Sunday, August 20, 2006

Volunteering for America's Finest City Half-Marathon



Note: Thanks for all the great responses to the fat-burning post. You may want to check it out again. I added yet another "expert" response and a "recap" section to the bottom to sort out all the info.

Congrats to my friend J. and my husband, Jason, who both completed America's Finest City Half Marathon yesterday! I was kind of bummed not to be doing it myself but it was nice to go and support Jason. He finished looking very strong. Plus, I decided to volunteer. It was actually a privelege. I led the handicapped division on my bike to show them the way. Not only did I get to see the race from an awesome perspective (the front--one place I could never be except in a situation like this), but I got a bike ride in too! Because it was a one-way course, Jason dropped me off at the start, and I biked to the front, which was the workout. Then, I just relaxed and did a sort of recovery ride the other way, leading the handicapped division.

Let me just say, that the handicapped athletes were not at all handicapped! They were much faster than I could ever hope to be! One athlete ran with a prosthetic, and we passed mile marker 1 in under 5 minutes! Unbelieavable. The other 3 handicapped athletes were double leg amputees and zipped down the course in wheelchairs. Although going uphill was sometimes a challenge (all arms!), there were several times I had to push it to keep ahead. I did not expect to be getting that much of a workout! Fantastic. Plus, at one point, one of the athletes dropped a velcro strap which I turned around and sprinted to retrieve before the other runners caught up.

We started 5 minutes before the runners, and the lead runner didn't pass us until well after mile 11. It was incredible. I was transfixed, watching the lead Kenyan run away from me. His biomechanics were flawless. Each leg landed directly under him in a fixed rhythm. He looked like he was floating. He wasn't even breathing hard, and this was going up the hellish 1-mile hill at mile 12. He finished the race in under 1:03!!! He had flown in from Kenyan Friday night! I wonder what he runs like when he's not jet-lagged!

"Wilson Chebet, a Kenyan racing for the first time on American soil, and Russian Tatiana Chulakh who defended her title on Sunday. Chebet won in 1 hour, 2 minutes, 38 seconds, the second fastest time in the race's history and 14 seconds shy of the course record, while Chulakh ran 1:14:12. Both athletes were awarded $1500 for their victories. Over 5,948 participants enjoyed the hilly but scenic point-to-point course under mercifully-cloudy skies and temperatures in the upper 60s."
Runner's Web news

Oh, and the athletes in the handicapped division? We came in shortly after, in under 1:10!!! After we finished, I went over and congratulated the athletes in the handicapped division. They were from Brazil and spoke limited English but fluent Spanish. Hablo piquito espanol so all I could manage was "Muy bien!" very enthusiastically. I definitely have a reinforced respect for physically challenged athletes. They are more fit than I am, and I have 4 functional limbs!

I then settled in by the finishing chute and watched the competitors sprint in. Yes, sprint. They made it look so easy. It was amazing to see such finely toned, highly-muscled legs. This one woman came floating past, and a crowd of fans cheered her on. I thought they were saying, "Kaylie," but than the announcer came on and said it was "Michellie Jones." Wow. I actually got to see her. And that's just a small training workout for her. She's been in many of the same races I've done this season since she lives in the area but I never got to see her before since she's always done by the time I start. It was so cool to actually see her. Very inspiring. Now, I just want to get out and go for a run!

12 comments:

jessie_tri_mn said...

That sounds like a very cool way to volunteer at a race. There's a woman who runs on a prosthetic who routinely kicks my butt in many small races around here, it's inspiring to watch her fly by me :)

Congrast to your hubby and friend on their race too! I love the half marathon, it's the best distance in my book.

Jodi said...

Sounds like a great time! I need to volunteer more often. Not only does it feel good to be able to help out (because I appreciate the volunteers so much when I'm racing!), but you actually get to see the front of the pack! I don't think I've ever seen the top 25% race, let alone finish. Cool.

bunnygirl said...

I'm glad you had such a good time! It sounds like it was an inspirational race for you in a way that slogging through your injury wouldn't have been.

Good job on making things all turn out for the best!

Cliff said...

What a great day..congrats on your hubby and you for being a part of it.

I have to get back to volunteering like u riding on the bike. I would love to see those kenyan run in real life. Ever since i focus on my own running style (a few weeks ago), everytime i see a runner go by, i do note of his/her style and form.

JeffM said...

That sounds like a blast and inspiring. To see some world class runners sounds cool too.

Mike said...

Rachel- awesome job on the volunteering front. I am always amazed by the performance of the "handicapped" athletes- some truly amazing and inspirational people there!

Jenö said...

What a great way to spend a day. Well done!

Dave said...

job well done on volunteering. It's funny what you say about the handicapped althetes, some are definntely very fit. There's one guy who races by where I live that would never consider himself handicapped, and he kicks the butt out of most of us.

Chris said...

Wow! What an awesome perspective that must have been being off the front like that. Sounds like it was a very inspiring experience!

Mon said...

That is pretty cool!! What an awesome way to attend the race, different perspective!

Erin Nicole said...

what was jason's time?

have missed you -- we got a new tech in lab that reminds me of you in specific personality traits...has made me miss you even more!

Lisa said...

That sounds like an awesome volunteer position! Very cool!