A Helping Hand: A Season of Supporting 

Seems like since February of last year I’ve been dealing with one injury or another. Being injured in no way diminishes the drive to move and perform and finding a means of channeling that energy is absolutely necessary. Without the focused or directed energy expenditure I tend to get irritable and sleep poorly. I made a decision to offer to spend my time and energy volunteering at races supporting those who’s hour it is to shine. I had to pull the plug on running the Run4Amma 50k at the last minute due to a fractured second metatarsal, so I offered to captain a couple aid-stations for Race Director (RD), fellow-Stevens Creek Strider, buddy, and hero, Mike Kreaden.

I felt good about being involved, helping out, and seeing my friends. I didn’t take into account or expect to have so darn much fun! I have been accused of getting pretty amped talking to people and I got a real, energetic kick from all the excitement of the “fun run” (as opposed to “race”) and cheering and encouraging and all-around supporting.

I had initially linked up with Mike through the Striders Saturday run, and with the intention for this race to be my last long training run before my first “real” ultra, the 50 mile Badwater Cape Fear. Injury led to me volunteering to aid this run, and I’m so glad it did! I was immediately hooked on providing support to runners when I’m unable to participate in a more active capacity. Aiding also grants the opportunity to check out everyone’s kit with a more relaxed and analytical attitude. I was able to interact with everyone running, from the front-runners to the back-of-the-pack. I took note of their form, posture, foot strike, and stride. I looked at what style shoes they wore, whether they wore compression sleeves on their calves or arms or both, and how they utilized support tape on joints and muscles. While offering to assist the runners with their hydration solutions while they ate or  treated blisters or whatever, I got to hold and manipulate what seems like every design of water bottle and hydration bladder on the market! I feel like it was just as informative as a day spent perusing the aisles of REI, but this was much more productive, interactive, and fun!

As a result of this first aid-station experience, I’ve since provided (in part, of course) aid at several races, in varied capacities, and I wound up perceiving my year of being injured not as the depressing disaster that it could have been, but as the blessing-in-disguise that it proved to be! As I’m writing it out and seeing it all laid out on the screen before me, I’m seeing clearly how simply thinking outside of myself for a moment – doing something for someone else – changed my way of thinking from woe-is-me self-pity, to an attitude of absolute gratitude!

Since the 2016 Run4Amma, I’ve aided at the Canyons Endurance Runs, Quicksilver 50/100k, Whiskey Hill Marathon, and the Last Chance aid station at Western States. Along with carrying the Trekker camera through Foresthill, I drove rolling aid for the Google Trekker Program while recording the street view of the Western States Trail. I was proudly a part of Team 515 Flatlanders’ crew at the Badwater Salton Sea, and I feel fortunate to have crewed and paced for Jared Fetterolf at the Badwater 135.

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