One year ago, on April 14, 2012, I ran my first race. It was a 5k and it changed my life forever. I learned that day that I am capable of far more than I give myself credit for. I also learned the huge impact that race spectators and volunteers can have on a runner. Running was a hobby that I took on for myself and mostly by myself. I enjoyed my solo runs because they gave me time to reflect. In retrospect I viewed running rather selfishly; it was all about me. One year later I can vividly recall my surprise at hearing a group of complete strangers cheering for me during that first 5k race. It was the first time in a long time that I had unconditional support for something I'd set out to accomplish, and it was amazing.
I credit that race and experience for being the catalyst that set me on a path to change my life for the better. Those total strangers made such an impact on me that I made a goal for myself to volunteer for two races in 2013. So today, on my one-year race-iversary, I spent five hours volunteering at a water stop for a local half-marathon. It. Was. AWESOME! What a joy to be able to see and interact with so many runners, from the insanely fast to the back-of-the-pack!
The course was an out-and-back, so we had the pleasure of providing water and gatorade at both mile 4 and mile 12. I loved being able to support these runners, especially as they were about to embark on their final mile - up a huge hill. So many people thanked us for volunteering and for supporting them and it touched my heart because I know how much I appreciate that support when I am running a race. At one point I was shouting encouragement to a large group of runners and told them they were looking great. One guy ran over and said, "Really? Does my hair still look good? Can you tell I've been working out?" LOL! It was so awesome to see that even 12 miles into a race people had smiles, a sense of humor, and were enjoying themselves.
I am so proud to call myself a runner and to be a part of this beautiful and supportive community. I could not think of a better way to spend my one-year race-iversary and I look forward to many years of racing and volunteering to come!