My friend (and President of the Lawrence Trail Hawks) Laurie is a math nerd. I mean that in a loving and mostly jealous way since math was always a struggle for me and I remain in awe of those who don't have to use their fingers to add (totally not joking.. watch me add a tip on a bill sometime.. hilarious!) Anyway... only a math nerd would come up with the idea of hosting a race on Pi day (March 14th = 3.14) and serving pie! The Trail Hawks ran with the idea (ha!) and since it was Laurie's idea she got the honors of being race director. Jacob Kaplan-Moss volunteered to make pie for the race... as in many, many home-made pies.. YUM!!
Unfortunately Pi Day actually fell on a Monday this year, so we opted to have the race on March 19...but the spirit of Pi was not diminished in any way by this date change. (I'm not actually sure what the "spirit of Pi" is.. or if Pi even has a spirit, however I have had some pie that has made me spiritual) Anyway... the Lawrence River Trails were chosen as the site and Laurie decided that the race would be 3 rotating loops.. hence the name Pi Day River Rotation which is PiR2 (even my computer is math phobic and can't type the Pi symbol!)
My original plan was to run the race with my recently- started- running husband (!), since it was to be his first half marathon... but after marking the course we decided that we really needed another course marshal at the far end of the loop... which meant that I would be doing time at that very spot. I didn't really mind, I like helping out at races and it meant that I would get to see Erik (and everyone!) twice anyway. The worst part about volunteering has to be the super early hour of the morning that you have to be there. Since everything has to be set up before the runners arrive, it was dark, cold and early.... and I have a feeling Erik was having second thoughts. Warm and still asleep was probably how he would have preferred to be!
Laurie had everything ready to go, so set up was quick and easy and the rest of the time before the race was spent greeting people that I hadn't seen in ages.. I had been doing so many races out of town that I felt like it had been years since I'd seen a bunch of the local runners.
About 15 minutes before the race started, I kissed Erik, gave him a few last pieces of advise and grabbed a few extra "wrong way" signs and Jim B and I headed off to our positions on the course. Jim was going to be at the "short loop" turn around and I was a the "big loop" turnaround. Runners would do 1 large loop (5 miles) counter-clockwise, hit the aid station and then do another 5 mile loop but this time clockwise, hit the aid station and then do a small 3 mile loop counter -clockwise. As Jim and I ran out to our places, we made sure that all the ribbons were still up and signs were pointing the correct direction. We had marked the course the night before, and since the trails are pretty high traffic we were lucky that nothing had been disturbed. I placed a few extra "wrong way" signs in a couple of questionable places just to make sure there was no snafus. Sometimes it can be hard to mark course on trails that you know really well.... a turnoff that seems so obvious to me can be clear as mud to a newbie to the trails.
I got to my spot in plenty of time... time enough to eat a Honey Stinger Waffle for breakfast (SUPER YUM) and read a few pages in the new Ultrarunning magazine. Before I could get TOO comfortable, Jim texted me that the lead runners had just come past him and should be arriving shortly. I barely got a tweet sent out about it before they were flying through the loop... I brought my cowbell and made sure I made plenty of noise for them as I pointed out where they were to go. After the lead guys came through, there was a lull and then another sizable group and then another lull and another group.... the lulls were just about long enough to let me tweet the goings on. I had asked Jim to let me know when Erik came through, so while I was anxiously awaiting that text, I was making sure that no one came past me without a word of encouragement and lots of cowbell noise. When I heard the telltale "ping" from my phone, I got the camera ready and was happy to see Erik was running with a group of Hawks that he had done some group runs with. He was smiling and seemed to be maintaining a good pace and having a good time. I snapped a few pictures and yelled my head off... I was about bursting at the seams with happiness!
I had a great time for the rest of the race, ringing the cowbell, talking to people, and giving lots of encouragement, but I was also looking forward to getting back to the finish line before hungry runner ate all the pie!! After the last runner came through my section I pulled up the signs and hauled ass hoping that I would make it in time to see Erik finish the race. While trotting down the trail I rounded a curve and there was a gorgeous red fox in front me, also trotting down the trail. The wind was blowing his scent to me, and he didn't realize that I was back there for quite awhile. I was quietly trying to find my phone so I could snap a picture, but alas, he heard me and took off into the bushes. I just LOVE spotting cool wildlife on the trails! I used my course knowledge to shorten the run back to the finish so I was able to see Erik finish in 2:17:15. I was SOOO freaking proud of him! Everytime I saw him, he was smiling and looked like he was having fun. I think the monster piece of vegan apple pie afterwards certainly helped the mood too!
Photos courtesy of seekcrun.com