Monday, September 12, 2011

The other side of the fence

Sorry for the lack of updates. I regret to report that I put Gigi down last week. I'm working on a goodbye post but, well, it's hard to write. I have several posts planned, I've been running with Lizzie more and I want to blog about that, and we had our 20-miler Saturday and I want to blog about that run.

But last week I had the awesome experience of volunteering at a race. I'll admit, my motives for doing so were a bit selfish -- you get a free race entry (maybe for another PR at the First on the First!) and a t-shirt. But hey, I figured I'd be at the Emerald City Half and Quarter Marathon a week ago Sunday because I had so many good friends running that I'd be there anyway, so I might as well make myself useful.

Myself, some others from MIT, and other random people worked the water stop at Mile 1 and 11 for the halves and Mile 4 for the quarters.

It. Was. Exhausting.

Setting up in the dark. Kim Villena I stole this from you!
I woke up at 4 a.m. to be there by 5:30. The race started at 7. This was my second time working a water stop -- the time before I did it with a bunch of people who don't run and man, being able to do it with runners made so much of a difference. Setup went like clockwork. One person sets the cups, one person pours, a third organizes. We had time to kill until the runners came.

But, being at Mile 1, when they came, we were slammed. They trickled in slowly then we were hit by the speedy folks concerned about every second. Cups of water were snatched out of my hand before I could get into position, sometimes taking my arm with them. I tried to cheer on Karl, Kim, Shona, Larry, Susanne et al but we were busy running back and forth. The steady flow turned to the slower runners, who tend to slow or walk through the stops. Then the walkers, who took their time to stop and rest.

If there's one thing volunteering has showed me, it's that it is much more fun to be slow! It's the slower runners who were hanging out in groups, talking and laughing. The faster runners were too serious :)

We had a short lull to recover from the rush. We set up the cups again and relaxed. Then the quarters started to trickle back. This wasn't nearly as bad as the first rush! I was actually kind of bored standing at the end of the line! It was nerve-wracking waiting for the halves because two of my good friends were trying to PR and I started to get nervous when it was time for them to show up!

I'll admit to being really bored waiting for the last walkers to come through. But on the other side of the coin, I had more and more admiration for people coming by as time moved forward. The slower the walkers got, you knew that meant the more they overcame to be there.

I thought I'd feel bad for the person in last place, but I didn't. She walked 13.1 miles. Even though she came in last, she did it, and that's all that mattered.

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