2012 boston marathon, elite cheer squad edition

The weekend up in Boston last week was soooo much fun, and I love running around expos and meeting all you runners and soaking up the atmosphere that is marathon weekend.  It was a little hard not being on the running side of all of the craziness, but by the time Sunday rolled around, I felt much better about the fact that the heat wasn’t going to lead to PR times and that Lauren (who was supposed to be my PR partner in crime) was also out due to injury.  (We better be healthy soon!)

All of my sadness definitely rolled away by the time Marathon Monday rolled around and it was already hot as Amy and I were heading out for our cheer squad duties.  Amy had taken James over to Boston Commons early that morning, and I think my final words were basically something along the lines of, “Don’t be stupid.”  I’m uplifting.  I just remembered looking back to when I ran the 2007 Chicago Marathon (that was my first post!) and the temperature was in the 90’s.  It was a disaster, they cancelled the marathon, and I almost cried when I turned and saw the finish line because I’ve never been so happy to just finish.  So Boston Marathoners, when I say I know how you feel…I really know how you feel.

to ashland

Amy and I have a very scheduled, mapped out plan for cheering for the Boston Marathon.  It was made when my dad came to watch me when I ran it in 2010, and my dad is a really good spectator and likes to see me as much as possible, so they figured out how to do that.  It worked so well that we’ve repeated it the last two years.

We grabbed some coffee and loaded up our goods (signs!  water!  snacks!  beer!) and started the drive out to Ashland.  I was literally bouncing out of my seat as we danced to the radio music (yes, I dance in the car, and I’m glad Amy does too so I don’t look like a total fool…although let’s be honest, I know I still do) on the Mass Turnpike.  I was so excited to be heading out and cheering and definitely glad to not be running.  I’ve done the 90 degree marathon before, and I didn’t really want to do it again.  (Although had I been ready to run, I would have.)

We got to Ashland and staked out a spot with about thirty minutes until the elite women would get to us.  The wheelchair/disabled runners were coming by, so we cheered for them as they passed and got even more excited to cheer everyone on. 

Bostn Marathon 2012 (35) Team Hoyt!

Bostn Marathon 2012 (28) It’s hot and we’re ready to cheer.

Some official vehicles came through, and I spotted Meb in the back of a Nissan truck.  I don’t think anyone else noticed who he was (again…), so I yelled “Go Meb!”  He was probably glad to not be running in these conditions…

Bostn Marathon 2012 (27)Meb in the blue car.

Soon enough, we saw some lead cars coming through, followed by the elite women.  We cheered for them, and they were all past within a few minutes.  I always think it’s interesting to see the women go by….and then wait for nothing.  It’s at least twenty minutes before the men and the masses come through, so it’s kind of weird.

Bostn Marathon 2012 (32)Speedy women!

Once the women passed…we waited.  I may or may not have bounced up and down a little bit more, as much as my back would let me.  And I got really excited.  Did I mention that  yet?

Bostn Marathon 2012 (38)I love Marathon Monday!!

We saw some flashing lights in the distance and knew that the men were coming.  Followed by everyone else. 

Bostn Marathon 2012 (40) I forgot to take my camera off zoom, oops?

Once the masses started coming through, I kept my eyes peeled for all the runners we were looking for.  I knew that Kevin, Chris, Dan, and Charlie (aka the fast kids) would be among the first to pass, so seeing them would be the sign to really get our cheer on.  Luckily telling people where we were going to be worked to our advantage, as I believe we spotted all three of them, or people spotted us (the hot pink shirts were helpful…) and yelled over at us.  Despite the heat, I think most people who still had hopes of a good race were going out on pace, although they were drenched by the time the got to us at mile 3.5.  Yikes.

James was the main runner we were following, and we actually saw him this year…missed him last year in Ashland.  We even got a picture!

Bostn Marathon 2012 (46) In the red!

You can see that people were already dumping water on themselves because of the heat, and at one point, I think I got light headed just from screaming too much.  I definitely didn’t want to be running at that point!  I hoped the runners would be smart and adjust their goals and/or stop running if it got too bad, although in my head I knew that if I was running, I’d convince myself that I needed to finish.

But back to the fun!  I knew so many people running Boston, so I kept my eyes peeled and soon enough Lindsay yelled over to us, followed by Mason running by.  I missed Dorothy  and Baker, and we kept our eyes peeled for Megan, but we missed her too.  Too many of you!  Once we realized that Megan was past us, we packed up and headed to Wellesley since we waited a little too long in Ashland last year and thought we were going to miss James in Wellesley.  I had a feeling everyone would be slowing down by then to buy us some time, but you never know.  So off to Wellesley we went!

kisses for PRs

Let’s take a break to review the cheering plan for the day.  As two single ladies, we decided to make a push on the “Kisses for PRs” sign that was slightly successful last year.  We had our original sign which is a real winner, but then we made a duo of signs that I’m quite proud of. 

Boston Marathon 2011 (69) Classic.

Bostn Marathon 2012 (77) PRing in Kisses!!

The real kicked was the inside of the signs…

Bostn Marathon 2012 (78)2 No shame, my friends.

As you can see, we also had matching shirts.  Last year we made “Why wait for Wellesley?” shirts, but with the heat this year, we went on a little shopping trip to get matching shorts and tank tops.  A few iron on letters and you get this little number:

As I said on twitter, “Dear Boston Marathoners, I know it’s going to be hot tomorrow, but just saying…”  Good times.  In Ashland we had a few people blow us kisses, and one man stopped and gave us really, really sweaty kisses, did a lap around us, and said “I PR’d again!” and gave us another kiss.  The lady standing next to us either said that what we’re doing is creepy, or that what he just did was creepy.  We were just having fun!

Bostn Marathon 2012 (52)Amy with our set up in Wellesley.

We used the signs less in Ashland and much more in Wellesley, and we got a fair amount of kisses (well, Amy did, I had the underwear sign from last year!)…including one guy who told us his bib number to look up.  (I happen to be an excellent runner stalker and we found him on Facebook…win.)  The signs definitely helped people recognize us (thank you, neon colors…), although by mile 14 I think the runners were no longer chipper as they once were and had little interest in entertaining our cheering requests.  Don’t worry runners, we still love you.

back to the action

With only minor freaking out, we made really good time and got to Wellesley in time to see some of the front runners coming through.  I found out later that a guy I went to college with was running, and although I had no clue at the time, I actually got two pictures of him in Wellesley.  He finished in 2:32, which is a crazy time in perfect conditions, let alone in the ridiculous heat.

Bostn Marathon 2012 (50) Pat is fast and racing in black!

Yet again I kept my eyes peeled for the fast kids listed above, and I spotted Kevin and Dan come through first.  You all looked wonderful……wonderfully sweaty. 

image Hi Kevin!

image Dan gave a little bit of a wave when we yelled at him…I don’t blame him!

I’m pretty sure Charlie ran over to us next, where he slowed down for a brief moment, long enough to say, “There’s no way I’m even going sub-3” while dripping with sweat.  Probably a smart idea…although I offered IVs to everyone, I didn’t actually want to have to give someone one!  (And I had no supplies, that makes it rough.)  After Charlie went by, I think I yelled, “Josh!” at three people who I thought were Josh, but none of them were.  Sorry buddy…

Luckily the text message tracking was working pretty well this year, and we got the half splits pretty quick so we knew when James was going to be coming up.  Certainly off goal pace, which was for the better.  A sign that he wasn’t going to over do it?  He actually stopped and chatted with us for a few seconds.

Bostn Marathon 2012 (62) Nice glasses.

Bostn Marathon 2012 (63) “This is terrible.  I’ll finish.”

Once James went by, I gave up on my camera and switched it out for the “Smile if you’re not wearing underwear!” sign and focused my efforts on scanning the crowds.  We had more time to hang in Wellesley before heading to the finish, so we were definitely on the lookout.

I don’t remember the order people ran by us, but we saw Lindsay (still looking really strong!), Mason, Dorothy (who ran by yelling, “Hi Susan!!  I recognized your signs!”), Claire (who stopped for a sweaty hug), Laura (who didn’t hear us, I believe) and Megan (who threw her sunglasses at us…and I got them safely back to NYC!).  Who else did I miss??

We cheered and yelled and screamed and held our signs, but the truth is that pretty  much all of the runners looked nothing short of defeated.  We got much better responses to our signs last year (obviously not what it’s all about, but it was fun last year!), but I think people were so out of it, hot and tired, and mentally not in it that they were dead  by mile 14.  When I ran Chicago in the heat, I remember calling it a fourteen mile run followed by a twelve mile death march.  Most people were still running, but they looked rough.  We only saw one ambulance as we were leaving Wellesley, but I figured it was the first of many.

down to boylston

We left Wellesley when the temperatures were still soaring, and we hadn’t even touched the beer that we had in the trunk since we wanted water for ourselves as well!  So hot.  We headed to Boston with plenty of time to park and head to Boylston…much more time than if runners had been on their goals paces.  We found a spot along Boylston, and I did my best to wedge my way up towards the front, but people were lining the street.  The lady next to me didn’t seem to appreciate me pushing my way up, and she turned and told me that they had a runner coming so they needed to be close.  Well, I have like twelve runners coming, so don’t mind me.  (They proceeded to have a conversation about what their runner might be wearing, which led me to believe they would never see him.  Moving on.) 

Lindsay went running by us, so I screamed for her although it’s hard to hear anyone cheering on the sidelines so I doubt she heard us.  However, I’m proud to say that we saw Lindsay in all three spots, making her the winner of this whole spectating experience.  (And she got 58th place!  Not too shabby…)  We kept our eyes peeled for James, but I was on my tip toes trying to look over the people in front of me (I’m short at 5’4”, okay?).  We had no idea how much people were slowing down, so we just kept looking.  I saw Baker flying down Boylston (first time we saw him!) and yelled his name.  Not too long after that, we got the text message that James had finished so we headed towards the runner reunion area.

Bostn Marathon 2012 (66) Eyes wide on Boylston

Bostn Marathon 2012 (71)

To the finish!

A few notes on Boylston.  First, a runner stopped right in front of us with an obviously cramped up calf.  As in, you could see his calf bulging, and he couldn’t even put it on the ground until that released up.  A policeman went in front of him to direct runners around him, and we all cheered when he started up again.  I’ve never experienced cramps like that, but I can only imagine what it would be like to see the finish line and have to wait for a few minutes to make it there.

Secondly, to everyone lining Boylston.  Why are you not cheering your brains out??  If I was up front and not straining just to see, I’d be yelling at every runner going by!  It was so quiet around us.  Amy and I wanted to push to the front just to show them how it’s done.

Moving on.

we’re famous

We headed over to runner reunions in order to find James, and we actually had a plan for a meeting spot so we went there.  Since we didn’t see him, we started walking towards where the runners were coming out of the finisher area, and we ran into Chris.  We chatted for a bit about how miserable the race was and how awesome his positive split was.  I then demanded a picture since we didn’t take one when we had lunch the day before, and we all know that post-marathon pictures are better anyway.

Bostn Marathon 2012 (74)

You’ve already seen this picture.

Chris rewarded my photography skills by offering to let me stay with him and his fiance in Portland, luring me in with the fact that multiple breweries are by their house.  I’m in.  Also, it’s fabulous that random people invite you into their homes after meeting them once or twice.  Thank you, internet running friends!

James came up to us alive and not walking too funny.  He first said, “That was terrible,” followed by, “I have no idea how you ran Chicago.”  (In 4:12, that’s how…)  Anyway, as we were walking to find some of his friends, a photographer from the Boston Globe stopped and asked us if he could take our picture.  Given the sayings on the front of our shirt, we acted out the fact that James (didn’t) PR.  He told us the pictures would be up that night, and on Tuesday we found ourselves on the sports home page of the Boston Globe:

Boston Globe

Yep, my 15 minutes of fame.  If only they got the front of our shirts…

James found some of his runner friends and learned that one of them ended up in a medical tent.  (Yikes!  He’s okay now, so that’s good.)  He changed out of marathon clothes and we headed back to Amy’s apartment.

Bostn Marathon 2012 (75)

Elite cheer squad!

We refueled with some burgers and beer before heading back to NYC/NJ.  We said bye to Amy who begged us to stay and run next year…we’ll be back, I promise!  I got door to door service from James and Tim, who drove into Manhattan so I didn’t have to hop on a train.  (Thanks guys!)

the end

So, Boston Marathon weekend was basically more fun that I could have thought.  I was nervous going into the weekend because I wasn’t sure if it would make me upset to be there, but I realized that not everything goes your way all the time, and maybe the injury was a blessing in disguise.  I don’t know what Lauren has to say about this, but there’s no way we would have run 3:10 in those conditions (would have been a 7-8 minute PR for both of us!).  Not that I’m in condition to run another marathon in a few weeks, as some people are planning on, but I still had a great weekend with great friends.  It was a blast cheering all of you on.  Before this weekend, I said that there was no way I would run Boston next year.  This is the second time I’ve registered for Boston and the second time I’ve been injured for it.  (First time around I had IT band problems and ran with my right knee straight for 20 miles.  Don’t do that.)  Which brings me too…

on deferment

The race was crazy and hot and everyone looked miserable.  I’m glad that I only know one person who ended up in a medical tent.  If I had been prepared to run, I would not have taken advantage of the deferment option that the BAA offered over the weekend.  I would have gutted it out, slowed my pace, and ran.  I don’t know anyone who deferred because of the heat.  Maybe more people should have, and I think it was great of the BAA to play it safe and let people know that they could defer if they wanted to.  I heard ten people are in critical condition (or at least were earlier this week) after the marathon, and I’m not totally surprised based on those conditions.

That being said, I technically did defer.  Anyone who picked up their bib and then didn’t run on Monday is automatically deferred, which is only about 400 people.  I already have a qualifying time for next year (and at 3:18, I had no worried about being able to register with the new system), so the deferment doesn’t do much for me.  I think it was smart of the BAA to allow people to defer if they were concerned about their health…better to be safe rather than sorry, although it is no guarantee it’ll be better next year!  And next year seems really far away…


Congrats to everyone who ran, whether you finished or played it safe and cut out early.  It was hot just spectating out there, and I know what it’s like to run a hot, hot marathon and miss your goals by a long shot.  (Chicago was when I was first going for a BQ, and that certainly didn’t happen.)  Thanks for being safe runners and scaling back, and know that there will be more marathons in your future to kick butt in.

And I’m really jealous of your red jackets.

real recaps

If you want to read some recaps of people who actually ran the marathon, go check out Baker, Lindsay, Claire, Kristy, or Megan’s blog.  Good reads!

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  1. says

    Dang – I ran too slow! I was waaaay behind Megan so I missed you at each spot. Spectators like you made the race unbelievably fun (even in the heat)!

    I love that you were on the Boston Globe’s website!!!

  2. says

    OMG I totally love the inside of your signs!!! I need to go cheer at a race like that to pick up some hottie runners hahahaha

  3. says

    Susan I LOVED your famous photo, I saw that on the homepage of that website when I was looking up info about Boston!!! Made my day.

    And fingers crossed that we’ll get some better temps at Boston 2013 :)

    So we’re required to run every third Saturday…and I signed up for Saturday nights, so that I can always run on Saturday mornings :) Friday nights screw me up, and we have to do one of those per month, so I’ll try to schedule it for a low-mileage long run.

    I’m probably going to run the OC marathon on May 5th (I think). Tappan and I are heading out to California and I thought it’d be fun to do something while I’m out there. Haven’t signed up yet though, I’m still waiting to see what the weather’s going to be like haha.

  4. t says

    Hi Susan! I love reading your blog, your enthusiasm for running always makes me excited to run (sorry you are not able to run right now, I hope you recover quickly). I am running my 1st half marathon in a couple weeks and it starts at 6:30 am. I wondered if I could get your advice since you have run many (super fast!!) races – would you get up super early in order to eat something beforehand? I am worried about getting stomach cramp from eating right before but I also don’t want to get super hungry during the race. Any tips? Thanks!

  5. says

    You should try barefoot running. Or Vibrams. Or the Invisible Shoe. That will fix your back pain and any other injury you’ve ever had….


    So this James fellow…. <3 ??

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