LUNGevity volunteered last weekend for the Zooma Chicago Half Marathon & 10K. A few of our staff helped out at packet pickup on Friday and then 2 of us volunteered at the water station (located at mile 3 &10) Saturday morning during the race. We got there at 6:15am and Deanne (fellow LUNGevity staffer and marathon runner) and I began setting up the table. Deanne mixed the Cytomax (not as easy as the directions make it sound) and we began filling hundreds of cups with the energy drink and water. Before we knew it runners were coming at us! For any of you who have not volunteered at a water station before — IT IS HARD! At first, both Deanne and I stood in front of the table to hand out cups but we were quickly running out so I stepped behind to fill as she continued passing them out. Thankfully a few minutes later 3 more volunteers joined us. We poured, passed, cheered, instructed and fielded questions from runners, spectators and people passing by. The whole experience was a whirlwind! Several runners thanked us for the water and for volunteering our time but there were also many that were not so nice. By the time the last runner had passed through our water station the second time (mile 10) I was muddy, tired and out of breath (and I have blisters on my left hand from opening the water bottles)!
After volunteering, I had my own 13.1 miles to complete for marathon training. I headed back to my apartment to change and grabbed a bagel and coffee on my way home. I ate, changed and headed out the door an hour later and hit the road. This run was a little different from the rest of my long runs so far. Typically I go as soon as I wake up and avoid eating at all until after I finish. The first couple of miles my body felt heavy and my stomached cramped a little from eating but around mile 3 it started to get easier. I usually run to the lake front path and then head south towards Fullerton but having just volunteered around an area that was new to me, I decided that I would try a different route. I ran the mile and a half down Wellington to the lake front and then instead went North. The new scenery was nice and kept my mind off the sun beating down on me (I’m usually done with my run by the time I even started this week). I ran past Foster Beach and then turned around and headed back south.
WARNING! I’m about to make a bold statement: Volunteering for 3.5 hours at the half marathon water station was JUST AS, IF NOT MORE DIFFICULT as my 13.1 marathon training run! This experience has definitely made me appreciate the volunteers at all races so much more. From now on, I will make sure to thank every single person who pours or hands me a cup of water (that I desperately need) at every race I run. Without them I would have to wear one of those water fanny packs (not going to happen) or be parched!