Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seattle Marathon (Cheering Section)

Today was the Seattle Marathon and I decided to go out to cheer on the runners, three of whom I did know and most of whom I didn't. So I decamped to the shaded and frigid corner of 24th Avenue and Interlaken, just before the 22-mile marker. This is such an interesting section of the course. A steep climb from the Arboretum, crossing an arterial, and then a gradual climb into Interlaken Park, in my opinion one of the prettiest places in Seattle.

Cheering people on makes me rather self-conscious but PuddleThumper had thrown down a challenge to make a lot of noise and so I did.

It is amazing how limited one's vocabulary becomes when doing this. So many "Good Job!" , "You Got This Hill!", and "Looking Strong!" or "Looking Good!", "Strong Work XXXX", and (of course) "Keep It Going! You Are Almost Done!" I was struck by the sense that much of this was something of a lie. No, "lie" is too strong, a "noble lie" perhaps.

Occasionally someone would respond with a smile at my comments and show that momentary boost that comes with encouragement. I know how much this means and providing it was a nice experience. Mostly people were kind of glazed over, inward focused, with determined faces (smiles or grimaces, it is hard to tell with people). Is that how I look at Mile 22? Many were limping. One guy stopped for a long time working on a hamstring cramp, so I took a bottle of water over to him. He declined and laughingly said that it wasn't lack of water that was the problem, it was that we was running 26.2 miles. He smiled, I wished him luck, and he hobbled off. And then there were these two guys one of whom said to the other "You know, at this point I wouldn't mind getting hit by a bus!"

And what of my friends?

Realrunning's GVB was first through, looking strong. He stopped, hugged me, and then asked that I keep his sunglasses as they were "really bothering" him. He finished in something like 3:50:XX. Geomatic Guy was next. He popped up right in front of me it took a rapid bit of pattern recognition before I realized who I was looking at. "Ron!" I shouted. He jerked and looked so surprised that I thought I had gotten his heart started. But he kept going for a 3:55 finish. Waited some more and was joined by PuddleThumper's DH and Coach Lesley to wait for her to come. I'll let her talk about her race but I am happy to say that I met my challenge and cheered loudly and that she looked quite good and came in 593rd. Any finish is a good finish in my book.

This was a nice, if a bit chilly, experience. Sitting at home with a steaming cup of tea, it is nice to reflect on the culminating and inspiring efforts of all those people out there.

Good job all!

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