I volunteered at a race event yesterday. I’ve run in only a handful of races, and I volunteer with a running group – but this was the first time I’d volunteered at a race. It was a 10k in a rural area with obstacles every half mile or so, like Hunger Games, without the fighting-to-the-death element!
I was with one other person at a barbed wire obstacle: move uphill and under several barbed wire fences. I was down at the road to either direct runners to keep going, or prevent them from taking a shortcut and skipping an obstacle. I expected it to be fun, and it was – and I also had some insights about myself:
Giving high fives is fun. Since I love getting cheered on during a race, I made myself into the high five obstacle. I don’t think people were expecting this in this kind of rural trail run, but they seemed to like it. And I did too! Some of them were covered in mud, and some actually declined the high five because they were dirty…but most people were happy to accept.
I’m old enough to know my limits (or maybe better said, my boundaries). I looked at a description of this race and quickly realized the obstacles would have been too much for me. I’m surprisingly uncoordinated for a yogi, and running doesn’t make me any better at other physical feats. In yoga, there are very explicit instructions. I had to climb over a fence at inauguration in 2009, and a friend literally had to explain to me where each foot should go! I wouldn’t go so far as to say that doing these obstacles would have been impossible … but it would have been frustrating for me. And I think it’s okay to recognize your own limits. By volunteering, I participated in a capacity that I really enjoyed.
The only trick to running is to just keep going! I’m definitely not a natural athlete, or I would be adept at these obstacles. It’s odd to me when people express awe about running a half marathon. I’m not fast. I’m not super human. I just spent time training so I’m not freaked out by the idea of running for two hours. On race day, I just start running, and I don’t stop till the race is over. Not everyone has the inclination to put in the time, which I understand. I don’t have the inclination to spent my time training to play a sport. But that is really all it takes – if you want to run, you just have to run!