Monday, November 01, 2004

The Day After
Happy November to the PoW readers! Yesterday was not only Halloween but also the running of the 29th Marine Corps Marathon. I am, in the words of Winston Churchill a flying buttress of the Potomac Runners running group - I support it from outside (versus a "pillar" of the group, you see). The training schedule of PR is built around preparing runners to run the MCM and the last great act of the group is the massive production of a water stop on the marathon course (in this case at mile 25, stop #13 if you care to look at the course map).
This is the fourth year I've been involved with the water stop support and I can say with full confidence that this was the most elaborate, sumptuous event put on by Potomac Runners since the memory of man runneth not to the contrary. I arrived with a camp stove, a charcoal grill, a peck of apples from my favorite local orchard (Moutoux Orchard in Vienna, Va. - no web presence as far as I can tell) and load of food and T shirts that I picked up from the spiritual and temporal leader of the group. The nearly 100 Potomac Runners who voluteered to set up the station and hand water to the runners also brought a range of food and drink that little short of spectacular. There were fast-food breakfast sandwiches in the morning (and by morning I mean we started setting up at about 6:45), fruit, bagels, specialty breads (thank you Great Harvest!), peanut butter, cream cheese, and, do I need to go further? We cranked up the camp stove to have hot water for packeted drinks (hot chocolate, spiced cider) and coffee.
As the volunteers arrived we handed out their Marine Corps Marathon volunteer T shirts, new long-sleeved Potomac Runners Ts and sweatshirts. The volunteers wore their PR shirts for the race so the runners would know who was behind their final water stop. 'Struth: it pays to advertise. Also, let me just say a word about the MCM shirts: too cool. Every running event has a T shirt for the runners which has the name of the race and logo on the front and a host of sponsors on the back. These shirts can range from the bland and boring to really nicely designed. What sets the MCM shirts apart is that the front logo is embroidery. Elegant. The shirts have historically have the word "Volunteer" embroidered under the logo but this year they say "Semper Fi." Damn right.
At this point it must be made manifest to anyone not living in the DC area that yesterday was incredibly hot. I wore nothing but a short-sleeved shirt from the moment I set foot outside the house at 5:15. And it was, at that point, cool but not uncomfortable. Which further means that the temperatures reached the mid-70s during the day. And that is hellish on the runners. Four years ago the pre-dawn temperatures were somewhere in the low-50s and the volunteers were huddled around the camp stove when they came in. As much as it was a beautifdul autumn day - it was very much so - it was brutal for someone running 26 miles. I salute the guts and grit of the runners! But the volunteers were well prepared to put forth the name of Potomac Runners had they to wear the sweats or the T shirt. I think the guy who runs this outfit is kind of clever.
Around 11am we fired up the charcoal grills and began cooking hot dogs, sausage, turkey burgers and hamburgers for the Marines, the volunteers and any other support staff who came by (a couple of bike-borne EMS techs made an appearance in the early afternoon). Even though I was behind during one real "lunch rush" period, I think people got pretty much what they wanted and no one was turned away. Of course there was also an elaborate spread of cold cuts for those who preferred a sandwich to a burger or a dog. Despite working two grills pretty hard, I didn't singe off all the hair on my forearms (the mark of a real grill master is hairless forearms, doncha know!).
It was a blast. But now, the day after, I feel like a wrung-out washrag. I crumpled upon my return home last evening and slept like a piece of felled timber. My first order of business today was to suck down some advil and take a nice, long hot shower. Done and done. And now you know about it too. Happy November to all and to all a good Election Day (as long as you vote Bush of course).
UPDATE: My bad. Those are hoodies, not sweats. And darn nice ones at that.

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