Today was the 42nd annual Harrisburg Marathon. If you are looking for my finish line photo, or want to know my finishing time, you’ll be disappointed. I didn’t run it. I did run it in 2006, and helped 3 friends finish the last few miles in the years since then, but this year I didn’t run a step. Instead I volunteered as a course flagger.
I spent about an hour standing in what ended up being GREAT weather (great for the runners, decent for the volunteers). It was very cool (mid-40s), mostly sunny, with no wind and no chance of precipitation. I spent about 30 minutes waiting for my flag to be delivered. During that time, I mourned the loss of the Pep Grill. No more late nights with the former Mayor. No more jukebox. No more flaming Dr. Pepper’s. The end of an era; it’s so sad. My contemplation was interrupted by delivery of my flag and my “thank you” gift of a $5 gift card to Subway. It was unnecessary, but appreciated! With my flag and my son’s shakey egg in hand, I was ready to flag the crap out of that course.
Sadly, my ability to quickly shake the shakey egg with my left hand and wave the flag back and forth with my right was pretty pathetic. It was kind of like rubbing your stomach and patting your head; it takes a lot of thought. Once I got that down, though, I was as bubbly as I could be. What do you say at mile 2? You risk getting punched in the face if you say stuff like, “You’re almost there!” Even “Great job runner” sounds a little silly because, seriously, it’s the second mile. I said it anyway, because that’s just what you say. Eventually random stuff came out:
“This is BEAUTIFUL running weather, people! It’s perfect for chasing that PR!”
“Have fun!” and “Have a GREAT time out there!” (I got several evil eyes – as though they thought I was being sarcastic. I was being serious; running is fun!)
“I stole my son’s toy so I could come out and make a lot of noise and cheer you on!” This one was met with some laughs and smiles as I showed them my shakey egg.
Every time a pace group leader came through, I screamed, “PACE GROUP! WOOOOOOOHOOOOO! YEAH!” Those folks usually gave me a holler back. I will say that the runners running in packs looked significantly happier than those going it alone. Significantly.
I friggin’ love volunteering at races. It’s just so fun to be a part of those events. It almost makes me want to run another marathon. Almost.