Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Fun Morning Volunteering Followed By A Gnat-sty Afternoon Run

Today was the first annual Solutia Rock 'n' Roll St. Louis Marathon. I was tempted to run the marathon this year since it's the inaugural race, but I decided against it when I found out I was accepted to run in New York. Since I wasn't running, Liz and I decided it was a good opportunity to work the race as volunteers.

We were assigned to the 8-mile marker where the Marathon and Half Marathon courses split. The directions we received in the mail said to be at the mile marker at 6:30am and expect to work until 12:30pm.

We got up at 5am and drove down to the Botanical Gardens to park near our assignment. A lot of cars were ignoring the road closures that early in the morning, but we didn't want to get boxed in once the race started so we parked on a side street and walked 4 or 5 blocks to meet our fellow volunteers.

John, from Competitor Group, was in charge of our set of volunteers and we probably had more people than were needed to work the course split. We were given some really cool t-shirts (I think they're better than the race shirts) and John explained our various responsibilities. By then, it was only 6:30 and the race didn't start until 7:30. That meant the first runners wouldn't even reach us until after 8:00. So, we stood around talking to some of the other volunteers and regretting not eating more of a breakfast.

Liz and I offered to hold the giant arrow-shaped signs that directed the runners to the appropriate side of the road. We took our places a little after 7:30 and waited for the first wave of runners to come up the road.

Once the runners arrived, the morning passed pretty quickly. It was a lot of fun cheering everyone on and a lot of runners thanked us for being out there. The signs we were holding were pretty huge so we had countless runners joke about being confused because the signs weren't big enough. Other runners gave the signs a little slap as they ran by. Some people stopped and took pictures with us. Mile 8 was a good assignment because most of the people we saw were still feeling good and in a pleasant mood. I doubt the volunteers at anything past Mile 20 saw nearly as many smiles.

We saw several people we knew that were running the race and most of them actually saw us before we picked them out of the crowd. It was really busy at times though and some of our friends must have snuck past us without us seeing them. A BIG congratulations to Paul, Erin, Leigh, Sharon, Agnes, and Phil. I'm probably forgetting people... it seemed like everyone was running the race. A lot of these folks not only ran, but crushed their personal best!

As time passed, the crowd of runners slowly thinned and then transitioned to all walkers. By 10:30, our section of the course was clear, we had picked up all of the signage and cones, and our day was done. As a bonus, there was a water station on the way back to our car that had been sponsored by Solutia. They were packing up as we walked by and they had boxes of donuts left over that they were kind enough to share with us!

Even though we grabbed a few donuts from the Solutia table, we stopped at Arby's to get lunch on the way home and then snuck in an afternoon nap. I think instead of refreshed, we both woke up still feeling drowsy and sluggish but I had 13 miles on my training schedule for today so I forced myself to get my act together and get out the door.

The run did not go well.

It was another warm day and I was feeling slow and tired. Not to mention, I hadn't had nearly enough to drink during the day so by mile 8, it was very clear that I was dehydrated. I had a G1 pouch before the run and brought two more in my water bottle but it was too little, too late.

Some days just don't go well and today was one of those days. I kept the pace respectable for a while but my foggy brain just didn't want to push it. After a while, I just settled in and decided to get the miles in but not worry about pace. I felt hot, gross, and thirsty. And to make matters worse, I was completely covered in dead gnats by mile 9. There are a lot of gnats flying around at this time of year and many have died gruesome, salty deaths drowning in my sweat but I've never been as completely covered as this. It was disgusting. I was hoping no one I knew would pass me. My shorts had a thick ring of salt from my dried sweat and I was covered in dead bugs. Not a good look!

I ran all 13 miles but I was basically jogging by the end. I was really hoping to pick up the speed a little over the next two weeks since I'm dropping the distance. After running a 5K last night, getting up at 5am, standing and cheering for 3 hours, and then running on a warm day, this training session was doomed before it started.

Tomorrow's another day!

Goal For The Day: Long Run.
Distance: 13.00 Miles.
Time: 1:36:11. 7:24 Avg. (7:26, 7:03, 7:08, 7:04, 7:02, 6:58, 7:11, 7:13, 7:16, 7:32, 7:36, 8:09, 8:23).
Route: To Rte 66/3 Laps/City Hall Extension/Home.
Conditions: 78 degrees/buggy. 2:45pm.

Notes: Passed 500 Blog Miles!!! The marathon is two weeks from today!!! I definitely felt the effects of last night's 5K. Not only did the race wear me out, it also made a 7-minute pace feel slow. Volunteering was fun and it was cool to get a view from the other side of things. I've run a lot of marathons but never watched one start-to-finish. It was also cool to hear John talk about some of the behind the scenes of organizing a marathon.

Daily Miles: 13.00 Miles.
Blog Totals:
  Run - 512.45 Miles.
  Bike - 144.45 Miles.
  Swim - 12,450+ meters.

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