Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Tryptophan Half Marathon Volunteer RR

It's really kind of embarrassing that I've never volunteered at a race before this Thanksgiving. I've been running for a bajillion years and have participated in my fair share of races, but I never have given back to the community that I love so, so much. It was time to change that.

One of my goals for 2015 was to volunteer at a race and thought it seemed like an 11th hour choice, Thanksgiving was the perfect time to hang medals around a bunch of sweaty strangers. The weather was nice, the race was super close (on the Greenway where I do most of my runs), and I could still have dinner with my family.

Adam decided to join me and once I posted on FB, my friend Angela signed up too. She works for Apple and they do really great things for their employees who volunteer for non-profits so it was kind of a no-brainer for her to hang out with us. We got there around 9a.m. where the 5K and 10K runners were finishing up their races. Our shift was to hand out medals to the half-marathoners and the first one crossed the finish line right as we figured out where we were supposed to go.

For the next couple of hours we stood 10-15 feet behind the finish line and hung medals around the racers necks. I happen to like when a volunteer puts it around my neck--I'm not really sure what the official protocol is, but it seems like it means a lot more than someone just tossing it to you. There were a couple of young teenage girls who were helping us and my friend Angela told them to watch what I was doing as I was the runner of the group.

It was a beautiful day to be out volunteering. Okay, maybe I was a smidgen sad I wasn't running. Sunny and chilly is kind of my thing. But it was also really, really fun to hang out and chat with Adam and Angela in between runners finishing on a gorgeous fall day.

Volunteering really does kind of put a different light on things. I suddenly was very aware that I am probably too tired to properly thank the volunteers at the end of a race. I'm usually good about doing it for police officers and at the first few water stops, but my enthusiasm typically wanes as the miles pile up. Most of the runners said thank you, but a few did say "thank you for coming out today". A small phrase that felt a bit more personal. I'm totally stealing this from now on.

It was definitely fun to see runners finishing their races. They were in all varying sorts of conditions as they crossed the finish line. Gritting their teeth, grinning from ear to ear, arms pumped in excitement, stumbling in exhaustion, etc. Two runners stuck out for me in particular. A lady who upon checking her time was almost jumping up and down and pretty much the happiest person on Earth as she realized she had clocked a 19 minute PR. Her proud moment was really, really awesome to watch. The second was a runner who literally held onto me after I put her medal around her neck. She wasn't in need of medical, but she definitely gave the race everything she got. Once she started to peel away from me, I could see that she was just happily exhausted.

As the runners started to stretch out their finishes as the morning wore on, the photographer took an opportunity to get a shot of the 3 of us 'adult' volunteers at the finish line. The pictures for the race were free so I'm glad he got a great shot of us!
The volunteer coordinator encouraged us to take a medal and a shirt for volunteering. I felt a bit weird about taking an unearned medal, but Loopville reminded me that I earned the medal by volunteering. I still might kind of put it to the side of my other medals, but it is a cool reminder from my first volunteer experience. 

We stayed until they deflated the finish line arch and were packing up the finish line food. I think there were still a few walkers out on the course though it was closed and it made me a little sad that they were not going to be greeted with the same warm welcome as the faster finishers. But a guy who was with some of the walkers had finished much earlier and said he would give them their medals when they got done. 

Once we wrapped up our volunteer efforts, Adam and I parted ways with Angela and got on with the rest of Thanksgiving. My sister was cooking this year and I was only in charge of bringing wine. Sorry there are no awesome food pics this year. But I did get a cute pic of my nephew at his first Thanksgiving. 
Really, he only got some mashed potatoes on his tray which he pretty much just used as play-doh. His doggie brother and sister are going to have a field day in the following months with all the food that "falls" off his tray.

In other news, Rehoboth is on Saturday. I'm nervous and excited to run. Which is I suppose the way I should be. Doesn't matter that it is marathon #17--a goal race is always a bit daunting. I would be lying if I said I didn't want to run well, but I'm seasoned enough to know that not every race will go as planned. All I know is that I've put in the work and I hope that I feel great on Saturday. 
The taper has been about as expected. Lots of self-doubt. Plenty of weird aches and pains that seem to change with each run. That feeling that 3 miles is insanely long and I have no idea how I'm going to run 26.2? Wondering what in the hell to do with all this excessive time. You know, regular runner stuff....
See you peeps on the flip side of whatever Rehoboth has in store for me this year! 

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