Monday, August 25, 2014

Traveling Cheer Squad - Santa Rosa Half and Full Marathon

Helloooo! I'm here! I'm alive! Life is good, training not so much but that's ok.  Short synopsis of the past week: I ran the Run-de-Vous ultramarathon on August 19th with the intention of finishing the 50 miler, got major heat sickness and dropped to the 50k, then spent all of last week resting up and letting my ego heal.  Now that you're all caught up, let's get to the business of this weekend's shenanigans.

It all started with Saturday morning, bright and early, when I met up with my Team In Training team for a long run.  Since I just ran an ultra the weekend before I wanted to do a nice, easy paced run and was flirting with the idea of doing the 12 miler with the half marathoners.  Spoiler alert: that didn't happen.  I quickly fell into step with a group of ladies who were doing a version of Galloway's run/walk strategy at a 4:1 interval.  I'd never tried any kind of run/walk strategy but I figured this was the perfect opportunity to give it a shot.  The first half was really hard for me.  My legs felt fresh and I just wanted to RUN so stopping to get a short walk break in at each interval was super challenging.  However, I stuck with the ladies and we had a grand time chatting the miles away.  Once we hit the turnaround point for the 12 miler, I was still feeling really good so I decided to keep going with the full marathoners and run the 18 miler instead.  You guys, this run/walk thing is pretty awesome!  My legs felt so good and I had tons of energy even on the hills (which I always charged up in a run regardless of whether it was a walk interval or not).  By the time we finished I still felt pretty energized and could probably have cranked out another 6-8 miles.  It was great!  I'm not so sure I'm going to convert to a true run/walk strategy for races but it definitely helped solidify in my stubborn brain that there is nothing wrong with strategic short walk breaks to help keep the legs fresh for the long haul.

After the TNT run, I rushed home to shower and pack so that I'd be ready to head out to Santa Rosa.  See, Thepinkhatrunner and I had spectated the Capitola Marathon for several friends of ours and we had so much fun that we decided to continue doing so as often as possible.  We even came up with a name for our cheer squad, "Cheer 2 U"!  I know, we're dorks.  So when a couple of our good running friends announced that they were going to be running the Santa Rosa Marathon we decided that we would schlep ourselves out there to be the loudest, most encouraging spectators on the course.  'Cuz that's just what good running friends do!

We headed out at 1:00 PM and thanks to ridiculous traffic on the way we didn't get to Petaluma (where we stayed the night at the Coast Guard Training Facility since we're fancy like that) until close to 4:00 PM.  Our friend Rebekah, who was going to run the marathon, also stayed at the Coast Guard Training Facility with her family so we ended up taking her out for a girls only carbo loading dinner (huge shout-out to her fabulous husband, Jim, for distracting the kids so that we could get in some girl time).  We ended up going to a great local restaurant called Speakeasy that served tapas style food and small plates.  It was so good!  If you're ever out in Petaluma, I would highly recommend giving it a try.  After stuffing our bellies, we headed back to our rooms for an early bed time.

Sunday morning Thepinkhatrunner and I woke up bright and early at 4:00 AM so that we could drop Rebekah off at the starting line and say hello to everyone before the race started.  I am NOT a morning person so you know I really love my friends to get up super early for a race that I wasn't running in.

4:00 AM selfie

Once we walked Rebekah over to the start line and made our rounds saying good morning to runners that we knew, we headed over to the nearest Starbucks for some much needed caffeine.  We also took over one of their long tables to spread out our arts and crafts supplies and create our cheer posters.  I was still half asleep so I was just glad I didn't misspell anything!

Caffeine & arts and crafts

I have to say, major props to all the friends and families who regularly travel with their runners to spectate.  Trying to figure out the best spots to spectate and find our way around an unknown city was much harder than we anticipated!  We drove around forever trying to find our first designated cheer spot.  Thankfully we got there in time to not only cheer on Rebekah and our friend Dean who she was running with but we also got to cheer on many of our other runner friends who were on the course. 


Obligatory porta potty shot
We stayed to cheer until the 5:30/5:40 marathoners ran by then packed up to head to our next cheer spot at mile 17.  We got there early and decided to hop out and cheer on as many people as we could.  Holy cow those front runners sure are fast!  I'm always awed by not only how speedy they are but how effortless and graceful they make it look.  I certainly don't look like that when I run! 

We cheered our little hearts out and handed out GU and chomps for all of the runners who passed by between the 2:50 - 5:30 finish time paces.  I loved seeing all of the smiling, laughing faces and all of the faces of focus and determination.  But the ones who really tugged at my heart were the runners who you could tell were struggling, either mentally or physically, but were still pushing forward and determined to finish.  They were who inspired me.
Cheer 2 U
We stayed to cheer as long as we could (and even got to sing Happy Birthday to our friend Hameed who was running the marathon for his birthday) before packing up to head to the finish line in time to make sure we could cheer in all of our friends.  Let me tell ya, watching people cross that finish line is my favorite part of spectating.  I cheered and screamed so loudly for every single person who sprinted, charged or limped towards that finish that I'm surprised I have a voice today.  I was so happy for everyone who crossed that finish line yesterday for both the half and full marathon.  My only regret was that I didn't get to take finisher pictures with all of my friends who ran that day.  I definitely can't wait to spectate/cheer on the next event!

Dee ran a half marathon PR!

Speedy Josam

Superstar Dean

Rockstar Rebekah

RFRC family


Have you ever cheered/spectated at an event before?  If you haven't, I would highly recommend doing so!  It is so much fun and it makes such a difference for the athletes on the course.