Saturday, November 9, 2013

Overcoming my fears and traveling to volunteer...

Last week, I had the privilege of volunteering at the Silver Falls Half and Full Marathon!  This truly is a privilege as the race sells out in about ten minutes for the half and within a day (if not sooner) for the full.  Volunteers are a limited number and many would like the opportunity to go and help out and cheer on these amazing runners!  (...Not to mention get an entry into a future event for free.)
As you might have gathered from some of my other recaps, I'm a bling chaser.  I love that feeling of celebration a race brings for all that training and hard work and the token of accomplishment at a "well done" a fun finisher's medal can give hanging from your tired, aching neck.  

On my way to the race to start my volunteer shift, it occurred to me that I had no idea what the finisher's medal looked like, if it was "worth it" or if it was only available to finishers of the full and not the half... as I have goals on participating in next year's half.

So what was it that is drawing me to this race?  After reading some of the recaps of the amazing but challenging course, I'm not so sure how I'll fair.  Hills, mud, very cold rain, flooded trails, etc.  And amazing Oregon scenery.  Running behind waterfalls!  Look at the race photos on the website, they are ahh-mazing. 

Let me tell you a little about myself, what running has done to me and why I'm going after this race....

I'm an anxious person.  I am.  A wall flower even.  Driving far from home (over 30 miles) in a new area on roads I've never traveled on... scares the crap out of me.  Maybe literally.  So here I was, sitting in the driver's seat of my empty car driving 2 hours away from home for a race I wasn't even running.  

I was scared, but reveling in the new sense of adventure and being so proud of myself for this achievement, I could only blame one thing.  Running.

I really really want to be apart of this elite race that sells out so quickly.  I want to be apart of the pack that can say "I finished it."  "I survived the cold rain, the flooded creek, the crazy hill at mile 10 and the freezing temps.  My legs carried me, my training got me through and my spirit was ablaze and I could do it.  I did it."

But can I?  I have 12 months for doubt to set in and be fought off with cross training and building up some miles.

Any advice on trail running gear for the cold cold rain?  

I snapped a quick photo of the finish as I picked up any litter from the after party/recovery tent.  I got to help serve hot chili to the finishers and then scrubbed the dishes and helped break down "camp".  While cleaning up, the youngest finisher crossed the finish line at 5:56:49 for the FULL marathon.  His FIRST marathon.  His first half was at this event last year.  He is 11 years old!  WOW!

Everything is getting put away, but the beer tent is still open!  
 I think that nine out of ten runners told me "thank you" or "thank you for being here." which just gave me all those great warm fuzzies.  All I was doing was scrubbing pots and pans, how could that be helpful to their race?  But they walked past my sink and said it anyway.  :)

I think my volunteer supervisor said thank you to me more than 50 times.  Then, after the raffle and prizes for the finishers, the announcer called up all the volunteers and remaining finishers under the tent all clapped for us.  My wall flower tendency was in overdrive, but part of me was eating it up too.

Afterwards, the volunteers all received a tech shirt from the race.  I absolutely love it, though I feel like I still need to "earn it" by running the race.

Here is the finisher's medal, that also doubles as a bottle opener.  I asked a group warming up by the fire if they'd use it as a bottle opener after working so hard for it on the trail.  Without hesitation all of them said in unison "YES!"  Then someone dug out a bottle of beer in a near by cooler and showed us all how it worked.  

The welcoming fire place under the picnic area where food was served.  I was a wee bit grateful to be near the hot propane camp stoves with boiling pots of chili and the near by fire.  Temps were a November cold and the rain was also freezing.

Next year a ultra will also be offered in the line up.  This is going to be amazing. 

I need some serious tips on running in such cold and wet weather.  I'm a slow runner and going to be out there awhile.  Any advice is welcome!!


  1. I ran the Oregon Half Marathon (by Uberthons) in Vernonia back in September during a semi-monsoon . . . it wasn't that cold but it was pretty steady rain.

    Gear: Hat with bill to keep rain from splashing on my face; Brooks running jacket (basically a thin, waterproof shell); longsleeve tech shirt; tech shorts; wool socks. If it were really cold (say <40 degrees), I would've put on running tights underneath the shorts. I also had a pair of thin gloves in my jacket pocket in case I needed them, but I didn't.

    Smartphone went into a ziplock bag to protect it from the rain.

    I brought dry clothes to change into after the race, most of which I left in my car. I was wearing a pair of sweatpants until just 30 minutes before race time, when I stuffed them in the bagcheck bag.

    1. Awesome tips! I forget to bring "after race" clothes that are nice and dry... :)