This is my second KQED Perspectives piece. It’s based on an original blog post of the same name. It felt timeless so I thought I would try and make it work in audio essay form. It aired on KQED Public Radio on October 3, 2016.
This is not a how-to. There are a lot of people who have more experience, knowledge, and instructional sense in this particular arena. I’m not one of them. But if you want a glimpse into the potential ups, downs, and sideways of crewing, then by all means cross the yellow caution tape.
Last Sunday I was in Golden Gate Park standing in the middle of the intersection at Chain of Lakes and John F. Kennedy with one of my course monitor crews for the Kaiser Half Marathon. The number of runners had dwindled considerably and I was waiting for the sweep vehicle to pass so I could combine this crew with the one I had a half mile west since I still had inbound runners heading to the finish at that location.
I saw a motorcycle cop driving down the course, the first vehicle I’d seen on it since the race started. I waved him down to ask him if he was the sweep or knew how far back the sweep was. He stopped next to me and I recognized him immediately.
Last summer I was working the Escape from Alcatraz triathlon for UltraSportsLive operating the camera position at the Legion of Honor. This policeman was the same officer working the event who had gone out of his way to get me and a couple of the race management security folks coffees and scones. It had been a very early, very cold morning and I think he felt bad for us. He was so nice. I remember the incongruity of this big guy in full motorcycle officer kit, sitting on a giant police Harley-Davidson, taking our coffee orders like a Starbucks barista. “Do you want whipped cream with that mocha?” I’m not even kidding. I’m sad to say it was a forgotten memory until this moment. I was so happy to see him.
“How do you spell kung fu?” asked Marie. We were enjoying some down time before race day in our little rental house on the island. I spelled it out for her.
“Is that one word or two?”
“Two. Kung and eff you,” I replied. Cue ironically placed rimshot.
I usually reserve my acerbic wit for people I’ve spent way too much time with in outlandish situations. Meet Marie. I figured my flippant remark was a little payback for talking me into this little adventure after I survived the Squamish 50k back in August. The gales of uninhibited laughter that followed let me know I didn’t offend any tender sensibilities. We were here with Karen who was also part of the Squamish Conspiracy Group. She ran Orcas last year and was looking to find a little redemption of her own. If she’d asked me to spell out a word I’m sure I would’ve come up with something equally as caustic.
It’s that time again when one tends to reflect on what has transpired over the past year. My season was over after Rio Del Lago and I’ve gotten lazy and fat living in sweatpants and a hoodie while my eating habits turned into that of an adolescent boy. Some call it recovery, others a break. I call it the Third Circle of Hell. Regarding running, along with the not-much-doing it, there is the not-much-thinking it, and the not-much-writing it. Try as I might I can’t seem to write a proper “year in review” post. Instead, I ended up here.
After I DNF’d Pine to Palm I did not want to do another race. The only thing left in my year related to running was the interminable wait to see if I got into the Boston Marathon. I didn’t. Once the dust settled from the two week long registration process the magic number was revealed. If you were 2:28 under your qualifying time you got in. I missed it by 28 seconds. Receiving the rejection letter two weeks after Pine to Palm felt like pouring salt on a still open wound. It was polite and encouraging but it also made me angry. It sugar-coated the only message it could give – you are too slow, get faster, try again next year. I would have preferred that rather than the paragraphs of words to soften the blow.