Have I ever mentioned how much I love volunteering at the Sue Krenn 15k? I typically show up early and help with registration, which can be chaotic with two different bib handout areas and a lot of last-minute entrants for a race that starts promptly at 7 a.m. Then I help where needed until it’s time to work the finish line.
This means that I get an opportunity to at some point view almost every name and face in the race. And, for at least the past three years I’ve handed a bib to, or stripped the tag of, someone famous in the triathlon and running worlds. Last year it was Michellie Jones, Heather Fuhr and Paula Newby-Fraser. Yesterday, the adulation level ramped up several notches when I filled out a bib for Joan Nesbit Mabe. She was in town with her husband for a business trip and decided to run with us on Mission Bay. Younger runners and newcomers to the sport might not recognize the name, but, trust me, she was a mainstay in magazines like Runner’s World and had a great blog that I referenced a time or two here. It’s not just her amazing talent, even at 47, but her life that attracted me. She was an Olympian that got off the “fast track” to become a mother and didn’t even try to convince people you could do both at an A+ level. Being so familiar with her life through those many years of articles and blog posts, we immediately engaged in a conversation about aging, trails, literature (she’s writing a book) and raising daughters. I’m sure “stalker” was flashing behind those blue eyes, especially when I later asked a friend to take a picture of us.
But that wasn’t the only highlight of the race. I decided to try and run the first half, just to remind the body that I’m not done with it and to see how much the hip might protest. The good – no, great – news is the last nine days of pure rest had really helped and the hip's cries were muffled, though not mute. And, I was surrounded by great people the entire way. At the start of the run, there was me, Irene and her husband Michael, AKA Alice and members of "the herd," Laura and my closest friend, Tara. I ended up running my mouth to Irene for the first three miles, then tagging along with Tara the final two. I got lots of hugs as other familiar faces came through the chute. After so much fear and anxiety earlier in the month, I couldn’t have asked for a more perfect “race day.”