Like my friend Heather has said: Part of being a runner is having your first DNS or DNF. Heather runs in a day more than I've ever run in a week (she's doing a 50 miler today), so I tend to take her running advice! So I accepted my badge of honor and went to Zooma to volunteer with my boys.
We got there about an hour the before the race and lucked out to help set up and work the finish line, which doubles as the start line. It was great talking to all of the runners before the race. There were a few who stood out, but in typical Nicole fashion, I didn't get anyone's name! The first was a woman who was hoping to finish the 10K in under 1:20. Another was the Disney Lady who I think has run every race Disney puts on. She has knee surgery last year and told me she was going to the be the last one in and laughed when I promised I'd wait for her. I saw my running partner Sarah, who dropped to the 10K due to her plantar fascitis (we make a great pair run/hobbling along the Charles!) and my coworker Katie who's been a bit nervous about her training for the half.
And the runners were off! It was the only time I've seen a finish line feel eerily quiet. We didn't have to wait long until the first 10K runner came back. It was just awe inspiring to see these women sail into the finish line. As more finishers came in, we got to see every emotion from smiles, tears, exhaustion (it was a hot day, there was quite a bit of that), to extreme gratitude for a bottle of water! I honestly think some runners wanted the water more than the medal. (and those half medals were SWEET!)
I hope everyone who finished without the announcer gets to see this. The power went out to half the hotel, which included the MC station, right around the 2:45 mark of the half. We had no music, no mike and I think his computer was even down for a good 30 minutes or so. The finish line volunteers tried to make up for it with yelling and screaming like lunatics, but I know, it's just not the same as hearing your name over the speakers.
Some of my favorite finishers were:
- The woman I spoke to before the race hoping for a 1:20 finish came in at just a hair over 1:15. I recognized her and told her the time. She looked so excited and dazed, like she didn't believe it
- My coworker Katie who destroyed her PR by 20 minutes!
- My running partner Sarah who did the 10K in just under (?) an hour, which shows you how much she slows down for me on our weekly runs. I hope she knows how much I appreciate it!
- The woman who literally JUMPED over the finish line after completing the half
- The woman who proudly yelled "I walked the WHOLE thing" after the completing the half
- Every runner who went back to run a friend across the finish line
- The pacers coming in within seconds of their target time
- The one pacer who had a bad day and missed her time, but still finished (I really wanted to give her a hug because she looked so disappointed)
- The groups of runner holding hands
- My Disney lady lighting up when she saw me there with water. She gave me a hug and thanks me for staying. She finished in under 3:30
- The mom who finished near the end. I forget exactly when, but as I remember it, she was the last finisher. Her whole family jumped the fence to hug her. The family was crying, her friends were taking pictures through the tears, heck even the volunteers were crying (yep, especially me - heck I'm crying just writing about it.).
Next year, I'm really hoping to run it, but if my ankle acts up, I'll still be there, hopefully handing out what every runner wants at the end of a long race: a bottle of water!