Volunteer for a Race

When I started this blog almost two years ago, I struggled to find a name for it that would encapsulate my view about running (at that time). Running was reaching me in a way nothing else had, and I wanted others to experience that. Still do.

My husband brought up the point that every person does not have the ability to run. I agreed with him, but “there’s a way to be involved in running whether you are running, walking, being supportive, encouraging, or volunteering.

Most of the time I take on the role of runner, but this past Saturday I became a volunteer for a trail race.

Trail running.

I’ve written a post or two¬†about it, but I have been wanting to help give back to the sport. A member of the local running group is the race director for a trail race and solicited volunteers. There was an open time slot from 12-4, so I could still get my Saturday long run in. My 16 year old son loves to help out (and will do anything for a free t-shirt and food) so he went along with me. I planned on posting pictures of the trail, the aid station, and my son at the race, but there was no signal on my phone and the camera wouldn’t work. Boo.

The race was a 12k and 50k out on a hiking trail at Lake Texoma. It was about a 35 minute drive from our home. When we got there, all the 12k runners had finished. My runner friend was the first female finisher! I was so proud of her for that. My son and I were to be working the last aid station along the course. It was pouring rain when we got there. What a muddy mess! Six runners out of 32 had passed through already. My job was to check off the numbers on the list as they came through and keep the food stocked whick kind of made me nervous. The list is a big responsibility.

The variety of foods on the table was interesting. As a marathon runner, the most solid thing I’ve eaten while running was an orange slice. This table had peanut butter sandwiches, grapes, bananas, oranges, pickles, and Coke. There were also electrolyte tablets and salt. We actually ran out of Coke because most of the runners coming through wanted some. ¬†The runners would stop and chat for a few minutes while eating, and then move along. Most of them were in good spirits, taking the weather for what it was. One needed the mileage, another time on her feet, and others were having a good time together pulling each other up the muddy slopes. They were all grateful for the aid station and appreciative. I was impressed with their spirit.

My son and I were happy to be there helping. He even showed some interest when the race director told him about a five mile race (along with other distances) in February. He used to run some with me at a local park with a trail. He enjoys the focus and challenge on the trail.

I was glad to be able to give back to the running community. I have never had such appreciation for volunteers as I did at my first marathon. In the cold. In the rain. It was nasty, and they were out there for me and others like me.

So even if you can’t physically run, don’t let that discourage you. You can still be a part of running. Runners need volunteers. They make races possible.

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A Nice Surprise – SEF 10K

Forgive me if this post is longer than usual, but I want to give Saturday the justice it deserves.

Do you set goals for yourself?

I’m not talking about ideas or wishes using words like “someday” or “maybe.” I’m talking about setting specifics. Timelines with steps.

Saturday, I nailed one of the steps I set toward a big goal of mine. The funny thing is – it surprised me.

It was our family’s fourth annual trip to the Sherman Arts Fest and Sherman Education Foundation run. The first and second year we went so I could run the 5k and the kids could do the 1 mile fun run. Last year and this year I ran the 10k and then did the fun run with my two youngest (active recovery).

My goal was to at least break 50:00. I set a PR in August with a time of 50:08 on a hilly course. With the nice cool front that blew in the night before – Hello Fall, nice to meet you – this cold weather runner was ready.

My first mile landed on 7:39. Whoa, girl, I thought, back off a bit. For perspective, my 5k PR from Labor Day was 7:33 pace per mile. I felt strong though, so I just tried to run steady the next few miles. I kept my Garmin screen on my pace, and used the lap button for each mile. I didn’t check my overall time, and about halfway through the race I decided not to check it until after I crossed the finish. I knew my splits were strong, but I’m an English major so calculating my finish time while running at that pace was not going to happen. When I saw the race clock as I finished, I couldn’t believe it.

I saw my husband and kids right as I switched my Garmin screen to check my finish time. I was immediately overcome with emotion.

My official race time was 47:50. 1st in my age group, and 4th female finisher. My pace for each mile split: 7:34, 7:49, 7:39, 7:36, 7:41, 7:37. Not perfectly even, but the first time I’ve had all 7s as the first number at this distance. My time was over¬†two minutes faster from a month ago! (Again, thank you Fall for showing up when you did.) But that’s not what got me emotional. ¬†It was the realization that my dream – the “somehow, someday” idea of qualifying for Boston – is slowly becoming a realistic goal.

Put those steps in place. They are important. Small goals along the way give you motivation to continue.

The fun run with the kids was just as rewarding.

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My seven year-old was gone in a flash.

I ran/walked with my 10 year old daughter Abby who always wants to run a 5k until we start running. I encouraged her to at least run by the race photographers and smile to make good pictures, then she wanted to walk again. I managed to get a few running pictures myself.

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The best part was on the last straightaway when we passed another young girl walking. I told Abby we should run in to the finish, and she started encouraging the other girl. “Come on, let’s go. You can do it,” she said. “There’s food and water at the end.”

That’s my girl!

Runner Safety (Road ID App Review)

Safety while running should not be an afterthought.

In this age of distracted drivers, busier roadways, and just plain crazy people, it is super important to put your safety as a runner on the front burner (not an afterthought). When I first started running, I rarely carried my phone. Most of the time I just had my key – and water if it was a longer run. Three years later you won’t find me on a run without my pepper spray or my phone.

As a result of events I’ve learned about, I now carry pepper spray and my phone with me on every run. Is it a pain to always have something in my hand? Do I hate wearing my¬†fanny pack¬†iFitness belt for every run? Sure. Do I feel safer though because of it? Of course I do.

Then I found out about the Road ID App. Since my husband travels a lot and I run while everyone’s asleep, this sounded like a good tool for me to have. I run with a Garmin so I never map out my route ahead of time. The app lets me alert someone when I’m starting a run, they can see my route, and I can even set up an alert if I’m stationary for more than five minutes. The best part about the app: it’s free! That’s great news for this frugal runner!

The first couple of times I used the app for a short neighborhood run to test it out. I set my husband up as the contact. He was able to fill me in on how it worked from his end. The first time I took it on a long run (fully charge your phone to do this), his immediate response was “Wow, you ran way a long way out!” He was obviously impressed (and stroked my ego just a bit).

To sum up my opinion of this app, I definitely think it’s worth adding to your phone. It’s free, so what can you lose? I also believe that it’s important to carry a phone with you, although my family hasn’t realized I will finish my runs faster if they stop texting me.

In other news, I ran my second (and probably last) 5k of the year on Labor Day. I was a misty run, but I was able to finish my race before the downpour started. I set a new PR with a time of 23:23 and a first place age group win. I’m hoping some of this speed translates into a positive marathon later this year.

Labor of Love 5k: 23:23 (1st 35-39)

Labor of Love 5k: 23:23 (1st 35-39)

Have a great week and safe running!