This is the last you’ll be hearing from us until we get back from our Great Adventure in the Last Frontier, so I thought I’d write a nice long blog to keep you entertained in the meantime! Sadly, we forgot to bring our camera with us last weekend, so you’ll just have to use your imaginations on this one. We’ll be sure to get lots of awesome pictures to blog when we get back. But until then, I’d just thought I’d share our weekend experience.
Sunday was the Hawaiian Half Marathon. That is a measly 13.1 miles of fun for those of you who are mathematically challenged (26.2/2). A lot of our Team in Training friends were running it, but we weren’t, so we decided to help out with the execution of the race instead. We spent most of the day Saturday passing out packets to the registrants at our favorite running store, Runners’ HI in Aiea. We were lucky enough to get to meet and work with the race director, Ron. Now when I say “lucky” what I really mean is “unlucky.” Although we had been warned that Mr. Ron was a horrible people person, a running snob, and a few other unpleasant things, we underestimated the accuracy of the evaluations. Even before Ron got there (we were late, but he was later) we were up against his hard-headedness. Runners’ HI didn’t open until 10:00, but packet pick-up was supposed to start at 9:00. When we got there at 8:50 there were already people lining up to get their packets, but we didn’t have all the materials we needed to give them to them. One of the other volunteers called Ron to find out what was up, and all he could do was tell us that there had been a misprint (which nobody had caught during the four months since the registration forms had been printed) and that packet pick-up was not supposed to start until 10:00 and we should send all the people away and tell them to come back in an hour. We weren’t about to listen to him, of course, and we were fortunate enough to have the owner of Runners’ HI come and unlock the door for us at about that time. We spent the next 20 minutes scrambling to get organized while people kept coming in to get their packets. Just about the time we were starting to get our system going, Ron walks in and triples the stress level. He does not want any walkers in his half marathon because the men in uniform are looking for an excuse to shut down his race and if there are still people in Waikiki at 5:40, they will shut it down. He does not want anybody to run 13.1 miles on Sunday if they have run 10 miles today because they are stupid and will be too tired to run the race. He does not want people to know that there are only 1,000 people running the race. By the time the day was done, we were in the smile, nod, and hope he goes away mode: “Yes, Ron. You are right. Now leave us alone to do our job.” To his credit, he did buy us lunch.
Because we were helping with an aid station the next morning, we asked our TNT friends if any of them had a place for us to stay so we wouldn’t have to drive home, and go to sleep, and then wake up at 3:00 the next morning so we could be back down in town at 4:00. One of them offered to let us stay in a Waikiki rental she owns but does not currently have a tenant for. And now is when we get to play the question and answer game. Only I get to ask the question, and I get to give the answer. Ready?
Q: How much money does 382 sq. ft. of Waikiki cost?
A: $265,000. Yes, it was a fully furnished and recently remodeled studio, but it didn’t have an oven.
I would like to say we slept like babies in our plush pad, but we didn’t. And at 3:30 we were up and at it again, getting pumped to hand out water and gatorade to crazy runners.
It was still dark and early when we pulled up to the gas station where our three other volunteers were already waiting for us. Although we had been told that the aid station needed to be ready to go at 5:25, at 5:15 they still hadn’t made the water and table drop-off. We figured we had until about 5:45 to get set up before the 5-minute mile people started coming through, so we filled some of our 6 gallon jugs at the gas station water fountain. We were almost ready to go by the time they finally brought us the table. By the time the first runner came in at about 5:46, we had been ready for him for possibly 2 minutes. Lucky us. We were also lucky enough to just about run out of water right at peak time when we couldn’t fill the cups fast enough anyway. But we made do until they brought us more, and I don’t think that if anybody fainted from dehydration it can be blamed on us.
The last person came through at 8:45 and we packed up our stuff and headed to the finish line. Most of our teammates were already there, but the last TNT walker was still half a mile out when we got there. Andrea’s back and hip had started hurting a little past the half way point, but she just kept on trucking, albeit slower than she had been before. But that meant that all of her teammates, including the other walkers, were there to give her a nice warm welcome as she reached the home stretch. The team lined up along the last few yards of the route and cheered her on the rest of the way. Her friend Rebecca, who had finished the race over an hour earlier, walked the rest of the way with her. Whether she was wiping away tears of pain from her hurting back and hip, tears of exhaustion from just having walked 13.1 miles, tears of joy for having completed a half marathon in the name of cancer research, or tears of happiness at the support her teammates were showing her as she reached her goal, we may never know. But we do know that it was worth all of the frustration, anger, disorganization, and tiredness that we went through for the race just to be there for it.