How to Cheer at the Philadelphia Marathon

The Philly Marathon is this coming weekend and I have cheered at this race more than any other. I was recently chatting with a few folks that will be cheering for friends and family this year and trying to explain my location strategies for maximum viewing potential.

While I was drawing with my fingers on the table and explaining my route, I thought it might be easier if I just wrote a blog post! And here we are!

source (with added stars from me)

When I’m cheering, it’s usually for a friend staying with me, so I end up being there super early to escort them to the starting area.

If time is on your side and you’re chilling on the streets of Philadelphia (please sing along with me), my suggestion is to visit the Starbucks located at 16th and Arch Street. It opens at 6:30, which is a half hour before the elites begin and leaves you plenty of time to grab something yummy before staking out your spot on the street.

Make sure you’re standing near cool people, get comfy (dress for the weather and have comfortable shoes on), and get ready to CHEER!

I start off right by the purple star, just past LOVE Park. There’s some construction in the area but you should be able to grab a prime spot to catch your runner just after they hit the mile mark of the marathon.

Cheering for Victoria during mile 1 in 2012 (this was when the half and full were on the same day/course)

I like telling my runner what side of the street I’ll be on so they know where to look for me. For the first area, I like being on the runner’s right. That way I can easily cross through to my next cheer zone AND I don’t have to run across the street in front of athletes.

Also, remember that this is a big race with lots of corrals. Tracking your runner is always a great way to know where they are on the course. You can also look at their bibs for corral placement so you know that when you see your runner’s corral color, you know it time to look for them in earnest.

Swoop, the Eagles mascot cheered with us too!

Mile one you’ll see lots of smiles and everyone is looking strong! As both a spectator and someone who’s run the half course I can tell you that the energy here is fantastic.

After your runner passes, you can cut through the couple of blocks to line up with the yellow star. I usually walk down a bit so that I’m just past the 10k mark.

You can hang anywhere from miles 5.5 to just before 7 and it’s minimal walking so you do you!

Cheering for Kyle in 2013

The crowds are THICK in this area, sometimes a few people deep. Bring a bright sign, a cowbell, and your best yelling voice. While you’re waiting for your runner, you can cheer on other runners because they’ve got their names on their bibs. Show them what the city of brotherly and sisterly love is all about!

Brooke made this sign in 2011

After you see your runner during this stretch, you have a couple of different options. If you’d like, you can go shopping for a bit. Depending on how speedy your runner is, you might have some time to get some food before they come through the finish line.

Or, if you’re crazy, like I know many of you are… you can make the long trek to cheer for the runners along Kelly Drive (red star).

This is where the course gets a bit quieter. It’s hard to get out there and cheer and there’s nothing that’s too accessible for a cheerer. BUT THAT DOESN’T SCARE YOU, DOES IT?

No. I didn’t think so.

So what you’re going to want to do is head toward the finish line… and just keep walking. That’s right, keep on going. The marathoners are doing it and that means that you are too, if you want to cheer for them.

When I was cheering in 2013 my Fitbit informed me that from start to finish, I traveled 10 miles. TEN. This isn’t for the faint of heart! A lot of people bring/rent bikes to cheer, by the way, and that’s always a great option.

This section of the course is an out and back so if you’d like, you can see your runner on the way out, cross the street (safely) and see them on the way back too. Or, if you’re like me, your runner can see YOU as they run by.

Try really hard not to be like me.

Thankfully I caught her on the way back, at around mile 24.

Runners at this point might be in survival mode. I usually adjust my cheering to fit the situation. If someone looks like they’re hurting, I’m more subtle in my cheering. If someone is looking strong, I’ll tell them just that. That stretch of road can feel like forever to a runner so I always want to be compassionate.

If you station yourself at mile 24, then you miss out on seeing your runner cross the finish. I *just* missed Kyle! Sure, I could have run there but I didn’t. Having experienced both, I think that I’d rather see my runner come across the finish line (or be right before it).

But honestly, I think that anything you do, you can’t lose because your runner will just be so happy to see you every single time. It really does make a difference that you’re out there, supporting them!

2010 Vic’s a marathoner!

2013 Kyle’s a marathoner!

I’m still trying to see if I’ll be able to make it into the city this Sunday to cheer on those running the marathon, but if not, I’ll be hooting and hollering from here. Guaranteed!

What races do you like to cheer at? Have you ever done the Philadelphia Marathon? (Or any marathon? Not me!) BibRave Pro buddy, Joe, is running his first this weekend!

Full circle at the Philadelphia Marathon

Four years ago, I decided to run a marathon. One marathon.

After much deliberation,  I picked Philadelphia. My mother was raised there, my sister lived there. It was home. I ran the race and had the time of my life. I reached what I long thought was an unreachable goal.

Last weekend, I returned. And yep, it was well worth the wait.

As always, I stayed with Meri, who decided to run the Philadelphia half marathon after years of cheering and volunteering at the race.

We hit the expo midday Saturday, collected our goodies and connected with Dimity of Another Mother Runner. We even managed to leave without spending too much money. Huge success.

The day’s weekend’s highlight, however, was meeting friends old and new.

At high noon, we met with fellow running bloggers Karla, Jen and Katherine and my longtime friend Claudia at the Reading Terminal Market.

blogger

Katherine (left) Jen, Karla and Meri

We all gabbed like old pals for more than an hour…. and then we met up with broken chick Kyle, who planned to run Philadelphia Marathon with us until she sprained her ankle.

Kyle is thrilled to be in the land of grilled cheese

We three carb-loaded at our beloved Pop Shop in NJ before we all attempted to settle down on marathon eve. A great chat, lots of  laughter and race-morning planning filled our evening.

phlbibReady to go!

Fast forward to marathon morning. The 4 a.m. alarm woke us in time to catch the 5:40 train into Center City. We walked about a mile to the start area, where we dropped our bags and wished one another a great run and headed into our respective corrals.

Somehow, in a mass of 30,000 runners, I connected with my training partners Gary, Traci and Jen in the purple corral. We all planned to start together with the 4:15 pacer, but race our own races. While waiting, Gary met Justin, a man from Allentown who joined our running crew for the day. (More on him later)

With Gary, Traci and Jen (note the art museum behind us!)

Soon enough, we hit the road. The first few miles flew by and pretty soon Gary, Justin and I were all running as a well-oiled 10-minute-mile pacing team. I jabbered along much of the first half, pointing to landmarks and sharing stories. Running through Center City was fantastic, between Independence Hall, several bands and streets lined with cheering fans and volunteers.

The miles clicked by and I felt fantastic. My Garmin watch was acting up, clearly giving me false readings as I ran by skyscrapers, so I went by feel.  It totally paid off. Looking back at my stats, I ran a solid 10-minute-mile pace nearly the whole race. I slipped a bit in those last two miles.

I was feeling it Sunday. I powered up the hills at miles 7 and 9. I flew on the straightaways. I was in the groove.

At the half, I felt invincible. I spotted three cheering friends near the art museum and Boathouse Row. Childhood friend Kelly, who ran the half Sunday morning, waved me down and ran alongside me for a bit. Her words of encouragement carried me for miles.

I pulled ahead with a smile on my face. This was the race I’d been waiting for.

Around mile 20 in Manayunk, running pal Cynthia waved me down as I started to get the inkling that my legs felt heavy. Her smiling face motivated me to keep moving forward. (Thank you!)

I started to struggle around mile 21. Justin ran a bit ahead and I recall thinking how nice it was to see him get a surge of energy. It was that moment I knew he’d reach his own goal, no matter how hard those last few miles were.

Several times he circled back, checking to make sure I was holding my own. Thank you Justin!

We ran into Traci around mile 22-23 and the three of us pushed on together. I walked longer at each water stop, but didn’t throw in the towel, even though I desperately wanted to. My legs were on fire and my breathing was labored. I was doubting my training.

Then we approached the art museum and the  crowds carried us in. With a high five from Mayor Nutter, Traci and I crossed the finish line together at 4:25. We both PRed and were thrilled we were done. Justin waited for us on the other side and also ran his best time. Triple PR!

We each received a beautiful medal, rivaled only by the soft pretzel handed out in the runner food line.

Eventually, we found the rest of our group and started learning about everyone’s races. LOTS of PRs in our running group! I cannot wait to hear all about everyone’s adventures.

With Traci and Meri just after the full

 groupphillyj

 From left, I’m with Traci, Brittany, Charlotte, Aileen, Gary and our new pal  Justin

Philly is a tough course, but there really is nothing like it. I loved my first 26.2 in Philly for just that reason – it was my maiden marathon and showed me I could accomplish anything I set my mind to. Five years later, I completed a far different training cycle that included multiple missed runs, illnesses and other demands taking away from my training time. I went into the weekend feeling strong but told myself not to overshoot or stress over a goal time.

So I didn’t. And it paid off. Philly, you’re my city. Running the Philadelphia Marathon the second time is like coming home.

Did you run Philly? I want to hear all about your race! Ever meet a new running pal and run a race together?

Throwaways: the good, the bad and the really ugly

I have a stash of old sweatshirts and hats in the corner of our guest room.

Of course, they’ll go to charity. But first, they get one last use – as early morning road race throwaways!

IMG_1497It’s overflowing

Since the days are growing colder, and I’ve started to actually wear long sleeves while running on crisp mornings (gasp!) so I thought I’d share some tips on throwaways – including a how-to manual to create my infamous tube sock mittens!

Throwaways:

Most race organizers have volunteers collect discarded clothing at the starting line and along the course. Those items are then donated to charity. I love this. It’s such a smart form of recycling and giving an item a second – and third – life.

Typically, I scavenge my house looking for clothing (read: warm outerwear) I don’t mind parting with. I typically don old sweatshirts, long-sleeved shirts and knit caps.

If I forget or can’t find what I am looking for, I head to the Dollar Store or a second-hand store to find what I need. I even found a $5 fleece at Target in a pinch.

A Mylar blanket – the kind you receive at the finish of most large races – or a garbage bag – with a hole for your head – will also do the trick.

vic throwawayMe and my many layers before the Philadelphia Marathon in 2010.

 For my first marathon, I was overdressed with throwaways.  Sweatshirt, sweatpants, mittens and knit cap. I had it all. I also tossed it all before I started running. That taught me that its sometimes smart to hold onto mittens and hats until I warm up, typically a mile or two into my race.

nwh5The chicks and friends in a few throwaway tops before a 2014 race in D.C. Note how Meri dons a fancy shrug. (yeah, its really a ripped Lululemon shirt)

The key is to wear something that will A.) keep you warm and B.) you don’t mind discarding.

I struggle with this. I want everything to have a second life. And I hold onto some clothing for far too long. What’s that? You want an example? Well, ok.

Nov13 to May14 079See these duds? They are hideous and I couldn’t part with the 17-year-old fleece for about 15 years too many. That and my hubby’s torn-on-the-behind sweatpants have me looking voluminous pre-NYC Marathon in 2013. But hey, Christy Turlington Burns complimented them as we waited to start the race.

Brooke is fantastic about tossing unwanted or damaged clothes. We’ve traded throwaway layers at more than one race.

bthrowawyBefore the 2012 Princess Half Marathon, Brooke tossed these layers.

Sometimes, I really don’t want to part with an item.

In March, I passed on a favorite pair of warm up pants I’d had for years. They were ratty, but fit over my sneakers so became my go-to pants for regattas and road races.

Nov13 to May14 1601I memorialized these pants before I discarded them before a race in March.

Good bye, old friend.

The key with throwaway pants is the ability to take them off in a rush – without having to untie your shoes.

Most warmup pants don’t fit over my sneakers, so I make them fit. I take a pair of scissors and cut up the seam of the pants, starting at the ankle. I make the opening large enough for my show to fit through. (If you look closely at the first pic in this post, you can see my handiwork)

And yes, this is why a supermodel/runner told me I was brilliant before we both ran NYC last fall.

How to make your own tube sock mittens:

It’s easy. Place tube socks over your hands and push your thumb through the heel area of the sock.

IMG_1499So simple, so stylish

If you’re like me, your socks are well worn and might even already have a hole in your heel.

If you don’t wear your socks to threads, you can opt to use scissors.

Presto change-o! Done! Tube sock mittens.

wineglassmittensTube sock mittens paired with an old sweatshirt. These mittens lived to see another race day.

Now that you’ve seen my hideous throwaways, I want to hear what YOU do! Share pics of you in your discard layers with us on social media! – We’re ScootaDoot on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook!

I Can… But Then I Think Mmm, Better Not

Wait a minute, that’s not my manta. My mantra is I can and I will. It’s about Meridith power and how much I rock and how I can do anything. Kelly Clarkson sings about me being Stronger! Katy Perry wants to hear me ROAR!

merhair

Except that I’ve been thinking about this full marathon I signed up for and rather than being excited for it and looking forward to the training, I’ve been coming up with the reasons of why I should NOT do it.

The cons are totally outweighing the pros in my mental list and that can’t be a good sign. I’m assuming that in the history of running, I can’t be the only one who ever felt this way. Back in March, I listed reasons why I planned to sign up for the full.

Well, now here are my reasons that I’ve decided that now is not the time.

#1 My foot has actually been feeling GOOD

Confused? Let me explain! I spent a good seven months in pain thanks to plantar fasciitis and this little beauty.

heelspur

Seven months of wincing every time I got up in the morning out of bed. Seven months of hurting during and after every. Single. Run.

Slowly the pain faded away and I don’t think I even realized that it no longer hurt until a month of non-hurt. I was so accustomed to the hurt.

Now, I’m not hurting. And I don’t really want to mess that up.

6

#2 Training

Victoria and I have had this discussion more than once: you can’t fake a marathon. I mean, you probably could do it with minimal training (I’m sure that some people choose this option); I know I’d be downright miserable.

WHO WANTS TO BE MISERABLE? Not me! I like feeling good. Bring on the happy!

That’s not to say I haven’t been training. I have the Dumbo Double Dare at the end of this month and I’ve been having some great runs. Additionally I’m signed up for another 19.3 challenge in October (the Atlantic City Marathon series). Bumping up training runs to over 13 miles is where my issue lies.

Piggy-backing on the training point…

#3 I have other things that need to get done

My kiddos start school in September and both will be going full-day for the first time. In my delusional mind, I thought that this meant I’d have all the time in the world.

allthethings

But uh, I already know that’s not going to be the case. Marathon training is an all or nothing type of thing. I don’t think I can give it my all at this point – there are things I need to do (PTO, laundry, food shopping, dog training) and there are things that I want to do (volunteer work, seeing my friends, spending weekends with my family). Which brings me to point 4.

#4 I don’t want to and you can’t make me. But what’s more is that I can’t make me.

To quote High School Musical, “You’ve gotta get’cha head in the game”. To quote myself, “No.”

Zac Efron, you’re adorable but even you can’t talk me into this.

Seriously though, I have the most supportive friends and family. They were all about me signing up in April. Conversely, as soon as I started expressing doubts and concerns, they were just as supportive in the other direction. Mentally, I’m just not at the full marathon level. I might be able to physically push through but I don’t want to.

So fast, they were blurs. Literally.

Just look for me with the Elite runners.

 #5 There’s a half marathon option!

Oh Philly, you can’t get rid of me that easily. You were my first road race, first spectating experience and my first volunteering experiences and I adore you. I have yet to run the half during the Philadelphia Marathon weekend so let’s not cut corners!

Who will I see on November 23rd?

Running through my head

I don’t listen to music when I run, but rather, I let my mind wander.

And oh does it wander…. Today, I thought I’d offer a peek into my mind. Dangerous… I know. But here’s an example of my stream of consciousness while on a run long distance. (abbreviated of course, since you don’t want a 2+ hour ramble!)

Off I go. I always start out too fast. Slow down, woman. You’re going to need that little burst of energy later. Speaking of later, I need to clean the house for our dinner guests tomorrow. I guess I can always do that tomorrow though. I could vacuum today and oh man, I forgot about laundry. I don’t want drying laundry hanging on the rack or in the bathroom when our guests arrive. I mean, they don’t need to see all my clothes. Then again, will they really be looking at my running gear? On the second floor? (ahem, no where near the kitchen) Gosh, I hope not.

Nov13 to May14 1733Drying gear. Note the Oiselle obsession.

How does it go? Pain is temporary, pride and prejudice. No, that’s not right.  That’s definitely not right. But that’s a great book. Heck, I also love the movie. I need to get a new DVD player so I can watch it again. I can’t seem to remember much of anything these days. Good thing my job doesn’t rely on my memory. And thank goodness I have amazing friends and running partners to keep me sane. And yes, I know some of us can’t plan out the correct mileage to save our lives, (raising hand) and others seem to keep inserting hills in the middle of every single run. Eh, that’s OK, I am better for it and need more hill training to improve my base- and my time. I’m thirsty. Why did I drink all of my water already? Good thing I can swing past the library to refill, and refuel, and use the bathroom. But I do need a new water bottle, or I can keep hiding bottles mid-course to pick up later. 

Am I done yet? One foot in front of the other. Why have I not finished and why have the new neighbors added that hideous trellis around their lovely wooden deck? The old residents would cry. They were so proud of that deck. I wonder how they are doing out in Utah. Or did they move to Idaho? I know it started with a vowel. How old are their kids now? Gosh I bet they can drive. Oh and a random dog-walker is waving. Hello ma’am, puppy! Did I say that out loud? I think I did. Maybe I didn’t though since neither batted an eye. Ah well. I’m back in my yard and am beyond ready to guzzle some water. 15-miler done!

Moments like this one, and many more, will be starting back up in the next few months as I start to train for marathon number 6, the Philadelphia Marathon! Philly was my first marathon (in 2010 – and this year will be Meri’s FIRST MARATHON – so I’m looking forward to heading back to the City of Brotherly Love for another 26.2.

Today’s stream of consciousness run was brought to you by my tired brain. I really do need a new handheld water bottle or belt though. Can you give me suggestions? I’d love to hear all about what you use.

Do You Believe In Signs?

For the past few months, I’ve been considering running a full marathon. It’s one of those things that I keep saying, “Well, that might be nice to do someday” which is a drastic change from the “Oh hell no!” declaration I made when I first began running three years ago.

I have my eyes set on the Philadelphia Marathon and with registration opening tomorrow, it’s decision time. Of course there are some reservations I have about signing up. Primarily, plantar fasciitis foot pain after a long run and the fact that… well, 26.2 is a ridiculously long distance to run. But never mind that.

Let’s discuss the various signs that are pointing to YES, MERIDITH, YOU NEED TO DO THIS!

believe

#1 Registration is tomorrow and tomorrow is my birthday.

Registrations cost money (yeah, I’m one of those crazy people who pays for my races) and I need to buy myself a birthday present! Easy peasy lemon squeezy. The laying out the money is the easy part of this whole shebang.

#2 The Philadelphia Marathon keeps posting things like this on their Facebook.

photo via Philadelphia Marathon

photo via Philadelphia Marathon

I think they are trying to lure me with the promise of water, Gatorade, and flying cups. It’s working, Philadelphia Marathon, it’s working.

#3 Philadelphia Marathon is where I watched my first marathon, ran my first road race (the 8k), volunteered and cheered for Kyle.

That’s right, I’ve actually been at the Philadelphia Marathon for the past four years but haven’t participated in the half or full. That obviously needs to change. If I’m going to be there ANYWAY, I might as well be running.

4 years ago when Victoria finished her first marathon - the inspiration to get moving!

4 years ago when Victoria finished her first marathon – the inspiration to get moving!

#4 I ran the Back on My Feet 5 Miler this weekend (and was in good company with Karen, Cyanne, and Hollie). Karen and I stuck together; within the first mile, our conversation turned to the Philadelphia Marathon. We chatted about pros and cons and thoughts on signing up. During the second mile, we turned a corner, only to face a steep hill.

And this was right in the middle of the street…

phillymarathonsign

Karen says it best on her Instagram photo. (That’s the Philadelphia Marathon logo.)

#5 The time factor. In September my Little kiddo starts full day Kindergarten. Pooks will be in 4th grade. I’m going to have all this free time. (That’s said sarcastically.) But I will have a bit more time to run during the day and maybe even get some of my long runs done on a weekday rather than a weekend.

I could tell you all the doubts, nervousness and negative thoughts (what if, you can’t, but your foot…) swaying me in the other direction but I’d much rather focus on the signs that point to YES.

Have you run a marathon? How did you decide to make the leap? Will I actually do this tomorrow??? (I’m sort of freaking out.)

 

Philadelphia Marathon’s biggest fan

My favorite race that I’ve never run? That would be the Philadelphia Marathon! I’ve cheered/volunteered for the past four years, since Vic ran her first marathon in 2010. Why so much love for a race I’ve never participated in? Well, it’s the race that made me WANT to run.

When I caught wind of Kyle’s plans to run Philly as her very first marathon, I swooped in (Eagles fans, that one was for you!) and said, “You’ll stay with me! I’ll make sure you get there and back and it’s going to be awesome and there will be signs and I’ll cheer and you’ll sleep at my house and have an amazing time.” I bossed my way right in and she, thankfully, was very receptive!

She arrived on Saturday and immediately my kids tried to talk her into roughhousing with them (she wisely declined). Instead, we went to dinner with Megan and her four year old at The Pop Shop for a little carb loading… for both of us. I mean, spectating takes a lot out of a girl and I needed to prepare!

Megan's 4 year old daughter is gearing up to be a professional photographer!

Megan’s 4 year old daughter is gearing up to be a professional photographer!

We headed home around 8 and got Kyle all tucked in by 9, with visions of finish lines dancing in her head. Our alarms were set for the heinous hour of 3:15 (her) and 3:30 (me) – hey, that extra 15 minutes does matter.

Who has two thumbs and is ready to run a marathon? THIS GIRL!

Who has two thumbs and is ready to run a marathon? THIS GIRL!

Out the door by 4am, we made our way to the train station and were quickly underway. To entertain her, I showed her the video that Bec, Cam, Jenn and I made during Hurricane Sandy. Because hey, what takes stress away more than watching people being silly for six and a half minutes? Nothing, that’s what!

phillymarathon1

This was my last sighting of pre-marathoner Kyle.

Following the swarms of other runners and spectators, we made our way to the start line. In past years I’ve walked Victoria right up to her corral but with the heightened security following the bombings at the Boston Marathon, I was only allowed to go so far before I had to send her on her way. We parted with a big hug and off she went to the security check point and to find the orange corral.

And off I went to find a Starbucks. Which, not surprising, I did… and then sadly realized it didn’t open until 6:30. It was only 5:30. So I hung out right outside for the next hour, watching runners walking to the start (okay, fine, I was eavesdropping!) and chatting with family members and friends who were hanging out waiting for Starbucks to open as well.

phillymarathon2

Pacers heading to the start

It was right around this time that I saw a yellow Team Athletic skirt and Team Lemon shirt walking by. I’m super bad at recognizing people from picture alone. I always play the, “Is that… nooooo. Well, it might be? Maybe?” game and wind up not saying anything at all. However, there was no mistaking Malinda from Twins Run in Our Family! So much fun to see her and wish her well during the marathon!

Malinda's tweet

Malinda’s tweet

While waiting for Starbucks to open, I also met Andrea. Andrea had run a marathon the previous day and her husband, Cooper, was doing the half before the Eagles game. Happy to have a friend, we stuck together waiting for Starbucks and then headed to our first spectating position, just in front of Love Park.

Spectating at the Philadelphia Marathon is pretty fantastic because the course is easy to navigate, even as a fan. Miles 1 and 6 are just a few blocks from each other so once fans see their runner go past mile 1 (or anywhere within that range, give or take a half mile), they can then cross the couple of blocks to see them after they’ve circled through Old City.

The chair athletes came just around the bend a little after the 7am with the Elites following behind.

So fast, they were blurs. Literally.

So fast, they were blurs. Literally.

I knew to look for Kyle in the orange corral but Andrea wasn’t sure which corral Cooper was starting in so we just kept our eyes peeled! Everyone was looking fresh in that mile and while I completely missed seeing Kyle, I did manage to catch a shot of Cooper!

phillymarathon4

Soon after orange passed and I realized that I wasn’t going to see Kyle, we decided to hunt her down by mile 6. We crossed the couple of blocks and waited for people to clear their cheering posts so we had prime spots.

6

I was holding my “May the course be with you” sign, which runners really seemed to be digging! It got high fives and smiles. Andrea had her cowbell and was ringing it as we cheered!

Again we saw Cooper, looking strong!

6cooper

And AGAIN, I didn’t see Kyle. Thankfully, she saw me (or maybe she saw the sign) because she HIT ME as she went by. Love hurts, folks.

After that Andrea and I made another stop at a Starbucks for their bathroom and snacks before making our way toward the start/finish area. At this point we had to say our goodbyes as she was waiting for Cooper to finish his race and I was hiking out to miles 15/25 to catch the ever elusive Kyle.

The second part of the race was much quieter than the first, as the marathoners make the long trek to South Philly, visiting Manayunk before making their way back to the finish line in front of the art museum. I wanted to be out there to lend support, not only to Kyle but to other runners as well. My throat was already sore by this point (I might have been a tad bit too enthused during the first cheer zones) and my foot injury from the week prior was rearing its ugly… foot.

phillymarathon6

The sign says “Speeding triggers red light” – I bet that was for all the speedy runners!

Got Kyle’s half split just as I was a passing mile 14 (I think; they didn’t have mile markers at every mile) and stopped walking to cheer and search the crowd for her. Yet again, she found me.

Hello, I’m a horrible friend. Pleased to meet you. Awfully embarrassed!

phillymarathon5

Really, Meridith? Really?

I continued walking along because I knew that Cyanne was just up the way a few miles and we’d planned to meet up by mile 17. However, my heel was super cranky and I knew I’d regret adding additional miles to the day (I rounded out the day at 10 miles – should have just ran the half!) (Not really.) so instead I planted myself just before mile 25 and let Cyanne know I’d see her in a few weeks at the Ugly Sweater Run.

I was going to get the money shot of Kyle during the 24th mile! I spent a couple hours (that is not an exaggeration) searching for a little blonde in a white Alaska tank and capris.

While I was scanning, I saw Malinda again and got to cheer for her out on the course! I know so many other people who were running and yet somehow missed all of them – I was cheering for all of you, I promise.

By this time, my cheering was less vocal (because ouch), more smiling and blowing my whistle. I’d brought candy to hand out but at that point, no one wanted candy, they just wanted the finish line. Totally understandable.

And then… I saw KYLE.

phillymarathon7

Is it really her?

phillymarathon8

IT REALLY IS!!! It’s almost marathoner Kyle!

I shouted! I whooped with joy! KYLE! KYLE! I KNOW HER! I asked, “How are you feeling?”

“Like I’m dying!” she said, cheerfully.

I jumped onto the course with her and ran a couple of steps. “Water’s just ahead. Then mile 25. And then you’re done! AND WE CAN EAT ALL THE FOOD!” With that, I hopped off the course, she continued on toward the finish line; I hobbled over to the path to walk the rest of the way and meet her at the family meetup area.

phillymarathonlast

The next time I saw her, she was a marathoner! Absolutely incredible and such an inspiration, this girl! Kyle ran to raise money and awareness for the Joyful Heart Foundation, which is why we (the Scoot a Doot Chicks) chose that particular wording. Here’s Kyle’s recap!

So why do I go every year to watch the Philadelphia Marathon? Well, as Katherine Switzer said, “If you are losing faith in human nature, go out and watch a marathon.” I haven’t lost my faith in human nature but watching the runners of the Philadelphia half and full marathons certainly reminds me to move into each day with a joyful heart and a grateful one.

Is there a race that you spectate at year after year? Have you ever watched a friend complete their first race, whether it be a 5k, 10k, half or full marathon? What fills your heart with joy?