Friday, October 11, 2013

Brussels Marathon Recap : Chris' Edition

Kelly note: The following words and photos are Chris' completely. Enjoy!

The marathon - A Spectators Sport
The day started bright and early at 5:30am, as a spectator I wanted to just hit the snooze button and go back to bed, but I knew Kelly couldn't sleep a wink so I rolled out of bed and tried to be as excited as I could that early in the morning. As we left we went through the checklist of things we need for the day, seemed pretty simple to me... Kelly and running shoes.

Before the'll get to that in a second...
We made it to Brussels and proceeded to the metro station. Soon we started seeing other runners arrive at the metro stop. It is usually rare to see anyone awake that early in Belgium, so we took note. I saw one guy coming down the escalator already wearing his race number. Nonchalantly I asked Kelly "You got your number right?" You should have seen her face... what a great way to realize you are now 100% awake. The number was sitting on our kitchen table... in Leuven. I think some of the other runners on the metro were also awakened just by the look on her face. I am pretty sure Kelly was in shock, she didn't even have any ID to prove who she was.
Near the starting line was the registration tent and we found our way to the troubleshooting line. We were able to get Kelly a new number with no problem. At this point I think she finally stopped shaking and could now focus on the race. (Kelly note: Uh yeah. Worst way to get the nerves going on race day)

We stepped outside and all was clear again. We noticed some smooth jazz playing over the speakers and found a place to sit and just relax for a minute. People were just arriving to the starting line and it was beginning to get busy. Soon, loud dance music replaced the smooth jazz and runners started "warming up". The only guy warming up that I saw was a Kenyan guy, everyone else was just wearing weird things to stay physically warm like plastic suits and tin foil... runners are weird.

About 10 minutes before the race I walked Kelly over to the 3:30 pace balloons and made my way to the metro. I had planned to see Kelly at 5 different points along the route. As I got on the metro I felt a trembling in my stomach and checked my watch, 9:00 exactly, the race had just started. The first stop I made it to seemed very eerie, the streets were closed and no one was around except for a few police and some destroyed buildings... maybe it wasn't the best part of town. But soon I was greeted by the front-running Africans sprinting past and some wheelchair racers. Then the masses came, including Kelly just in front of the 3:30 pace balloon as she had planned. I got a quick smile from her and she was off.

I only had about 15 minutes to get to the next stop on my list. I ran through the metro, got to the next stop and sprinted up the stairs... nothing was around, where is the race? I then saw some large pace balloons down the street going under a tunnel. (Kelly note: We had up and down hill tunnels for a straight two miles of the race at this point...interesting set up) The balloons read '3:45' just missed her :(

The 3rd stop on my list was highly trafficked by spectators, so this time I knew I was in the right place. Made it there just in time to see the Kenyans (I'm assuming) run by. An old man walking down the street said something to me in French as they ran past. Since I couldn't understand he tried to repeat himself in English, "The black guys are going to run that fast for 42km!?" We were standing at the 15km mark so not too long of a wait afterwards Kelly came by... at the 3:15 pace balloon. She had a big smile on her face and looked strong. It only looked like she was going to keep getting faster.

As the race made an excursion outside of the city, I had to wait about an hour and a half to see her next. I once again made my way to the metro where I was greeted with masses of runners making their way to the half marathon start, where we all got uncomfortably close, squished into the metro car. The next time I saw Kelly, she was already joined by the half marathoners, making a big mess of things. At this point, I think I strained my eyes searching through the huge crowds running down the street until I found her. She looked tired. If you have seen Kelly tired before, then you must be very close with her... I think this was the first time I have seen her tired from running.

Brussels' metro stations creep us out
At this point I was worried so I get on my last metro ride of the day and rushed to the finish line in the Grote Markt. I got there 20 minutes early, but it was so packed with people I didn't even get to see her finish and she crossed the finish line before I made it all the way into the square. I don't like people inside my personal bubble...

Luckily, I was able to find Kelly exhausted on a side street trying to hold back tears. I say luckily because we never planned a meet up point... oops. As soon as I was about to give her a big hug, a radio reporter stepped between us and proceeded to interview Kelly, yea shes a rockstar. When I was finally able to give Kelly a hug, then the tears came, tears of pain, tears of happiness, tears of exhaustion. I was so proud. She reached her goal, qualified for Boston and survived, I was relieved.

We made a short stop at the red cross station for Kelly to sit down and get a quick massage and then we were on our way home, Kelly wearing her new tin foil blanket to keep people from spying on her brain... that's what those are for right? The trip home took twice as long since she could hardly walk after the race. We made it home, feasted and I was out cold for 4 hours... apparently Kelly only needed a short nap (Kelly note: Yeah, I watched two movies while he slept...).

What a day.


  1. Great story and great finish. Congrats!!

  2. Love hearing the story from Chris's point of view... he should do guest posts more often! What a great guy to go through all those metro stops to see you :) I didn't realize pace balloons were a thing. HOO MAN that moment realizing you didn't have your number!!! I would have broken down crying I think... phew!



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