Sunday, November 16, 2008


The Nutty Papa ran his first marathon today. And I cheered for my first marathon today. It was so much fun! I can see why people want to run them. The energy is contagious! Everyone is cheering. People are happy! It's fun!

The Nutty Papa started his day at a bus stop at 6:30am. He waited in line for a shuttle to take him to the starting line for 30 minutes in 40 degree temperatures. I'm sure the cold didn't help his nerves. But he was surrounded by folks feeling the same anxiety... so I'm sure that helped.

He joined his corral, #18, and his friend from work. They were going to motivate each other. When #18 lined up, the guy at the starting line had them cheering. They did the wave. They were ready to go. I wish I could have seen that. But I was on the road with a car full of kids, ready to spend the day with their friends. There are few friends in life who are willing to take your four kids for the day. We are so blessed to have such a friend in Ms. Michelle and Mr. Tim. The kids had a ball and I was confident that my kids were having fun and being loved so I didn't think about them at all. I could focus on my Knight.

The Nutty Papa's sister, Tricia, and I made it to mile 13 at 9:30am. According to my calculations, The Nutty Papa should have arrived at approximately 9:50. So I found a spot and started watching for him, while Tricia started passing out energy drinks. I was so thankful to have her with me on so many levels today. But at that moment, I was thankful to have someone who had it together enough to offer the runners support. I stood on the side of the road on the verge of tears for the first 30 minutes. I couldn't believe how many people where there. How many were willing to push their bodies in such a way... to strive for such a goal. It moved me.

Luckily for me, The Nutty Papa didn't make it at his designated time. Apparently they got a late start and he was 10 minutes late. I needed that extra 10 minutes to pull myself together. Thankfully I wasn't standing on the side of the road bawling my eyes out. But I certainly couldn't yell for anyone.

The Nutty Papa planned on wearing his yellow shirt. He imagined that there would be few yellow shirts on the run. And he was right. The yellow stood out in a crowd. There were yellow shirts... but only a few. So every yellow shirt caught my attention. But only for a moment. I knew his pace. I knew his stride. I'd recognize him immediately.

It was interesting to me the different approaches all the runners took. Some were very serious about it. They were weighted down with energy drinks. Some popped ibuprofen. Some carried carb filled snacks. Some stopped to stretch. Others were walking. Then there were the guys who knew what they were doing. These were the guys who took time to make it entertaining for the others. Take "Jim" here. Turkey head. He ran past me right past the 4:15 sign with a smile on his face and a turkey on his head. What a great attitude. I saw ZZ Top, Santa, beauty pageant winners, and super heroes. One guy was even in a full face mask. How he could run with that face mask over his mouth and nose, I couldn't imagine. But he did. I saw him at every stop.

Finally, my eye found a yellow shirted runner with a long stride. I knew it was him. I held up my sign and started yellin', "Go, Daddy, GO!" He saw me from quite a ways back and started smiling. He made his way over to me on the side of the road and wanted a hug and kiss. He was so happy to see me. It made it worth the wait out in the cold.
As soon as I saw him, I started yellin', "Tricia! Tricia!!" I wanted her to be ready with energy drink for him. And she was.

How cool is it to be greeted by your sister at mile 13 when your needin' a drink? She made sure to get him the energy drinks that were well mixed and full. And she stood there while he drank up 3 or 4 cups of the stuff.

He had done lots of studying about how to prepare your body for the race. He hadn't prepared his body for his big 20 mile run during training and he lost it. So he got some information from a nutritionist who gave him exact amounts of carbs to eat Thursday, Friday and Saturday before the race. Then she also gave him tips on fueling his body during the race. He was much better prepared for his marathon experience than any other run he had made. When we saw him at mile 13, he said he was feeling great. He was breathing well and looking fabulous. I knew he would be doing well. After all, I fed him his carbs on Saturday... and I have the extra pounds to prove it!

After The Nutty Papa passed us, I was ready to run to the next marker. I wanted to make it to as many as I could. I wanted to be the little push he needed, if he needed it. Tricia got called by the Drill Sergeant of the water table and was ordered to clean up the street. There was only one rake, but I tried to help by kicking the cups off the road. It was useless... the more I kicked, the more cups appeared. Tricia is such a considerate person, she would have stayed there all afternoon if I hadn't been jumping around yellin' for her to come drive me to the next stop. She was very patient with me and finally found a break in her street raking duties to come drive me to mile 15. As we were driving, we got a call from the Eye Doctor and his family. They had just seen the Nutty Papa and were excited to have yelled for him. What great friends!! I later learned that the Nutty Papa was so excited to see someone yelling for him that he kissed them all! The Nutty Papa... nothin' but love!

Mile 15 and mile 19 were right beside each other so I asked Tricia to drop me off at mile 19. The Drill Sergeant had recruited her to buy some toilet paper. So she went and got toilet paper while I waited and watched some more.

One again, I was amazed at the endurance and drive of the runners. And of course, the level of seriousness they had. One guy ran by in a big purple tutu and purple tulle cape. It was funny! And he was having a good time.

Another thing I noticed was the different running styles everyone had. Some ran really heavy on their feet. Some bounced a lot. Some were so smooth, their heads didn't bob up and down at all. Some were knock kneed and swung their legs around a lot. Others had limp hands and when they ran, their hands would flick like they were trying to get water off of them. But all of them were cussin' this hill. There was an extremely enthusiastic group of cheerers at the bottom of this hill. They were jumpin' up and down and hollerin' trying to get everyone ramped up to take the hill. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn't. I'd say a good half of the folks just walked up the hill. At mile 19, I would have crawled. That's when I started wondering what was happening with the Nutty Papa. Where was he?

Wait a minute. What's that? Is it a yellow shirt? Tricia decided to wait at the bottom of that hill and run up the hill with him to offer him a little encouragement. Could that be them?

I do believe I see a yellow shirt runnin' along beside my sister-in-law. I started waving my other sign. This one said, "We Love Daddy!" I put that picture of the Nutty Papa kissin' the Doodlebug after a run on there and wrote, "I wish I were running with you Daddy!" Tricia pointed it out to him, but he didn't see it. He was focused on me, he said.

He ran up that hill. He was doing GREAT! He wasn't one of the ones that let that hill get him! I was so proud of him! I put down my sign and ran with him for a few steps. He introduced me to his friend from work. She was running for her brother in Iraq. I bet he's proud!

Then he was gone. Off to tackle more marathon. And I was back to bugging Tricia. "Can we go to another stop?" She was skeptical. I wanted to get to the stop that might be his "wall". I wanted to be there to tell him he could do it. To show him I believed in him. Turns out he didn't need it.

I managed to persuade Tricia to stop at mile 24. It was on the way to the finish line. We stopped and before long, here comes the Nutty Papa. This time he was running with another running buddy. He introduced me and said, "I gotta run! She and I are going to run the rest of the way together." He said he was doing great and feeling fine. He looked it too!

The next time I saw him, it was as he crossed the finish line.

My biggest complaint was that I couldn't see him cross the finish line. They had it so blocked off, I couldn't get in there. I couldn't yell for him. I couldn't snap that picture. But you can bet someone did. And they'll be charging me an arm and a leg for that monumental photo. And it'll be worth it!

I am so proud of him. He finished at 4 hours and 42 minutes. This time was better than he hoped for. And he never hit that wall. He was comfortable and well juiced the whole way. It couldn't have been a better first marathon!

Way to go, Nutty Papa! We're so proud of you!