As I wrote last year, I've run this half-marathon a couple of times and always had felt extra-appreciative for the volunteers who were standing outside and supporting us. I included the goal on my 101 list to make sure I was consistently giving back to the race community that has taught me so much in the last 15 years - and while I don't know for sure, I have a hunch it's harder to recruit volunteers for these cold races, so I've kept this one on my radar.
It's also a fun race because it's part of a wild weekend in St. Paul: it's Winter Carnival time and Crashed Ice World Championships about a mile apart from each other. There's a parade today in downtown St. Paul and all kinds of Winter Carnival events all week, including a medallion treasure hunt with a grand prize of up to $10,000. (I think my brother is hunting for the medallion!)
The tagline? The Coolest Celebration on Earth. You don't believe me? Proof:
And it was definitely cool today. It was a handful of degrees above zero when I headed out this morning, and now that I'm back home and cozy with a cup of hot coffee, I see that the windchill is still -2. I bundled up pretty well: two pairs of tights, a base layer top, a really warm pullover, my down jacket, a little face mask, hat, two pairs of socks and my winter boots, plus a pair of lackluster gloves that proved to be where I came up short. (Brr. Cold hands.) I stayed pretty comfortable until the end of my shift, and then I was ready to hustle back to my car.
(But I still had time to swoop through Rice Park to see the ice sculptures. Sometimes it's too warm and there's panic about the ice sculptures melting. Not a problem this year!)
I was stationed at a pretty busy intersection in downtown St. Paul, and this weekend is always more hectic than usual there because there are lots of people driving who aren't quite sure where they're going or aren't pleased to see that a major road is temporarily closed. I had two awesome policemen doing the heavy lifting on traffic control (along with a bunch of road barriers), and I very much appreciated their help. My job was to hold my yellow "TURN LEFT" sign, make sure the runners properly cross the street and get onto the next leg of the race, and provide some general good cheer.
In case you had trouble picturing, I've provided a visual. Also, this is on a side street before the race, in case you are rolling your eyes at this being the "major road" and "busy intersection" I referenced in the previous paragraph!!
It was really fun to see tons of runners out on a chilly Saturday morning - but I have to say, I didn't have any urge to be out there running myself! I will head to yoga this afternoon instead, but am happy I got a chance to support some very hardy runners in a community (and place) I love.