After the very hard work of 10k running, on Saturday and Sunday last weekend, I was out cheering the half marathoners and marathoners at Disney World. I was lucky enough to be out with a pretty fabulous group of cheer squad members.
Saturday morning, I was up at 5 (yes, I got to sleep in) and out cheering around 5:45 at the Grand Floridian. We had a bunch of friends running the half, including my parents, so we were excited to get out there and cheer. I, of course, had failed to bring my cowbell, so I was stuck clapping. Cowbells = way more awesome. Thankfully, Katie had a fabulous cowbell that drove everyone around us crazy. We showed up in time for the first wheelchair racer to come through and stayed until the “parade bus” (aka the sweeper bus) made its way through. And yet we still managed to not spot Paula Radcliffe. That’s what happens when it’s dark, I guess. I was really impressed by the reactions we got from some of the super fast people. A lot of them took a second to sort of wave or smile in our direction. I guess they’re not used to crazies getting up so early to cheer.
Sunday morning was my birthday, so I put on my fabulous birthday hat and headed back out. Katie’s mom had made me the fabulous birthday sign above. I’m pretty sure I’m in a lot of pictures. I also discovered a lot of people share my birthday and chose to run a marathon to celebrate. While I admire their spirit, I do not regret my decision to cheer instead. We started out at the Grand Floridian, cheered for every single racer, including the sweeper busses and trucks picking up the equipment. I think the cast members enjoyed the applause they got from Nathan. He certainly enjoyed the trucks.
We had a lot of friends running, but I was mainly stalking my dad and Kim, who were somewhat running together. They hadn’t met before that morning, but when Kim swore to me that she would find him at race start, I knew it would happen. As everyone came past, we had lots of happy runners, which we enjoyed seeing. This year, we didn’t see anyone trying to jump into the race at mile 7, which was reassuring. Of course, we heard about numerous cheaters later, but it was nice to not see it in person this year.
After the last runner came through (and the trucks), we took our cheer break and went inside to eat a delicious and nutritious breakfast. Cheering is hard work, and let me tell you, those people aren’t lying when they say their arms are tired from holding their sign.
Then it was back out and over to Epcot to cheer runners as they exited the park and ran past the gospel choir. It’s a great spot to cheer because we see runners in every emotional state. Lots of smiles and laughter, lots of happy tears, and lots of people just gutting it out to finish. And of course, lots of people who have stopped to get snacks along the way. We saw lots of beers, margaritas, frozen drinks, hot pretzels, and even some tacos and fish and chips. Which is not what I would want to eat after running 25 miles, but to each his own.
Lots of friends came through, including my dad, who had this look on his face that said “What the hell am I doing?” This is why I am in marathon retirement, Dad. But then he saw us and smiled and headed to the finish. We got lots of sweaty hugs from lots of awesome friends and cheered all the way to the last runner. We even saw our new cheer friend, who we met Saturday morning.
One girl was slogging along very close to the end of the runners and all of a sudden, she put on a huge burst of speed and tore towards the finish. It was hugely impressive and everyone cheered for her. She was going to finish no matter what. It was also great to see all the Team in Training coaches helping people along, even people who weren’t TNT members. Those coaches have to put in an insane number of miles during a race.
And then the race was over and it was off to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments. What a fun way to spend my birthday!