Big Running Weekend Buckeye Half Marathon-Volunteer Report
Bob and I finished our 20 mile training run for the Road Runner on Saturday. It was pleasantly uneventful, drizzling rain, but a good run overall. I regretted not sending an e-mail because we ran into Don, Kurt, and Melissa running the exact run but in the opposite direction. My legs were tired once we done, but there were no "red alert" spots...no strained hip flexors, or painful plantar fasciitis spots-- at most just a hint of stiffness in my right I-T band. Bob ran a good steady run. He gets quiet, drops behind me toward the end, but usually kicks it in at the end tapping the Road Runner bird statue first at the Canal Park entrance. He's such a runner! I put a lot of forethought into planning my 20 running weekends and while I don't have many days where I build in extra sloth, the rest of the day of my 20 mile run is spent in a drowsy state of suspended couch inertia. I try to read a couple pages, follow the plot line of a movie, but I nod off just like an old lady, until my kids point out the drool coming out my mouth.
The timing finally worked out so I could volunteer the next day for the Buckeye Half Marathon. This is one of our biggest club races, I'm expected as a board member to be there and help out, but guilt has racked my conscience the last two years as I've decided to run it instead. The previous course was a bitch as it looped through the picturesque yet hilly Peninsula. I've never run the Buckeye Half in a very decent time--always some kind of issues. Last year, I broke my I-pod wearing it in the race rain, sorely unprotected in the barren landscape of my sports bra. The music, while it lasted, had me all pumped up...I went out too fast and crashed right around Peninsula. I recall waving to the cop and he yelled something rude at me. The post race hot dogs finished me off. Jim C. changed the course this year so he wouldn't have to deal with the jerk law enforcement of Peninsula, whom strangely resent us althete types that bike and run through his sleepy little town. I don't quite get it because we are the running and biking economic life blood that puts his sleepy little town on the map. We stop at restaurants and fuel our bodies, we stop at shops and spend our discretionary money, but they still resent us, so Jim changed the course. And Jim arranged for more appropriate post race vittles so the porto potties wouldn't overflow.
The course was now a tighter two loop course that cut out the Peninsula section and some of the more formidable hills. Figures the year I decide to NOT run it, the conditions were set for a PR, but I never regret volunteering for a race. I love watching runners and being immersed in race day atmosphere almost as much as I love running. It was going to be a perfect half marathon running conditions--cool, light intermittent drizzle, and the most beautiful running landscape within the Cuyahoga Valley National Recreation Area.
Bob and I showed up right at 7AM, looking like a couple of country bumpkin pumpkins rolled out of an autumn field to receive our assignments from the boss; the club volunteer shirts are bright orange. I was delighted to be given timing duties for the half marathon. Bob and I would click in each of the hundreds of runners crossing the finish line. The other duty I like at races is to string the bib numbers as runners come to the finish, but my Raynauds was kicking up bad in my fingers due to the cool temperatures and the threatening rain, so I'd be a pathetic stringer yet I could click in the runners. How cool is that? I get to stand there for the entire race duration and watch every runner as they come through. Bob and I both were to click them in. If one of us screwed up, then Jim had a backup to consult. Easy right?? Well...nothing is ever without glitches.
Debi was going to be working a water stop, Roger helped with pre-registration, so he was preparing to run and get a PR. We saw Brett: he had the usual misgivings about staying up to late and eating vats of salsa the previous night, but he seemed positive to go out there and get a half marathon PR today. He has total confidence in this distance. I was hoping a PR success today would give him the confidence to tackle the more formidable mistress--the marathon.
It started to rain and I started to shiver. One of the club volunteers set me up with an extra large sweatshirt from the race..really like them this year. Not one to wear big baggie sweatshirts, because they are very unflattering to thin runner types, but found if I cinched it in at the waist with my nerdy running waist pack/photo journalist camera kit, it didn't look half bad...made me look like I still had a waist. We started clicking in the runners. The first place guy came in at something ridiculously fast...1:14 or something like that. The first place female wasn't far behind him at 1:19. She looked like she ran off the cover of Runner's World; she had a perfect female runner build, very attractive and blazing fast. This was her first half marathon, so no doubt she'll be breaking records as she increases her distance. I've got a GREAT picture of her smiling after the race. you should see all the male dogs standing off in the background ogling her. It's funny as heck. She was great.
It got a little tricky when people started coming across the finish line in packs. I had to really use some fast thumb action to click them in. Bob and I were amused at how some people shortchange themselves a few seconds because they come to dead halt just before the finish line. I know from experience that it's sometimes not easy to discern the finish line when you're prostrated from running 13 miles, but I rectify this by running like a run away train to the person that will ultimately stop me and rip off my bib, but there's this other class of runners that is DONE when they see that big clock.
The Buckeye Half uses pacers to get runners to the finish within time goals, however, some pacers wore bib numbers and ran through the finish, some didn't wear numbers and ran through the finish chute and some didn't wear numbers and peeled off the finish line just short of the line so they wouldn't be clicked in. Bob and I had impromptu debates whether to click times in for these guys. Then there are the bandits...they are usually well-meaning running family members trying to see their loved ones to the finish line, but as a timer clicker, we mistake them for someone who has paid and signed up to run the race. It would be easy to tell who has bibs and who doesn't, but many people don't wear their bibs on the front of their shirt as they should. So, many little faux pas to give a race director a major headache. I hope you figured it out Jim!! We did our best!! Anyway, it was such a joy to watch so many different kinds of runners running through that chute--competitive runners out to beat a goal, new runners struggling to make the distance, and even really really old runners trying to cover the distance. The last place finisher was an 87 year old man. I hope I'm running when I'm 87...God love him!! My son, once again, had to make a comment about "being in last place," but I told him, "most of his friends are probably dead. He's not in last place--he's finishing the race. He's a winner!" He'll figure it all out one of these days...
All the people I knew running the race met or exceeded their goals this year. Brett, Roger, Jim F. and our club president, Sara, all had fabulous times this year due, in part, to Jim's revised picturesque "fast course".
I was starving from standing there for three hours clicking in runners, so Jim took over for a minute so I could scarf the last of the pasta. He said if they ran out of pasta he'd personally go out and boil me up a batch. I wasn't sure if he said that so he wouldn't have to incur the wrath of a hungry bitchy Red or if that was in appreciation for clicking in runners for 3 hours. Hmmm... Anyway...I had a great time. I hope I get to do it again next year if I'm not fired for clicking in all the bandits. It's a good time. If you're a runner, I hope you'd think of all the hard work that goes on behind the race scene to give you an enjoyable race. Give back to your running community!!