Monday, May 27, 2013

Good Karma 5K Race Report

One of my running goals for 2013 was to finally "pay it forward" -- by actually volunteering at a race. Of course, the challenge was finding a race on a weekend when we didn't have plans.
Good Karma 5K
When we decided not to go out of town for Memorial Day weekend, I looked for a race... and, well, how could I resist the Good Karma 5K?!?
One very nice thing was that the race had an online volunteer sign-up via Volunteer Spot -- which meant I could choose what I wanted to do from a list of available spots. So I decided to sign up as a "course monitor" -- you know, the folks who tell people which way to turn.
Of course, I still wanted to get a run in -- so I got to Magnuson Park early and ran my own 5K beforehand.
Then I went back to the car to bundle up a bit -- and while I sat there, briefly, it started to rain. Good thing I brought my Gore-Tex jacket... even if I forgot to bring a pair of long pants to put on over my running capris.
I went to the volunteer check-in... and was pretty much ignored for a couple of minutes. Which was odd, because there were only a few people there. But eventually, a woman -- probably the race organizer -- noticed me, checked my name off the list, and gave me a shirt. Aaaaaand then I just stood around for half an hour. (I always hate the pre-race faffing around...)
But 20 minutes before the race start, I was handed a map and told to go out to a certain point on the course. Since the map didn't have mileage marked, I started to worry that the spot was far enough out that I would have to hustle to beat the runners! But, nope, only about a kilometer in, at the top of the first big hill of the 5K course.
my spot on the course
"turn left and follow the loop around"
A few minutes after 9, the first runners came into view, moving up the hill. I stood there, clanging my NYC Marathon cowbell, and cheering. There was a little gap after the first few runners... but I could see others moving up the hill, so I kept clanging, kept cheering. Having run that course before, it was good to be able to tell them that they had just completed the toughest part. Well, okay, there's a second hill on the loop, but it's not as big as the first one. :)
It was nice to cheer for folks... though I felt like I wasn't really getting in the groove of it. But some people said thank you, and others at least smiled.
I did have a slight panic when the first runner didn't reappear at the end of the loop before going back downhill for a while. I worried that I had somehow sent them the wrong direction -- but, no, they came back. Phew.
After a while most of the runners had passed me on the uphill, and were making their way around the loop. I cheered for people on the way back down, telling them that it was all downhill from here, that they were looking great, etc. And, yes, I clanged that darn cowbell.
I liked that the stragglers really responded -- being happy to have a friendly face tell them that the biggest hill was over. I also liked that the race had a sweeper -- which meant I knew when the last runner was done.
After the sweeper came through, I moved the cones up to the water stop, and then walked the remainder of the course. I admit it -- I walked it mainly to get in a few more miles for the Peace Marathon, which I've struggled with. Again, this month wasn't a very good month for me, running-wise!
When I reached the (now deserted) finish line, I made my way to the post-race area. A lot of cool organizations and sponsors were there -- including the Seattle Humane Association's fantastic mobile truck, which had big windows showing a selection of adoptable cats. (Honestly -- it looked like a cat-vending machine!) I picked up a bottle of coconut water and then headed home.
I'm really glad to have done this part of my goal. The other half is to spend a morning cheering at a half marathon... but it occurs to me that I could volunteer as a course monitor again... helping at a race AND cheering for runners.
I've run dozens of races (74 as of last week!), and I had never volunteered. I have to admit I didn't like the random stuff before the race, but I did like actually cheering for the runners. It's clear that races can't be run without volunteers -- so I feel like we need to do more to give back.

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