(Irrelevant to the post itself: This is my 300th on this blog!)
This is sort of a mishmash of tangentially related topics — being at an athletic event and not participating.
First was my experience volunteering at Run for the Trees, which was a 5K/one-mile race the day before my half marathon. I very much wanted to go, because the venue sounded gorgeous and it benefited the Boone County Historical Society, led by my good friend Pam.
Running didn't seem like a smart idea, so I volunteered instead, though I'm not sure that standing outside for an hour on a cool, damp day was textbook pre-race prep. (Obviously, it all turned out OK.)
My job was to usher runners toward the finish line, which was a pretty low-effort job. That left me with plenty of energy to cheer on runners and shout out things like "first female finisher!" "top-five finish!" "lookin' good, almost there!" at people.
I'm not sure whether I was encouraging, annoying, or useless. It probably depends on whether you're a grumpy runner, like me, who doesn't want to hear uplifting comments when things get tough (and did I mention it was a trail race after a rainy morning?), or a runner unsure of your runner status and in need of a cheerleader.
But at any rate, it was fun in spite of the rain and the early wakeup call required to be in Boone on time. I would consider volunteering at another race; we'll see whether that ever manifests itself in action, though ...
On the other end of the emotional spectrum was watching Cory finish Dam to Dam recently. I arrived in time to cheer him on during the final 200 meters (he didn't hear me, but I know I was there) and hung out with him at the post-race party for a bit.
I was there about 15 minutes before he finished, and you would think that watching tired runners — or, worse, the incredibly gifted ones who sprinted to the end — would have made me think "man, I'm glad I'm not running, I'd look worse than the tired ones and be livid at the energetic ones."
Nope. I was jealous. I stood in the crowd, stereotyping much of it as not-runners, and thought wistfully: I belong with the people on the course. I might not look like it, but I do, I promise!
It is an odd feeling to be back on the outside again, watching sweaty people with huge grins hobble around, bubbling over with post-race analysis. Only a few weeks ago, I was clearly one of them — that day, I was just an admirer.
So that sounded rather bleak and self-deprecating, but it actually wasn't. It also refueled my running flame, in that I reopened my mind to Dam to Dam and that I resolved — sometime soon — to start working on a fall race schedule.
More on that schedule in a few days ... it's taking shape, but needs some actual thought still.