Monday, March 18, 2013

RNR USA Spectating

If you live in DC, it is very likely that you or someone you know ran the Rock and Roll DC marathon or half marathon on Saturday. Nearly 30,000 people ran the race. The past two years, I was one of those runners but, this year, I never signed up for it for a few reasons. I didn't want to pay the outrageous registration fees that are a product of the corporate rock and roll buying it out last year. I also know that it might not have been smart to push myself too hard, which I surely would have been tempted to do, while training for my first half marathon.

I had many friends racing, though, so I got up early and showed up at mile 6 to cheer. This year, the course ran within a mile of my apartment so Josh and I rolled out of bed, walked south and arrived in Woodley Park around 8AM, just as the first runner sped by. We didn't have time to snap his picture but got some of the elite runners in his pack.

A few minutes later, our friend Ben arrived with his family. They were there to cheer on his brother Paul and we formed a good team of cheerleaders. But apparently not good enough because, early on, one runner yelled at the spectators for not being loud enough.

Only about twenty minutes after our arrival, Nikki and Jamey ran by. Josh pointed them out and I might have missed them if he hadn't. Nikki told me afterward that, just before they passed, she said to Jamey "I think we missed Carrie" and Jamey looked over and said, "there she is!"

Only five or seven minutes later, Eric ran by. Somehow, he was easier to spot in his all-black uniform!

Next on the list of expected runners-by were Catherine (my friend at work) and Paul (Ben's brother) who both aimed to run about a 10 mm average pace. The problem with race spectating is that if you look away right at the wrong second, you completely miss the runner you're looking for. And then you don't know if they've passed or if they're still coming. And, when you're on the front lines of cheering for an hour and a half, you just have to occasionally look away to sip water, fix your screwy cowbell and post instagrams of your friends who just ran by. Somehow in that mix, we saw and cheered for Paul but missed Catherine. Eventually, I was sure that she must have passed and kept an eye out for Hadley. She came into view in an outfit I was used to cheering for- the outfit she wore for her Marine Corps Marathon in October. I got a picture of her cursing the horrible hill that she had just run up out of Woodley Park. It is definitely one of the worst hills in DC.

Before we left I snapped a picture of our cheering ground. When we arrived, Josh and I stood at the white line by the cars in the far right of the photo. Early on, a guy with his bike went to stand at the far edge of the green, on the left in the photo. Over the course of the hour and a half we were there, the crowds inched up all the way to the double yellow lines, cutting the width of the course in half. We always stayed a bit behind the line, fighting the move but the crowds, especially the bike guy, kept pushing on. At one point, Ben told a policeman that he should control the crowds but the policeman wrote him off, saying he couldn't get everyone to move on his own. From a runner's perspective, it was frustrating.

Surprisingly, I wasn't really sad not to be running this race. If it weren't for VCM, I would have been. But I felt like standing on the sidelines was exactly where I was supposed to be. It certainly made me more excited for the marathon!

Congrats to all the runners on Saturday. I'm very glad that you survived the beastly rock creek hill and, even more so, that it didn't end up raining on you!

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