**Pretend I posted this on Sunday, back when I started writing it.**
So this morning I pulled an MCM Mama and got up early to volunteer at the Potomac River Run Marathon. I had an absolute blast. It was great being out there with my fellow Capital Area Runners supporting other runners who were so positive and happy to be there and grateful that we were there too–despite the fact that this morning dawned 72 degrees with ridiculous humidity. (At one point we checked an iPhone to find out that it was 81 degrees.)
The race director gave the runners the option to just do a half, and we noticed a bit of a lighter load on the second pass (the course was two out-and-backs, so really the third pass).
But the biggest thing I noticed was how inspiring the runners who stuck with it and gutted out 26.2 miles in that kind of weather were. Our stop was at mile 20.5, so by the end it looked less like a marathon and more like a death march (sorry, runners). Everyone was just doing what they had to do to finish. We broke out the ice and encouraged people to put it in their hats or down their shirts. We handed them 2, 3, 4 cups of Gatorade. But everyone who came through said thank you and still smiled and headed off to finish.
I heard that at least one guy collapsed, but was ok. One of my teammates is a nurse, and she’d asked him to sit down a while and rest, but he’d gotten up and walked away while she was getting him some Gatorade. We kept an eye on him as long as we could. Luckily, other runners came to his aid, and a course martial was able to call a medic.
My biggest inspiration for the day came from two women in particular. Dana Casanave is trying to run 52 marathons in 52 weeks to benefit the charity 25:40, which works with AIDS orphans in Africa. Which means that after that grueling ordeal, Dana has another race this weekend. And she told me that this upcoming course would be much harder. “Though hopefully not so hot,” she added.
Another woman had trained with Team in Training for the Country Music Marathon last weekend, but that race was canceled in the middle of it because of impending severe weather. So she and several of her local teammates showed up to finish their first marathon. This woman came through with her coach and husband well behind almost everyone else. She was diabetic, so we could only offer her water and ice. We also offered some of our pizza and bagels, but her coach told us that they’d had food and had given it to the runner who’d collapsed while he waited for help.
We assured the woman that not all marathons were like this, and once she finished it, she could finish anything. “You’re going to finish today, and that’s more than a lot of people out there,” I said to her. Her face lit up (though the exhaustion was still clear), and her coach clapped her hands and said, “That’s right! You’re going to finish!” And off they went again, while we packed up and headed home for much-needed showers. I was a sweaty mess from just standing out there.
So congratulations to all the runners out there today. You guys really had your work cut out for you, and you still did it. Thank you for letting us be a part of your day. I was really honored to be in the company of such dedicated people who were also just so nice and positive and appreciative of our time. You guys are all rock stars. I love running!