Sprint for Monroe 5K Race Recap: Part One
When I started this blog, I featured in the top photo bar a photo of me running my local 5K, the Sprint for Monroe. I had been running for about 7 months, but it had always been my goal race, because I live right on the course. For eight years I’d watched people run by my house every June. Last year, I was one of them.
This year, I was in charge of the race.
I couldn’t sleep the night before. A group of us had gone over to the local park the night before and “loaded in”. This meant transporting the 900+ race bags we’d filled earlier in the week, the 840 bottles of beverages, thousand plus T shirts, four dozen trophies, 300 kids’ race medals, raffle prizes, etc out of my house and into a tiny little building at the park. And my stuff was just a part of it: others on my committee brought fruit, Gatorade, signs, tape, trash bags, tables, you name it. We spent half an hour unloading it all and then another hour drinking beers together. Running really does bring people together.
I didn’t sleep much the night before the race. I couldn’t get out of my head the myriad things that had to be remembered, brought to the race site, thought of. Don’t forget the boxes of baked goods from the local bakery, the folding table, the ladder. I was up at 5 and at the race site by 6.
By 6:20 I had at least ten people helping me set up the race site. All of the things we’d loaded in the night before had to come out and be set up. We had to set up the registration area: there was preregistration, there was race day registration. We needed a place to have people fill out the forms away from the main registration table to alleviate bottle necks there.
And the Kids’ Fun Run. Our fun run was in honor of Chase Kowalski, one of the victims of Sandy Hook. My girlfriend who had chaired this part of our race couldn’t be there that day. It all needed to be perfect. But fortunately, a longtime volunteer with our race, who normally worked the Fun Run, came early enough that I could show her what I needed done during registration. She asked a few questions, and then she put her head down and took charge. I was so relieved.
By seven am, the army of volunteers and sponsors who were setting up tables began to show up. It was a crazy whirlwind of pointing people in this direction and that. Things seemed to happen out of thin air, but of course it wasn’t that at all. It was all the weeks and months of prior planning, and many hands making light work.
By 7:30 we opened registration for both the kids’ race and the 5K. The people grew thicker. People I knew were greeting me, asking me questions, congratulating me before anything even had even begun. My family showed up in advance of the Fun Run (my youngest was running in it). I was so glad that both of my kids were involved in this event, with my 13 year old running the 5K and my youngest doing the Fun Run. It really made the day feel like we all had a piece of the puzzle to own.
I walked around to check on all of my sponsors who had set up tables around the perimeter of the picnic area around 7:45. I wanted to make sure they were happy, didn’t need anything, felt satisfied with plunking down money or product on our little hometown event here. They mostly seemed happy. Unfortunately I realized that in my talking and schmoozing I’d nearly missed the start of the Kids’ Fun Run at 8:15. I jogged down to the Kids area and got there just in time to hear the final announcements before the start of the race.
This is where my first “choked up” moment came. I saw all of these little kids, but the one whose name the race bore (Race4Chase), the one who’d been there before, just a year ago….it just hit me. But I pulled it in, held it together, with just two tiny tears escaping as I hugged and smiled the parents, the sponsors, the people I knew.
I watched the kids’ race as much as a parent as anything else. My poor little guy, not a runner, not an athlete, lumbered along, alternately running and walking, the last of the pack. “Just like me” I thought as he pushed himself the final stretch of the run, towards the medals and the stuffed bears brought by Sandy Hook Run for the Families. I hugged him, gave him a squeeze, and left him with my husband as I went out to the starting line for the 5K race.
The start line was packed with the nearly 700 people who’d ended up coming on race day (we had nearly 800 registered). I had wavered on whether or not to run this race myself, even with all of my duties. It seemed so crazy not to run the race that I’d put so much time and effort into planning. But as I walked up to that starting line, I knew I’d made the right choice. I would have been distracted at that point by all of the things going through my head before a run. And at that moment I needed to focus on all of the things that made this event go smoothly. I held the ladder I’d brought for our race photographer, hoping she could capture the enormity of the amount of people involved by adding some height to the perspective, and looked around.
I did this, I thought. I know that isn’t entirely true, of course. An army of people were helping that day and had helped in the days leading up to this event to make this all happen. But at the end of the day, I was the person who’d made sure that those green T shirts happened, that these people had forms to sign up with, that the people who would say GO were here, so many of the decisions I’d made all alone, worked hard on. I did them. I did this, I thought. It was quite a moment.
And then they were off. All nearly 700 ran past within a minute, turned the corner, and it got quiet. It would be another 16 minutes (!) before they started trickling in again.
End of Part One