After a night of restless sleep with a squirmy snoring baby right next to me, marathon morning came very early. We all tiptoed around in the dark until the last possible moment, and woke Cullen up just before we headed out to the race.
We wished Casey good luck and dropped him at the starting line, and then headed out to our first cheer spot along the course. Having spectated many races in the past, it is always my goal to make it to as many spots as possible to give support.
Sarah, Cullen, and I drove to mile 4 for some early cheering. We saw the runners come through and Casey looked happy and strong. Our original plan was to stay in the same spot and watch them run past again (it was an out an back) at mile 11, but I was afraid my car was going to get trapped by the wall of runners.
We headed back toward the center of the course in a cute little neighborhood. This was a smaller race than I’m used to (about 800 full marathon runners), and I was amazed at how empty the streets were at 7am.
Like, seriously empty. Not a car or person in sight!
We did manage to find an open coffee shop for some much needed refreshments. Coffee and chocolate chunk cookies. Yum.
While we waited I looked over the map and came up with our spectating strategy. Cullen was a total champ being carted around in the car seat and stroller all morning when he would usually be napping!
We finally saw Casey again right before mile 15. It had warmed up quite a bit, but he still looked like he was going strong and seemed like he was on pace.
As he came around the corner he ran straight toward us and gave Cullen a big kiss. I melted.
And we watched him head back off!
We headed to our next spot just a few blocks over – and about 2 miles later on the race course. I tried to make sure to keep Cullen in the stroller while we waited (and out of the hot sun), and pull him out just before Casey passed so he could help us wave and cheer for him.
Mile 16 and looking good!
Waving as he passed…
Our next cheer spot was a bit trickier. We drove down to the bottom turn-a-round on the course at mile 21.5. I knew Casey would need extra cheering and motivation during those tough last miles. We got to the spot early and sat in the car while Cullen napped.
Since we’d been to a few other spots, we recognized a few runners just in front of Casey, so we knew when to expect him to be coming through. I had just crawled into the backseat to feed Cullen when we saw the familiar faces signaling that Casey would be coming soon.
My options were to miss Casey going by, squirt milk everywhere, or jump out of the car with a baby attached to my boob. I’ve pretty much lost all modesty these past seven months, so I went with option number three. A quick toss of a blanket over my shoulder, and I was in the middle of the road yelling, cheering, and breastfeeding. Why not?
Casey nodded his head that he wasn’t feeling it anymore, which just made me cheer louder. I hadn’t seen a pace group at all yet, so I had no idea what sort of pace he was running. As he came toward us, I finally saw the 3:20 pace group just behind him. I yelled out to him that they were there and told him to stay in front of them!
Cullen finished up his lunch, and we jumped back in the car to meet him a few miles later. At mile 23, I gave him some shot blocks and reminded him that you are supposed to feel like complete crap at the end of a marathon. Just keep running! I felt bad for him. It was probably only 70 degrees outside, but the course was in full, hot sun and all the runners were drenched and sunburned.
I can’t say enough good things about the Vancouver USA Marathon. Casey and I both agreed – as both a runner and a spectator – it was a fabulous race. We headed over to the finish and got there just in time to see him heading down the final stretch!
A 3:28 finish and 49th place overall. A Happy Father’s Day indeed.
We were so proud of him!
We’ve been running and racing for years now, but working out how to train and race as new parents sometimes feels like figuring out a totally new sport. Whether it is pushing a stroller up a huge hill, running on a treadmill at 5am, or breastfeeding on the sidelines of a race course – day by day we’re figuring out how to combine our love of running with our roles as parents. Casey ran every single one of his weekday training runs on a treadmill during his lunch break. I’m so proud of him for sticking with it and running a great race.
Never say never, but we’re both thinking about focusing on shorter, faster distances for a while, and leaving the distance running until we get a little more established with this whole parenting thing. (That’s after the half marathon I’m running on Saturday. Gulp.) I’d love to see how it feels to actually train for speed!
When I was pregnant we often talked about how we wanted our kids to grow up cheering for us at races on weekend mornings. It has been so fun to watch that dream come to life. I hope we can be healthy, active role models for Cullen!
Casey’s 8th marathon is in the books. If it hadn’t been such a last minute race, I would have made some sort of awesome onesie for Cullen to wear as we cheered. Luckily I had another gift waiting back at home.
There is no better joy than watching your husband become a dad, and I felt really proud to cheer for him on Sunday morning. Congrats, Casey!