Sunday, November 1, 2015

NYC Marathon Weekend Part 3: What it's like to volunteer at the start line, and why fitting into the marathon jacket was a big deal for me

I'm all smiles at today's marathon
start line. Photo by Andy Cross.
Since Squawker Jon is out of town today, I am taking the liberty of doing a trilogy in the blog about the New York City Marathon, and the events connected with it. Jon would call it navel-gazing, but since he can't stop me, I'm going to type away! Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here.

Anyhow, I volunteered at the Staten Island start line for the NYC Marathon this morning. I did this last year as well. As most readers know, I have lost over 60 pounds so far on my weight loss/fitness journey (over 40 of it this year), but I still have at least 25 more to go. I try to be upbeat, but I have to admit to having a lot of misery along the way. Some things I've spoken about, and some I've kept inside.

Here's one thing that I want to talk about now, even thought it was totally humiliating to me. It's about what happened last year when I volunteered at the marathon start line.

When you volunteer, you get a special blue and yellow jacket to wear during your shift, and that you can bring home with you. In November 2014, I went to pick up my jacket at the start line. Unfortunately, the biggest size they had then was a large. (No extra-large or extra-extra-large jackets left.) So I had to wear that jacket the whole shift, even though it was so small I couldn't zip it up, It wasn't just that I couldn't close it with a sweatshirt on under it. No, I couldn't zip it up with just a t-shirt on under it! How embarrassing. What's more, it took many months -- and many pounds lost -- before I could zip it up.

Some of the SIAC volunteers at the race.
Fast forward to November 2015. I asked for -- and got -- a medium jacket. And I was able to zip it up, even with both a thick hoodie and a long-sleeved cotton running club shirt under it. This may not sound like a big deal to you, but I can't tell you how happy it made me.

I know I am still overweight, but I've gone from "big as a house" to "chubby." And hopefully, by 2016, I will be officially "thin." Dare to dream!

Anyhow, that positive moment today was matched by a very positive experience volunteering at the start line corrals. I got to work with people from the Staten Island Athletic Club, my running club. Some of them I knew fairly well, some of whom I knew a little, and some of whom I only knew from Facebook and email correspondence. It was all a blast to see them today.

Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam (yes, I'm dating myself here!)
While it was fun seeing everyone, but I especially liked meeting another Lisa, a fellow Staten Islander and a TV news producer. We know each other from Facebook, but this is the first time we met in real life. And we have a mutual admiration society thing going!

And seeing the runners was amazing. The marathon has 50,000 runners. There are three sets of corrals: blue, orange, and green. Blue, where I worked, is the most prestigious. Then there are four waves of runners, and six corrals per wave. I was working in Corral C. So we would not only see the runners in our corral, but the people past them, as they walked through to the bridge.

Kristin and Chre, just before the race
Most runners were chill. But some people flipped out if they didn't get to their wave on time, and would have to wait for the next group to run. I understood where they were coming from. But we still couldn't let them in, to their chagrin.

The vast majority of people were nice. I did notice that the runners in the last wave -- the ones who were running for charity, or doing their first marathon, or who had slower times -- were particularly friendly. So many of them thanked us for volunteering, which was sweet.

It was so many people, though, it could be a little overwhelming. Which is why it was funny when we were just talking about how difficult it would be to spot people we knew when we saw Kristin and Chre from our club! Was great to wish them luck before their race. Wish I could have personally wished good luck to the rest of the 23 SIAC members who ran the marathon. And to my cousin Jen, who ran the race for the first time.

Now, onto the big question people always ask me: when am I running a marathon? I plan on doing one someday. But I don't want to be on the road for eight hours! Let alone all the time it would take me to train at my current speed. So I want to make significant progress in not just weight loss, but my speed and stamina, before I do so. Whether that means I will run the NYC Marathon in 2016 or 2017 is unclear at this moment. I have met the 9+1 qualifications for 2016, but I haven't decided yet.

At this point, though, I was happy to see the excitement on fellow runners' faces, as they got ready to run the race of their lives. What a day!

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