Monday, March 16, 2015

Spectating The LA Marathon

Yesterday I did something I hadn't done before. I spectated a race. Sure, in the past I have stuck around after I have finished a race to cheer on friends and other runners, but I hadn't specifically gone to a race before with the intentions of being a spectator.

Laid out my #FlatSpectator outfit the night before!
The most important parts of a spectator's gear - the cowbell and sign!

Hubby wasn't sure if folks would want FREE HUGS, so I made a back-up sign.
The credit goes to Pavement Runner for the idea (he had seen it on a course before).

A few weeks ago some friends were chatting about going up to make a CHEER STATION at the LA Marathon. Well, as you know, Ryan is currently out of town in Bali (rough life, right?!), so I figured it would be a PERFECT time to spectate! Normally La-La-Land is not my jam, but because I had a few friends participating in the race and other friends willing to cheer runners on, I decided I was all in!

I ended up going up to LA Saturday night and spent the night with my friends Ivie and AJ. Ivie was running the race and AJ was spectating, so it worked our perfectly. We got to hang out a bit, eat some yummy pasta (you can still carb load as a spectator, right?!), and watched The Incredibles.

Sunday morning AJ and I drove to Marina del Rey to meet up with our other friends. After we hooked up with Michael and Andrea, packed the car with our signage, cowbells, and a cooler full of waters, cold towels, Cokes, orange slices, Girl Scout cookies, and a few other essentials we were off.

The sunrise on the way to Marina del Rey was STUNNING!

We set up our CHEER STATION down in Beverly Hills (around Mile 16.5). We were right before the runners would turn onto Rodeo Dr (which was PERFECT for one of the signs Michael made). When we got there we saw some of the elites cruising through (some looked like they were just out for a Sunday stroll while others looked as though the heat was already starting to effect them). We quickly realized that the speedsters would NOT appreciate our signs (or even look at them), so for the first 45 minutes or so we were just cheering it up for all the speed racers.

Once the "normal" runners started making their way through the course the party just kept on growing! I would say I held up my "SHOW US YOUR BIBS" sign until about the 4:15 pacer passed by. I knew the runners up to that point were probably a little more serious/focused about the whole race and wouldn't be up for making a pit stop for a hug. I got some pretty funny responses (some people thought it was like a "Hey, don't bandit the race" sort of sign, while others would lift up their shirts and show me their chest {at least they "got" the sign, but I don't know if they totally read the last word...} - thankfully all men).

Michael's signs definitely got the best reaction from runners!
Photo Credit: AJ

Photo Credit: Michael

Around the 4:15 pacer I swapped out my sign (and my position in the cheer squad) to the FREE HUGS sign. Slowly but surely runners would stop for a hug. I had some air hugs (people that saw me from the middle of the road but still made the gesture), hugs from spectators, super sweaty runner hugs, and even a hug (and a creepy kiss on my cheek) from a random homeless man who was walking by. My favorite were the hugs from our friends we were specifically there to cheer on, but the random runner hugs were pretty special too.

These two spectators wanted a FREE HUG!
Photo Credit: Andrea

Loved seeing our friends face's light up when they would see us on the street!
Photo Credit: Richard

Linzie ROCKED the race (and requested the Girl Scout cookies ;) )
Photo Credit: Michael

Casey is an AMAZING woman (if only she didn't live in
Vegas we would run together more often!)
Photo Credit: Casey

They moved me to "the corner" and then my hugs became in HIGH demand ;)
Photo Credit: Michael

Now I am in no way going to say we were the main cause for some of these runner's success during the LA Marathon, but I hope that the extreme energy, high-fives, excitement, deafening cowbell banging, humorous signs, and hugs helped lift the spirit of some of those on the course to keep on keepin' on. All of us said how much fun we had while spectating, but not only that, how great it was to be on the "other side" of a race. Making eye contact with a runner, seeing them smirk as they read a sign, giving fist bumps, celebrating in a runner's achievements - that is what it was all about.

I know while I am running, I try to thank everyone out on the course who is there trying to make the day a bit better/ easier for us - whether that be the volunteers, security, race employees, spectators, etc. I never knew how "tough" spectating was until I woke up this morning with a raspy voice, bruising on my legs and missing skin on my fingers from the cowbells. SPECTATING IS A SPORT! And I would strongly recommend EACH AND EVERY ONE OF YOU to get out there and support your fellow runners!! Not only will they appreciate it more than you will ever know, but it will help YOU appreciate those you see cheering while you are out on the course!

And what better way to celebrate being the NUMBER ONE CHEER STATION (voted on by the 4 participants in our squad) than mimosas for everyone?!

We may or may not have used the orange juice just as food coloring ;)
Photo Credit: AJ

Oh yeah, and in case you want to read Michael's perspective, including the hilarity that ensued when a runner STOLE his cowbell, check out his post here! (I tell ya, it is always an adventure! And one that I wouldn't change for anything!)

Have you ever spectated a race before? 


SD Mom said...

Jamye and I cheered at Carlsbad this year! It was awesome and so much fun!

Unknown said...

I've spectated races before when I was sidelined from injury but never went full out with the signs/food/etc. Now that I've run more races I fully appreciate those people and think I should pay my dues.
Looks like you guys had a great time

Kc said...

This is awesome! Good for you guys for getting out there! I definitely plan on giving back soon! :)

Knoxie13 said...

I was there yesterday to cheer as well. I hauled pretzels, red vines, otter pops, and oranges out to mile 20. It brought me to tears seeing all of the amazing people running that race and truly inspired me.

Unknown said...

Love your outfit and the signs! I haven't spectated a race either, I hope to do it soon! I am always so appreceiative of those who are cheering for me that I want to do it for someone else in a race :)
Karen @karenlovestorun

Sarah said...

Spectating is so much fun! I loved running the NYC Marathon, but spectating it is definitely my favorite!