Posted by: runawaynotes | June 2, 2012

Volunteering: DRC Bloomin’ Four Mile

I’m being a good girl and following doctor’s orders, which means no running for me for the next week while my meds are working their magic. However, just because I can’t run, doesn’t mean I’m going to miss out on all of the excitement of the race day. So, today I got to experience a race from a completely different perspective – as a volunteer.

My friend Megan, who is usually my partner in crime (or the main instigator) in most (if not all) of my stunts, has already done some race day volunteering in the past, but this was an entirely new experience for me. And let me tell you – it was an awesome experience! There are plenty of things that need to be done to put a successful race together: someone needs to register all the runners and check them in, someone needs to map out the course and set up all the cones (as well as pick them up at the end of the race), someone needs to run the timing software, someone needs to coordinate all the action to make sure other people know what they need to do, and the list goes on and on. Well, today we got one of the most exciting (at least in my opinion) tasks: we were working the water stop on the race course.

I’ve seen plenty of water stops in the past two years. Usually, they just flew by if I was having a good race day, or they were a much welcome break if my race wasn’t going too well. But in either case, they would always give me a major energy boost. And it wasn’t just about the water (although very few things feel as heavenly as some icy cold water poured on top of your head at mile 10 when you know you have 3.1 more miles to go in the 90+ degree temperature). It was all the cheering and the shouts of encouragement by the water stop volunteers. It really helps to hear “You’re looking strong! You’re almost there! Just a mile left to go!” And even though I may know in my head that they are lying and that I look wretched and pathetic as I’m stumbling along, I still straighten my spine and pull my shoulders back and get some extra pep in my step (even if it’s only for the next quarter of a mile).

Well, today I learned that the people shouting those words of encouragement actually see me as someone strong, someone to be admired. Because that’s how I saw all the runners that passed by my water stop today. It didn’t matter if they were in the front of the pack and just flew by with a small nod and a smile, or if they were visibly struggling. In fact, it was all the struggling people that would make us cheer even louder. Not because we felt bad for them, but because we genuinely admired their strength and perseverance. It’s easy to keep going when you are doing well and feeling great. It takes a lot of mental fortitude to keep going and finish a race when you feel like crap and you know you are probably going to be one of the last people to finish. So, every time we saw someone who looked like they were pushing themselves forward by the sheer power of their will, we would start cheering at the top of our lungs.

By the end of the race my throat was slightly sore and my arm was tired from holding out the water cups. But I think of all the people that ran by me today and smiled and said “Thank you for volunteering” and kept pushing on, and I know that I will definitely volunteer again. I also know that when I am able to race again, I will make sure that when I pass by the water stop and someone yells “Looking good, girl!”, I will smile and yell back “Thank you!!!”

20120602-221422.jpg
Me and my fellow volunteers acting silly before the start of the race.

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Responses

  1. Volunteering at a water stop is so much fun. I love encouraging all the runners, mainly because I know how much it helps me during a race. It’s our way of giving back!

    • I’ve gained some new appreciation for those people who volunteer in really bad weather conditions too. We got really lucky because the temperature was perfect on Saturday, and still my fingers were frozen from all the spilled iced water. I cannot even imagine how tough it is to volunteer when the temperature is freezing or it’s pouring rain.


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