So back in 2004, racing was still sorta fresh and new for me, and yes even Central Park races felt like a novelty. I remember standing on the sidelines of…I think one of those crazy-crowded Nike races, the Run Hit Wonder? And cheering for my teammates (those that I could actually spot, was one of those races where everyone had to wear the same shirt!) and felt a little envy, wishing I was running-and I do remember a bystander asking me “why aren’t *you* running the race?” Ouch 😛 Unfortunately, that desire to race did cause me to deal with 3 years worth of injury/overtraining bullshit.
5 years later, 5 years wiser. You’ll probably notice from how much fewer race reports I write now than I did in years past, that I pick and choose my battles. And there are plenty of days when I feel it is more beneficial-to me and to others-for me to be on the “other side,” to not be toeing the line, whether it’s cheering, volunteering, or both!
Yesterday’s NYC Half-Marathon was one of those times. Even though it’s such a popular event…I ran the inaugural race back in 2006 and was actually a little underwhelmed, and decided once is enough. Plus, half-marathons in August…little risky if you want to run a good time. yeah I know, heat training, but hey I did that a day earlier with my 18-mile run that started at 8 am and ended in an inferno-AND I didn’t have to pay an arm and a leg 😛 And besides, the Flyers were going to be (wo)manning the water station down by Canal Street (just before mile 12)…I was planning on being out to cheer anyways, so why not?
Ummm…guess I forgot having to be awake at an ungodly hour. And having to leave my apartment to run downtown at an ungodly hour too. Something just seemed so surreal about it. Was cool running along the West Side Highway once I got to 42nd Street, as I could see the race setup. Made it to Canal Street right on time and dug right in….helping mix Gatorade, filling up the cups, etc…it was a hot day and we wanted to make sure our table was all set by the time the runners came by…no slacking on our part 😛 We made it happen…teamwork, baby teamwork!!
So now it was time to wait for the runners to start passing by. We had a DJ right by our station who was playing some good music, so it was fun dancing on tables…lol just kidding about the tables, but there was dancing (pics to come), ringing the cowbell, cheering for the elites as they passed…and we could tell right then and there from the looks of the runners, to the clock saying that no course records were gonna be falling…was gonna be a tough day out there. So we just handed out Gatorade and water like it was our job…oh yeah, guess it was our job for the day 🙂 The front of the pack…very few stopped/slowed by the table, if any. But then the best of the rest started running by and once they started…it just did not stop. I just kept handing out cup after cup after cup of Gatorade with a smile for all the runners. And of course, cheered for Flyers and other friends that I saw run by.
By 9 am, two hours after the start…I was honestly a little scared at what I saw, the west side highway looked like a death march. Even though I got email notifications of a couple of runners that I was tracking, that they had finished, I still couldn’t rest easily until I actually got a message from them, so I knew they were OK. As for the race still going on, it was all we can do to keep the Gatorade cups coming fast enough to keep up with the flow of runners at that point. But even though the conditions were trying, quite a few of the runners still seemed in good spirits (and small world-one runner who stopped by our table is a blog reader of mine!). Not surprisingly though, there were still plenty who were reduced to a walk. At that point, we were just hoping to not run out of anything…finally, the coordinators got radioed that the last runners had passed by mile 11 and we knew we’d be fine. Finally around 10:30, it was called a day…I headed to Urban Athletics to check out their post-race party 😉 and had some much, much, much needed cold beers (many thanks to UA!) Yeah, I was a bit dehydrated…I was more concerned about the runners getting their fluids, that I, myself was standing in the sun for about 4 hours without much to drink. And helped toast some great races that others ran 😉
Wow!! What a day. But it was a rewarding one for me. Yeah, it was a scorcher but I really had a great time volunteering…really made me feel good to know I was helping out the runners, and they were all so appreciative. And after looking at the times…well I saw a lot of peeps ran some great races, some even racking up some hardware (congrats LG!)…awesome, awesome efforts especially given the conditions. And you’ll all be inspiring me for my own half-marathon effort next month…yep, signed up for the Philly Distance Run!! This race was good to me last year, can it be again…?
And one more week to go before I hit the halfway point in my marathon training! Time sure flies…