Warning: I get way too excited and this may be even longer than a race report. Oops?
Just for the record, I really can’t decide which I like better…running marathons or spectating marathons. Okay, that’s a lie…I like running marathons better, but I had an AWESOME time watching the Boston Marathon this weekend! While I had a few twinges of thoughts that I wished I had signed up to run this year, it was really fun to watch and cheer and yell and scream.
My main spectators last year included my friend Amy and my dad, who just happens to be the best spectator known to man. Whenever my parents watch me run, they try to get to as many spots as they can to cheer, so last year I looked forward to seeing Amy and my dad in Ashland (mile 3.5-ish), Wellesley Hills (mile 14-ish), and the finish (didn’t see them, but Amy saw me!). Since the plan worked out well last year, we decided to replicate it.
However, being the best spectators EVER require some prep. So let’s rewind to Sunday.
We had breakfast and gathered some supplies at Target, and then did some final refueling with some ice cream…it’s hard work preparing to cheer at a marathon!
After fueling up for an afternoon of sign making (James sat on the couch and rested his legs), Amy and I set to work. Arts and crafts time took me back to elementary school (okay, and the college years, let’s be serious), and since I’m just as neurotic as I was back then, this project took HOURS.
Amy hard at work!
The ideas that I had mainly came from my head (that’s a scary thought…) and my efforts of scouring the internet and polling twitter. I’m not going to lie…I’m pretty sure we had the best signs out on the course, although I may be a little biased. Check out the finished products:
James got his own sign. Since he’s studying aerospace engineering, a runner with a rocket on his back made sense. The fact that he’s getting his PhD and we made the most elementary-looking sign known to man just made us chuckle.
Making signs was quite tiring, so we crashed around 11:30pm before waking up for a day of screaming. Amy dropped James off at the Common and then we gathered our belongings to head out to Ashland, known as cheer spot #1. With coffee in hand (best part about spectating…), we made the drive and staked out our spot. Many apologizes to Amy because I’m a bit of a neurotic mess and was so worried that we were going to miss the elite women (and later that we should miss the runners at mile 14!), but we made it quite excellently with time to spare.
The race started with some of the disabled athletes coming through, and eventually we heard the sirens and big to do for the women to come through! Kim Smith was way ahead of the field by the time she got to us, and she was followed by quite the chase pack. I yelled for Kara even though I missed snapping a picture of her.
After the women came through, we waited for the elite men to show up, signaling the start of the MADNESS that was the start of the race. Team Hoyt came through in the meantime:
Soon enough, Ryan Hall came through leading the men:
Then. THE MASSES. This is like runner heaven to me (fact: I have a thing for skinny runner boys, and to have a wave of almost 8,000 of them running at you? I’ll take it), and we screamed and screamed and looked for our runners. We totally missed James, and the only person I spotted in Ashland was Luau. The entire road was FILLED with people flying by (I mean, this was the first wave), so we just yelled and scanned the crowd.
Amy was holding the “Kisses for PRs” sign, and a (quite attractive, we agreed upon) runner stopped, exclaimed, “Why not?” and gave Amy a kiss on the cheek. Victory!! Our work here is done.
Well, that’s not entirely true, but by the time we saw bibs in the 6,000-7,000 range, we figured we had missed James (bib 1481), so we scooted out of Ashland and over to Wellesley Hills. (Again, apologizes to Amy for my neurotic tendencies…I probably freaked out more than necessary. Although I inherited my dad’s sense of humor, his laid back demeanor appears to have skipped a generation.) Navigating in a car was actually quite easy, and we got into Wellesley Hills just as the sirens signaling the elite men were passing. We missed the front runners, but the stragglers (if you even want to call them that…) were coming through.
Our plan was to stake out here for a while with the best opportunity to see the most runners since the field was a bit more spread out. Mile 14-ish is a great place to be because the runners are over halfway, but (should be) still feeling good. The runners came through in small, small groups until we inched closer to those running around the three hour mark, when the stream of runners was much more consistent. Then, we proceeded to scream for a good 45 minutes straight.
I had THE BEST time in Wellesley Hills. Jumped up and down and screamed and yelled the entire time. If you’re ever watching a marathon, make this sign!! While we got some disgusted looks (sorry!), we got tons of smiles!! They ranged from little smirks to huge smiles and thumbs ups to shouts of “Are you smiling??”. One man was running in spandex and he yelled, “There’s no room for that under here!” Whenever we saw someone smiling, we’d yell, “That’s right! We see you smiling!” or “It’s okay to admit it!” or “We won’t tell on you!” So much fun.
Facts learned during this experiment: Men are much more likely to not wear underwear, or at least to admit it to random girls on the side of the course. Also, Navy men DO NOT wear underwear.
We ended up in a few random pictures because other spectators would walk by us and see people smiling, then they would turn to see what the sign said…and laugh. Since I was jumping and screaming like a nut, it made for a good picture. Amy was holding the “Kisses for PRs” sign and nabbed a smooch from a guy who literally bee-lined across the street (we were on the left, most runners were on the right) for a kiss. Victory #2.
Oh yeah, back to spectating!! As evidenced by the sign above, we had quite a list of runners to look for. Fact: We missed about 80% of them. Sorry!! We saw Ben roll through Wellesley Hills first, although despite our yelling I think he didn’t see us. I knew about what time James would came through based on (late) text updates and my own ridiculous knowledge of race pace/the course. About two minutes after we starting yelling, “Have you seen James?? He’s skinny!” at the runners (we’re cool, I promise), Amy spotted James. I barely saw him, but I did snap a picture!
Spectator tip: Actually confirm with your runner what they’re going to be wearing! We thought James said red, but we never actually made sure…oops.
After yelling and snapping way too many pictures of runners (seriously, if you’re in the top 2000, let me know since I may have a random picture of you), we decided to book it to Boston to get to the finish. Getting into Boston actually wasn’t too much of a problem, although our first parking garage was a total disaster so we left to find another one. At this point, James had finished, but we headed to Boylston St to see the crowds and runners. Well, mainly the crowds since I peak at 5’4” and the crowds are at least four deep on each side. It wasn’t as loud as I remember it being, which James confirmed when he said that Boylston St actually seemed quite quiet. That’s sad.
After we watched for a few minutes, James called us and told us where he was, so we headed over to meet him. He seemed quite chipper:
James went through the half around 3:00 pace, and he said his overall time would probably be 3:00-3:05, so that’s pretty spot on. “I didn’t really do the mid-week long runs…or tempo runs…well, I did do the weekend long runs.” Speedy pants.
We headed back to Somerville (home to Amy!), ate some burgers (yum!), and then took turns passing out on the couch. Cheering is some hard work!!
Major congrats (and sorry I missed you!!) to Aron, Josh, Claire, Lizzy, Luau, Corey, Eissa, Denise, Molly, Laura, Sarah, Mary, Sam, Doug, Emily, and Page!! And anyone else who I forgot…so many rock stars, it’s hard to keep track of you all!
I had an absolute blast cheering (runnerds represent…), and it got me excited for my next marathon (Big Sur!) and more to come in the fall. Also, if you ever need a spectator (or just some signs…or both…I should go into business), just let me know, this running stuff is like crack.
Congrats again, BOSTON MARATHONERS!