Last weekend I had the experience of spectating the Cleveland Marathon. I had no idea what to expect going into this. Logistically, I wasn’t sure how much I would be able to get around the course. I had never driven around Cleveland before and had no idea what the road closures would be like. Emotionally, I didn’t know what to expect. Would I be jealous? Excited? Sad? Turns out, everything went relatively smoothly. Of course I wished I was out there but each time I ran from my car to the sideline and was out of breath (I was wearing a backpack, which didn’t help) it was a clear reminder that I am NOT in shape to run a marathon.
Let’s back up to the start of the weekend. We worked a half day on Friday and left Baltimore around 1pm. The drive from Maryland to Ohio is pretty easy and we didn’t hit any traffic. We arrive at Rob’s parents’ house around 7 pm and enjoyed a nice dinner before relaxing and then calling it a night.
On Saturday I headed out for a 4 mile run. I was thinking that I bet the runners wished the marathon was Saturday and not Sunday (the weather was much cooler). A little later we headed to the expo. This was the only part of the weekend that I felt like I was missing out. It was so strange to not get a bib or shirt or experience those day-before-the-race feelings. Luckily, we were in and out quickly and I got over it.
We grabbed lunch, Starbucks, and some race supplies like water for me to hand to Rob during the race. The rest of the day was low-key. I strategized my spectating strategy with Rob’s dad (we decided that his parents would just head to the turnaround point and see him at mile 17/18 so he would definitely know he was getting a water/Gatorade at this point). Initially I was going to watch him start the race but then decided I probably wouldn’t really be able to see him. Besides, he wouldn’t need the support at that time! Instead I would start somewhere around mile 6-8.
We made dinner at home and stuck with foods Rob eats before his long runs. That was definitely a perk of staying with his parents! We made sure to get to bed early with a 4:30 alarm (normal for me, not so much for him!)
As Rob was getting ready in the morning I made this sign. I am not an artist, but did my best. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to carry a sign because we were expecting a lot of rain. When we woke up it wasn’t raining and looked like it would hold off for a few hours.
Start of the Race
I dropped off Rob near the start, grabbed a coffee, and then found my first spectating spot right after the 10k mark. Shortly after I got there the lead runners started coming through.
The first text message notification came through saying that Rob had passed the 10k mark and then second later I saw him coming towards me. I gave him his first drink and he looked strong. I hung around for a few more minutes and got to see Rachel come through running the half! Unfortunately this was the only point I went to on the course for both the full and the half, so I only saw her once.
The Halfway Point
I made my way to stop #2, which was after mile 13. It was nice to be able to cheer on the runners as there wasn’t much crowd support in this area. I got a notification that Rob passed the half mark so I knew he would be coming by soon. He seemed a little more surprised to see me this time and I offered him another drink which he gladly accepted. I could tell it was humid and all the runners looked like they were feeling it.
The Humid, Tough Miles
Next I headed to mile 17, which is also mile 18 after the runners turn around. I knew my in-laws were somewhere around there but I didn’t have time to find them, so I got to the closest spot I could from my car. Luckily Rob ran a consistent pace so I was able to figure out when to expect him. He looked like he was struggling more by this point. I knew his parents had a Gatorade for him so I didn’t give him anything to drink. When I crossed the street and saw him coming back over the bridge at mile 18.
I decided to make one last stop before heading to the finish. It was starting to rain, but I think that was actually a good thing because it cooled off the runners. I was able to park at a CVS near mile 22. I bought a Gatorade and a protein drink, figuring he may want the Gatorade when I see him or both drinks at the finish line. The CVS people were also nice enough to let me use their bathroom. He was definitely surprised to see me and didn’t even want the drink- I could tell he just wanted to be done.
I knew I had about 35 minutes to make it to the finish line, but I also had to figure out parking down there. It took me much longer than expected because of road closures and traffic. I finally got downtown, parked, and ran as fast as I could in the pouring rain with my backpack and umbrella. When I got to the finish line I couldn’t see anything because of the crowds. A moment later my phone buzzed that he had finished the race in 3:57. I looked up and saw him a few feet ahead of the finish.
I saw his parents and we got his attention, and at this point the rain was coming down in buckets. We decided to just head back home. I had been texting with Rachel and we were supposed to meet up at the end of the full but she also decided to head home because of the weather. Not a great way to end the race but at least it held out most of the time.
So we went home, drank beer, and ate birthday cake. A pretty good most-marathon celebration if you ask me. Even though I didn’t actually run the marathon.
Have you ever spectated a marathon and gone to more than one place on the course?
Do you celebrate post-marathon even if you don’t run in it?
How do you handle being in a race environment when you’re injured?