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Philly Cheesesteak Race Report


I hate going to races that I’m not running. I am not a good spectator. I want to be out there sharing the agony and elation of striving toward a goal. So much so, when I am watching a race I get this whole body itch that is so uncomfortable–I feel like I am going to jump out of my own skin. Yes, that does sound creepy. It is not like I am an elite athlete or even hot shit on the local racing scene, but I love the feeling of training for an event and then crossing the finish line. It is an amazing feeling of accomplishment. There have only been two times I was excited to be on the sidelines–when the top 7 runners on my high school cross country team qualified for the state meet and this past Sunday when Sole Sista Sue ran her first marathon.

Sue and I bonded sometime last year when we had both decided that 2011 was the year we would stop being pusbabies and finally go 26.2. This was THE year and we bonded some more over the “Holy shit, what did I get myself into?” that comes along with marathon virgins embarking on their first loooooong runs. Somewhere along the way, I decided that I had to one-up all the awesome generous friend things that Sue has done by actually being there as she crossed the finish line. I mentally circled 11/20/11 in pencil because you can’t erase pencil, and there was no way in hell I was going to miss being a better super-duper friend. I’m all about winning friendship.

I drove down to Pennsylvania on Saturday with Madylin (MY HUSBAND and the demonic duo stayed behind). It took a solid 6 hours because we stopped 4 times; our gas and potty breaks never seemed to align. Other than Mady yelling “Mom, what are pads and tampons?” in one of the rest stop bathrooms, it was a pretty uneventful ride. No traffic, lots of dead deer, state troopers all over Cortland–the usual. And we arrived at my sister’s house I began non-stop eating because I seem to develop a tape worm every time I am in Philly.

After unloading over 200 boxes of Girl Scout cookies into my dad’s car and changing my new nephew’s poo diaper 37 times, I hit the sack with the crazy-ass idea that I was going to get up at 4:30 to workout before heading into the city. Either I slept through my alarm or I turned it off in my sleep because the next thing I knew it was 6:30 AM. I showered and hurried out the door terrified that I would miss Sue (I still made a pit-stop at Wawa. Gotta hava!). My plan was to get to the 9-mile marker but when I parked the car, the 10-mile marker was just across the field so I gathered my STUFF and set up shop… and by “set up shop” I mean spill one of the coffees and call Greg to give a very vague description of my location (“I’m like next to these big things kinda near the Touch Me Please Museum [not its real name] but not really near there but kinda. But these things are big, like maybe cement walls or archways but not archways. Do you know what I mean?” Not surprisingly, he didn’t.).

My baaaaaaad!

I also realized how greatly I miscalculated the morning time frame. There was a wave start so Sue didn’t really start the race until almost 25 after 7:00. And it only took 15 minutes to get into the city from my sister’s house. I had time to kill (about an hour) so I took some pictures of other people so I could mock them on my blog. Like this guy, who stood next to the 10-mile marker banging sticks together yelling “ONLY 16.2 MILES TO GOOOOOOO!” (you’re going to need to click on the pics to really see them, stupid WordPress):

And this guy:

And this guy:

And this guy:

And this guy:

I got the 10K split for my friend Steph sent to my phone and was ready to start cheering and yelling things not like that dude with the sticks. I waited and I waited and I waited and I realized that I must be blind and sorta dumb because I missed her! I got the 10K split for Sue next and refused to take my eyes off the road for one single second because I was so afraid of missing her too. You know what happens when you stare at the face of every runner in a race of 25,000? You start to get dizzy. But vertigo be dammed, I was going to see Sue!

And then like a purple angel sent by Baby Jesus, there she was:

Unfortunately Sue did not see me, and I needed credit for being there wanted her to know she had fan support on the course. I grabbed my stuff (minus one 16oz coffee) and ran down a small hill where she would pass me again after a small loop. As she approached I started jumping up and down, waving my arms, and screaming. I WOULD NOT BE IGNORED!!! Sue ran over and we did some weird teenage girl screaching, communicating with no discernable words, and she posed for this picture:

Running like a Diva (cup)!

I sent Sue on her way and called Greg who was at mile 11 to let him know Sue was headed toward him. I then started my trek alongside the course to find Greg who was apparently immobile with a cooler full of beer. I didn’t want to get in the way of the runners so I was walking in what can only be described as a gutter. I kept praying that I didn’t step on a dead body because it was very opening scene of Law & Order. I made it to the other side without my precious Mizunos making contact with a cadaver hand, and worked out a meet-up with Greg.

Greg was "that guy"!

Because of the road closures and Greg’s Mobile Marathon Tailgate, crossing the course to see Sue several times was pretty much out. Plus, my attempt at memorizing the course map was futile because me dumb brain, and I had no idea where to go next. We decided to head to the finish line where I could use a Porta Potty (just because I wasn’t running didn’t mean I had to miss out on the runner’s experience) and we could snag an awesome spot along the final straightaway.

As we were chugging along I suddenly heard “Hey, Canada Lady! Canada Lady!” and Greg said to me “I think that runner is yelling at you!” I assumed I was being taunted because of my model good looks (it’s SO hard being the pretty girl), and turned to see who was super jealous of me. There was Danielle–another mother runner, Facebook friend, and blog reader–yelling “Canada Lady! It’s me! Danielle!” I did some sort of weird Degrassi Junior High squeal and snapped a picture. I had to document the moment I became the most famous Canadian citizen (suck it, Alan Thicke!).

Giddy up!

We also saw this guy who had to show off by not only running a marathon but running a marathon WHILE juggling:

Whatever, Mr. Hand-Eye Coordination.

After forever, we reached our destination, drank a beer (yes, it was10:39 in the morning. Don’t judge me!), and stalked a good spot along the railing. This is where Greg’s cooler came in double handy because we got to stand on it and lord over all the other spectators. We were so excited to see her finish and couldn’t take our eye balls off the road once we got the text with Sue’s 30K split. It was pretty neat watching the finishers–some of them were still in great spirits, smiling and waving as they headed down the final stretch, and others were hardly able to take another step, begging their dead legs to go just a little but more. It was heartbreak and triumph at the same time. Some of the runners really made me tear up–especially the moms and dads getting run in by their kids and the girl helping her best friend across the finish line.

Suddenly we spotted Sue coming up the road and Greg uttered the stupidest question I have ever heard in all of my live-long life: “Do you have your running shoes on?” I answered “Of course I have my running shoes on! Duh!” He said “Then you need to get out there!” The people next to us opened the baricades so I could slip onto the course and I ran at Sue with my camera poised yelling “Action shots! Action shots!”

Thumbs up!

I ran alongside Sue the last .2 yelling a mix of gibberish and “How do you feel!” and “You did it!” and “All the way through!” and “Yay!” Not wanting to steal her moment, I pulled off at the last second and snuck around the finish line where I met Sue back in the chute. This is when I became her handler, handing her a mylar blanket and water bottle, and stopping her so she could get her medal and a picture snapped with one of her Team in Training friends. It was really neat to experience her accomplishment first-hand. We had talked our marathons to death for 11 months, and it was finally DONE.

I hung around for a little bit, but needed to get back to my sisters, relax a bit, and then drive home to Rochester. It was a great trip, and I am so proud of Sue. She did awesome! I was so happy I could be there to share that day with her because she has been such an amazing friend. My one regret is that I didn’t get a Sue-Sue picture of us, but there’ll be plenty of opportunities for pics at the 50K…

Congratulations, Sue!

8 Comments leave one →
  1. 11/22/2011 3:15 PM

    Awesome post. You are a good friend. But I gotta ask, not one jean-wearing runner in the race? :(

    And the guy running and juggling — they are called jogglers and I love them! My favorite of them all is this guy: He has some insane joggling record of over 1000 days in a row. Fun times!

    • 11/22/2011 7:07 PM

      She is pretty awesome, despite what HER HUSBAND says. (He just rolls his eyes, but whatever)

    • Suzanne permalink*
      11/22/2011 8:20 PM

      There were A LOT of people in jeans pacing their loved ones down the final stretch but they don’t count. :(

  2. 11/22/2011 7:19 PM

    So THIS is officially the BEST BLOG POST EVER. I laughed out loud while simultaneously becoming overwhelmed with emotion. (It got ugly) I did, however, notice a few things that I feel compelled to comment on:
    1) MY HUSBAND is always the mobile tailgate, beer cooler or not. It’s exhausting but always an adventure.
    2) I need to do something about my facial expressions while I run. EVERY SINGLE PICTURE of me running looks like I am pushing out a gigantic turd. Everyone else (Dick clapping the sticks notwithstanding) looks happy and normal. I look constipated.
    3) Check out the fourth “and this guy” picture…the one with the guy wearing something on his head. There’s a girl in a yellow shirt and black (too-short) shorts on the left. IS SHE WEARING JESUS SANDALS???
    4) Danielle is awesome! I can’t believe I missed her! Next time you’re in PA we should all get together and toast to her awesomeness.
    5) We will be running together in May at the 50K (well, you’ll be running and I’ll be running-walking) for the sole reason that we need a Sue-Sue picture!
    6) At the risk of getting sentimental…you are an incredible friend and I am so happy that RLAM brought us together. If we both got on, do you think we’d be compatible?
    7) My only fear is that when we hate each other and break up, you’ll be smacking your dumb brain and asking “Why the hell did I devote an entire RFADFD page to her? She’s a bitch!”
    8) Thank you again and again and again for being there for my deflowering, running the last .2 miles with me, and for being the most supportive runner-friend ever. (And I’m sure Joey G doesn’t mind that you wiped his ass, either!)

    • Suzanne permalink*
      11/22/2011 8:24 PM

      1) Your husband was trying to get me all sloppy drunk. I can’t believe I only had 1!
      2) You look like a runner running! Smiling runners are not working hard enough.
      3) Some guy ran in a cape and sandales. I think he was supposed to be Julius Ceasar. Greg kept saying really loud “THAT GUY IS LIKE A DICK!” Et tu Brute?
      4) Danielle is a cool chick. A tri-state hangout is definitely in order!
      5) Maybe you and I can send out a combined Christmas card photo Christmas 2012?
      6) I think we would be compatible on J-Date.
      7) I am going to start a whole separate blog about how I hate you and how you ruined my life and how I wasted by best years on you and how I am not giving back the ring.
      8) Would not have missed it for the world!

  3. 11/22/2011 7:21 PM

    ONE LAST COMMENT: You MUST include “running 2 miles with a dry erase board under my arm” and “jumping up and down like a fool” as part of The Week in Workouts. It’s all considered cross-training, you know.

    • Suzanne permalink*
      11/22/2011 8:25 PM

      Ugh, there was just TOO much–my cross training didn’t make it into the recap.

  4. 11/25/2011 5:43 PM

    Thanks for coming to PA to change my kids diapers, I mean visit.

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