I was looking forward to this race today as I have never done it and I heard it was great. I registered back in December and was planning on using it as a training run for upcoming half marathons.
I’m in week 5 of no running due to the stress fracture so there was no way this was happening for me. Given that a bunch of my MRTT friends were running the race, I decided to volunteer instead so I could be with them in spirit and cheer them on as they finished.
No matter how prepared I am, the night before a race I always toss and turn and wake up every hour thinking I will over sleep and miss the race. Common right? Last night I slept like a baby knowing all I had to do was show up and help out.
Driving to the race start this morning, I had all kinds of mixed feelings. I was excited to give back and volunteer as so many strangers have done for me in the past. That guy who hands you the water when you think you are dying of thirst or the woman who tells you which way to go at a turn are so appreciated by all of us runners. They sacrifice their sleep and their time to help out strangers and I wanted to repay the favor.
As I approached the race venue, I saw the cones being put out on the street and it just hit me that I wasn’t running this. We had a large group from multiple MRTT chapters running the race and we had arranged to meet up for a photo beforehand. I have to admit I felt a little like a fraud being in the picture.
I was more keenly aware of the pre race excitement and nervousness that exists especially with a large group of women. Listening to talk of how many layers to wear and whether people were carrying their own waters, I really began to feel sad that I was missing out. I had trained with some of these ladies the past few months and watched some of them run more than they ever had. I wished them well and headed to the finish line where I would be stationed.
Once I left them, I reminded myself that this was only a temporary absence and I would soon be back to running. Arriving in the finish area, I really became aware of how much work goes into putting on a race and how much volunteers are really needed and appreciated. So much coordination goes on with Police and Emergency crews behind the scenes to keep us all safe on the roads. I met some really interesting coaches and volunteers and picked up some great training tips as well.
I was one of the volunteers charged with handing out the finisher’s medals and keeping the finish chute clear and safe. The medals are really nice this year and a great reward for a 10 mile run.
I filled my arms with medals and anxiously awaited the first finishers. At about 53 minutes we saw the first male finisher approaching. My whole demeanor changed and I was so excited for him to run through the finish line and hand him his medal. Watching the faces of those starting to come through, I really noticed so much emotion on their faces. Those that seemed surprised that they made it through a 10 miler, those that looked like it was a walk in the park, young kids who were running 10 miles at ridiculous paces -all of you were so appreciative of the volunteers. All of you were genuinely thankful that we congratulated you as you completed your race.
There is something so inspiring about watching elite runners finish a race and be in awe of their physical and mental strength. It is even more inspiring to watch those who struggled to finish come through the arch and watch the look of pride and amazement that they accomplished such a feat. I was grateful to be part of their moment whether they knew it or not.
Soon, I began to see my friends approaching the finish line. It was so great to be there, watch them experience their moment and hand them their well deserved medal. Today some of my friends completed their longest race or their fastest race and I was a part of that. Not in the way I originally had hoped but still a part of their moment. I’m so thankful to all the volunteers who have done the same for me in the past and will do so for me again soon as I cross many more finish lines.
At the finish line with 2 of my MRTT mamas
Reston 10 Miler I will see you next year and it will mean so much more as I run through the finish line.
Have you had to drop out of a race due to injury/illness?
How did you deal with it?
Have you ever volunteered at a race?