Danskin is over. I think this was the best race day I've ever had. If nothing else, it was better than last year's when I cried three times before 7:00 am, and only one of those times was from something touching happening. The first time that day was when the head of one of our volunteer groups yelled at me. The second was when the mean timing lady yelled at me. I finally shouted that everyone needed to stop yelling at the pregnant lady. Marion found something else for me to do after that.
Today started on a good note when I turned onto Decker Lane behind a line of school buses headed to the parking area. We can't get 3,000 athletes and more than 3,000 spectators to the race site without the buses, so we were off to a good start when they showed up early. The next good thing was that our new volunteer coordinator beat all of the volunteers to the race site. When I arrived, she was already in her tent setting out shirts and lists of volunteers. We can't run the race without them, so having her there and set up was key.
I spent a lot of time floating around, putting out little fires and helping where necessary. I got to see Heidi before her swim - I even walked down to the water with her wave. I didn't get to see her the rest of the time, though.
I got a standing ovation from about 30 women in line for port-a-potties when I showed up with a case of toilet paper. I also got cheers when I pulled extra swim caps and markers out of a box.
The best moments, though, were when I helped two women who showed up more than an hour after the race started. One had been in a car accident on the way to the race. I don't know what happened to the other - she was just late and in tears. I took them both by the hands and guided them to the swim start where I got them body marked and in the water. One of the girls - the one who had been in the accident - gave me the biggest hug, which made my morning. My other great moment was when I rounded up a spare goodie bag for a woman who hadn't been able to make it to Expo or to compete because of a sick kid. I got a hug from her, too.
At the very end of the day, I caught up with a woman I'd given a pep talk to at the swim start. She had finished and was thrilled with her day. Her husband took pictures of us together. And I walked another woman through transition after she got off her bike. She was a little wobbly and I wanted to make sure she was ok to head out onto the run course. I saw her when she finished her run, and she was so proud.
It's moments like these that make all of the stress and frustration worth while. One of Heidi's friends asked why I didn't do Danskin, and my response was that I get so much more out of showing up on race day and helping pull everything together than I ever could from actually doing the event.
This was my 9th year, and even though I've said it was my last, I really might have to go back for number 10. It would be nice to round out the decade.