Another too-long break from the good old blog. Last weekend was busy and yesterday even more so. Between the pressure rising at work and family-related stress, it’s tough to balance everything right now. But make no mistake, there have been some fun times.
First, let me tell you about my experience volunteering at a race.
I spent my Sunday morning at the finish line of the 13.1 Michelob Ultra Half Marathon in Fort Lauderdale, handing out water bottles to the runners. Wow. What an experience! I highly recommend volunteering at a race if you’re a runner. The idea had never crossed my mind before because I always saw races as for running, you know? The thought of standing there while other people give it their all was… not my idea. Well I am almost glad my health issues forced me into it. I got to enjoy the spirit of the race just like I did last year as a participant.
I have to admit it. When I rode my bike to the finish line next to the long line of orange cones… it stung a bit. A police officer yelled at me to stay off the side of the road reserved for the runners. Yeah, I know there’s a race, lady! And that was supposed to be MY race! And why am I on a bike right now?
On the upside, the wind was so strong that morning that I felt relieved I was not going to participate. I felt bad for the runners, but what can they do other than race and give it their best? Nothing, really. You just do your best with what you’ve got.
The 2.5 mile bike ride to the beach was HARD. I admire the runners so much for not letting the wind discourage them.
If you want to know more about what the race was like from a runner’s point of view, I recommend you head over to Matthew’s blog and Kristina’s blog. I’ve really enjoyed reading about their experience on the course.
When you volunteer at the finish line of a half marathon, you see things you will never see as a runner participant. And it’s not always pretty. I saw a poor woman throwing up Gatorade (but she finished in something like 1:40 so it was worth it if you ask me) and many runners limping their way across the finish line. It was obvious that some of them, especially those that finished in under 2 hours, really pushed it hard. They were all so grateful to get their hands on the water though. It felt like I was handing water to people stranded on a desert for days.
No pictures of them, though, in an effort to allow them some dignity.
I spent most of my time handing out water bottles between 1:40 and 2:30. The busiest time at the finish line is between 2:00 and 2:30 into the race. Makes sense. I couldn’t help but smile when I saw my earlier half times come up on the clock.
Past 3 hours after the start time, things started to slow down a lot. But we kept plunging our hands in the freezing ice water to make sure the runners had a cold water bottle waiting for them at the finish.
All in all, it was a great experience and a nice consolation for not participating in the half.
Speaking of which, I decided not to defer my race entry to next year. The fee for deferring is $25 and although it’s not a huge amount, I couldn’t bear to gamble more money for a race this far in advance. I’ve already made the mistake of registering too soon for three races without buying the refund option at checkout. Let me tell you I will not make that mistake again. Living with ulcerative colitis means that I can never take my health for granted again and every race registration will have to include a refund option in my case. I just can’t predict whether I’ll be in remission or flaring a year from now so I have to take that into account.
And last but not least… enjoy this silly picture of me in my volunteer outfit.
Runners, have you ever volunteered at a race? Which race was it? What did you find most memorable about the experience?