Sunday, July 26, 2009

From a Volunteer's Prespective

It was a tough decision to make, but made it I did. I chose not to participate in today's Music City Triathlon due to issues related to blister on right foot suffered during a recent vacation. Additionally, I did not feel that my readiness, both mental and physical was up to par for this event.

I lieu of racing, I opted to volunteer. I received an email midweek from the organizers asking for additional help, so that I did.

The morning started early, up at 4:30am out the door at 5:30. For a Sunday, that is early. Usually it's the only day I get some extra shut-eye. The rain was coming down hard and it had rained most of the night. Although as I woke up, I had wished I was getting my gear ready to race, I was somewhat glad at this point that I was not for I have never run an event in the rain.

Upon arrival at the race site I was given my assignment. I was to help with body marking. So, I reported to my station, grabbed a magic marker, read the instructions and off I went. Started marking bodies. "number", "age", "category"...

This was a perfect opportunity to meet several triathletes. Small chit-chat and you learn a lot. You can tell who the "beginners" are for they appear to be the first ones there. They're excited and don't want to miss a thing. They're nervous for they do not know what's ahead, specially for those participating in their first event.

"How are you?" I asked just about everyone I marked. I truly wanted to know. I wanted to know if most triathletes felt like I do prior to a race. You can really tell who is the most nervous because they talk the most. I marked a US Marine, I thanked him for his service. He smiled and thanked me back... that was cool!

All in all it went pretty well and smooth. No big issues, for how many issues can you have marking the racers' arms and legs. Just have to be focused as to not to put the wrong thing on, magic marker does not erase very easily on the fly!

When all the marking was done, I grabbed my camera and headed to the swim start. Wanted to take some pictures, specially of my friends. Several of them were competing today. It was a pretty cool site to see from an observer's point of view. A sea of green swim caps lining the walkway headed to the start.

I took the opportunity to watch the first and fastest swimmers do their thing. They make it look so simple and effortless. I took some shots of some in the water, but obviously you cant tell who they are. When the swimmers started coming out of the water, I found me a spot that allowed me to see the field as they came out. This was pretty telling.

Most were happy, very happy to have the swim portion done. Most had smiles on their face. I could imagine that's how I look when I come out of the water as well. There were a few, however that were visibly upset and not necessarily with their time. I do believe that attitude got the best of some of them. Could not imagine how the rest of their day would go.

I learned two things today. First is that everyone should volunteer and work a race. You will see things in a different perspective. You will find a whole new appreciation for the sport. And two, I'm not alone! The feelings of uneasiness I experience pre-race are pretty much universal. I do not ever want to come out of the water wondering what the heck I'm doing there. If I ever do, I will hang it up.

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  1. What a wonderful experience - thanks for volunteering!!

    For those other volunteers out there coordinating the water tables, timers, etc - please check out - it's a free and simple online sign up tool that saves time and makes it easy to get volunteers signed up right away. Automated reminders help eveyone keep their commitments. (Think Evite for volunteering).

  2. From a random visitor who stumbled here via Google ... I really enjoyed your comments in this and other posts. I'll be doing my second 70.3 next month, and I totally related to many of your observations. I'm 30 now, and hope to be maintaining your enthusiasm and level of fitness 15 years from now. Kudos, and best wishes on your next race. :) - Dan