Welcome to aid station 13 located at mile 18 of the Chicago Marathon! This was just one of many tables full of water we set up. For at least half a mile along the street there were water tables, Gatorade tables, and energy packet tables. Over 250 volunteers in our blue jackets manned these tables. We had a forklift, boxes and boxes of supplies, signs, rakes, trashcans, and shovels. What we didn't have? Food or bathrooms. Or heat.
The past two years the weather on race day has been dangerously hot. This year? Not so much. I arrived at the aid station shortly after 6:30 AM. After I got my volunteer gear I was wearing a fleece earband, a baseball cap, a short-sleeved t-shirt, a long-sleeved t-shirt, a long-sleeved fleece jacket, the polyester volunteer jacket, jeans, wool socks, mittens and rain boots. I wore the rain boots to keep my feet dry. They did not, however, keep my feet warm. At the end of my 6 hour shift my toes were so numb I could barely walk.
Sadly, I didn't bring my camera and my hands were so cold that I didn't bother to pull out my phone to take pictures. Besides, when you're handing out water to over 40+ thousand people, it's hard to take pictures!
Forty-plus thousand people. That's larger than some towns. I don't know if they all made it to mile 18, but, starting with the elites, we had runners non-stop from approximately 8:45 AM to noon.
At first you hold out your hand with a cup of water in it. Your arm starts to die from holding it out at your side. You cheer when people take water from you and not the person next to you. But as the race goes on more and more people want water. You get to the point where you are grabbing two or three or four cups of water at a time just to keep up with the demand. You trade raking responsibilities and try to clean up dropped cups while staying out of the way of the runners. And then, as your table empties of water, you break it down and move onto the next table. You watch in awe as the world championship male runners blow past. You crane your neck looking for the elite female runners. You cheer for all the other runners. You shout out the names that people have written on their shirts.
It's exhilarating. It's fun. It's awe-inspiring. For the first few hours. And then, when it's cold, you start to worry if your toes will ever be warm. You start to get hungry. You start to get tired. You talk yourself out of needing to pee. But you don't want to complain because the people running past you are also thinking all those things...except they're running 26.2 miles. Something you haven't done.
So, instead, you jump up and down. You joke with the other people at your table. You dance to the music on the loudspeaker. You rake up discarded cups. You fill up more cups with water. And when the "course closed" vehicle drives by, you look at the stragglers walking behind it, shake your head, and begin to clean up.
I made it home shortly after 1 PM. I made myself lunch and sat on the couch to warm up and watch tv. I didn't mean to nap. But, I fell asleep for about 45 minutes. I'm sure handing out water at the Chicago Marathon is nothing like actually running the marathon, but it wore me out just the same.
If you do want to see some photos, Kim has some good ones. She even got photos of the elites! And some of the people in costume. I saw one guy dressed as Minnie Mouse. I saw several Wonder Womans. I saw a few nuns. I saw people of every shape, size and color. It truly is as if an entire city decided they'd all get up and go for a run. Amazing.
Speaking of runs, I did 8 miles on the bike path on Saturday morning. The air temperature was chilly and the sun hitting the creek created a low-hanging steam rising off the water. There were fewer runners than usual out and about I'm assuming because many of them were doing Sunday's big race. But I did see one guy running barefoot on the asphalt path. I, on the other hand, was wearing my newest pair of Brooks Adrenalines.
It was a good run. Goal? 10:00 minute miles across the board. Managed that with no problems. And I got lucky and barely had to stop for traffic.
After my run I "recovered" with hot chocolate. Chocolate milk is the perfect post-run recovery drink. I figured on a chilly fall day that hot chocolate would be even better. Yum!
Posted from bimactive.com