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How Can I Ever Thank You?

October 12, 2010

Smiling because I'd just spotted the fam under a tree (nature's umbrella)

Okay, qualifying for the Boston Marathon, which I squeaked out on Sunday in 3:59:54, isn’t the same as winning an Academy Award, yet I still feel the need to make an “acceptance speech,” giving thanks to the folks who made it possible. Until this weekend, I never realized how crucial personal cheerleaders can be. But now I’m convinced: The shouts and smiles through the often-pouring rain powered me across the line more than the six gels and half bagel en route did.

Without further ado, I’d like to thank:

Megan M. I seriously thought you were going to do backflips down the road when you saw me, dude. The climb up to the bridge had taken it out of my quads, but you fired them right back up.

Eryn Your high-wattage smile around mile 9 was a bright spot in the downpour, and it reminded me of your awesome posse of Washington RLAMers.

My book group I anticipated your gathering for miles, and then it was all over in a blur. But that whole-wheat bagel and water you handed off made all the difference.

Intern Jessie I loved that I caught you, Ms. Prepared, Think-of-Everything, off-guard, leaving you barely able to take some photos and pipe out a, “Go, Sarah!” (We won’t dock your pay for not promoting the book with a, “Run Like a Mother, Sarah!!)

Tall Mom Mel Not sure how you, a non-Portlander, managed to get to so many spots around the course, but the effort obviously didn’t diminish your cheer-power.

Megan K. There’s something about your faith in me that touches me deeply. Like you believe in me even when I don’t. But instead of getting sappy, let’s laugh that we both obviously debated whether to hug or high-five. (And obviously unbridled, wonderfully  hyper enthusiasm goes with the name. See Megan M., above.)

Tall RLAM fan Loved you and your friend recognizing me near mile 19. Were the (temporary) RLAM tattoos on my calves the tip-off?

Ali, Bonnie, Molly When I was flagging, there you were, bright spots among the soggy spectators.

Ellison We only shared a few words, but the unspoken message was loud and clear: “Get your rear in gear, woman!”

The kids and Jack Knowing you were waiting for me meant the world to me even if the little tykes barely seemed to realize who I was when I stopped to kiss them. (And poor Phoebe, what a trooper: Puking in a bush while waiting for me the first time. No wonder you looked so lackluster!)

Julie D. You are a champ, running a strong race on a bum leg (and sans tunes for the first 11.5 miles!). My Garmin had clouded over about midway so I was hazy (literally!) about how close I was cutting the finish. Your urgent shouts of encouragement clued me in without striking panic in me. Yes, you didn’t BQ, but you ensured I did. I’m so grateful.

Random man Not sure who you are (Stuart?) but your loud-and-clear “Sarah, run like a MOTHER!” spurred me to finally get back on pace for the final two miles.

Joanne Your exaltations of, “Go, Champy, Champy, GO!!” right near the finish line propelled me to my sub-4:00 time. Without you, I couldn’t have pulled it out. The image of you bounding up and down behind the crowd in your kelly-green coat is one of my most vivid of the day. In my mind, you were springing 10 feet in the air—and you got me high as well.

Thanks to you all and other cheer-ers I’ve neglected to mention, but the orchestra is playing me off….

37 Comments leave one →
  1. stacy permalink
    October 12, 2010 6:04 am

    Congratulations on your BQ! I was teary eyed reading the intern’s account of it on sunday. You deserve this!

  2. October 12, 2010 6:12 am

    CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Looking forward to the report from Boston!

    I too am following the dream of a BQ; next year, I change age groups so that my goal is the same as yours was – you’ve shown my how much faster I need to get! 🙂

  3. canuck_grad permalink
    October 12, 2010 6:17 am

    The thought of the random man making a difference in whether you qualified for not gets me teary every time! I got teary when I first read it on FB, teary when I recounted it to my husband later, and teary reading it again now. Yay for random man, and awesome job SBS!!

  4. Rebecca permalink
    October 12, 2010 7:12 am

    I agree with the teary-eyed comments. SO inspiring.

    This post also started to make me panic and regret that marathon #2 for me will be a destination marathon so my cheering squad will consist of my boyfriend and my running buddy’s boyfriend. And there is talk of waiting for us at the beer tent at the end. I’ll give them a pep talk (don’t worry) but will it be enough? Anyone out there going to be at the Outer Banks marathon on 11/14?

  5. Suzanne permalink
    October 12, 2010 7:33 am

    How wonderful to have so much love and support out on the course! Congratulations, again!

  6. October 12, 2010 7:40 am

    Congratulations! I’m running my first full next May and I’m nervous as can be! You however look so incredibly relax and make the 26.2 miles look so easy. Great picture, you look Awesome!

    Congrats again!

  7. October 12, 2010 7:52 am

    Teary eyed here, too – and I love your list of thank you’s. That is so beautiful! It takes a lot of mamas (and friends) to be a running one. 🙂 Congratulations!

  8. Megan permalink
    October 12, 2010 7:54 am

    My intention was TOTALLY a hug but then I realized it could slow you down and make all the difference!!! Sarah I’m so crazy thrilled you qualified in P-town and that you will take a big piece of home with you to Boston in the spring. I’m giddy to read the next few months of writing you do to prepare for Boston because it is such an amazing experience and I know you’ll capture every ounce of it in a way that will carry others there. Congrats again on a long-deserved accomplishment and watch out for the big hug I still have for you next time I see you!!!

  9. October 12, 2010 8:35 am

    You did it!!! I sort of feel like a proud mama (is that weird?)…maybe just a good fan. Wow! How wonderful. I’m just awestruck by this news; what an amazing feat!!!

  10. otherjulie permalink
    October 12, 2010 8:47 am

    Saw you right at the “Fat Lady” at the last hill. Nice work especially in the lovely, balmy weather of Portland!

    I saw the finish for the half marathon – 2 of 5 top finishers were ladies. It was so cool…

  11. October 12, 2010 8:56 am

    Thanks for the shout out! It was so inspiring to see you ENJOYING the race…you looked like you were loving it among hundreds of those with soggy feet and soggy smiles. Yours was glowing! So excited for your BQ!!

    • bowenshea permalink*
      October 12, 2010 1:24 pm

      Wow, Eryn, thanks. That’s really awesome to hear that I looked happy. I was just reflecting your smile back–honestly, your face was beaming. It was uplifting. xo

  12. October 12, 2010 9:03 am

    My buddy Jill’s Mom has lived in Portland for YEARS, she was Huge in getting us around. So bummed we missed you at the Finish.. CONGRATS over and over! You looked strong the whole way, well atleast at miles 12 and 18 🙂

    • bowenshea permalink*
      October 12, 2010 1:25 pm

      Thanks, tall gal.

  13. October 12, 2010 9:12 am

    SBS, I owe a huge thank you to you as well. It was an inspiration and privilege to follow along that mighty challenging training plan with you. Thanks so much for your RLAM encouragement. It got me to that finish line. A couple things…Tall Mom and Jill earn the award for best traveling spectators. They were like genies, all of a sudden appearing somewhere else on the course. So fun and encouraging!!! 🙂 Second, I feel the exact same way about Megan. She has a gift because her faith in me made me feel like I could conquer the world heading into that race. Sometimes all it takes, is someone who believes in you. So excited for you and can’t wait to hear all about the Boston experience!!! You are one badass mother runner!! Congrats.

  14. October 12, 2010 9:17 am

    Congrats on your BQ!!!!! I missed my BQ time by 4 seconds. Argh! But I did have a wonderful fan jump out and run with me for a mile and that really helped me! Thank you stranger!

    • October 12, 2010 11:41 am

      Lynne, so sorry about the 4 seconds. Every runners heart goes out to you. This will make your BQ when it happens (and it will) that much sweeter. Although it doesn’t make it any less painful! Hang in there. I’ll be going after a bq with you. Keep after it!

    • bowenshea permalink*
      October 12, 2010 1:27 pm

      Oh, Lynn, I feel for you! I have narrowly missed my qualifying time twice. After last time (Big Sur), folks reminded me I could lobby to get in, which you obviously could. But if you’re like me, you want to go in on a true qualifying time.

      • Joanne Godfrey permalink
        October 13, 2010 1:48 pm

        while running is a demanding sport with drive, determination and many miles of sweat, smiles and tears among other training efforts too numerous to list…like other sports, there is a strong sense of integrity and pride to what you have said…a sign of a true runner/athlete…so proud!

  15. October 12, 2010 10:23 am

    Woop there it is! Congrats on the almighty BQ!!!!!

  16. October 12, 2010 11:31 am

    Love this post – definitely teary-eyed here!

    Congrats on the BQ!!!!

  17. sarah permalink
    October 12, 2010 12:05 pm

    Great post! Love giving the props to all your cheerleaders, what a great day! Way to go BQ Sarah, I knew you could do it! Can’t wait to hear about your training plans for Boston… hills, hills, HILLS!!!

  18. October 12, 2010 12:49 pm

    teary eyes!! congrats!

  19. bowenshea permalink*
    October 12, 2010 1:27 pm

    Thanks to all you gals for your comments. It’s wonderful to feel such love and support.

  20. October 12, 2010 1:34 pm

    So proud of you! Thank you for sharing your plan and your encouragement along the way!! I thin Megan was our secret angel that day – it was so amazing to see her jumping up and down. Many of her words from my last marathon to this one have stuck with me. I am excited to wear my Badass Mother Runner shirt along side my fellow RLAMers! Sarah – I just have to say that hanging out with you before & our “do you know WHO I am” & your “I did it” during the star spangled banner (you know what I am talking about!) – are still keeping me smiling. Love you on pre-race jitters!!!

  21. October 12, 2010 1:43 pm


  22. October 12, 2010 2:27 pm

    This is so motivating!! Congrats! Well done! You have giving me even more hope that I’m going to do the same on Dec. 5th at White Rock in Dallas. 3:45!!!!

  23. angie permalink
    October 12, 2010 2:56 pm

    Congrats! I have to say that after running Steamtown on Sunday, my first stop when I got settled in our room was checking the RLAM fb page…did Sarah BQ? How did the Chi-town girls survive the heat? How was the BAA half? I really feel a connection to the ladies here and they never cease to inspire me. YOU never cease to inspire me! Thanks for letting us follow your ups and downs. So, so happy that you had such a great crowd in the RAIN to cheer you on home. Way to go, Sarah, way to go!

  24. October 12, 2010 4:27 pm

    LOVE THIS!!! 😀 CONGRATS on the BQ time!! 😀

  25. Jill permalink
    October 12, 2010 5:54 pm

    Congrats! You SO deserve it!

  26. Tryna permalink
    October 12, 2010 7:17 pm

    See, this is why I love running. You had a huge goal to motivate you, you worked for it for a long time, and you did it! How motivating and inspirational! Sarah, very amazing.

    PS-As a movie fan, I particularly loved the Academy Awards style thank yous.

    Better get your tickets to Boston soon. Woo hoo

  27. October 12, 2010 8:15 pm

    What an awesome picture of you, smiling in the rain! Congrats on the BQ and all your hard work paying off. It is so great that so many people could be there to cheer you on! Sunday I was checking fb on my phone A LOT for any update on how you did. Woo hoo for you!!

  28. October 12, 2010 8:51 pm

    Congrats SBS! I can’t wait for you to come to Boston in the Spring!

  29. Michelle permalink
    October 12, 2010 9:39 pm

    A BQ is better than an Academy Award in my book. Congrats again – you deserve it! Looking forward to reading all about Boston!

  30. October 14, 2010 7:50 am

    congratulations on a great race! that’s so awesome! i’m working on getting my cheering crew in place for my first marathon in december (Memphis St. Jude), and i’m hoping (PLEASE??) to have a great RLAM shirt to wear so they’ll recognize me! maybe ‘are my kids still chasing me?’ ???? : )

  31. October 16, 2010 7:25 am

    Congratulations! I just found your site through your comment on the MM virtual run.

    I ran Boston in 2001, still may favorite marathon (other than the first one). I’m just wrapping up week 1 training for an Ultra on Jan 8… call me crazy!

    Maybe you can help me with the spring run, or we could have a new year’s day run for those not in the frozen tundra :).

    You Rock!

    • October 16, 2010 7:35 am

      please ignore the comment about the virtual run – I thought I was commenting directly to erin who left a comment on the MM’s link.

      But congratulations, seriously… on the qualify for Boston!

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