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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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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    Glad you realized that your health has nothing to do with anybody else but you. This is you being kind to you. Yay You!
    1772 days ago
    What a wonderful blog. You hit challenges (to say the least, not being able to race) and came up with alternatives and made the very best of it. You are looking so positively at life in general. You have a hold on things. I am impressed.

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    1772 days ago
    1772 days ago
  • SHERYLP461
    1772 days ago
  • OWL_20
    As a sometime runner--thanks for your volunteering! Without them the race would fall flat. Those things always inspire me to go run, too. Not sure why it works out like that. lol And while I'm sorry to hear about the divorce I am so very glad you and he can talk things out because you're right, it's a choice to be cruel or kind. Hope you have a fantastic weekend!
    1772 days ago
    Great blog! Keep up the amazing work and keep pushing! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
    1772 days ago
    Sounds like you're doing a GREAT job with your life. It is uplifting to see you and your ex in harmony about putting the kids first.

    And it is good to see you doing things that keep you involved with others with similar ambitions/interests... volunteering is a wonderful opportunity, and I loved this blog "from the other side".

    Wise plan to come back slow for that 10K... taking care of ourselves, and achieving balance. That's what it's all about! Spark on! emoticon
    1772 days ago
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    1772 days ago
    Your blog made me smile! emoticon
    1773 days ago
    That looks so wonderful. I'm happy for you.
    1773 days ago
    Thanks for the update - I enjoy reading your blogs.

    I'm glad you enjoyed helping out at the race and that it's encouraged you to prepare for your next 10K race.

    Best wishes!
    1773 days ago
  • MOM-MOM8
    Sounds like you are settling in well with all your changes. Keeping the kids in mind and being kind does work best for all. emoticon

    emoticon for the info on the work of race volunteers. I do not run but was thinking of volunteering. I never thought about the set up, but that truly is very important. Have a great week end!
    1773 days ago
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    1773 days ago
    until you've done it, it's hard to imagine all the work those volunteers do at races. I wrote a blog about my behind-the-scenes experience in April.

    emoticon to you and XH for being adults. That petty nitpicking crap doesn't do anybody and good. It's easy to fall into that trap, so kudos to both of you for rising above it.

    emoticon on your race plan. You've suffered set-backs, so you KNOW that you do not need to go all out. Pace yourself...hey, you should be an expert at that!
    1773 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    What a joyful blog! I could almost feel what it was like at the finish line! I don't know if I will ever be a runner, but I was (vicariously) at the run while I read your blog.

    You are so blessed to have an ex who cares more about what's right for your children than being mean. I, too, have seen and heard horror stories!


    I applaud your wisdom in tackling running sensibly. It sounds as if it's the right thing to do!
    1773 days ago
    You have both handled it so well. When I got divorced, many years ago, I tried as much as I could not to put the kids in the middle but unfortunately their dad didn't. But I believe in trying to work as much out as possible for the kids sake, and not using the kids as a therapist to air what you see as wrong with the other person. Glad you had such a great time volunteering at the race too!
    1773 days ago
    I so admire the way you and your ex have handled everything. You are a great example to others on how to navigate through a tough situation. emoticon
    1773 days ago
  • LEWILL1982
    Don't give up on yourself, you are worth it and so is your health. Keep plugging away and fit it in and do it where you can. You can do this!
    1773 days ago
  • LINDAK25
    You sound happy! That's fantastic. Glad to hear you're doing well.
    1773 days ago
    Sounds like you are in a great place.
    1773 days ago
    You are spot on about how a civil divorce is good for the kids. Mine was messy and a horror. My daughter went through a divorce and she and her ex (and his new wife) are now best of friends. They are even guests at her wedding next month. Her daughter now has four parents instead of two and is not a screwed up mess.

    1773 days ago
    I am happy for you that your life is not "all or nothing" state of mind. Be happy! emoticon
    emoticon Jeanne emoticon
    1773 days ago
  • DJSHIP46
    Sounds like you enjoyed your volunteer experience! I used to do that kind of thing at "the Tour of the Unknown Coast" and I always enjoyed it... even though a lot of the bikers were pretty impatient and treated us a lot like furniture! If all participants also did a little volunteering the world would probably be a nicer place:)
    1773 days ago
    Glad to hear from you! emoticon I'm glad all is well with you and yours.

    Divorce is HARD and some handle it better than others but you are so right that no one should involve their kids. I kind of feel sorry for your ex, I hope he has someone special too.

    I really enjoyed knowing about the race and I couldn't believe all of those bananas!

    Take care! emoticon

    1773 days ago
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