Chicago Marathon Week 1 Day 6

Or… Rest day!! Let’s volunteer at the Brooklyn Half!

Ok, yes technically my schedule says Long Slow Run (LSR), but because I’d signed up to volunteer at the Brooklyn Half before I signed up for Chicago AND I got scheduled to work at 1pm at the store, I’m swapping my rest day and my LSR day.

So I found myself getting up, fed, and ready to leave my apartment by 3:45 to get to the Brooklyn Museum parking lot by 5am as per my instructions. (In reality, I could have left at least 30 minutes later and still been ok as people were still getting signed in at 5:30…but I’m one of those weird people who’d rather be early than late.)

I was a start marshal. What that meant was I got assigned to be outside a couple of corrals and direct people into the correct one. And at a certain point the corrals were closed and everyone else was to be directed to the end of the bunch. Theoretically we had the right to take numbers of anyone who was too belligerent about going into the wrong corral or going to the end once they were closed (including those who pushed past us or jumped the barricade) – but in practice it’s not like they gave us notepads and pens or pencils. I might have to remember that if I start marshal again. This race had the added thing of we weren’t just looking at color on the bib but the number specifically. Smaller NYRR races give each corral its own color, but in this one there could be 3 or 4 corrals per color with each corral holding up to 1000 people.

By and large, most people were awesome about going into the correct corral. A few were questioning their color (“But I’m a 9 minute mile! Why am I purple? I’m never *purple*!” (The subtext there is “I’m not THAT slow!” as purple is often the final corral in NYRR races…or has been up until now anyway.) There are 15-16K in this race, and odds are there are a lot of people even speedier than you. If your bib pace says 9 minute mile and you’re purple, I’m gonna bet others in your corral are around your pace range.), but not too many. As the corrals got more crowded and race time got closer, we had more people trying to jump in earlier corrals. We also had people who didn’t seem to get the “If you want to run with a runner at a slower pace than yours, you may move to their slower corral” memo. I personally had a group of four who wanted to run together and apparently averaged their bibs (from a 1000 number to a 14000 nuumber) and decided they should be in the 2000 or 3000 corral. Nope. If all four of you want to start together, all four of you are going to the 14000 corral. They eventually split themselves up and got in corrals. One other start marshal had someone with a 9000 number try to bribe his wife’s way into his corral – her bib was 20000-something. She claimed she put the wrong estimated time in, etc. and he produced a $20 and tried to give it to the volunteer. It didn’t work, but you have to laugh at just how New York that is.

Once the corrals were closed, that’s when it got fun. Where fun means “not really all that fun”. Many of the people I dealt with were compliant – or at least they waited until they were out of my sight before they attempted jumping in again. But there are always going to be some who think rules don’t apply to them and push through or jump barricades. “But it’s in BROOKLYN and I live in MANHATTAN!!!” I make it FROM Brooklyn to Manhattan for races all the time with no problem. It’s called planning ahead. And also? You knew the race was in Brooklyn when you signed up for it in the 9 hours it was open. Did you think it was going to magically start in Mahnattan?? A little research on hopstop.com or the MTA’s site will route you there around construction and give you estimated travel time (and here’s a hint…hopstop will usually get you there much sooner than it says.) I have very little sympathy for issues like that because it IS so easy to do the research. (Granted, for those that were driving, the NYRR’s tweet about congestion on one of the highways was a little late…but still, it won’t kill you to get to a race early.)

Let me take that last part out of parentheses… IT WILL NOT KILL YOU TO GET TO A RACE EARLY!!! In fact, it might help your race overall because if you’re there early you can relax a bit, you can do whatever you do to warm up, you can pee before running to the corrals (as opposed to running to get in a corral and then asking where the portapotties are – the answer was right back where you dropped off your baggage), etc.

We also got to help spectators who wanted to know where the F train was (all the way on the other side of Prospect Park) and if they’d see anything from where we were (the slow parade of people walking up to the start where they can start running). All in all, good times!

As runners were making their way up to the start, I shouted encouragement to them. Once they were past, we moved into the roadway to pick up trash (I found an unopened PowerBar gel – score! Just wash that baby off!!) and put discarded clothing into laundry bags to be donated somwehere. Then we moved the barricades before heading back to check out and get our t-shirts. No coffee or munchies were provided for volunteers as is sometimes done, but I was ok having eaten before leaving and having taken coffee with me. They wasted no time in clearing the portapotties away and though there were still two little rows, I was too scared they’d come and take it with me in it to try that, so I walked over to Prospect Park and was able to cheer runners along as I walked to the restroom before heading home.

It’s a gorgeous day, and I wish all the runners the best – even those who were testy at the starting area! šŸ™‚ Thanks to volunteering, I’ve got a guaranteed entry into the race should I choose to run it (not complimentary, but guaranteed) – but really I volunteered because as a runner I feel I should give something back when I can, and it’s not that hard to volunteer.

Give it a try sometime! šŸ™‚

Training mileage: 3.89
Weight: 178

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