Anyone who ran, volunteered, spectated, cursed us for screwing up traffic, or was otherwise present in Dallas, Texas for the 2011 White Rock Marathon (DWRM) may find this statement astonishing :: This was one of the most fun races EVER!
It was about 42 degrees. It ranged from a total downpour to a steady drizzle of frigid rain. It was the longest and fastest I had run in nearly six months. But none of these ‘cons’ can outweigh the joy of spending a few hours volunteering and running with good friends.
I can’t brag enough about Run On! They do great things for the running community, and this race was no exception. DWRM starts and finishes at Fair Park, and Run On! arranged to have a special VIP area in the Museum of Natural History. Apparently, this was such a big hit last year that the event quickly filled up this year, and I didn’t get on the bandwagon soon enough. But as a Run On! Racing Team member, I had the good fortunate of securing a volunteer spot. Sure, it meant that I had to arrive at Fair Park before 6:00 a.m. and that I’d be crazy busy leading up to the 8:00 a.m. start … but it also meant that I had warm place to hang out, a secure area for my bag, and a warm, dry, private area to change after race. I think Run On! charged $15 for a VIP ticket, but I would gladly pay twice that for these conveniences, especially on a day like Sunday.
Because I arrived at 5:45 a.m., I had no trouble finding a parking spot right behind the museum. I scurried in to the building and put on my happy face to start greeting nervous runners. And, oh boy, was it a blast!
I helped put wrist bands on everyone — a very important task, considering they had to wear the thing for their race entire to ensure that they could get back into the museum after they finished. “Which wrist do you want to wear it on?” “Do you want it tight or loose?” “Do you want to slip it under or over your gloves/watch?” The considerations go on and on and on.
I gave people directions to all the key places. “Coffee and snacks are up the stairs to your left.” “Restrooms are upstairs on the right and downstairs on the left.” “The raffle will be upstairs at 7:15.” “Bag check is behind the dinosaur.” (Never thought I’d be saying that!)
At 7:30, I scarfed down a mini clif bar, shed my warm-up suit, and ran out the door to meet my friends and walk to the start line.
I had resigned myself to the fact that it was going to be a wet race. All I wanted was for it to be dry at the start. Getting wet once you’ve already started is one thing, but standing in a corral for 30 minutes in a downpour is something else entirely. If it could just stay dry until after we got going, I’d be fine. And it did!
A lot of people have asked me what I wore, so here it is :: Shorts, a two-layer tank top (the first layer was a Nike tank with built-in sports bra and pockets and the top layer was my Run On! team tank), arm warmers (a.k.a. spunky knee-high socks with the toes cut out), gloves, and a hat (a must in the rain). I had no less than 5 people ask me — during the run — whether I was cold. The answer is No. In fact, I actually got a little hot, but my arm warmers were so wet that I couldn’t push them down!
Now for the really fun part . . . I typically travel for big races, so it’s easy to forget how great it is to run at home. I saw tons of familiar faces among the runners at the start line and the spectators on the sidelines. I got to run with a great group of people, most of whom I trained with for Boston. They had continued training for Fall races, but I hadn’t run with them since May so this was a huge treat for me.
The goal was simple :: Take it easy and have fun. We walked through every water station; we hopped, skipped, jumped over and ran around every puddle that we could; we stopped at the first relay exchange point to wait for two runners who were running the first leg for relay teams; we cheered for other friends who were racing and spectating; we constantly reminded each other to keep the pace easy; and we even stopped to have our picture taken.
It may be blurry, but I think it captures the day perfectly!
To some, this laid-back approach may sound like no big deal, but for a group of people who typically take racing very seriously (I’m talking, don’t stop to go to the bathroom seriously) this was HUGE. With each mile, at least one person commented on how fun it was to run this way.
It pained me when we reached mile 8 because I knew it was almost time for me to split off for the half-marathon course while they continued on to complete the full. Every beat of my heart wanted to join them, but every muscle in my body was telling me I couldn’t.
I wished them all luck, thanked them for the miles, and stuck with the plan. Thankfully, one friend was also running the half, and we stayed together for the rest of the run.
At mile 10, my dear friend Meagan was waiting, bundled up like a homesick Eskimo, and dolling out encouragement to runners. Hearing her say “I’ll see you soon for pancakes” was just what I needed to push through the last 5k.
Exactly 1 hour and 55 minutes after I started, I crossed the finish line. My 10th half marathon was officially complete!
I didn’t realize how wet I was until I stopped moving. I quickly got my medal, got my shirt, and made a bee-line for the Run On! VIP area to change. It took me nearly 30 minutes to peel myself out of my wet running clothes and get into my dry clothes. (Sidenote: Packing for this run was a massive undertaking! I had a complete set of clothes, shoes, and socks; a towel to dry off; plastic bags for my wet clothes and shoes; and newspaper to stuff in my wet shoes.)
After refueling with my favorite pumpkin pancakes, I spent the rest of the day on the sofa, in front of the fireplace, wearing my compression tights, and covered in cats.
That, my friends, is a pretty darn good day in my book.
xoxo ~your busy little B