Sunday, March 21, 2010

Shamrock On!

One of the really cool things about Team in Training is seeing people you meet along the way in their races. Today, I spent much of the day with my friends Nicki, Jenn, and Faith cheering for people in the Shamrock Marathon and Half Marathon in Virginia Beach. It was a lot of fun, but with tired legs and voices at the end of it all. I started at just after 7AM and kept going until just after 3PM when the last marathoner came by. We did take a nice little lunch break for some pizza, which hit the spot like you would not believe.

Many of the people we cheered for were on the current spring team, like first time half marathoners Claire, Tina, Barbara, Mindy, and Mike, and first time marathoners Karen and Jason. Then there were others from past events that we saw: Suzanne, Donna, Ann Marie, Kathy, and Sarah. And finally, there were teammates who were coaching on that long day, like Vicki, Kristi, Jamey, and Cheryl. Some of the people were at the brink of exhaustion as they came towards the finish. One woman was fighting back tears. Others looked near collapse. Most had big smiles. And many had colorful and innovative costumes or hats to celebrate the St. Patrick’s Day theme of the race.

Here are a bunch of photos from the day:

We started out the cheering from the mile 6 point in the half marathon. Here are Nicki, Jenn, and Faith holding our sign and cheering. Nicki, Faith, and I are all blood cancer survivors.

Tina (first time half-marathoner) and Ann Marie making the turn at the six mile point.
Claire (first time half-marathoner) making the turn at the six mile point. I mentored Claire's sister Mary Nell in 2006 when she participated in the Nashville Country Music Half Marathon. One of the treats of the day was unexpectedly running into Mary Nell later when we moved down towards the finish line.
Not too long after Claire came by, we drove into Virginia Beach and made our way to the boardwalk at about the 12.9 (half) and 25.9 (full) mile points. The light was better for pictures and so I got a bunch of them, including these two comely Irish lasses.
Long distance races can be tough, but they also form a lot of camraderie, on display here.
This is Kathy's third half marathon, and a personal record. I mentored Kathy last spring until she switched to the summer season after an injury. Her race day smile is in effect here.
Multiple myeloma survivor Barbara is heading down the stretch to finish her first half marathon as a cancer survivor!
This handsome couple really got into the spirit of the race!
Multiple myeloma survivor Mindy is heading down the stretch to finish her first half marathon. Her husband Mike, fighting back injuries all season, was on the spring team and joined her for the last few miles.
King Neptune watches the race finish. He has the best seat in the house.
Nicki, Ann Marie, and Jenn congratulate Tina on her first half marathon.
'Tis a great day for the Irish!
Coach Jamey escorts some more runners to the finish line in the full marathon. Coaches do an incredible job helping the team get to the finish line. They often put in more than 30 miles that day.
Karen still has a few hundred more meters to go to be a marathoner, but she already has the marathoner smile going. Congratulations, Karen - 26.2!!!!
After we saw Karen, my friends headed for home back in Richmond, but I had heard that Cheryl, whom I met in Anchorage in 2005 when we both walked the Midnight Sun Marathon, was the sweep. I've only seen her once since then, so I thought it would be worth the extra couple of hours to say hi. So I walked about a half mile or so up to where the official TNT cheer spot was to link up with Elliot and Amber, two of the fantastic Richmond LLS staff. Amber is a cell phone with the answer to the question "Who's Calling?" being "Team in Training." And I think that Hemingway would be proud of Elliot's sign: "Ask not for whom the horn blows. It blows for thee!"
So I thought that "sweep" the very last one, and as I took photos of this group, I saw two more TNT people behind them. So I wasn't even looking for Cheryl here (with the frog on her head). I saw Vicki, who has coached almost every team I've been on, and fellow Hodgkin survivor and teammate Kristi. When the last two came by and neither of them was Cheryl, I was so disappointed. I'd waited almost two hours to say hi! Had she been hurt? Was my info about her being sweep incorrect? So I figured I would catch up with Kristi and Vicki anyway and ran to catch them. I asked Kristi is she were the sweep, and she said "No, Cheryl is." I told her I hadn't seen Cheryl, and she pointed to a woman just ahead of us with a big green frog on her head. She had gone right by me, and in fact I had taken a photo of her. So all was well that ended well, and I got to say hi and catch up for a minute. The two hour wait was worth it!


Cheryl said...

Hi many survivors.....I am humbled by their stamina and endurance.
It looks such fun and friendships made.....and pizza as well (what more do you need)

Well done to you all.......

BTW how could you miss Cheryl with a frog on her head!!!

Karen said...

Thanks for your enthusiastic cheering at the end, Art! I loved seeing you there as I came in for my finish. What a fantastic day! I loved being able to see photos of my teammates and reading about how they did. Thanks for coming out and supporting us! Hope to "run" into you again soon! :)

Nicki said...

Such a fun day! Thanks for documenting it so well. I loved being able to hang out with you guys while cheering on all of those runners and walkers. I think it was funny that it took a couple of hours for both Jenn and Faith to realize that I do know a lot of people, but having bibs with names on them were my cheat sheet for knowing as many people as I was able to cheer for by name.