Things I Learned about Marathons while Working a Water Station

I was pretty mopey the day of the Baltimore marathon.  I cried on the way to the water stop watching the folks at Patterson Park set up for the runners passing through.  I knew the half marathon went through this part of the course and I was overcome by emotions of not getting to see the crowds over here. 

I think it freaked Jeremy out when I started to cry.  I mean, I didn’t shed a tear.  I bawled.  I cried about missing out on this event.  I cried because I’m tired of not running.  I cried because I’m worried about not being ready for the Philly marathon.

I cried because I no longer felt like a runner.

Regardless, I sucked it up and worked the water stop.  Nearly everyone at this water stop (mile 9.5 on the marathon course) was a runner.  A lot of them were sidelined due to injury and a lot of them had marathons coming up.  They were great people and I got a lot of insight and motivation from them.  There was one party pooper who told me that I was dreaming if I thought I’d be ready for Philly with my current injury.  I cried afterwards about that one because its my fear.  I told the chiropractor about that guy this morning and he told me that guy was a jerk and to ignore him. 

Aaanywho – that’s not what this post is about.  Working at a water stop has given me a completely new perspective on the marathon.  Actually, it gave me a new perspective on all races.

I bring to you the things I learned while working a water station:

– The elite athletes do not look like they’re sprinting.  They look they are effortlessly striding along.  They look like gazelles.

– Marathoners come in all different shapes and sizes.  I will never judge a book by its cover again.  I saw folks that didn’t look like runners outrun people that looked like personal trainers.  I saw young, I saw old.  Seeing the wide range of people doing this marathon gave me the inspiration I needed to press forward.  I also saw lots of kooky folks like a jump roper, a guy running the entire marathon in full denim overalls (I don’t even want to think about the chafing!), the juggler, people donning costumes and people running for causes.  All gave me inspiration. 

– I am definitely displaying my name LARGELY on my shirt at the marathon.  I have always read that you should do this so that you get an extra boost when running.  I experienced this at Iron Girl so I was sure to say, “Go [insert name]” if I could read the runner’s name.  Everytime I did, the person smiled.  I’m not saying it was ME that gave them the smile but I think its always nice to get a personalized shout of encouragement.

– I am going to try to smile as much as possible when racing.  I was amazed by the number of folks that looked like they were having the time of their lives.  They weren’t always running fast and sometimes they slowed to a walk… but they always looked happy to be a part of the race.  I hope I feel that happy.

– I will ALWAYS thank the volunteers at the water stop.  it is a lot of work and these folks are VOLUNTEERING their free time to get splashed all over (by water AND gatorade) and pick up the cups all over the streets all in the name of providing you with a drink.  I never thought to thank them but I was actually touched by the number of runners that took the 10 seconds to say, “thanks for volunteering!”

Jeremy finished the half marathon in 1:53:58.  My amazing friend that ran for me ran it in 1:54:29.  They didn’t run the race together but if you were to look up our last name, it would appear as though we ran nearly the entire race together and Jeremy just sprinted at the end like a jerk.  While I wouldn’t put it past him to do that if we were to run together, clearly that was not the case.  Another obnoxious thing to point out is that Jeremy has NEVER run 13.1 miles before and still managed to do it a hell of a lot faster than I ever could!  And this pace felt “slow” to him!  Puke!

I am proud of Jeremy but I spent most of the day in my funk.  But today, reflecting on all the things I saw, I am more pumped than ever to run the Philly marathon.

I just wish my body would quickly get on board!

Congrats to all the runners that finished all the races (5k, relay, half and full).



Filed under Charm City Kim Runs

7 responses to “Things I Learned about Marathons while Working a Water Station

  1. If I had to take a stab at it, that jackass was just bitter about his own injuries. Stab him.

    I wanted to! I’ll track him down and kick him. 🙂

  2. Meredith

    Add that guy to the list of people you need to punch in the face. He can line up behind super turd from your class!!

    I guess because last year was my first 5K and I was just focusing on not dying, I too did not give much thought to the time and effort of the volunteers but this year I heard so many people thanking them for volunteering as we went thru the finish line area and it gave me new perspective on the job everyone is out there doing. Its a huge time commitment on their part and they really need to be recognized for standing out there all day and keeping all the runners watered and fed and making it possible for us to complete our races.

    Holy s**t Mitzi kicked ass!

    And he didn’t even train! How annoying!

  3. Kt

    Omigosh I didn’t know you were sobbing on your way. You poor thing. I completely understand how frustrating it can be to not be able to follow through with a goal. It’s beyond frustrating I’m sure. And I’m sure you feel totally helpless.

    I was going to write on my blog that Ian is really hoping you’re all better for Philly but didn’t want to make you feel badly about it!

    I’m praying that this is just a bump in the training for you and you can come back healthy and ready to go! (and I know you’re not the praying type – but I am so I am for you)

    I don’t know if you noticed that I was in a funk. I felt bad because I wanted to be happy for Ian and Jeremy but I was just so upset with myself. Ugh!

    I appreciate the prayers!

  4. You cry when you can’t exercise, I whine when I have to. 🙂

    Haha – how weird! I used to hate exercise years ago and now I get cranky when I can’t workout. Who would have thought? And this is coming from the girl that faked an asthma attack in high school to get out of running.

  5. I’m with willikat. Exercise makes me whiny. Also, I just added you as a flickr friend. Accept ok? 🙂

    I accepted!

  6. Paul T

    If it’s any consolation, I had to take a week off of training last year as well due to the same exact thing….stupid IT band!!! You should be back at it soon, no worries. Funny thing to note, when I ran with the 4:45 pace team, the pace leaders MADE and ENCOURAGED you say THANK YOU to every volunteer. I totally get that……Jeremy is a beast.

    I hope I’m back soon!

  7. Aw sorry to hear that it made you sad. But it’s great of you to suck it up and still help out; it really is wonderful to have so much help from volunteers.

    And all the stuff you learned is so true!

    My IT band kept me out for about 3 months. But when I got back from it, I ran better than I ever had before. I’m so glad that I let it heal and didn’t push it too soon. If you can do Philly, it would be awesome, but I think it will be easy to tell if you’re ready or not. And if you’re not, don’t try; it’s not worth being injured all winter!

    That’s true. I’m just not ready to accept that yet. 🙂

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