This morning, Peter dragged me out of bed at 4:30 to go to a race with him. The 20K race is managed by Peter's running team, so he was volunteering before and after the race. He bribed me with a purple t-shirt to get me to volunteer with him. So, we had to get to the race course by 5:30 (that's 5:30 AM, folks) to help distribute ChampionChips to the runners. Once that was done, Peter went off to run the race and I went to hunt for coffee and then staked out a spectating and knitting spot.
The course is three loops around the downtown-ish area in Houston. Peter finished the first lap in good time (he's the shirtless one):
Then, my Secret Project and I waited for Peter to come by on the second lap (note other runners in the background):
By the second lap, Peter was running by himself. (I'm going to have to learn how to take better "action" and "distance" photos.)
Then, my knitting and I went to the finish line to do the second half of the volunteer work. For this work, I had to help collect the ChampionChips from the runners after they finished. ChampionChips are little computer chips placed inside plastic holders. Runners attach these chips to their shoes with zip ties. Mats with chip detectors are placed at the start and finish lines of a race. When a runner steps on the mat, a computer records his or her time. The computer then calculates the runners exact race time and spits out race results. (Pretty nifty, if you ask me--but I'm a geek.) I had some time to knit and enjoy my purple shirt before the runners started arriving:
Anyway, I soon learned that ChampionChip collection is nasty business. To get the chips from the runners, you have to cut the zip ties from the runners' shoes. Some runners also use their shoelaces to attach the chips, so you have to untie their shoes to get the chip. Either way, you have to touch another person's shoe. The race is a 20K. That's 12.4 miles for you nonmetric types. People who finish running 12.4 miles in the Houston heat are way past perspiring. "Sweating buckets" is a much more accurate description. I won't go into more details.
Here comes my first ChampionChip customer:
Peter finished in 1 hour and 15 minutes (and some seconds), was the 18th finisher overall, and 6th in his age group. He improved his time and place from last year, so he was pretty pleased.