and fellow supporter Nik to drive us all to the start. It was a perfect, cool morning and seemed like it would be a really good day to be running a marathon. I hoped the sun wouldn’t heat things up too much for our runners as the day went on.
We made it to the start easily and met up with all of our other friends from the clinic. The starting line at the Toronto Marathon is simple and chaos-free – no worries about finding bag check or bathrooms, and you don’t have to line up long before the gun goes off. We exchanged lots of good lucks and high fives and took photos before seeing our runners off.
We got there in plenty of time to see the leaders and anxiously waited for our runners to start coming through, cheering for everyone else in the mean time. We were both decked out in our Boston jackets (duh) so it was fun to get lots of comments and congrats on those. It seemed like a lot of people who had run Boston were out for redemption. Several said: “Much cooler today!” And then there was one $^%& who said something along the lines of: “Wow, they give those jackets to anybody these days.” Reeeeal nice, buddy. We refrained from responding and silently cursed him, secretly hoping that karma would pay him a visit later in the race.
Anyway, all the peeps from our group were looking happy and strong. We made a couple of pre-arranged bottle swaps and sent them on their way with good wishes for the rest of the race. I know how much I love to see a familiar during the race, so it was nice to put smiles on some faces out there.
I got to see Lish, too! Make sure you check out her recap and give her congrats – psssst, she killed it! I also saw Kenny who was running his 800th marathon (or so it seems) and making it look easy, as usual!
Once we had seen everyone, it was time to pack up and head down to the finish area which would also situate us at 28K before the out-and-back on Lakeshore. We hit a couple of traffic/road closure issues along the way, but made it in time to park and schlep our stuff over to the grass in between the bike path (28K for the “out” portion) and Lakeshore Boulevard (42K for the “back” portion).
It was fun to start cheering for everyone again and lots of runners recognized us from our last spot. I had a bunch of watermelon wedges and I started handing those out. The runners gobbled them up! I figure this just one small way of paying it forward after all the support I received from spectators at Boston. The watermelon was running out fast and I had to be careful to save enough for our runners.
It was nice to see everyone again and check in on their progress, offer some encouraging words and promise that we’d see them for the finish. We had tons of bottles to swap this time and had them all laid out in the order we expected to see them.
I was stoked for some of our runners who were absolutely killing it and on their way to a strong finish. It was tough to see that a few of our peeps were struggling and that it wasn’t turning out to be the race they had hoped/planned/trained for. With some extra pep talks, water, sugar and advil as needed, we got them all on their way again. I really felt for them because I knew it was turning out to be a grueling day – trust me, I have been there! (numerous times)
One of the ladies actually thanked me later for giving her “permission to just finish.” Sometimes when our time goal has slipped away and we feel just terrible, it’s hard to find the motivation to keep going. I knew she could do it (and she did). It feels good to play just a small role in helping someone through a tough mental spot. Again, I have been there! (numerous times)
After seeing the last of my peeps, I simply had to turn around and re-position myself to watch for runners coming back the other way to the finish. It was just a few hundred metres away, but it’s right in that spot when it still seems to far away. I did my best to encourage all the runners to just keep pushing and finish strong, assuring them that they were truly almost there.
This is where it got really exciting to see my runners finishing. I cheered like mad, jumped in where I could to run along-side for a few strides, snapped pictures, took water bottles/belts, etc. I screamed til my voice was scratchy and loved every minute of it. So proud of all of them! Every last one of them finished – lots of PRs, a couple of BQs and a whole lot of determination to that finish line regardless of the time on the clock.
It was such a thrill to be a part of this day and the perfect way to commemorate the end of our marathon clinic. Congratulations, Team!