It is the fourth of July.
I have timed road races on this particular holiday for most of my adult life. In small towns like Bradford New Hampshire to Gillette Stadium in Foxboro Massachusetts. When Molly died this became one of several things I stopped doing. It was simply too difficult to manage. I have returned, on a small scale, to road race timing and have spent the last two July 4ths in Chelmsford Massachusetts at a small-town race called the Carson 2 Miler.
It is everything you might think a local race would be, but on a large scale.
Roughly 1,500 runners finished the 2-mile race which is a large field over 2-miles. It can be very stressful! I had nothing to do with the stress part. That is the one detail I insisted upon when I agreed to return to timing. I only want simple jobs like data entry, equipment set up and select timing. All of these are necessary parts of a successful race, but none of them are stressful.
Today my job was data entry.
I arrived late, but that is not exciting news, I arrive late all the time. When I approached the truck Jeremy, the lead timer was in a bit of a panic. He had left the cable that connects the printer to the computer at home. He was talking around in circles about all of his options. He is a “talk to your self” kind of guy. Since there were no entry forms for me to input into the computer, I walked to the town square in search of a cable.
Chelmsford does 4th of July right.
There were booths and food and people everywhere. I asked a couple of people connected with race coverage with no luck. Where might I find a computer cable, I thought to myself. I turned in a slow circle and my eyes fell upon a church. At a side entrance there were fresh homemade donuts for sale. I walked toward the door and was greeted by a woman named Aggie.
I told her my plight.
She took me into the church office but those computers were either blue tooth or WiFi connected. There were no cables. She saw my look of cheerful despair and let me know that she had to run home to get cinnamon for the donuts and she would be happy to come back with every cable she could find. As I left the church, I told her that I loved life’s little challenges because they often led you to wonderful people. She was busy with her own tasks and did not think twice about helping me with mine. I thanked her and returned to Jeremy at the finish line.
I think we will have a cable, I announced.
He stopped and looked at me. I told him about Aggie. He was moderately relieved, his forgetfulness was, perhaps, going to be rectified. We got busy with our typing. There was lots of typing. After 45 minutes or so we heard a voice at the back of the truck and there was Aggie with an assortment of cables.
You can keep this one, she said as she handed Jeremy a blue cable. It’s perfect, he replied.
The race went off without a hitch. I eavesdropped on the conversations of finishers behind me as I taped 30 pages of results to a wooden fence. I made small talk, I laughed at the funny things people were not saying to me (but to others)! I helped load the truck. I found the bathroom in the bar near the finish line. The most stressful part of the day was turning down those delicious donuts when I returned to the church to say good bye to Aggie. We took the above selfie and I told her about the podcast and blog. We exchanged pleasantries. We said Happy 4th of July. It was a nice part of my day.
Today, I am glad I am timing races again.
Happy Fourth Everyone!