April 1, 2012

Bentonville Half, from the sidelines

Trea and I went to the Bentonville Half Marathon yesterday to cheer, even though I couldn't run. This is the biggest race in my area, and I ran it last year as my first half.

Head artist hard at work
I seriously considered staying home and feeling sorry for myself because sometimes I'm still incredibly sad about my stupid stress fracture. But then I remembered how I felt last year when people cheered for me, so I hobbled out to mile 10 on crutches and put on my biggest smile. 

This sign almost always gets a smile out of tired runners!
Yesterday was beautiful, but it was way too hot for March, and these runners were suffering. It was sunny, not much of a breeze and almost 80 degrees by 10:00. We went to the Slaughter Pen trail just after the 10 mile marker. Every runner I know HATES this part of the course. The first 9.5 miles are through town and neighborhoods on the street, where you at least have houses and cars to look at. But the last few miles are brutal -- on walking trails where you're less likely for you to see any spectators. Or anything at all. It's just a concrete path, grass and more grass. No shade and no distractions. This is the area last year where I wanted to lay down and die. Not only is it tough because it's near the end, but it's extra rough mentally. Oh, yeah, and the runners are greeted by a massive hill right at the end that brings people to their knees. It sucks.

My mom and dad cheered too!
So I think folks were extra happy to see us! Trea was honking a crazy bike horn because we couldn't find a cowbell, and I clapped till my hands went numb and yelled till I was hoarse. We had so much fun! I saw exhausted people coming over the bridge toward us, eyes glazed over, feet shuffling, and when they saw our silly sign and were startled by the bike horn, they perked up, smiled and picked up the pace. Tons of runners commented on Trea's sign, and I was surprised at how many strangers, huffing and puffing, used a precious breath to say, "Thank you for being here!" as they passed by. Runners are the BEST. 

Laura clapped for US as she zoomed by.
We saw Laura, Jennifer, Charles, Jessica (running her very first 13.1 ever! Woot!), and even a few folks from work who I didn't expect to see. There was a lady as old as my grandmother trotting along in a sparkly skirt, two girls dressed like Mario and Luigi -- mustaches and all -- a girl dressed like a bunny, and one dude wearing flip flops. But not Old Navy summer flip flops. I'm talking homemade sandals strapped to his feet by rope, Tarahumara style. He was so hard core that we couldn't even cheer for him. We all just froze, went silent and stared at his feet. True story. 

When the pack thinned out and we thought most of the last runners had made their way through, we packed up and went to the finish line to cheer for them all again at the top of the hill. I get choked up at every race when I see a runner spot the finish line. Or when a little kid runs in with a parent. There's just nothing else like it. We stayed and cheered for quite a while and hollered for some of the last people crossing the line. The ones who struggle and walk, they need encouragement the most. Believe me, I've been there. 

I had been dreading this day, worried about feeling jealous of my friends and sad that I was missing out. But I didn't miss out at all! We had a fantastic time, and it was an excellent reminder that I'm still a runner at heart, even if I'm not the one getting a medal. Running isn't just about running. It's about being part of a community; we celebrate successes together, but we also encourage each other through the hard parts. And I'll be out there next year, hoping there's someone to cheer for me. 


  1. Oh I felt your pain just looking at the photos. I hope you feel better soon and can get back out there!!! Erica

  2. I think it's great you went out there to support the runners. I know that couldn't have been easy knowing you should have been out there too. But man oh man seeing people cheering when you hit a tough spot in the race is so amazing. And I can't imagine running a half in the heat we had yesterday. It was really humid here as well.

  3. How cute are you and your sign? Oh, I'm so glad you decided to go cheer. It's so much fun and so rewarding!



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...