Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Licorice Bananas

I somehow convinced Bo to wake up early on Sunday, hop on the trolley, and then ride our bikes to an ugly part of San Diego to cheer on the marathoners.

You see, the marathon race description goes on and on about the bands and the cheerleaders and the crowds all along the course. Like it's one big rockin' party while you run. That's only partially true. All that is definitely there for the first 15 miles or so. After that, you're on your own. The runners start getting more staggered, the crowds are nonexistent, and the bands are an entire mile apart. There are places near the end of that course that are nearly silent. That's killer when you're on mile 21 and in lots of pain and wondering how the heck you'll make it another 5.2 miles without sawing your own feet off at the ankle. Any kind of distraction is heaven sent, because it'll zap you back awake and focused on something other than feeling miserable. Having been through all that misery a few times, I wanted to do something to help out this year's runners. To pay it forward, if you will.

So, I dragged Bo with me to mile 24.5, where it was completely ugly and completely silent. And we stood there and rang cowbells and yelled encouraging things to the runners for nearly 3 hours. Yes, do-gooders, indeed. But it was so completely gratifying. I had runners thanking me, giving me a thumbs up, yelling back, waiving, giving me high fives, the works. And then some runners were in that place where it takes precious energy to even glance sideways at a spectator, and my only thank you came in the form of a slightly relaxed look on their faces. Those were the runners I went out there for. They appreciate your noise the most, but don't have the energy to let you know just how much. I've been in that place; I can vouch for how wonderful it is to have someone tell you that you're amazing when you feel nothing but pain and fatigue.

My favorite part of Sunday morning was having a girl run by me while I was ringing those cowbells, and exclaim, "Your arms are going to be sore tomorrow!" Yes, but not nearly so sore as your legs will be, silly girl! :) I did end up with some enormous blisters on my bell-ringing fingers. They hurt so bad that I've resorted to covering them with that second skin liquid (which stings like no other). That stuff stinks for hours. Like licorice and bananas.


  1. I have been grateful for cheerleaders like you and I have also been a cheerleader to say thank you. It is a wonderful feeling, I go home tired but happy and wondering if I am this tired from cheering how do I run distances?
    My brother saw you out there with your 2 cow bells and said you were in a 'good spot.' So Thank you for cheering for my brother!!

  2. You should wear some of those fingerless gloves next year...incorporate them into some kind of costumey thing. For the Twin Cities Marathon TONS of people dress up...last year I remember seeing superman, superwoman, a bumble bee, santa claus and many more.
    Here I am being a cheerleader last year...
    And my silly friend clapping for US while we stood in the rain holding a sign for him. Silly runners!

  3. Oh, the fingerless gloves are a fantastic idea!! I will definitely steal it for next time!

    Love your sign! It's far, far superior to the scads of unreadable ones I saw on Sunday. Nice work!