I have never gone to spectate at a marathon before...I had no idea how emotional and moving it would be. We arrived at our first viewing point just minutes before the first runner came through. I think all 3 of us cried when we saw him come flying through. So awesome! To be the first runner in a pack that big for a marathon?? Must feel crazy good. Then, a few runners later, the first woman came through, and I got all teary again. Girl power at it's best!
We went to the FitRight NW store in NW Portland...they had an awesome DJ (who's playlist I'd REALLY love to have for running...it was awesome! I was grooving to it a little too much, and made my sweet baby girl hurl her milk. Not good.) They had some pop up canopies to shelter cheerleaders from the rain, although we didn't mind at all getting all drippy wet to cheer for our favorite runners! FitRight is such a fantastic shop with amazing customer service...I wish I had more opportunities to shop there!
Anyhow, we waited in the rain, and we saw pacers start coming through. 3:00, 3:15, and 3:30...we knew they were getting close! 3:40 came and we had our eyes peeled for Ashley, we knew she'd be the first of our friends to come through. We were searching the crowd for her orange tank, and soon enough, there she was!! She was looking fantastic at 11.5 miles! Happy smile and a typical Ashley grace as she booked it through. It was a HUGE deal for Ashley to be doing this marathon. Her first didn't go as she'd hoped, and after 25 miles, she didn't get to cross the finish. THIS marathon, we knew she was going to prove herself a marathoner!! We all cried after she was out of sight.
We waited for just a few minutes, and Julie was right behind. Julie had an injured leg, and didn't even know if she'd get to the start line in Portland. When earlier in the week, she sent a quick note on facebook telling us about her new pain that she couldn't run on, we all felt a punch to the gut, only imagining what she must be feeling. 4 months of training...to not run, just days before the big race? But...Julie is the toughest runner I know. She is fun, lovely, and stubborn and sassy. She showed up on Sunday, ready to give it all she had. And she did. When we saw her at that 11.5 mile mark, she was ROCKING!! We knew what pace group she hoped to be in, but weren't sure if she'd be able to keep it up on her bad leg....but she DID!! We saw her coming, and we were all cheering out of our minds. (I'm sure the spectators around us appreciated us screaming in thier ears!)...But, our Julie was rocking it!! We didn't care. Julie and Ashley are BFF's...so much in common yet so different. I laughed between tears at the way Ashley graciously went by, telling us we were making her cry, and Julie, who whooped it up, blowing us kisses and giving that glowing Julie smile! We all cried, because even at that point in the race our strong, dedicated friends, had already had victories. They were RUNNING!
There were a few more gals who we were hunting for, Wendy and Janae, and of course, SBS from Run Like A Mother. That felt a little like our tribe mama going by, and it was a proud moment! All of those gals were doing so great too. We cheered for lots of people we didn't know, soggy runners pushing through the puddles for victory. SO much fun!
We dashed into FitRight, picked up some odds and ends, and then we booked it downtown towards the finish line. We got such an amazing little spot, on the final bend of the race. Literally, around the corner, maybe 200 yards from the finish line. It was so much fun to see runners faces as they saw the finish line in their sights. We saw the pacers again, and we looked for our friends. While we waited we saw some amazing finishers...One guy who raced himself in a handpropelled race wheelchair, and another girl doing the same. The were cooking! It was so inspiring. A husband and wife, each pushing a jogger. An adorable couple, wearing wedding outfits and signs on their backs that said "Just Married". A dad pushing a middle school age looking special needs son in a jogger...all so inspiring and brought us to tears. (We were a blubbering mess of spectators!)
We stood on our tiptoes, leaning out as far as we could, trying to get a glimpse of Ashley. Straining to see that orange shirt. Finally, we saw her. Of course, we cried. She had already won it, to us. She had MADE IT to the finish. This was a huge freaking deal!! And, her pace was AMAZING! We saw her, and made ourselves look like idiots cheering for her! She grinned and glowed. She knew she had done it too. She not only finished, but Boston Qualified!!! Take THAT 25 mile marathon. Of course, we cried again.
Then we saw Sarah, SBS, and she was hauling! She too, had the glow of woman with victory in her sights. It was so incredible! Sarah also BQ'd....GO RLAM Mama!!
We knew Julie wanted be close behind. We waited and worried when we didn't see her. After 10 minutes, our hearts began to ache. After 20 minutes we prayed that she was still running and not in the medic tent. We prayed and cried, hoping her leg would carry her to the finish. Finally, we got a phone call from a fellow spectator that said she was on her way to us!! We were freaking out. SHE DID IT!! She was finishing the race! The race she didn't even know if she could start. We leaned out, searching for the blue shirt. We yelled her name....no we were screaming. I could see her turning, looking around for who was calling her. Finally, she saw us. We knew, that she knew, that we knew, what a big freaking deal this was. She made it. Not the finish she'd trained her fanny off for, but it was a FINISH!! And a great one at that. She looked emotional...and of course, that one really got us blubbering. We were all SO PROUD and amazed, and inspired, that she was so stinking tough and finished strong, smile intact.
These ladies and all the runners, helped me find my motivation again. I can't imagine a better way to spend 3 hours in the pouring down rain.
Of course, On the way home, the rain stopped, the sun came out and it was a beautiful afternoon. I met up with my best running buddy, Selene for our final long run before our half marathon this Sunday. I think it was one of my favorites. Knowing we were ready. Feeling strong and good. Feeling so inspired by my friends who ran 26.2 freaking miles. It was a really, really great day!
My sweet boys keep asking me, how many more days to the "big race". I love that they are excited with me!