Wednesday, May 6, 2009
CMM Post Race - The Cheerleaders
So little did I know once I crossed the finish line that two of my most memorable TNT experiences were yet to come, experiences that were even better than the race. I had the chance to see a couple of my mentees race, and I had a chance to cheer for so many others with some of my teammates.
I waited for Kristi to finish. I wanted to see her race and cheer for her, but I was certain that if I left the finish area and tried to find the route near the end to cheer for her that I would likely miss her. So I waited a few minutes, and calculated my time. Hmm, started at 3 until 8, finished at 10:41 - do the math, subtract 3 from 41, 38, wow, 2:38 - not bad for such a hot day! Later when I saw my time was actually 2:44, and my brain was working correctly, I realized that I needed to add the three minutes, not subtract them! The "Penguin" was right last night - our brains turn to mush during a long endurance event.
I was thrilled to see Kristi! She finished only about 8-10 minutes behind me. She had been a fantastic mentee, and also served as head walk coach and patient honoree. Seeing her just after her finish with her medal was almost as good as seeing her race. We walked to the TNT tent together, checked in, and proudly laid claim to our TNT 13.1 pins. Then we ran into Kristen, Fred, and Tammy. We chatted for a while and relaxed, then Kristi, Kristen, and I walked the quarter mile or so to the UPS trucks to claim out gear. It was so hot, but I wanted to see Nicole and Dave race if at all possible.
On the way back from the UPS trucks, we ran into Kate, Kyra, and Meg cheering their lungs out at about mile 26.1. We decided to join them and spent almost 3 hours with them.
Kyra, Kate, Meg, and Kristen take a break from cheering
Kristi and I join them. Dig those half marathon medals!
There were a few other little groups cheering but none as spirited as our little band of Purple People. We cheered for everyone, but a little louder for TNT racers and especially those from Team Virginia. We were thrilled to see Paul running on his way to the finish:
We saw Coach Chuck escorting runners time and time again. He was easy to spot in his big country hat:
There was no water in this area and he was parched at times, so we would sometimes give him something to drink. I lost track of how many trips he made back and forth. TNT Coaches are the best - they go well above and beyond.
When I saw this guy running and strumming on the ole banjo, I knew I had to get a shot of him. Too late, I realized that hidden behind the runner to the banjo player's right was my mentee Dave! I couldn't react in time to snap Dave's picture, but we all cheered him. That's Dave's foot stepping on the shadow of the guy just ahead of him:
Nicole with her purple Afro was pretty distinctive and she wasn't hiding behind someone, so I did get her picture in the race:
It was Nicole and Dave's first marathon. I was so proud of my mentees and thrilled to see them in the race. Seeing my three mentees either in their race or just after they finished in Kristi's case will go down as one of my great TNT memories.
And cheering with some of my Virginia teammates will go down as another great TNT memory. Here is a view back at some of the team as they cheered for hours out in the hot sun. They were so spirited and I am surprised any of us had any voice at the end:
For some of my other great TNT memories, go here.
As teammates finished their races, they joined our group. Ultimately, Paul, Dave, and Nicole were with us. Amber found her way over and joined in. When Bridgette came running up, we all formed a "gauntlet" and cheered her as she ran through. Here is a shot of Coach Chuck escorting Bridgette - it was also her first marathon:
I asked Amber to take a photo of my mentees and me showing off our medals, and you can see it on this post.
Even though much of Team Virginia had met only a couple of days before, we really bonded as a team and on that day, it showed. I will always remember this. As our coach told us "As a coach I hate to see this, because you should be resting and hydrating. But as a teammate, I love this!"
Thanks Kate, Kyra, and Meg for getting the ball rolling on the cheerleading!