January 2018. I opted to complete my first Cheveron Marathon.
I typically volunteer at mile 6.5 at the water station then drive over and set up camp where there is no one cheering near mile 21-22.
This is where you see runners struggling. I have sang, played music, cheered for them, given out pickle juice and water because the water and support becomes scarce for them. I am a slower runner and an athlete with a disability.
Bernie, the Director of Achilles Houston asked me if I wanted to complete my city’s marathon and I told her no because my fastest marathon was a 6:08:15 and I didn’t think I could shave off the time. She ensured me I could do it and I said no. She inquired about me handcycling. I agreed to do it, talked my doctor and other athletes and signed up. The race itself was phenomenal why? Because of the amazing volunteers. Every chance I got I thanked a volunteer.
They are out there when Houston is hot, humid, wet and freezing. They are there because they want to be and I love them for it.
Volunteers, you are the behind the scenes intricate detail that is often missed. At the ABB 5k a volunteer helped me carry Capt Casey (handcycle). A volunteer came over to ensure I had everything I needed. A volunteer cheered me on. You have no idea what energy you possess and how that makes a difference. A volunteer moved the crowd for me to get by. A volunteer gave me my medal. A volunteer helped me get off my bike when my fingers where frozen and I was crying in agony. After placing my fingers in my armpit and it wasn’t working, a volunteer reminded me to put my hands between my legs to thaw them out. After I straightened up, about 10 minutes later, she offered to walk me to the building to get warm. I opted to take a few selfies on the way.
For those that don’t know pics are great memories, but taking pictures helps me deal with moments of high stress and anxiety. A volunteer gave me a bean and cheese burrito after the race (I was starving; think I have a tapeworm). Two volunteers pulled my teammate Adessa off her handcycle because her hands were also frozen and ensured she warmed up. At the marathon a volunteer gave me my helmet race chip. 4 volunteers ensured I had the correct number. I didn’t and had to change it. A volunteer checked my bike and ensured it was ready for me race day. I left my helmet and shades with my bike and everything was there waiting for me. That reduced my anxiety level and all I had to focus on was racing.
Volunteers moved about frantically ensuring all of our needs were taken care of the entire weekend. My bike guide was a volunteer. I had never met her, but if ever I complete Houston again I will request she be my guide. She kept runners away from me, she told me when to prepare to turn left and right. Sometimes it is challenging to the direction from the ground. She yelled repeatedly and over my music to make sure I got out of the way of the elite runners. She pointed out when we started hearing helicopters to help me to prepare. She pulled over and helped me take off my jacket when I was over heating. She made me laugh every time I ran a red light by asking me if I posed for the camera. She offered to help me go over the huge incline and I humbly declined.
Instead I handed her my camera and she got great shots of me struggling up the incline. She honored my wish as we took a selfie at mile 20. Each time I grabbed water it hurt me to drop it on the ground. I tried aiming for The trash, but my hand just wouldn’t release. Each time she told me not to worry and it would be ok. The most meaningful thing she did was watch me reach for a piece of watermelon and miss it. Unbeknownst to me she grabbed the watermelon. She told me she grabbed it, but I didn’t quite hear her behind me and carried a half a mile until I reached a place to stop which just happened to be after reaching the top of an incline. It was there she told me we had to part ways. I knew it would come to an end, but I got teary eyed because I was like a chick in the nest being set free on the world. I thanked her and kept on trucking.
A volunteer saved a runners life by grabbing her and pulling her to the side. As she crossed the line she wandered a bit too much to the right and stopped abruptly in front of my handcycle as I was trying to stop, but with frozen finger my grip wasn’t the best. Then another amazing volunteer stepped from shadows as I rolled through the mass and was handed a medal from yet another volunteer. He first grabbed a water as he cleared the path for me. He held the door open to ensure I made it into the GRB. He kept the crowd back as I made a 3 point turn into the building. I couldn’t feel my toes so he massaged my frozen toes and we put toe warmers on the tops and bottoms of them. He grabbed my shirt and mug, he went with me to get my double medal because I insisted on walking. My name was not on the list, but a volunteer wrote my name down and just handed me the medal. My volunteer ensured I had a second sausage and egg sandwich. I was starving! A volunteer gave me extra cheese on my sandwich, a volunteer handed my a chocolate milk. Most importantly a volunteer greeted me with a smile. You have no idea what just a smile can to for any athlete especially a tired athlete. My volunteer made sure I was ok and he left me in the hands of my teammate and her volunteer to go out and help another AWD. I was so happy to have met him and all of the other volunteers.
Thank you for standing in the cold, in the heat, humity and pouring rain. Thank you most of all to the volunteer that organized the volunteers. Without you there would be no us.
Yes we train and we race, you take care of the logistics you make sure everything runs smoothly and sometimes we aren’t always nice. Please know that our temperement changes as our body aches, some of us deal with chronic pain, PTSD, anxiety and cognitive issues; often times we are hangry/dehydrated. We may not show appreciation the way you think we should, but know that we truly appreciate all you do. Yesterday I felt like I was at Disney it was just so magical. If I dreamed it I received it. Almost I wanted to ice cream sandwiches, those volunteers were stingy, lol. I want to say this once more from the depth of my heart and soul with a smile THANK YOU!
#HOUAWD #HouMarathon #Thankfulness #ServiceWithASmile #YouAreTheBest