Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Volunteering at IM Branson 70.3

My father-in-law and step mother-in-law live in Nixa Missouri near Branson so Cheryl and I planned to visit them during the Branson 70.3 tri so I could volunteer. I also planned to get a long run in Saturday morning while they went shopping. Well, Cheryl ended up with a bad cold and didn't make the trip but I was already signed up to work the bike checkin Saturday from 2pm to 6pm and T1 Sunday morning from 4:30am until 9:30 am so I went. I arrived Friday night and within 5 minutes I had both their laptops in front of me so I could do tech support. It was kinda cute trying to help a 76 and 81 year old non-tech savvy user use a laptop. I think it's great they are embracing technology.

Anyway, I skipped my long run Saturday morning because I lost my wingman due to a cold and would have felt guilty leaving for two hours. As a bonus, I received a delicious belt buster breakfast of sausage, eggs, and toast. About noon I made my way to T1 and got my assignment. Body marking! It was really hot, like 95 degrees plus, so we had to wipe the sweat off the athletes to put their race number and age on. I was beat after being in the heat for 4 hours and I kept thinking I wouldn't want to be running a half marathon let alone a HIM in this. It was cool talking to the athletes and just people watching. One guy I marked didn't have shaved legs and said "I bet I'm one of the few without shaved legs". His wife then said she wouldn't let him because it wasn't manly. I told him I wasn't really keeping track but it was probably closer to 50/50. I think the serious bikers shave their legs along with some guys that just like the looks. Sorry dude, I didn't help your cause.

Here are a couple pics of the lake and the bike store, I mean T1 on Saturday.

Saturday night I stayed in my father-in-laws camper about 10 minutes from T1. They made me a very nice dinner and I was starving. I "slept" on a pull out camper bed. It wasn't very comfortable at all and I kept waking up. Finally at 3:20am I said screw it, I might as well find some coffee and get moving. I got to the race site and was setting up to do more body marking when they realized the buses dropping off families and athletes didn't know where to turn around so I ended up directing bus traffic until the start of the race. Both Saturday and Sunday is was interesting to watch the athletes. There was a wide range of emotions from calm, to in the zone, to scared, to nervous, to joking with friends like they were going out to a baseball game. So far I've been in the quiet/nervous camp when I've raced. It was also interesting to see the different body types.

Once the buses stopped running, I was able to take a couple pics of the swim (from a distance).

Then I was the last volunteer out of T1 doing crowd control. I was a couple hundred yards away making sure the athletes went the right way and trying to keep stupid people from getting their children run over. Let me just say Darwinism is strong.

From my vantage point I got to see every single bike leave from within 10 feet of me. I clapped and yelled encouraging words pretty much the entire time. I went through a wide range of emotions watching the different levels of athletes go by. A friend on BT asked me how it went and I summed up the bike exit emotions as follows.

Pros = sheer awe (super fast,in great shape and in a totally different world)
FOP AGers = seriously thought about quitting doing tris since I will never be there.
MOP AGers = changed back to, these people look like my level of fitness and if they can do it, I can too.
BOP AGers = very inspiring
DNF the swim = sad (3 bikes left in T1 when we cleaned up)

Here is a pic of a couple pro women leaving T1. I had hoped to take more pics but I had to save the children :-).

Once all the bikes that were going to leave were gone, I helped clean up T1. There were three bikes left and I had to move one over to the fence so we could take down the racks. Kind of sad.

Overall volunteering was a great experience. Branson is a beautiful and very challenging course. If you raced it and finished, congrats! The hills were some of the toughest on an IM course and the heat was brutal. The run turned in to a death march for many. If I can get in good enough shape next year, I will race it instead of volunteer.

Anyway, my half marathon is a week from this Sunday and I'm feeling good. I missed my long run on the weekend but had a good 10k Monday night and plan 8.5 miles or so Wednesday night. My intervals last night were tough, but I feel like I'm on the verge of a step change in running speed. The trick will be keeping the volume up once the half marathon is done. I've never been able to keep it up over the winter before. My friend Ryan and I are still deciding what HIM to sign up for this spring. Hopefully signing up for one will give me the motivation to keep my running volume up as well as spend LOTS of time on the trainer.


Bas van Kaam said...

Nice post! We need more like you around, sounds like you did some excellent work over there. All the best in de weeks to come and have fun!

RFalkenrath said...

Sad. I was suppose to run Branson but new baby boy and a week in the NICU didn't allow that to happen. He's home and all good but I'm out the race and the entry... bummer.

Sounds like a decently run event. Logistics looked difficult with T1 and T2 being a ways apart.