Monday, May 5, 2008

Inside the Maze

This weekend I got a glimpse of running a race from another angle as I helped out behind the scenes for the Maze 10k/30k trail run. Meanwhile, Nancy ran the 30k - her first ever 30k - and had a great race. She beat her goal time by nearly 50 minutes, and I was able to crew for her and take photos each loop!!!

Friday evening I showed up at the Rogue store to help with packet stuffing. We had a fun group and I had a great time. There were about 8 of us stuffing maybe 350 packets, and by the end we had set up a well oiled production line. Joe and Crash went through the list of runners, marking and coding each bag (bib number, F or M for gender, shirt size and T or C for tech or cotton), then the chip and bib people matched up chips and bibs to the bags which were then handed off to the gophers (one of which was yours truly). I think the gophers got the best job as we would then go and find the relevant shirt, swoop by the paper people who would drop in all the flyers and info packets, and finally hand off to the "bag lady" who would arrange the stuffed bags by chip number. We were pretty much done in an hour and then hung around for a while eating pizza and drinking beer.

I started Saturday morning off early with a quick Ken's loop with Henry and co. They were going on to run a whole lot more, but I dropped out early to go help with morning packet pickup. Got to the Rogue store by 9, and the early crew was myself, Crash and Charlene. We got a steady stream of customers and it was very laid back and fun. Between customers we just hung out and chatted. The second shift arrived at 1, and consisted of Pete, Kelly and Jeff - familiar faces from packet stuffing the night before. Pete would go on to have a great run and take second place in the 30k.

Spent a great few hours in the afternoon playing "indoor soccer" with Gavin (basically kicking an inflatable ball back and forth in the corridor and bouncing it off walls). From time to time he would "steal" the ball and run off and hide it. It was then my job to find it while he taunted me. Once I found it I'd run off in triumph and celebrate, not realizing that he'd sneaked up behind me and was stealing it back. And so on and so forth. Hours of fun!!!

Late afternoon I wandered over to Walnut Creek (the race site) to help with course marking. Robert, Diana and myself were responsible for the first 3 miles, while Joe, Henry and TJ did the second half. It was a pleasant evening with good company, but not far into the loop we came across some kids running along holding handfuls of our ribbons - with their parents!!! Robert gave them a good ear bashing, and we doubled back to check the signs we'd already done. Sure enough, they were still pulling up ribbons as they went. Robert yelled after them and they ran off, but you have to wonder what the parents were doing. My dad would have given me a good old hiding if I'd done stuff like that.

Despite this, we found our way through the rest of the course. I had run it a few times earlier in the week and recognized many of the twists and turns. We just hoped that our signs would still be there in the morning.

Sunday morning started early and I was back at the park at 4am to help put up tents, fences, and do setup. We had a runner go run the course early to check on the signs and he confirmed that a few of them had been displaced. These were swiftly rectified, and apart for a couple of instances of arrow and "wrong way" signs being swapped, it was not too bad. The weather was just about perfect and by race time everything was ready to go. The 30kers got off and a half hour later the 10k started.

During the race, things varied between inactivity and various odd jobs. I enjoyed just hanging out and cheering runners as they passed. I was waiting for Nancy at the end of each loop, ready to refill her bottle, gu and shot bloks. She crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 10 minutes. I was thrilled she'd had a good run and she was very happy. I am very proud of her - she's got a lot of heart, which is a very important thing for a long distance runner.

Once the last runner had cleared the mid-course aid station, we were able to start course teardown. Diana and myself had the job of clearing from mile 3 to the finish line, and we took off onto the trail with a backpack and a ribbon sack, taking a few short cuts to get to the mile 3 point. From there, we ran the last 3 miles of the course, taking down the ribbons, and pulling up the arrows and wrong way signs as we went. The weather was still pleasant and we got the chance to enjoy a few miles, though we did slow down as the backpack started filling with wooden stakes.

And that was that. We all went to Chuys for a nice relaxed lunch and a few laughs, then I toddled off home to share Nancy's race stories. I'd promised her one of my reward pizzas for supper, so when she and Gavin dozed off together I got started making the dough. Cooking has been a hobby of mine for a few years now, and I think the real secret to pizza and pasta dishes is to make everything from scratch - it's very easy to do and so much better than store bought. A good homemade pizza crust also makes your kitchen smell like a pizzeria, and Gavin loves to watch me throw and spin the dough. This one was a basic mushroom and pepperoni with some Italian cheeses and a few herbs in the sauce, but pretty tasty all the same. By 9pm I was starting to slow down, and when I went to read Gavin a bedtime story I fell asleep in his bed with him. A perfect end to a fun weekend.

1 comment:

clea said...

The pizza looks amazing....thanks for volunteering all weekend. Email me: weekend of the 31st probably won't work for the Bastrop run, so we need to figure out another time that works for everyone.