Sunday, April 7, 2019

Day 142

Whew, what a weekend! I missed posting yesterday, but that's okay because (1) I had a good excuse and (2) I already proved to myself that I could blog 100 days in a row in the fall. So there!

I'm finally home, showered, and in my pajamas. I'm trying to sip water frequently to make up for not drinking nearly enough water this weekend, and I'm running laundry because EVERYTHING got rained on this weekend, including what was in our tent. Oops.

To say the very least, the Screaming Monkey 100 was a smashing success! To say much more...well, keep reading.

First of all, of the many interests I have, being a race director is not among them, and I don't think it'll ever climb in my aspirational ranks. I do not have enough answers to questions, much less enough correct answers to questions, to ever pick up that gig. Also, I need more sleep than the position allows. While I think I do well paying attention to details, I'm not sure I do well enough to manage the RD job. BUT, I was pleased to serve this weekend in whatever capacity I was needed, and that's exactly what happened.

Richard and I left home Friday morning and headed to Shreveport-ish (Eddie Jones Park in Keithville, specifically) to help with preparations for the Screaming Monkey 100 trail festival, which is north Louisiana's first 100-mile race but also offered shorter distances such as 5K, 10K, 13+ miles, 26+ miles, and 100K. The GOATS have been planning this weekend's festivities for months (although not that many months, which is an amazing feat in itself), and the time finally arrived to combine our powers to make the weekend one to remember. Unfortunately, our powers don't allow us to wave a magic wand and have all of the logistical stuff done, so Friday was a day full of marking the trails, rerouting around a flooded section, setting up aid stations, and helping people figure out where to park and set up their campsites. Meanwhile, back in Shreveport, packet pickup and the pre-race meeting were enough to keep a crew of people busy, so we had to be in two places at once. Much of my time was spent marking the trails, and when Richard was done helping set up aid stations, he cooked for us over a fire. There was also a food truck set up for the race, and they boiled crawfish for the Friday night campers, so we had some crawfish and headed off to bed.

Richard was up at 4:00 am to help Daniel with some race day deliveries, and I was summoned not long after that because the last aid station needed volunteers. Richard and I drove out to Aid Station #4, which happened to be at the end of the section that takes runners through an abandoned prison, and got set up for the race. We marked the dark prison with glow sticks and tap lights, then we got busy setting up the snacks and beverages for runners. The 100-mile and 100K races started at 6:00 am, but we were around mile 18 or 19 of a 20-mile loop, so we didn't see any runners until 8:41 am. (I know because my job at the aid station was to mark the time runners came through!) Waiting for the runners grew a little tiresome, but once they started trickling in, we stayed busy encouraging runners and occasionally helping them refuel.

A little after 12, we were relieved and headed to the start/finish to grab some lunch and take a nap while there were plenty of other volunteers around. We were so fortunate to have a crowd of awesome volunteers in many (many!!) capacities to help the runners. I was proud to count myself among them. I slept for about three hours, and Richard slept for...30 minutes. Sleeping in a humid tent isn't for the faint of heart, and with the combination of daylight, generators from campers, and runners coming in, he wasn't able to snooze much. I am a notoriously deep sleeper, which was only amplified by the fact that I was pretty tired when I climbed into my sleeping bag, so I was able to rest for a bit.

Rain had been predicted for most of the weekend, but we ended up with much less than we were expecting. Still, storms began to roll in during the mid/late afternoon, and rain fell intermittently through the day and night. Around 5:00 pm, I was asked to pace Theresa, one of our 100K runners, on her last loop, which was a good opportunity for bonding and seeing the course. I was so proud of her for powering through a slick, muddy, and challenging course to earn her 100K buckle. Highlights of our loop included singing a silly song (I was singing to her), seeing a friendly copperhead snake (yikes!), and giving regular reminders to drink water.  While I was out on the trail, Richard was shifted into doctor mode and was dressing blisters and examining feet left and right. He hardly had time to miss me while we were out on Theresa's third loop because the runners were getting beat up on the course.

Plans were previously laid for midnight karaoke, but most of the people who were awake were still running around like crazy nuts (a term I'm borrowing from Special K), and Catherine told me she would likely need me for 5K and 10K packet pickup at 6:30 Sunday morning, so I stayed up until about 1:00 to cheer a few runners in before going back to the tent to sleep.

I knew the tent held humidity, but what I did not know is that our tent does not fully hold up to large amounts of rain. Our tent was definitely leaking somewhere, so Richard and I ended up with quite a bit of wet stuff. Through the rain, thunder, and lightning outside our tent, though, we still caught some sleep. I woke up just in time to head over to the pavilion before the bottom fell out of the sky once more. I was signed up for the 10K race this morning, but I was not feeling it at all. By the time the race started at 8:00, I could've probably managed to run, but I was so tired from my 20 miles the night before, plus volunteering, plus sleeping on an air mattress in a leaky tent, that I opted to sit this one out. While the 5K and 10K were going on, Richard and I packed up our wet stuff and started cleaning up the start/finish area. Several of the 100-mile runners were still on the course at that time, and we were able to watch the last ones finish up. I'm amazed at the talent, athleticism, and perseverance of those athletes in particular. Wow. Just wow.

Speaking of being amazed, I'm so proud of all of the runners who attempted all kinds of distances this weekend. One of my favorite parts about trail running-- and running in general-- is celebrating life and new achievements with other people. So many runners ran their longest runs ever this weekend, and I was able to witness that and share in just a smidgeon of their pride. Also, being able to take a loop on the course, I saw how the different aid stations were set up, including Team RWB's aid station that was passed through three times during the 20-mile loop. All of the aid station helpers were nothing short of energetic, encouraging, and helpful, and that's critical during those dark and lonely miles on the trails at night. The aid station volunteers really rocked their roles, and I have so much respect for them for their selflessness and service. Ah-mazing!

Also, I'd like to end this post by saying that volunteering absolutely can present similar levels of exhaustion and joy as running does. I don't think I'll lose any toenails after this one, and my legs feel fresher than they typically do after I complete an ultra, but man I am wiped. There aren't many better ways to feel this tired than cheering on friends and strangers as they achieve amazing things, though. I'd volunteered before, but not for as long of a duration. I always appreciate the volunteers, but if it's possible, I appreciate them even more after this weekend. It's difficult not to love good people who love to help other good people.

Something that made today great: Making it home safely to my best dog, still riding the high of an incredible weekend!
Time I woke up: 6:30 am

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