Monday, January 20, 2014

Volunteering @ The Carlsbad Marathon

Now I am in no way a "seasoned runner", but I have run my fair share of races since starting to workout/ run at the beginning of 2012 [check out all of the races I did in 2013 here].

One thing that I have always been amazed at during a race is the VOLUNTEER SUPPORT

It always stuns me that folks are willing to come out, cheer strangers on, hand out water, work aid stations, etc - all just to make sure OTHERS have a great race! [Honestly I think I teared up a couple times during my first half, the Disneyland Half in 2012, due to the amount of volunteers out and about.]

If you have ever ran a race with me, hopefully you have heard me continually thanking the volunteers throughout the course. I think they are just AWESOME! {And as many of us know, volunteering can sometimes be a thankless job, so I want to make sure I am showing each and every one that I can how appreciative I am of their time and energy!}

Well, it seems as though I have been a very SELFISH runner, because all I have done up to this point (before this past weekend that is) is TAKE, TAKE, TAKE. I have never volunteered at a race before. I don't know if my thought process is that if I had the time I would rather run the race instead of working it, or if I have just never really thought about it before, or if I have just been plain lazy and selfish.

A couple weeks ago I decided I wanted to CHANGE this! On the way to and from work (which, by the way, I won't be doing anymore, since Thursday was my LAST DAY there) I had been seeing the signs for the Carlsbad Marathon. I have quite a few races on my calendar currently {a 10-miler, 2 half marathons, a 10K, and a 5K between now and the end of March}, so wasn't going to be participating in this race. It struck me one day - I NEED TO VOLUNTEER FOR IT! I mean, I wasn't going to be running any of the races that morning, it was a stones throw from our house, and I was giving back - WHY THE HECK NOT?!

Since I hadn't volunteered at a race before, I wasn't sure if I would prefer to work at the Expo (seeing as the time would probably be better, I could do an afternoon shift, rather than being up at the butt-crack of dawn) or the race itself (I thought this might be more "fulfilling" - although I was NOT doing it for me, I just know how grateful I am for each and every person out on the course {and even behind the scenes} on race day). So, what did I do?!


Friday I was signed up to work T-shirt Distribution and Sunday I was signed up to hand out Mylar Blankets at the Finish Line. Both were a great time.

Friday I worked at the Expo, handing out the shirts to those that were signed up for one of the races (there was a full marathon and a half marathon both occurring). I worked along side of some students from the Army and Navy Academy that were volunteering for school credit. It was fun to watch their eyes light up when a pretty girl would come to get her shirt - oh, 15 year old boys ;). The Expo was pretty busy all afternoon, which kept the time flying. Before I knew it they were calling for last calls for t-shirts and reminding everyone of the Expo hours for the following day.

Sunday morning I was signed up to work the Mylar Blankets. If you don't know what these are - I would explain them by saying they are large sheets of aluminum foil that you use to wrap around your shoulders after you finish a race (as a way to keep your temperature from falling too drastically after you stop running). When we got there, we were doing a lot of prep work - tearing the blankets off a big roll and putting them in the nearby fence - that way when finishers started coming through we could just grab a bunch and hand them out.

Before I started, I was able to walk around a bit and take a couple pictures. The half marathon hadn't started yet, so there were still quite a few runners around the starting line. (I believe they said approx. 1,500 were signed up for the full and 8,500 were signed up for the half.)

I had to be there around 7:30am, but the marathon actually got started around 6am. One of the awesome things was we were able to see, up-close-and-personal, the marathon winner cross the finish line. The male finisher won in 2:18 - CRAZY! I mean, that is 10 minutes faster than Ryan and I ran the Holiday HALF last month! THAT IS 5:18 PACE FOR 26.2 MILES! WOWSER!

Although I probably would have preferred being out on the course running the race, it was still a great feeling to give back. It was amazing seeing people's faces as they crossed the finish line (some pumped because they qualified for Boston, some crying because this was their first race and saw all of their sweat and hard work finally pay off, some looking like they were going to pass out because they left it all out on the course). I think I said "congratulations" about 7,500 times on Sunday - AND I MEANT IT EVERY SINGLE TIME! It was also great wishing runners the best on Friday when they were picking up their shirts (it was extra nice because everyone liked the tech-tees from the race, so we didn't have too many folks complaining ;)).

Even though I wasn't a "race finisher" I was a volunteer and that is a success in my book. I definitely want to continue trying to volunteer for races in the future! Maybe next time I will try working a water station, that way I can cheer runners on during their race.

Have you volunteered for a race before? 

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