It's just not the beginning of summer in Duluth without the grand festivities of Grandma's Marathon in mid-June. I had been looking forward to the races for months since this was the first time in a few years that I would be sitting on the sidelines. I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed sitting in a cozy chair, sipping coffee in the morning sunshine, and cuddling my little ones while cheering for the thousands of crazy runners.
Ella loves races and was nearly as excited as I was to cheer. She even had her bell from the bike race we watched in Colorado last August. That in one hand and a donut in the other. Thanks, Mama Bex, for supplying the morning treats.
I headed down the hill from our house at 8am so we could watch the end of the half marathon and guarantee we'd be able to see the elite runners at the front of the full marathon. Before walking out the door, I grabbed paper plates, a marker, and crayons so the girls could make cheer signs. Basically, it just gave them something to do while waiting to see Uncle Jake and his girlfriend Valerie pass.
When we first arrived at the course, it was warm and sunny. As time passed, though, it got cooler and cooler. Perfect for running, but challenging for spectating, especially with little ones. I experienced one of those "I'm feeling like a mama on top of things" moments and actually thought to grab extra layers for Ella before leaving the house. I like those moments. Kinda wish they'd happen a little more often.
Sammy's first race! He was quite satisfied on Nana's lap while the runners passed. He didn't even seem to mind the constant ringing of her cheer bell.
It's always fun to see the signs that people have along the race course. I've seen a lot of signs about Chuck Norris in my race history. Oddly, they can be somewhat encouraging in those long miles. These two were standing across the course from us for a short time. "Free beer if you finish." True statement. There really is free beer at the end if you finish. At mile 22, that can be quite motivating...for some. Nearly made me sick after 26.2 miles last year. I loved the other sign, which I've seen at Grandma's before. "In our minds, you're all Kenyan." Kenyans nearly always win Grandma's. Crazy runners, those Kenyans.
I must take the opportunity to point out the grammatical correctness of the Kenyan sign. Note the appropriate use of you're rather than your. Nicely done. I've said I'm going to run my next race with a permanent marker to correct poorly written signs. It's the English teacher in me and drives me crazy when people try to motivate runners while waving grammatically incorrect signs. No good.
The real reason we were watching the race this year was to cheer for Jake and Valerie on their way to the finish. I think this was Jake's sixth time running Grandma's, while it was Valerie's first. The girls couldn't have been more excited when they stopped to give hugs.
Sammy's future running coach? We'll see! It was fun having Sam at his first race, even if he slept through the entire thing.
Though it was great to relax and cheer alongside my parents, Mama Bex & the girls, and Eli & Krista, I plan to be out on the course again next year. My dear Pete has actually guaranteed my entry in either the half or full marathon for 2013 by working the duration of the race in the medical tent at the finish line. One free entry. I know he won't be using it - running just isn't his thing - so I'll claim it! Thanks, Pete!
Seriously, I love Grandma's weekend. The city goes crazy. Hotels are booked a year in advance, driving is nearly impossible, and everyone watches as thousands of runners from all over the world put miles and miles behind them. It's a good time.
Happy 4th of July!
I made red velvet cupcakes with white almond frosting to celebrate the big day. I'm excited to dress Miss Ella & her wee brother in patriotic colors for the festivities. I'm not exactly sure what our plans will be for the day, but they will surely include fireworks tonight. This will be the first time I've seen them in Duluth! (If you don't count the five minutes - literally five minutes - when I watched them through the trees from my apartment balcony five years ago while I took a short break from wedding preparations. Since I don't count that, yes, this will be the first, and I'm pretty darn excited.)
Ella ran the Whipper Snapper race the day before the marathon, but I have to find those photos. I'll try to post them soon.