Checking in with Cheri Devlin: A Post-Philadelphia Recap
Earlier this year, we talked with Cheri Devlin, who will be participating in EVERY (yes, that’s right – every one!) MuckFest in 2019!
We learned Cheri’s story of running in honor of her father, Mike, who passed away from progressive multiple sclerosis in 2018. Her father was an avid runner who did half marathons, and he lived vicariously through Cheri’s own activities and runs when the disease confined him to a wheelchair. Now, she continues to run in his memory.
After finishing her second MuckFest of the year in Philadelphia, and right before her upcoming run in New Jersey this weekend, Cheri shared her Philadelphia memories…
It’s hard to believe the Philly race was nearly a month ago – where has the summer gone?!
To kick off MuckFest Philadelphia highlights, I think it’s important to note – my MuckFest race shoes made it home from Philly and are gearing up for Jersey next week; however, my darn sunglasses didn’t! But at least I have a fun story to share about how that worked out…
MuckFest Philadelphia was AWESOME and MUDDY! A whole lot muddier than Boston, which was the perfect way to break in my first-time mucker companion Jen! We had a blast getting muddy throughout the course, which made for a super fun post-race photo shoot. And the locals and people surrounding us during and after the race all brought such great energy and passion for the cause – we felt incredibly welcome and right at home.
However, the fun actually started with getting to Philly, which was quite the adventure! Something I didn’t completely think through before committing to all 5 MuckFest races this year was the travel expenses associated with each race. Fortunately, I’ve been blessed with two round-trip (standby) passes on Southwest Airlines for each race. Huge thanks to an old friend Tre who has worked there for many years, but as anyone who has flown non-revenue knows, the price of free can sometimes mean not getting to the hotel until 4 a.m. ET after starting the day in San Jose International Airport at 8 a.m. PT.
Let’s just say, I wasn’t sad to hear there wouldn’t be a “media day” Friday before the race, which would have routed us straight to the race location instead of bed! Thankfully, we made it to our hotel in Frazer, PA and could take full advantage of working Pacific Coast hours remote that Friday and slept in.
We had dinner plans at Zahav in Philly to look forward to after getting our work done – and so glad we did! Dinner at Zahav was amazing – and highly recommended to anyone visiting Philadelphia! The night wrapped up with a little Golden State Warriors play-off basketball and a pint of local IPA. I attempted to watch the second half of the game on my ESPN app from the Uber, which turned out to be as unsuccessful as the game’s outcome, but us mama’s needed to turn in early and get a good night’s rest!
The next morning, we geared up in our Team (M)ike (S)mith bright orange jersey tanks and knee-high socks, snagged a quick bite, packed up our room (because we were moving to downtown Philly Saturday night) and headed to the race location. As we pulled up alongside the other cars in the grass field parking lot a wave of emotion hit me as I thought about why I was there. I wished dad was running with Jen and me, but I quickly felt reassured he was there in spirit and was reminded how grateful I know he was that not only am I doing this as a tribute to him, but that my immediate and extended family, like Jen, were a part of it, too!
In typical Cheri fashion, after the race we made our booth rounds, enjoyed our finisher beer and got tips from the locals on places to visit…although we were already pretty set on venturing to the Fishtown FestivALE that we thought was the best way to spend our last night in Philly – which it was! Flashback to one of the BEST parts of the afternoon – as we visited the row of booths occupied by fashion boutiques – my friend Jen saw a familiar brand that she often buys from online, Voloshin. We stopped over to browse and one of the owners came over to see if we needed any help and introduced himself. As soon as Jen mentioned her full name, he realized it was the same Jen who is one of their top 50 customers – and he instantly beamed and brought over this wife to introduce her to Jen. It was classic and I felt like I was with a celebrity! We chatted with them for a bit and I ended up buying a beautiful blouse. It was certainly a memorable highlight of the trip – and reinforced all of this is so meant to be.
So, the story of the sunglasses…at race check-in they let us know that the “Slippy Sloppy” obstacle was modified to help make it a little more “fun”…perhaps they described more details of the change, like beware, you will fly into a pool of water and pick up a LOT more speed than usual so hold on – but I think I missed all that!
To level set, I ALWAYS wear my sunglasses when I run…and no, I don’t like wearing “running” glasses, even though I forced myself to wear the pair Mark gave me a few years back for a couple months 😉. I prefer my big-dark-don’t bother me-shades, and on obstacles that call for holding them, I do, but sadly this time – not so much!
Of course you know where I’m going…I made the mistake of NOT taking them off my face to hold them like I would have if I had heard a bit more of the update I got about 45 minutes earlier and instead hit the slide and went flying. It was like I was in that slow motion, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOO …as they slipped off my head once I hit the water!
Another update that’s a bit relevant here…the ‘waterproof – cell phone case’ from my last post that I was taking a chance on…in the end it worked…Yay my cell phone stayed dry. But in that moment of realizing I had no chance of keeping my face above water, I was more worried about trying to keep that phone/plastic pack above my head because I was so paranoid it wouldn’t work that I let my glasses fly off my face which landed somewhere at the bottom of that muddy water pool! Of course, I tried to fish around for them – but no luck. Super frustrated about the whole thing, the lifeguard on duty came to my rescue and offered to swim to the bottom at the end of the day to find them…and what do you know, he did!! Thanks to the amazing Katie W. – I got a text that evening that they were found, but note to self, don’t ever wear those to a mud run again!
They were already packaged up and New Jersey bound before I could reply to the message, so I’ll be sure to bring another CHEAP, better suited running pair to New Jersey and look forward to retrieving my now every day, non-active pair being stored by my MS Society pals!
New Jersey is quickly approaching, and it will be another adventure indeed! I will be out of town on business leading up to the race, so will be traveling from out of town on a red-eye Friday night before the race landing in Newark Saturday at 6:30 a.m.ET, heading to the hotel for a quick nap and then off to MuckFest New Jersey around 11 a.m. ET. But another meant to be scenario…my husband learned about a business trip to New Jersey last month that just happened to land on the week following MuckFest Jersey, so while his bum knee may prevent him from running with me, he will be there to cheer me on – and who doesn’t love a date weekend?!
I miss dad a ton, and it’s crazy how mourning hits you at different times and in completely different ways. Writing this update got me a little choked up and for no reason other than I miss him. But then again, that’s why I’m doing this crazy 5-month race circuit and I am so grateful for this opportunity to Muck in his honor! New Jersey MuckFest here I come!