Monday, February 3, 2014

Best Damn Race...to Watch

Saturday morning, I woke up to my alarm, set for 4:55am. I took a quick shower, put on my race outfit, including the cute new pair of shorts I'd bought for half-off at the BDR expo, and I stopped to consider the pain in my left foot. I felt it when I merely walked from the bathroom to the bedroom--each time my foot went from flat to flexed and pushed off the ground. And sometimes, unknowingly, I'd step in a way that made the pain suddenly sharp and pinching. Also, my neck was a little sore from having been rear-ended on my way to work the previous morning (no damage to either car). So I doubted out loud whether I should try to run the half marathon that morning. Tim helped talk me down from the ledge, repeating the logic I'd already told myself over and over again: I wasn't going to have a good race no matter what, and chances were, I'd only make my foot worse by racing on it, and then I might not be able to run the Gasparilla half marathon three weeks later. Also, at five in the morning, when I'm already feeling tired and cranky, it's not hard to talk me out of a race. So it was decided: I would go and be a spectator for Tim and other friends. But just in case (of what? a sudden recovery?), I put on my running shoes and GPS watch and packed my race bib in my bag.

We drove out to Safety Harbor in the dark and misty morning. It had been a rainy few days leading up to this morning, and while it wasn't quite raining at the moment, there seemed to be some leftovers in the air. I wasn't too upset about missing out on the balmy race conditions. Once we got to the race grounds, walked around, found some friends, waited for an equipment delay, the racers were off:


I love the snapshot of a race start. (How did we ever race without watches?)

I was instantly bored. I went to go find my friend Beth, who was assisting with the race organization. I found her at the finish line, where 10k racers were already coming through (their race started earlier). I asked if I could help with anything, and she told me I could help with medals. I did this once before, and I loved it. Plus, it meant I got to stay in the finish area, so I could see when my friends and Tim came through.

Beth, on the mic--her favorite task. (Not really.)

I jumped in with the other volunteers, feeling a little awkward, because they seemed to have their own flow going. I asked anyway if I could help, and one guy said I could help unpackage the 5k medals. Each medal is folded into its own individual baggie; we had to take them out of the baggie and pile them in a box so other volunteers could unravel them and string them on the arms of yet other volunteers who were actually handing them out to finishers. At one point there were large groups of people coming through at once, and it seemed like my talents could be better used handing out medals, so I did that for a bit, but then I felt like I was in the way, because nobody was rotating out; I guess that's not the way they did it. The volunteers up front just kept getting their arms reloaded with more medals. So I thought maybe I should help with the reloading efforts. 

One of these should have been mine. :-/

When the finishers were coming through with less frequency, and all the medals had been unwrapped, I decided to hand out bottles of water. This was wholly unnecessary, but I wanted something to do. There were large trashcans filled with water and ice beyond the area where medals were being handed out, but some of the water was so far down and buried in ice that nobody would have know it was there. So I dug them out, numbing my hands, and offered them to the worn-out runners. They were appreciative, and that made me feel good. I was helping! So I stayed on waters--especially because nobody else was doing it, so I wasn't in the way. Eventually another volunteer came and filled the trashcans to the top with new waters, so there was really no point in my handing them out. But by then, half-marathoners had started coming through. It's always exciting to see the first one. (I resumed my water duties for the first few finishers, because it just made me giddy to give them something and congratulate them.)

A couple friends soon came through, and then Tim:

Did I get a great photo, or what?

He ran a really good race, finishing very close to his PR, and he wasn't even trying to PR--not two weeks after we ran Clearwater.

Three fast dudes. It hasn't rubbed off on me yet.

Once Tim came through, I abandoned my unofficial and possibly unnecessary volunteer post. We walked around the expo for a while, and I got suckered into signing up for the Iron Girl half marathon in Clearwater in April. They were offering $10 off, and one of Tim's fraternity brothers was interning with for the race. Plus, I got a little shoe charm for signing up right there. Not really my thing, but the idea of free jewelry is appealing in the moment. I know it will be a tougher race; the temps will be higher, and I'll be doing four bridge repeats. So probably not a PR race, but it will sort of make up for the race I didn't get to do Saturday.

A quick back story to the foot pain: I first felt it a couple days after running the Clearwater Marathon. I was on a three-mile recovery run, my first run since the marathon. My foot didn't feel great, but I didn't expect to feel wonderful. But I could tell the next day that the pain was persisting, even when I walked. So I took it easy that week, making sure to ice it a lot. I planned to run eight miles that Saturday morning, but I got one mile in and knew I'd have to stop. I walked a few miles instead. I didn't try to run again until this past Tuesday, and it didn't feel too bad. So I ran again Thursday. And again, it felt alright once my body warmed up, but the next day it felt worse. That was a Friday, and the race was the next morning. I iced it four times at work Friday, took ibuprofen regularly, and rubbed some natural pain-relieving gel on it throughout the day. I believe this is what they call a Hail Mary effort. And it didn't work.

So I'm now sticking to yoga and considering biking. But my foot feels better when it's wrapped up, and I haven't tried running that way. I might give it a go tomorrow, at the Four Green Fields running club, when I will have earned my 99th run (which is why I keep running on Tuesdays). I get a little award for my 100th run.

I'm still hopeful for Gasparilla. I plan to take it easy this week, and perhaps I can get my foot feeling better enough to log some miles next week. I don't want to go into a half marathon without having trained in weeks. But I also don't want to fracture my foot. So we'll just have to see what happens.

2 comments:

B.o.B. said...

OMG this post cracked me up! I had no idea what the hell anyone was doing b/c I was running around like a lunatic. You are SUPER appreciated with passing out the water! I think that next race we may just have people dedicated to doing that. THANK YOU for jumping in and helping!!! I hope your foot is better soon. I'll see you at 4GF tomorrow. I usually start early b/c I want to run a bit more than 3 and I hate being the last one back.

Lee Davidson said...

You did a GREAT job! And I'll be happy to hand out waters in Orlando ;)