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One America Indy 500 Mini Marathon: The Other Side of the Race

Friday, May 10, 2013

This past weekend, I volunteered to hand out pretzels at the finish line of the One America Indy 500 Festival Mini Marathon. It was my first experience as a race volunteer and not a runner, so I wasn't sure at all what to expect.

Woke up at 4:15am (that sucked) and drove downtown, only to get totally lost trying to find the Volunteer Check-In (which was conveniently located at a tiny table BEHIND a whole bunch of donuts). There were no signs. To say I was grumpy would be an understatement. But, as I drank my free coffee with the perfect 55-degree sunrise, I made a decision not to be in a foul mood all day.

As soon as I finished breakfast, I went out to my station. I hadn't thought about the fact that there would be things to do BEFORE runners finish the race. Ha.

We had about 15 huge boxes of pretzels to empty and then about 20 large bags of individual packets to dump into each box (for easier access as runners come through the finish area). Then, when we were done with our table, there were about 6 other tables that needed help with the same thing.

Then, there was a lot of cardboard that needed to be hauled to the recycling area. From 6am-8am, that finish line area was hopping! From the moment I started working, I suddenly felt happy.

It was a very physical morning and I was surprised at what a great workout I was getting just preparing for the runners. Around 8:30am, the 5k finishers started to come in. There must have been about 5,000 of them. We began handing out pretzels. Then, the wheelchair finishers of the half marathon began to trickle in around 9am. After that, there was a steady flow of runners that turned into waves and waves of humanity. We were passing out pretzels faster than we could grab them. It was just incredible. I personally handed out at least 2,000 bags. AMAZING!

The runners were so thankful and many of them were thrilled to have salt and carbs. It was cool, knowing how it felt to be in their shoes...to NEED something that badly and to have it right there waiting at the end. All in all, a really fun experience and a great morning. It was exhausting, but it was worth it. And I can't complain about a free t-shirt, free parking space and a bunch of free food on race day. :)

After volunteering at the Indy Mini, I definitely felt that I'd caught the running bug again. I had almost talked myself into signing up for the Fort4Fitness Half Marathon in September, but when I realized how close that actually is (yeah, I know...crazy), I didn't feel I would have enough time to adequately prepare my delicate joints/bones.

So, I'm sticking with the 10k, which I know is a manageable distance. I think I'm going to do the C210k (Couch-to-10k) program because, although I know I *can* do more, I probably *shouldn't* do more. Using the program will force me to ramp up more slowly this time and hopefully (fingers crossed) keep me free from injury. I've mentioned a few times in the past how difficult it is to figure out a training schedule on the weeks that I have kids. I'm actually quite happy with the 10k plan because it is something I can fit into my lunch hours easily. Now, all I have to do is get it on my calendar and keep my promises to myself.

You know, there was a short period of time there where I felt overwhelmed and thought, "Maybe I shouldn't even bother with this anymore. I'll never have time. I'll never stick to it." Truth be told, I have a wonderful person in my life that tells me every single day that I'm ridiculously beautiful. Although very sweet, it sometimes makes me think that I don't really need to do anything if I'm supposedly so perfect the way I am. But I just can't give up on myself that easily. When it all comes down to it, I know how working out and taking care of myself makes me feel. It makes me feel invincible. And no amount of doting and loving words from another can fully replace the sense of pride I feel when I am faithful to take care of the body that God gave me.

Another thing I've been thinking about is how very thankful I am for my ex-husband. I know that might sound weird, but I was away on business for an entire week (MY kid week) and he took the kids. The very next week, my friend flew in for the Indy Mini and it was supposed to be my weekend but he took the kids. We have had to change our schedule completely this month...not because anyone was crying "Unfair!" but mostly so the kids would have a chance to actually spend time with me. Through it all, he has been ever so kind and accommodating and has been willing to negotiate with me on every point.

I realize what a gift this is. We have never fought. We have never made transitions with the kids a nightmare. We only speak fondly of each other to the kids. We filled out the papers ourselves and agreed on 50/50 joint physical and legal custody with no child support, then waived our final hearing. The judge signed it and it was done. Believe me...I know this is rare. I have seen firsthand divorces that turn out to be the complete opposite (my mom and stepdad, for instance)...where one party says awful things about the other to the kids, or does terrible things just to screw with the other person, or basically manipulates the courts to make their ex's life a living hell. It makes me wonder how so many divorced couples can let things get so out of hand. I just want to ask those people, "Do you even care what your selfish and immature actions against your ex are doing to your kids' precious hearts?!" How can people not be grown up enough to simply be civil to each other...when they've spent a decade or more together raising children?

Maybe my view is simplistic. You can say, "Divorce is messy, Leah. That's the way it is...that's the real world." Well, I don't accept that. It doesn't have to be that way. People have a CHOICE to be cruel or to be kind. All that to say, I'm glad my ex and I have chosen to be kind.

So, I guess that's my life right now. It's not glamorous or overly-exciting. It's not always easy. But it's a good life. And I'm enjoying it.
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