This morning, from the comfort of my living room, I watched my first Boston Marathon. My thoughts were on my hope qualify to run it next year (I’ll be trying to shave off the 6 minutes I need to qualify May 28th). While watching I was surprised by the emotional effect of something so ordinary… the water table!
Yes. The water table. While watching I noticed the stacks of water cups, three or four layers! Having never run in a BIG race I’ve never seen so many cups stacked high on one table…and then multiplied by many tables. I told my husband, “look at all those cups!” The weird thing though, was the emotion that was distorting my voice. He’s used to me being a bit emotional at times…but water cups? Seriously?
Seriously. I thought about it a couple hours later as I did my own 8 miles for today and understood the significance of the water cups. Here’s the story…
Four years ago I heard a fellow pastor share how the members of her church worked at a water station for the Pasadena Marathon. I had been running for about 18 months and had just completed my first half marathon. I thought, “wouldn’t it be nice if members of my church (Our Redeemer, Oxnard) could volunteer for a marathon?” Then I saw information about the Ventura Marathon to be held in September, coincidentally on a day we dedicate to volunteering in the community.
I recruited enough volunteers to fill one shift at one station. I didn’t know about signing up as a group, so I signed us all up as individuals. We’ve since figured this out and have volunteered at all four Ventura Marathon races. My part in the last three has been coordination up to race day, but not actually handing out water. Instead I run!
I still remember that first year, while giving cups of water to marathoners and half-marathoners. It was so much fun. It was so inspirational. That day, I decided that I would run the Ventura Marathon the next year… and I did.
At this point I wasn’t part of the local running community. My training was all found online. My goal for this first marathon was to finish…not last! I met these goals, but barely, coming in at 5:51:02…just 9 minutes before the deadline. This was among the hardest things I’ve ever done! Of course that was only until the next, and next, and next marathons. My May attempt to qualify for Boston will be my 6th in just under 3 years (I’ve also shaved 1 hour 37 minutes off that first time).
Would I have done a marathon anyway? Maybe. But the Ventura Marathon was my entry into the local running community and so will always be special to me. And it started with a table full of water!
Today I’m personally thankful for: all the members of the M26 Running Tribe; for my family becoming a “running family”; and for all those who volunteer at races.