Once upon a time (about a year ago), my husband Ricky ran a half-marathon and then had to be taken to the hospital due to heat exhaustion.
Once upon another time shortly thereafter (about a year ago), my husband Ricky decided to train for a marathon that would take place in May 2019.
I said, “Okay. Um. I don’t want you to go to the hospital again. If you run this marathon, I’m not coming to watch.”
I said, “I mean it.”
And I meant it.
On the day of the marathon, I found myself in a car, bright and early- driving to the marathon with Ricky. I felt glad that I personally was not running a marathon that day because (cough, cough) my throat was a bit sore.
Ricky and I were both feeling some apprehension about the marathon, I believe. Ricky because he had never run 42.2 kilometers before, and me because I had never watched anyone run 42.2 kilometers before.
All in all, I had a great morning. Everything went smoothly for both Ricky and myself, and I was glad that I was there to be a part of the excitement and to support him. Since I am now an experienced marathon-attendee, I thought I’d give you all a glimpse into some things that you can expect should you ever find yourself at a marathon.
- If it is a chilly morning, you will probably see runners wrapping themselves in plastic. Plastic blanket things, garbage bags, things that look like they were pulled from the nearest dumpster- any plastic will do, apparently. They’re just keeping their muscles warm (I think).
- There will most likely be a long line for the washrooms before the race begins. I was standing on the other side of the street from the port-a-potties, but as the starting time drew nearer, the line grew longer so quickly that I kept having to find new places to stand so that the line didn’t accept me as one of its own.
- Everyone in the bathroom line might seem to be in constant motion- stretching, hopping, jogging on the spot. Probably, they are just once again trying to keep their muscles warmed up, but in reality, it really looks like they all desperately need to use the washroom.
- When it’s time to head to the starting line, the runners discard their plastic blankets and some other layers and there is spandex all around. So much spandex and yet, at the same time… so little.
- It is a marvelous thing to watch hundreds of runners cross the starting line. They thunder past, and there’s a lot of cheering, and bells are ringing, and then they’re gone. The street feels oddly lonely without them.
- If possible, follow your runner. Not on foot. Gracious, no. There are apps and websites that you can do this with. Check out their route ahead of time and plan with them where you’ll be waiting to wave at them or high five them. Take pictures and videos of them.
- I had packed a backpack with snacks, hot tea, and a book to carry with me. I was glad for it. There was some down time. It was also lovely to just sit in the spring sunshine and be surrounded by all the good endorphins that you could practically see in the air. I also think that taking a friend to support you in your watching of the marathon could be very nice. I have two of the best ready to take in the next marathon with me. Joy and Seth, I’m talking about you.
- Be prepared to see some things that make you feel like crying because they are beautiful and strong. Sometimes watchers will temporarily run alongside the person they’re supporting. Sometimes people get super excited when they see their runner coming down the path. Sometimes the runners have the most intense expressions of focus, weariness, and determination on their face. Sometimes you are just hit by the wonder of the whole thing… all of these amazing people, sweating and panting and straining together. All winter they prepared for this. And now they’re here… this is their big moment. What they worked so hard for. They’re doing it. How would it feel to… Maybe I should…. Haha. No. I actually have no interest in running a marathon, but it sure is an amazing thing to witness.
- Be prepared to feel so very proud of your runner. It’s such a big thing to accomplish. Ricky trained all through the winter, guys. Through the dark and the snow and the freezing cold- he ran.
- You will probably be super hungry by the time you get yourself and your runner home, so the first thing to do is make food. A chicken wrap packed with veggies does the job perfectly.
- After eating, you should take a nap. After all, you had an early morning, and you covered a lot of ground. And if the marathon runner wakes up from their nap before you do, and heads outside to play some ping-pong and basketball, it’s okay. Don’t feel guilty or weird about it. Just rest.
I’m looking forward to watching Ricky run another marathon in October. You can watch the video about May’s marathon here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qLFI5BlOT9o&t=0s