Monday, September 24, 2012

Quad Cities Marathon: Cheerleader Style!

This past weekend, I packed up the cowbells, made the signs, had a good cry, and then rallied myself to be the best cheerleader possible at the Quad Cities Marathon.

First up was the Happy Joe's Mini Marathon for the kids on Saturday. My girls absolutely love running this race. They literally talk about it all year long. With bouncy houses, trampolines, mascots, and loud dance music, the entire atmosphere is just fun. Both my girls ran the 1/4 mile race and Big Girl went one more in the 1/2 mile race. (There is also a 1 mile race.) Kids can run one or all. The announcer does a nice job beforehand teaching the kids about race etiquette and proper attention during the National Anthem.
 Little Girl is my fiesty competitor... she's only 4 years old and ran a great 1/4 mile race!
I'm giving her the thumbs up here as she heads to the finish line.

 Big Girl always runs with a smile, but takes her own sweet time.

Both of them are super pleased with their medals. Now that they each have 2 medals, they want a medal display rack on the wall... just like mommy.

That evening we met up for dinner with some friends... the pre-race pasta feed. It felt weird to be amongst this crowd (all clearly excited for the upcoming race) and I wasn't running. I couldn't shake this feeling of being a third wheel, like I didn't belong all of sudden. So I drank beer...

Sunday morning, we awoke early and watched from our hotel room as the starting line came to life. We had thee best view from the Radisson's 6th floor of the courtyard below, the Mississippi River and the starting area. My hubby was running the 5k that morning, so in another twist of events, I was in charge of the kiddos while he prepped for this run.

We met up with the Sole Sisters for a group photo before the race began. They were all so excited... so many "firsts" happening that day. Lots of hugs, high fives and photos.
There were many more Sisters that ran, but didn't make it to the pre-race photo.
As the runners made their way to the starting line, I took my "cheer crew" and headed down the street. We set up shop in front of the Subway, which was a great decision since every one of the kids had to use their bathroom in the short time we were there.
My cheer crew!
It was pretty neat to watch the start of the race, since I normally don't see the elite Kenyans in the front. Yup, they're fast! I held my sign high for the Sole Sisters, hoping they could see it as they passed by in mass. I couldn't believe how long it took for everyone to go by. My arms were killing me. Chalk up to a good bicep workout!

After hubby finished his 5k, I adored his medal with great jealousy. It was a whopper for their 15th Anniversary! After running his first half last weekend, he said the 5k felt... short. Ha!

Then we hopped in the car. I was hoping to make it out to the 8 mile mark before the Half and Full split, so I could catch everyone at least one more time. I didn't think ahead very well, realizing I didn't even have a course map when we got in the car. After running the full last year, I was pretty confident I knew every turn in the course. Sure enough, we managed along just fine off my memory.

As we drove along the course, hubby and I rang the cowbell out the car window like mad. Runners waved and waved at us. We must have looked crazy to those drivers who had no clue there was a race in progress. We found a parking lot near mile 8, jumped out and set up "shop". My girls lined up to for the High-5 station, hubby on cowbell duty, and me holding the Sole Sister sign, handing out Kleenex (cold mornings = snot!). While we were cheering there, I was thrilled to see and catch up with Amanda (my Ragnar buddy!). She had run the 5k (took 2nd in her age group!) and was also on the run trying to cheer on friends in the longer distances.

On the go, we bounced back over the bridge (ringing more cowbell as we drove), and caught my friends Emily and Patty at mile 12 of the full marathon course. I wished them well and promised to catch them again when they came off Arsensal Island (no spectators are allowed on the military arsenal). We were so busy cheering for runners that I didn't snap one picture. Bad cheerleader.
More Cowbell Please!
We headed to back to downtown Moline, where all the runners exit Arsensal Island. The Halfers turn right to head for the finish, while the marathoners turned left for additional 6 miles. As you can imagine, it was a very festive area... and lots of fun! (Much more so than the previous year when the rain scared spectators inside)  I was so happy to be able to catch many of my Sole Sisters coming off the bridge as they finished their half marathons.

My family cheering at mile 20
Then we moved over to the marathon side. All the memories of the previous year came flooding back. It's mile 20, you get a glimpse of the finish line, but turn to do a 6 mile out/back. Some runners looked great, and others already struggling. We tried to look at bibs (for their first names) and cheer for as many individual runners as we could. When Patty came down the turn, she was smiling, doing her princess wave, but said she was hurting. We waited for Emily and Steph to make the turn (both doing their first 26.2)... they were smiling and happy as can be.

I stood there feeling really bad for Patty, wanting to help my running partner. I knew how hard that out/back stretch was. I turned to hubby and asked, "Can we shoot down the road to give a cheer at the turnaround?" He didn't want to move the car again (great parking spot), but reminded me that my bike was in the back. We unloaded Her Majesty and down the road I went. This was perhaps the most emotional part of the day for me. I saw runners excited to finish and those in despair, trying to put one foot in front of another. I could totally relate to every facial expression and weak stride I saw out there. This final stretch is truly the battleground for marathoners. There are few spectators and feels like forever before the turnaround. I tried to offer motivational words to everyone as I went in search of my friends. I bounced around from friend to friend, trying to offer a momentary distraction or friendly face.

As each one of my marathon friends came down the final stretch, I was so utterly happy for them. 26.2 miles is such an awesome achievement! My girls even jumped out there to run with Patty in the final mile...

While I was really sad to chalk up my first DNS, by the end of the day, I was just as exhausted as if I would have run the QCM myself. This cheerleading thing is a lot of work! I have a new respect for my hubby, kids and parents who always come to my marathons and cheer for me. Thank You!
Congratulations to all the Quad Cities finishers!
See you there next year, when I will be running!


  1. Aw! I love them holding their little medals! Congrats to all the medal winners! :)

  2. I love seeing kids get involved in running from such a young age! They are to cute with their medals. Good luck healing up.

    1. *too cute. (spelling edit) :)

  3. Your kids are the cutest! I love seeing kids get started early because since I started so late *cough* 37 *cough* I spend almost every race wishing I had started sooner.

    My first marathon is in May and I hope I will have cheerleaders there as awesome as you guys!

  4. So cute, cheerleading really is a difficult sport as well!! I absolutely love it when they put the names on the bibs along with the number.

  5. WOW! Could you move to NY and be my friend! I am sure your motivation was much appreciated!

  6. I loved seeing you too! You are a great cheerleader AND runner! Can't wait for that little toe to heal up so we can run together. Any chance I can get the Peoria crew to come to the CHI for the Shamrock Shuffle? Can you say, GREEN SPARKLE SKIRT? LOL!

    We'll talk soon! Hugs!

    1. Is CHI Chicago? It sounds like a blast! What is the distance?

    2. Yes Mindy... THere is a huge Shamrock Shuffle race in Chicago every March... usually NOT the weekend of St. Pat's though.

  7. thats so awesome your girls want to have a medal rack just like their mommy- way to be a positive healthy role model :)

  8. I have to say that my heart broke for yoy at the expo when you told me you weren't running! But even though I just ran the 3.3 mile portion of the relay, I felt like a rock star when I came off the island because of you and your crew! Thanks


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