Saturday morning my kids were up and ready to go at 6:00 AM. We had no real plans for the day but I knew that I had a handful of runner friends running in the Island to Island Half marathon, which runs from Assateague Island to the Ocean City Boardwalk. I did this race back in 2015, and know how awesome it was to have spectators cheering for us as we ran the boardwalk before we finished. For me, the boardwalk was one of the hardest parts of the race. I was ready to be done and did not realize that once we got to the boardwalk we still had about a mile and half of it to run before we actually crossed the finish line.
Saturday was a very, very tough day for a half marathon, or any race distance for that matter. It was projected to be a high of 90+ for the day and the humidity was extremely high. I have run a race close to those conditions and I know it is not fun….. at all. I felt so bad for all the runners.. especially the runners who were running their first race and the runners with big goals.
After eating a quick breakfast, breaking out some paper and markers the kids and I were ready to hit the boardwalk for some cheering! The kids were pretty pumped up and I was excited to be on the other side of the race course as a spectator and cheerleader, instead of the usual runner. The kids made smaller posters with sayings they wanted on there (with a little help from me). Tanner went with “Touch here for power” with a custom colored power circle, and Reagan went with “Love your race!” with a heart.
It ended up being breezy at the boardwalk so the kids had a hard time with the posters but they did get lots of high-fives and smiles! They also spent the first ten minutes running “Run,Run” on repeat to anyone they saw, whether they were actually in the race or not!
I was not sure how long the little guys would last cheering on the runners because we got there as the 1:40ish finishers would be running by our mile 12/ 12.5ish position on the course but we were lucky enough to find a spot that allowed us to see the runners twice on the course AND there was a small playground there that Ocean City just added. It was perfect for everyone! We ended up staying at our post for close to 2 hours and were able to see ALL of our runner friends.
Standing at our cheering post, high-fiving, giving encouraging words and support and reassuring the runners they were “looking strong” even though they probably felt like they had absolutely nothing left was such an amazing experience. I do feel I made the fatal mistake of saying “you are almost there” to a few runners. I know how annoying it is to hear this when you are close but not close enough to being done. While I think we were around 12.5/12.6 or so I know that still feels like quite a distance away from the finish line, especially in a race where the finish line is not yet visible and it is so HOT and HUMID.
If you ran the Island to Island Half marathon here is what I want you to know:
- You earned your medal.. every single step you showed perseverance and strength
- You looked a lot stronger at mile 12.5 then you felt- trust me I could see it in your eyes and when you returned my cheering with a smile
- While the race was probably not a PR it is an accomplishment- you worked hard and you finished- Be proud of yourself!
- This very hard race does not define your running career- it is simply part of your running story that you will remember
- Finishing that race once again proved why you were amazing
I know many of you have probably spectated plenty of races in your lifetime but if you are like me and never taken the time to spectate and cheer I highly encourage you to do it! Knowing that our few hours out of the house encouraged struggling runners gave me the same runners high I get from actually running! Again congratulations to all the Island to Island runners!