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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Not a Fair Trade

"Never underestimate the power of dreams and the influence of the human spirit. We are all the same in this notion; The potential for greatness lives within each of us." Wilma Rudolph

Sometimes life isn't fair.  Today was one of those days, but in a good way.  I had a really incredible weekend as a volunteer and a runner.

I know as an athlete how important volunteers are to the success of a race. You can't have a race without them.  When you see your friends on the course volunteering like my triathlon friends, Anne, Mary, John and Del Lynn pictured here, it makes for a great race. There is nothing like having fellow athletes cheer for you when they work the course as volunteers.

This weekend was my turn to help out. This weekend was Lakefront Marathon here in Milwaukee. It is where I ran my first and best marathon in 1996. I missed qualifying for Boston that year by only 10 minutes.

I've also volunteered for this race at packet pick up and at the finish line.

Packet Pick-up
Saturday I was scheduled for packet pick up at the race Expo. Packet pick up is an easy job, you check ID, hand out race shirts, goodie bags and answer question. You have to not mind giving the same speech to countless runners about checking their timing chips and luggage rules.  Three of the people I worked with were running on Sunday. That is why runner are so great. The day before their own big race and they are on their feet volunteering. One of the volunteers is running Marine Corp in three weeks are part of a team raising money to modify homes for disabled veterans. His 100 person team has raised $76,000. Would I love to harness that kind of fundraising power for my cause.  We had a great time talking about races we have done, both marathons and triathlons.  I thought about how lucky I was to be running and part of the running community.

Community/Unity Run-Kids Run
My tri coach Scott Stauske had organized a community run run of 2.6 miles to raise money for Girls on the Run and the Milwaukee Police Endurance Association. Both groups work to get kids active and involved in running. Both groups had sponsored a kids program where the kids would run the equivalent of a marathon over the training program. Both runs would finish at the Marathon course finish line.
I almost skipped the race because my knee and ankle are both bothering me and well sometimes I am lazy. I knew my friends Mary, Ann and Del Lynn would be running, so I had to be there. Plus Del Lynn's daughter was running.  The adult run was up first, then we would wait and cheer for the kids as they came through a few minutes later.

It was a perfect cool crisp fall morning. I had fun running with my friend Mary. We pushed each other and had a great run. Ann was well ahead of us and Del Lynn was just behind us.

Then we waited for the kids. It was so much fun to see them finish and see how excited their families were. Some of the kids really took it seriously.  It was exciting to see future runners cross the finish line. I had a great run and I thought about how lucky I am to be a runner and how good the race felt. It was even better I got to share it with friends.

Marathon Finish
I am not sure how I do it, but I always manage to get myself assigned to the finish line. My first year I did first aid triage, another couple of years I handed out finisher medals. This year I was part of the Mylar blanket brigade.

I so clearly remember how I felt when I crossed the finish line of my first marathon.  I was not sure I could actually do it. I trained so hard for it and when I crossed that finish line I felt there was nothing I couldn't do.

I saw that same feeling played out hundreds of times today.  Some runners were utterly exhausted. Some had a slight smile of disbelief.  Some had tears and I would get choked up too.   My fellow blanket brigade stood there handing out blankets. We laughed with runners, we got emotional, we gave countless hugs and celebrated with every finisher. We even got to witness a marriage proposal.   So many runners thanked us and I thanked them for running. Because although I stood for hours handing out blankets, the runners made it possible for me to be there. I got much more back than I gave, it just doesn't seem fair.

Running a marathon can be a life changing event. Everyone of those runners has a story and I got to be a little part of  it. I saw greatness over and over. I got to see two team members cross the line, a ski patrol friend ran her first marathon. A co-worker running his first marathon qualified for Boston. I saw elite runners turn in impressive performances and I saw the small victories of everyday runners conquering the marathon distance.  For a few hours of standing yesterday and today I got to be a small part of that experience. I hope I helped to make it a memorable.

As things got quieter toward the end I looked at the crowd of finishers in the athlete area and I thought back to Boston. I thought about how vulnerable we all are and were today standing at the finish line. I thought about the best I saw today from my fellow runners and volunteers.

I am so proud to be part of the running community here in Milwaukee and will be proud to be an athlete in Boston again this year.  Once again the people of Boston will give me more as an athlete then I will give by running that race.  They will stand and cheer for hours and cheer for me like I am an elite athlete. Sometimes life is not fair, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 127 members in 27 states. We also have members in Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad you decided to run this morning. It was great running with you!