I think I already mentioned my tendency to cry at the beginning of long races, right? Well, I did.
I was admiring the many and varied shops that we were running past. My favourite? "Lucy In Disguise with Diamonds."
The first spectator to read my bib and call me by name was at about mile 4. I was amazed, because it never occurred to me that a) anyone could read my name on my bib (I guess I was moving pretty slowly), or b) that they would want to shout it. But she did, and she turned out to be the first of many.
I had a "tough cookie" get in my way-- and here I thought I was the only one who couldn't run in a straight line. I high-fived a giant lemon-- I never did work out what they were promoting. I got behind Chad, then caught up with him again. I was walking with Chad, but ran up a hill, because I thought walking up it would be more depressing. I would have danced for joy when we finally go to the Powerade, if it wouldn't have been a waste of energy. (There was a cute little boy volunteering at the Powerade station, who offered me an entire bottle, which I turned down in favour of a small cup. I think he was disappointed.)
So, after the split from the half-marathoners, I started crying again. Geez. Don't worry-- that wasn't the last time.
There was a girl called Maggie running near me. How do I know she is called Maggie? Because she brought her own cheering section. One guy met up with her at an aid station, and there were two more people waiting at the end of the next block. And they spelled out her name with their arms. But that wasn't all-- she had more people, with signs, a couple of blocks later. And that was the last I saw of Maggie & her retinue.
A little girl was sitting on a curb with her mum, and waving the way small kids do-- just turning her hand back & forth; you really had to look at her to see that she was waving at all. But her eyes lit up and she smiled so hugely when I waved back at her.
A runner handed me a heart-shaped pretzel. Some spectators gave me one of those huge soft mints, which promptly got me worrying about inhaling it. I bit into it so that I didn't have to worry about choking.
Good signs: "Posterboard: 50 cents. Parking: $7. Seeing you kick the pavement's @$$: priceless." "Is he lonesome/or is he blind/this guy who is following/so close behind?" (broken up into four signs, a la the Burma shave ads) "Easy Sunday 10K from here (near mile 20)." "If your feet hurt, it's because you're kicking butt!" "Runner (bib #) lives here." (I thought that was pretty cool). And my favourite: "Mile 26". :)
Near mile 20, there were spectators handing out beer-- and from the way they were acting, I'd say they'd been sampling the product for quite a while. I passed them by for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is: beer is gross at the best of times, and 20 miles into 26.2 is NOT the best of times.
Another spectator was giving out orange slices. I would send her a thank-you card, if I had her name & address.
We ran through UT campus-- and I'm pretty sure we went the loooooong way through. I thought we were never coming to the end.
Oh, and did I mention there were some hills? In fact, at one point a volunteer at an intersection said to me, "Top of the hill! Great job!" I said, "Thanks," but was thinking "Hill? There was a hill? What hill?" I actually turned around to look & saw that he was right, I had just come uphill & hadn't even noticed. Can I tell you what a great feeling that was?
Coming soon: The End.