Tuesday, October 11, 2011

The Sport of Marathon Spectating

You may be laughing at the title of this post, but I'm not joking when I say that my legs were sore after WATCHING a marathon. No, I'm not in terrible shape, I never once had sore legs from two months of boot camp which often involved running up LOTS of hills!

Anyway, in case you missed the memo (aka me posting it EVERYWHERE) Caroline had a very successful first marathon!!! You can read about her experience on her blog, this post is all about my experience watching a marathon.

I'm no marathon watching rookie. My college was on the course of the Boston Marathon and "Marathon Monday" was easily one of the best days of the year. However, this was my first time watching a marathon that was NOT Boston!

My alarm went off bright and early, I debated what to wear for awhile, packed my purse, met "Team Caroline" at Starbucks and headed to Mile 4 to catch Caroline for the first time. I was lucky in that when of my friends from college just recently moved to Chicago and did all the work for me as far as figuring out the best places to watch from and how realistic it was to get from one to the other.

Gerry also made the AWESOME signs.


Mile 4 was pretty unsuccessful. We missed Caroline because she started earlier than we thought she was going to. We must have missed her by only a few minutes because we saw the pace group right behind her, but luckily we got a 10K text which told us she obviously passed us. Then we could head for Mile 11, which was only one street over for us!

Before Caroline reached Mile 11 I was starting to panic a little that we were trying to see her 4 times and what if we don't see her at all?!

This may have actually happened except for that Caroline picked US out and actually waved her hand in front of us to get our attention! We were all staring at the crowd trying to find her! At Mile 11 I ran with Caroline for a few minutes to take a picture and get a feel for how she was doing so far. She was still doing really well!


After I joined back up with the group, it was time for the crazy adventure of getting to Mile 17. We had to take the subway which was obviously packed. We couldn't even get on the first train and then we just barely fit on the second. Once we arrived at our stop, we still had a bit of a walk and after getting Caroline's half marathon text I was convinced we were not going to make it to Mile 17 before her. There was definitely some sprinting with purses and signs going on during that "walk." Luckily we made it in time to see a still smiling Caroline at Mile 17!


Also, Team Caroline grew at Mile 17 as Gerry's fiance joined the spectating as well as Caroline's college roommate Courtney!

The last place we wanted to see Caroline was at Mile 20, so we walked some more to get there, stopping on the way for some ice. My dad had the idea of cooling Caroline off with ice so we filled up a zip lock bag with ice ready for her to come by at Mile 20. Since we still had the rest of the giant bag of ice we bought at 711, we started just handed out ice to other marathoners. I should probably mention the temperature was in the upper 70s and possibly hotter in the sun so people were VERY appreciative.

I don't have a picture of Caroline at Mile 20, but she still looked awesome. I ran with her again just to make sure she felt awesome :) I don't think she really did, but I mean, who does at Mile 20? I asked her how she was doing and she said "ow!" haha, but luckily nothing in particular was hurting and I knew she was going to make it to Mile 26! Of course I launched into a quick motivational speech and then she was off!

Of course we took off walking again and headed for the finish line. There was really no way at all to see anyone crossing the finish line (or even close) unless you got there much earlier so we headed to our "meeting spot" with Caroline which was a big fountain. Other Chicago marathoners had told us that was a good spot to meet, but this year it was NOT because they fenced off the whole area and wouldn't let us in. Eventually we found Caroline and began a marathon photo taking session followed by a quest for bagels. Speaking of which, if you are lucky enough to live near an Einstein Bagels, please eat one for me.


The rest of the day was spent relaxing and eating dinner. Of course I enjoyed one last night of self serve frozen yogurt...


I could easily live in our hotel room in Chicago for a long while. Walking distance to one of my favorite restaurants ever, Starbucks, Whole Foods AND more than one frozen yogurt shop... what more could I ask for? We had a great weekend in Chicago, Caroline did awesome and when it was time to say one final good night to the city of Chicago, I was really quite sad...


If you managed to read all of this post, I am impressed :) Have you ever been to Chicago? Have you ever been tired from watching a marathon?


  1. I grew up in Chicago and watching the marathon in high school was when I decided I HAD to run one in my life! :)

  2. I LOVED this post!!!! Both because your sister is simply awesome and because you are such a trooper for being out there all day!

    I have spectated an Ironman but not a marathon. In an Ironman there's a lot of waiting around because for a massive chunk of it you can't see anyone. But man did it give me a new respect for those athletes!

  3. I have never watched a marathon, but I'm sure I would be tired after all that running back and forth to "catch" your runner! I'm so glad she found you in the crown and you got to cheer her on. Thank goodness! Congrats to CAROLINE! And, to you for being such a wonderful sister and supporter :)

  4. It sounds like you guys did A LOT of running around - I don't blame you for being sore!

    I think it's so so great that Caroline had such an awesome support team for her first marathon. That makes a huge difference. YAY for you guys :)

  5. So sweet of you to spectate at Caroline's marathon! It must have been so much fun. :)

    I spectated at my mom's marathon in January. We had to leave the hotel at 3:00am which means I didn't get one wink of sleep (just decided to stay up when midnight rolled around...) and then it took her a long time (7 hours) so my brother and I were super busy with rushing to see her and couldn't get into a park to get food and couldn't find a way back to our hotel. Sooo... yeah. Fun day. No sleep + no food = a very hangry Stephany! Plus, I only got to see my mom at Mile 4, Mile 9, and Mile 12.5. I didn't see her again until the finish. She didn't have her phone and I had no idea how she was doing (texts weren't working). I was SO worried for a good 2-3 hours. Hopefully, this year will go MUCH more smoothly! :)

    Glad you had such a great time in Chicago! And yay Caroline!

  6. hahah I love that you love Einstein Bagels too!! They have a bunch (I think) in Florida so be on the look out! (That's where I first had them).

    It was fun reading your perspective : ) THANKS again for running all over the place to support mee!

  7. I teared up just reading this recap, actually. And I almost cried when we watched Lauren finish but I made myself pull it together becuase I did not want ot be the schmuck crying in public at the marathon. Ha. I think once you have done a marathon, it forever will be a really emotional experience to be at a marathon, even if you aren't running!

    I volunteered a couple of weeks ago at a marathon and my feet were sore after that! It's work to be on your feet for that many hours. It is awesome that you got to see Caroline at so many places! Way to be super duper spectators! She will treasure those photos you took and I am sure seeing you guys out there is what helped her make it to the finish line.

  8. I love Chicago! I didn't even get to spend that much time there when I visited, but I instantly fell in love. I hope to make a trip there next summer. Your pictures definitely captivated me :)

    Congrats to Caroline for running a marathon--and for you being there to support her!! I really hope I can run a marathon within the next 9 years. LOL. Does that sound ridiculous? I just want to do it BEFORE I'm 40 :) I think I'll need a lot of training though.....

  9. Congrats to Caroline!

    I have never watched a marathon but I am going to try my hardest to volunteer at Boston this year - a bucket list item of mine!

    I have never been to Chicago but am dying to go.

  10. I don't know how people run marathons but I love any excuse to go to Chicago so maybe next year I'll run, buy probably not.