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!


Elayne said...

Congratulations Art!!! The whole experience sounds like it was so much fun!Thank you for sharing all of your pictures and "new"great memories.

This Sunday to celebrate Mothers Day AND the first day I began running ( 2 years ago Mothers Day)I am signing up for my first marathon~ Dallas White Rock!
You are a great inspiration and I will need lots of encouragement from and ol' pro like yourself :)
Great job Art and thanks again for adding my name( I could see it in one of the past photos :) to your "In Honor Of" shirt!

TNTcoach Ken said...

Great photos and I too remember going pass that finish line a few times.

Racn4acure said...

Coach Ken - the coaches in purple Rock!

Elayne - It was a blast! That is a pretty great way to celebrate your two year runner milestone. You will have an amazing time doing a marathon. It is a great achievement for us survivors. I will give you all of the encouragement that I can! It was my honor to run with your name.

Kyra said...

That was such an incredible experience!! I will never forget cheering for everyone with my fabulous fellow TNTers. Go Team! And Go Art!

Racn4acure said...

Me too, Kyra. It was just great wasn't it? What a great team. I am glad that you were part of it. Art

Anonymous said...

My daughter, Kate, was one of the cheerleaders. I did my first 13.2 in San Francsico. It was a phenomenal expeience and the encouragement along the route was so helpful to me - an out of shape soon to be 50 year old. I am so proud of Kate, not just for completing the race as part of TNT but for staying those long hours and encouraging others. MP

Kate said...

Art- I love reading your blog!! I am so thrilled that I was able to be a part of cheering everyone on! It was a blast and you guys are awesome!!

Racn4acure said...

Thanks for the comment, MP, and congratulations on running the San Francisco half marathon. That is a tremendous achievement!

I bet you are proud of Kate. She is a terrific young lady. Anyone who worries and complains about the younger generation only needed to be in Nashville with Team Virginia - most of the team were quite young; young people out there working hard to do something positive in their lives and in the lives of so many others. That is the kind of thing that doesn't make the news. I know as a blood cancer survivor, I really appreciate everything that Kate and others do for this cause.

When our coach came upon our merry band of cheerleaders, he asked if I had instigated it. I said "Nope, it was Kate, Kyra, and Meg. I just joined in." They are a fabulous group of people and I am glad that I got to be a part of it. Art

Racn4acure said...

Kate - in my 4 seasons with TNT, plus a 5th as a non-fundraising mentor, I have a lot of tremendous memories. Being on the cheer team with you and the others is right up there with them. I am glad that you are enjoying the blog. It was wonderful to meet you in Nashville, and to be on your team. GO TEAM! Art