Sole Runners shoe keychain made by Mostly Even, Sometimes Odd
The Sole Runners kicked off Saturday morning together at the Expo. Coach Steve gave us some last minute encouraging words of advice and we took a group picture. Afterward, Michelle, Rozie, and I stopped for some breakfast together.
Later on in the evening, Michelle, and I joined Alice from HefferBlog, Glenn from The Running Fat Guy, Jay from Tri2Thrive, Mags from Run Happy, Penny from Planet Ynnep Running, Penny's dad, and some other runners at La Parolaccia for some carbo-loading.
I gave Michelle a Sole Runners shoe keychain made by Mostly Even, Sometimes Odd on Etsy as a good luck charm before the race.
Starbucks cappuccino waiting for Richard at Mile 13
I watched in awe as the elite runners sprinted by. I cheered on Sole Runners and strangers. I screamed loudly in support of all the pace groups.
P from Adventures of an Average Athlete and me
P from Adventures of an Average Athlete spotted me and I attempted to snap a quick shot of us together. (For the record, I hate arm's length shots.)
Rad Runner Girl
I gave her some electrolyte water and attempted to run with her for a bit but her pace was too much for me and I had to tap out after a few blocks. I left a bottle of coconut water with her husband for a recovery drink.
Jessica 'Wabbitz' stopped to wish me good luck in Athens.
Jessica Aniac Wabbitz
My friend, Jackie, caught up with us on her bike after completing the Bike Tour. She was kind enough to bring a container of fresh sweet pineapple slices and some extra water.
As the miles got longer, Michelle commented that the Sole Runners tent would probably be long gone but I reassured her that it would still be there for us to help keep her spirits up.
Jackie on her bike
When the Finish Line was in sight, Michelle asked me to go ahead so I could get a shot of her crossing. I ran as fast as I could and as I approached the Finish, Sole Runners started cheering loudly.
As I crossed over the Finish, I politely declined the medal explaining I was simply a cheerleader and got into position to get pictures of Michelle. Just then, someone mentioned if I still had runners coming that I would have to ask them to hold a medal because they were being put away. I started yelling violently to please hold some medals as I started snapping pictures of my friend.
Michelle receiving her Long Beach Marathon medal
After congratulating Michelle, I hurried back to the medal area to make sure they had enough medals for the three remaining Sole Runners who were still out there.
As soon as we spotted the last three Sole Runners, we all ran out onto the course and surrounded them with cheers and smiles. One of the mentors, Mariela, chanted encouraging words through a megaphone.
Running in the last Sole Runners - No Sole Runner is ever left behind
In addition to running the marathon himself, Coach Steve made sure every last Sole Runner completed the race - no matter how long it took them.
The best coach in the world, Coach Steve
I became so overwhelmed with emotions that I started crying. I was so proud of Michelle and the emotional and mental fortitude she displayed today. I was so inspired by all the first time marathoners who ran 26.2 miles for the first time in their lives today.
I am so proud to be a Sole Runner and to be a part of the best running group in the world.