Tuesday, April 22, 2008
"The miracle isn't that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start." -John Bingham, running speaker and writer
A few reflections from my experience as a 5k race volunteer this past Sunday:
* Volunteering for a 5k takes a lot longer than running a 5k!
* Watching the front-of-the-packers was cool-- I never get to see those folks run 'cause they're way out in front of me! Folks were covering a lot of ground in a short amount of time-- big strides, fast turnover
* The perceptible effort from the front-runners versus some of the mid-pack runners wasn't all that different-- folks who were there to run were obviously working hard
* It was obvious amongst the runners who was there to compete (whether against others or against themselves) versus those who were there to complete
* For some folks, walking a full 3.1 miles was a big accomplishment, and one they were just as proud of as those who were setting PR's with faster times; for all, it took courage to make it to the starting line, and I was proud of all of them (even though most were complete strangers!)
* I especially enjoyed seeing families doing the event together; what a great thing to do together-- so much healthier and more fulfilling than going to a movie on a Sunday afternoon
* 5k's are do-able for nearly anyone, regardless of age, gender, fitness level, etc. There were a few kids running who couldn't have been more than 5 years old and also some folks pushing 70 years old. There were uber-fit-looking folks who didn't jiggle in their spandex, and there were folks who could jiggle in anything. All were out there covering the miles to their ability, and it was inspiring to see
* My encouraging phrases changed throughout the race, as folks of different abilities passed me. To the front-runners I shouted: "2 mile mark coming up," "Don't forget to breathe!," "Nice stride-- keep it up!" I didn't get much reaction from these folks-- they just flew on by
* Towards the middle of the pack I had a little more time to interact. Folks would ask me "how much farther?" and I'd reply "just a measley mile or so! or "you're over half-way." I also liked reminding people "Smile-- this is fun!" or "Run faster-- say warmer"
* With the back-of-packers I got to hold short conversations as they approached and passed. To these folks I applauded their efforts to come brave the cold and Walk the Walk. And I told them "Your heart loves you for doing this!" After nearly 600 people had passed, a lady came along and told me that she was last, with a twinge of shame. "That's okay," I said, "You're the first one who could've stayed home watching tv all day but decided to come out and do this instead. So really you're a winner!" She smiled, and kept on trucking
* Watching other people run made me want to join them!
* The only negative thought I had was when an overweight lady in her SUV gave me and the runners dirty scowls when she had to slow down and wait while runners crossed the road in front of her. I wanted to drag her out of her comfy seat and show her what it felt like to .... oh, never mind. I'll stay positive ;)
All in all, it was well worth 3 hours of my time to go out and stand in the cold on a Sunday afternoon. It was inspiring to see so many people out being healthy, and it felt good to cheer them on.