It was one of those days when I had a bad long run. My pace was OK, but not spot on and I'm pretty sure I ended up getting bored three quarters of the way through it.
My coach reminded me that race day is different from training day and urged me not to discount the power of the venue. On training runs, it's you and maybe a few friends. On race day, there are people on the course cheering you on, celebrating life.
It was perhaps my one criticism of The Buffalo Marathon, the lack of entertainment on the second half of the course. With the majority of participants running the half marathon, the final 13.1 miles saw stretches of sparse runners. The crowd support was thin, too, making me especially happy to see my friends and family at certain spots and very eager to find those team relay points for some human interaction. Perhaps in the future they could find some local bands or high school cheerleading squads or a guy with a boom box to set up at various points along the North Buffalo part of the course. The distraction and the encouragement makes a difference.
Which is one of the reasons I decided it was important for me to volunteer and to cheer.
Last week, a change in my schedule allowed me to volunteer at the Olmstead Duathlon -- a run-bike-run race that started at the Botanical Gardens and finished up in Cazenovia Park. I arrived willing to do whatever. I started off with body marking and handing out timing chips (and reconnected with my swim friend Jen, who incidentally won our age group at Keuka a few days later) and ended up working the finish line, cheering in runners and handing them bottled water.
I may not have a made a difference in anyone's day, but I know from experience that finishing a race alone (and with no water) takes away from the accomplishment of finishing. I was hoping for a kind of pay it back-pay it forward scenario. So many volunteers had helped me along the way at races (and continue to) that I felt it was important for me to give some of my time for a race.
Also, I must admit, I had the Keuka Tri coming up and I figured it wouldn't hurt to make nice with the multi-sport gods.
Today I'll be heading over to Delaware Park for the Race for the Cure 5K. Another Jen, this one who works with my mother, is part of a beginners' running group. She's done one 5K before but this is her goal race -- the one she's been training for.
On my last day of recovery, I can't think of a better way to spend my morning that by cheering her on and watching her finish her first 5K strong. General support from strangers is amazing. Having someone looking for you and cheering your name, that's even better.