Monday, October 27, 2014

The weekend I earned a medal for not running....

Warning:  This is a long post, but I really think its worth the time :)  Just me.. just saying :)

So I got to add a medal to my shelf this weekend... & didn't even run a race.  That's pretty exciting. 

& before someone says, "You didn't earn it"... oh believe me... I earned it.

My alarm went off at 6am on Saturday, with the instructions to be at the volunteer tent at 7:15 am... now the race didn't even start till 8:30 so if I were running the race, I wouldn't even LEAVE my home until 7:45 so this was crazy that I started the morning so early.... but I was wanting to see how this all worked out, so I stopped by McDonalds & got an iced coffee & an egg sandwich & headed to an empty downtown.

The volunteer tent was right where they said it would be & they directed me to a table with tons of boxes on it.  Our job was to open these boxes & take out the medals & unravel the ribbons, get the paper off of them & get them straight.  All of this in the complete dark.  7:15 is really dark... especially with no lights.

I meet no strangers so the 2 ladies that were at the table became instant chat-buddies.  We talked about all the other races we had done in the past, our paces, our jobs, why we ended up tearing paper off medals in 50 degree weather... having cold hands & having to use them isn't the most fun I've ever had.

me & my new volunteer friends

Slowly, the sky started lighting up & everything was coming a buzz.  They were hanging the banners around, getting the drinks ready at the finish line, more people were showing up.  Runners were even starting to make their way to the start line passing us up, wanting to see what they were working for.

It was cute because a mom & daughter stopped & said, "We have a question. How long are you going to be here?"... we told them we would stay until they came across & they told us they were walking it & it was the first race they ever did.  A half marathon being my first race, I understood their nerves & excitement.  The mom told us she had hip replacement not too long ago & was nervous how it would all work out for her.  We just encouraged her & told her she was going to do great... she has a brand new strong hip after all :)

All the medals were lined up ready to go & then, we heard the National Anthem down the road at the start line.  We only had a few minutes before the Kid's 1 mile run so we headed down the block to a Starbucks to load up on more caffeine. 

I shared the news of what I learned - adding pumpkin to chai tea... I just made more people happy in this world.

We were happy to find a real bathroom in there & then headed back to the start line & got ready for a few hundred kids to come through.  They had little medals for their race too... nice ones! 

After the kids went through, it was time to wait for the first runners... the pros... the ones who blow me away.

It was about 1:12 & they gave us warning that the leader was just around the corner... & before you knew it, there he was... & it was just 2-3 minutes the 2nd place... & then it started the constant flow of runners.

Photo: First time's a charm? Our #UrbanBourbonHalf winner,  Michael Moore has never run a half marathon before! Amazing.

Congratulate Michael below.

I had to say, being a slow runner & never seeing the beginning runners of a race, I was surprised at how lonely it is at the finish.  I know being a back of the pack (BOTP) runner, its usually lonely because everyone has gone to the after party & finished up... well, let me tell you, its just as lonely at the beginning. I guess family members are still moving from the start of a location on the course before coming to the finish & the energy just wasn't at full speed when those first runners came through.  It made me feel better about the BOTP thing... to know the pros get the same treatment.  At least they get bagels & food without the chance of running out.

It took just about 15 minutes & the crowds were pouring in...

& let me tell you, the time FLEW by... I mean, FLEW by...

My goal was to catch all my friends that I knew were running.

The first one that came through was my blog buddy, Kristen ... I was so excited to see her in person.  I think she is just the coolest chic & I was so excited to hear her Australian accent, & I was excited when I spotted her coming & I just jumped up & down & she saw me & headed right at me... I know she hadn't even caught her breath & I just kept hugging her telling her how awesome she is.  Her first words, "OWWW" :)  ... given... she just did a half marathon with an incredible time.  I didn't want to make it seem like I was keeping her from getting her energy back & heading to the after party so I hugged her one last time & then let her go...

& then was so dang mad I didn't get a picture with her.  She told me later she tried to come back but the security wouldn't let her through. I told her that the stupid security doesn't understand a bloggers life!  She is even cuter in person & I know that she's not just an Aussie fairy ... maybe a Tinkerbell (she'll get that reference) ...

Totally snagged a picture from her Instagram so you could see how freaking adorable she is!!!

The next person coming through was another blog buddy I was so excited to see....Katie & I tried to meet up at the Ironman when she volunteered in a different location. It never worked out so I was really keeping my eye out for her.  I knew her as soon as I saw her... I mean, she was the one who looked so beautiful even after running.  Katie had injuries not too long ago & was told she wouldn't be able to run for a long period of time... but here she was doing the SECOND race of the weekend.  In your face doctors!  She grabbed her phone & took a picture of us - I'm so glad she did - reminding me that I needed to start doing this myself.  I have a feeling I'm going to be hunting this lovely lady down at more races we're at together... more pictures in the future...

Next through was my buddy Gina.  I met Gina through all the races & through mutual running friends.  I just think she's so awesome & we always just seem to find each other during races, usually as she's passing me up.  But I loved being at the finish line to give her her well deserved medal this time.  I root her on.  Us ladies over 30 need to stick together... She was telling me how the hills aggravated her back & this was her worst half marathon... but she was still proud of herself - as she should be. I told her she crossed that finish line... I didn't... so many others didn't.  Even the slowest race is something to be proud of ... I've learned that through the years....

As soon as she left, I looked up & saw someone dressed like Paul Stanley from KISS & started laughing... then was like, WAIT! I know her... & screamed DANA?... she looked over at me & started laughing.  It did not surprise me one bit that she dressed up in costume & rocked another half marathon... complete in a hot wig & make up still intact.  She is so incredibly inspiring to me. She used to be my Jazzercise instructor & I just love everything about her. Her attitude is top notch.  She knows we're KISS fans so told me to make sure we got a picture so Ricky could see... he loved it!!! I think next race, we'll have to get her husband & me & Ricky & go as the full group.... I think that sounds perfect.

Its funny because someone from Urban Bourbon took a picture of when I took this picture & put it in their video on their website... I made their video.. & I didn't even run... Now that's how you do it!

I had one more friend I was keeping an eye out for - another blog buddy...I saw Lori coming down the road because she always has the coolest, brightest running skirts!  I screamed for her as she was coming so she knew I was there & she headed my way. Bless her heart - I saw today the blisters she has on her feet... OUCCCCHHHH!!!! & she had some issues with the race, but girl always has the best attitude. She goes out with the purpose of having a good time & I love that about her. 

I knew my friend Abby was coming because she's a pacer.  That's the good way to know when people are going to cross.  She's the most amazing person.. she runs & paces pretty much every week.  My body would just give out on me.  The most fantastic thing to me about her - she's the one who hooked us up on finding Harvey Dent.  She's an aussie lover.  & God love her - one of the very first things she said to me when she crossed the finish was how sorry she was to hear about Sydney.  Good person right there...

I also got to meet the lady on the left who is part of a group we are in on Facebook... someone else to check off the list of seeing in real life

So yeah, I loved so much being at the finish line & seeing my buddies... getting to put their medals on them & give them hugs.  It was the best thing I think I have ever done in a race... seriously...

I saw a lot of other things.  Things I didn't never thought of, & things I never want to see again.

... I saw more bloody nipples on men that I ever thought really happened in a race. I thought it was something that happened every now & then. I saw at least 20 guys with shirts with blood running down. Dear Lord.

... I saw people puking all around me. No joke. Literally.  I am a chain puker so it took everything in me to hold it together.  One guy puked so hard, it was coming out of his nose & he stood up & walked to get his medal & it was hanging there until someone told him... he didn't even know.  Another fun fact - they have buckets of water to wash away puke at the finish line.  Being a BOTP, we don't push ourselves to puke level... I didn't even know this existed.

... I saw a proposal!!!!  Right behind me.  I saw a family standing behind me & didn't know how they got there & why they were standing there.  & then a guy & girl cross the finish line, I give them their medal & then all of a sudden, I hear all sorts of buzz going on & I turn around & the guy was on his knee with a ring in his hand... AAHHH!!! That was her family there - they brought the ring & videoed it. I said I need to see the video because I'm standing right in the middle of them with a dropped mouth going OHHHHHHHHH & tearing up...

The race was coming to an end & all the other volunteers left except me & one other lady.  We had great talks of being BOTP people. I told her my goal is always 3 hour half marathons - hers?  3:30 -3:45 half marathons. She's had surgery on the bones of her heels ... BONES OF HER HEELS... so she has to go slow, but she PRESSES ON!!! We talked about all the benefits of being in the back, as well as all the disadvantages.  No cheering crowd, races running out of supplies, & the finish line being empty... we both said we would stick through to the end for 'our people'...

& we did...

the crowds were gone.  The music was wrapping up, but people were still coming.  We were jumping & hollering & screaming for these people & I would clap & say, "YOU DID IT" to every one of them & they were so happy & grateful. 

Funny side story - Ricky had to work & got off at noon. His work was down the road so he came down to the race afterwards & said he was looking for me & then heard me screaming & said, "I know that voice"... & easily found me that way :)

Next thing we see was the police car closing up the race... earlier then expected.  Most half marathons are 4 hour limits - this was about 3:40... & there was one lady in front of the car.  Me & the other volunteer was screaming like we won the lottery.  When the girl crossed the finish line, I ran up to her & said the words that always hit me in my own heart... I said, "I AM SO PROUD OF YOU - YOU DID IT"... she just busted out crying... I mean BUSTED.. I lost it myself...

We were done... or so we thought...

A lady was standing near by & said her friend was coming - could we give her a medal... we didn't see anyone else & her friend said, she's on the side walk. We saw her & I told her to get over & cross the finish line & she said, "No, that's OK. The police pushed me off the street. I know I did 13.1 miles. I don't need a medal."

... Oh HECK no... I told her that wasn't going to fly - to get over to me or I'd jump over the gate & chase her down to give her the medal... she came over & I put it on her & she too just teared up. I told her to be proud of herself. It was under 4:00 & she completed it... I hate she wasn't allowed the experience of crossing the finish line.

....& we thought we were done... again... but nope...

Someone else came up & said, our daughter & wife aren't here yet. Can we get a medal for them.  They told us that the mom had just had hip replacement surgery & it was her first race.... OH SNAP... that was the lady who stopped & talked to us at the beginning.  No way was I leaving... we saw them on the side way & I motioned for her to come down the ending, even though they were taking everything down... as they were coming, I was cheering, her family was on the side cheering & when her & her daughter finished, it as just as good as the first person coming through....

I was so glad I stayed... I was so glad I got to see literally every person cross the finish line...

& then I turned around & the race coordinator was standing there & she came up to me & said, "Bend over...." & she put a medal around my neck. & she said, I want to thank you for all this hard work"....

In the end, I was on my feet from 7:15 until almost 1:00... longer then if I actually walked the half marathon myself...

But it was the most rewarding experiences of my life...

Not a bad way of kicking off a vacation.

What did you do this weekend?


  1. That sounds like such an amazing experience, and you absolutely deserve that medal! I am sure those people who finished as things were already closing up really appreciated it. I saw a proposal when I volunteered for a race earlier this year and it was so cool to see. There is so much emotion at the finish line and it's a great place to be as a volunteer.

  2. Dang! I can't believe you saw so much puke. I would have completely throw up! it sounds like a super fun day though!! I think you totally earned that medal! My weekend was not nearly as exciting as yours! I just had trunk or treat at church and a birthday party and church. Nothing too crazy this sounds nuts! haha

  3. Not going to lie, I just teared up with all of those stories of people who you gave medals to after the race had "closed up." Seriously, so cool. I love that you stayed and got to reward them! And you even got one of those awesome medals yourself - so cool!

  4. You have got to be the most bubbly and inspirational person on the planet and I know your spirit was a huge boost to many! Oh, you definitely earned that doubt about that, whatsoever!

  5. Ahhh how fun that you got to meet Kristen!! And that you seem to have so many bloggers living around you, that's so cool. Glad that you're passing on the message of adding pumpkin to chai, I don't know how more people aren't in on this secret!

  6. I loved reading this because I know who those people are in the end...because I was with them. :/ Thanks for writing this girlie!!! Thank you for being there.

  7. Aw that made me tear up! Good for you!


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