Many of you might recall that I was supposed to run the Lake Effect Half Marathon yesterday. It was going to be my “comeback” race. Well a mixture of laziness, back injury & a few other factors made that “comeback” another notch in my list of “setbacks”. I was bummed. I was SUPER bummed.
But then my fellow Lake Effect Run Club buddy Russell asked me if I was still going to be in the area that day and if I would be interested in volunteering for the race. I immediately said “YES!” because I knew that I still wanted to be part of this race in someway. You see, the LERC gets together every Saturday morning and heads out for a run (or you can walk if you want to, which is what I will be doing for the next few weeks as I slowly try to get back into some sort of groove) and while I have only been a few times I have made a good group of friends within the club. So the thought of being able to be out there and help them out immediately attracted me. Plus this race is almost in my backyard and I am all about supporting local events, shops & local causes.
I have run many races…5K’s, 10K’s, 15K’s, Half’s, a marathon…but I have never volunteered for a race. As a runner I already kind of knew what to expect for being a volunteer but I never expected how amazing it would be!! Any feeling of disappointment I had about not running on the course was completely overshadowed by the feelings I got by cheering and helping out the runners.
I was stationed at mid-point of the course which means that we saw the runners 4 times. There were 9 of us at the station and everyone was super nice. We are/were runners and we had a great time chatting about races and supporting each other since a few of us are a bit injured. We mixed some sport drink and poured some water like champs!! I couldn’t have asked for a nicer group of people to be with.
Speaking of nice people…let me just say that this race brings out the NICEST runners to our area!! From the packet pickup to the morning of the race…everyone is so chill and so nice. I’ve ran some pretty big races and sometimes it can seem so chaotic & honestly, some people are just straight up bitches. But even on this course when runners were going to grab a glass of water, they made sure not to run into other runners or if they came close they apologized or moved around them. You could feel the great sense of camaraderie among the runners on the course.
Even when we ran out of cups, the runners were still nice. See, it’s called the LAKE EFFECT because well, Syracuse if known for its lake effect snow. This race is held in February in the snowiest city in New York State. It’s supposed to be a challenge. It’s supposed to be crazy. It’s supposed to be stupid. Well, this year it was in the 30’s and for a decent portion of the time, the sun was actually out. None of us expected so many runners to start grabbing water so early. We ran out of cups more towards the end but there were still a good group of people out on the course. We felt awful. We offered to fill peoples bottles with the water we had left, and in some cases even pour it in their hands. We did get more cups eventually. Even with that mishap though we only had a small number of grumbles from runners.
I can’t really put into words how awesome and how inspiring it was to cheer on the runners…especially my friends. My girl Hollie…who I haven’t seen in forever…went on to win first place. My voice is still hoarse from cheering for her when she zoomed by and the cyclist proclaimed “Lead Female coming through”. Her first time by our station she grabbed her water from me…and it was an epic fail, as we kind of collided with excitement & sent water all over the place. I would like to think that maybe this helped her come in first place. It also gave me this epic shot of her…This has “meme” written all over it…
Unfortunately I did not get all of the pictures I wanted. I wanted to make sure I had water and sports drink in my hands for the runners and I also didn’t want to accidentally hand one of them my phone instead of some hydration, lol.
But I got to see Mary…who came to me for water and a hug each time around. I knew this race meant a lot to her and giving her a hug was not only a boost for her but a boost for me as well. I got to see Jane…who not that long ago thought that she wasn’t going to be able to run this but now she was out there!! I chanted her name every time I saw her coming. Jennifer and her friend Kathy, who I knew were conquering this course together. Kathy got some horrible blisters about ½ ways through the course and she asked if we had any band aids...sadly we did not but I have made a mental note to bring a little first aid kit with me next time I volunteer for a race. They crossed that finish line like champs!! Russ, who not helped to get all these amazing volunteers together but who also, ran his first half marathon. He had to do it in different shoes than he planned, and he might be sore today, but he’s got that medal baby!! And I only had to throw ONE snowball at him!! John, Michael, Thomas, Joanna, Steve…and I’m sure I am forgetting a few…it was great to see each and every one of them run by and looking strong out there. It was inspiring!!
Seeing a runner struggle and telling them to stay strong…seeing a runner wishing for just a drop of water and handing them a cup of it…watching the lead runners speed by like they are out for a morning jog…having the runners say “thank you for being out here”…it all contained so much excitement and so much fulfillment. I’ve never been on the “other side” but I do know how much I have appreciated having the volunteers out there. And now I appreciate them that much more.
In the orange is local superstar runner, Fred Joslyn. He took first place.
Friday night I went to the volunteer meeting and I was a little upset that I wasn’t there to pick up and bib. But the excitement in the air was contagious and just being able to be part of the race was exhilarating. I won’t lie though…I was nervous about race day. I was scared that I would have some sort mental episode and get all depressed that I wasn’t out there running or that I would get jealous of all the people standing at the starting line. But that never happened. The sense of excitement and adrenaline you get at the starting line at a race is impeccable…but honestly, standing there setting up a station and waiting for the first runners to come through was pretty freaking exciting too!!
Volunteering this race gave me an amazing opportunity to not only support my friends but to support my running community. It helped to inspire me and to really reassure me that I will get back out there. It also reminded me that I have so much support around me…no matter what my weight is…no matter how many miles I can run right now…support is all around me.
I want to take a special moment to thank Todd Robertson for putting this amazing race on. You have done amazing things for the running community here. I want to thank you for the chances you have given me and for the support. Thank you to Russ for bringing this volunteer opportunity to my attention. It truly changed me as a runner and I will be forever grateful for that.
Congratulations to ALL of the runners!! It was an honor to serve you some hydration and to cheer you along the course!!
This definitely will not be the last time I volunteer for a race. I am looking forward to the next one…which ever that might be!!