Monday, April 10, 2017

A day in the life of a race director

This is what I feel like after a race

We had a great first race of the season on Saturday, a fun one to open with, The Seattle Magazine Brunch Run at Magnuson Park. 

I guess my body is not used to race days, this being our first race in a few months. The first one of the season is always hard which is why I thought I would run you through a typical race day experience from my perspective, a brief recap so you can see why I just slept for 13 hours. 

Alarm clock at 0'dark:30 - Force myself out of the warm bed. Try not to wake up my husband or the neighbors as a start the Uhaul in the middle of the night on our very suburban, quiet street. I always whisper an apology to them. 

Grab a coffee at the 24 hour coffee drive through (thank god for those baristas).

Arrive in the park and start doing parking signs, course set up, waterstop set up. Pray that there are no hooligans about to ruin the peace and quiet. Wait for my crew to arrive so I am not wandering the park at 3:00am by myself. 

Set up the course

Start setting up festival area with tents, tables, signs....

Check in vendors, volunteers, make sure set up is happening

Do a registration orientation

Meet the porto-potties guy, tell him where to set up. 

Make sure music/DJ/announcements are starting

Set up race start and finish line

Check on registration lines and bathroom lines

Get course volunteers out onto the course

Get everyone to the start line

Make sure everyone is excited and having a good time

Last minute check in with course staff to make sure everyone is in place

5, 4, 3, 2, 1 - GO! 

Hope and pray that the bike lead remembers the course and the signs are still up and the course monitors are still in place and that nobody gets lost or hurt. 

Wait for the first finisher, usually pacing back and forth.

High five the first finishers. 

Break down registration, turn it into results.

Make sure food and water is ready to go.



Clean up course.

Clean up festival area.

Pack up truck.

Unload truck at our storage unit.

Return truck.

Eat. (True story - I once cried after a race because the only thing getting me through that particular race day was the thought of eggs benedict and after the race we were too late, our usual place was not serving breakfast anymore and I stood on the sidewalk and I cried!). 

Go home. This is the tricky bit. I really want to enjoy that shower, I earned that right, but I am usually so tired by this point that I can barely stand to stand. So, usually its a quick one. 

Then, the ultimate best part - sinking down on that couch, putting my feet up, taking a deep breath and then no movement, at all, not even a little bit for at least a couple of hours. Try to rehydrate. Relax. Try to stay awake to watch bad television. Usually fall asleep on the couch. 

But, no rest for the weary. The post-race emails have to go out and results have to be posted in the various places. Jump on the computer and start working again. 

Must. Make. It to 9:00pm. Do. Not. Sleep. Now! 

This particular weekend saw me in bed by 8:00pm and I did not wake up for another 13 hours. I woke up, had some coffee and food, checked email and about an hour later I was back in bed for a nap. 

1 down, 11 to go!! 

Friday, February 24, 2017


It has been awhile since I have posted. Sorry about that. I guess I just got wrapped up in the actual planning of these events and finalizing our race schedule, which is awesome by the way. Check it out on our website.

Part of my busy schedule has been tax prep, the dreaded season of paperwork, spreadsheets and numbers. Lots and lots of numbers. I am not a numbers person. Numbers to me generally do not have any meaning, I mean what is the difference between 2 numbers, really!? I sometimes can't even remember how old I am.

It got me to thinking about numbers as it relates to races. Sure, there are the normal numbers that you think of 5K, 3.1, 10K, 6.2, 13.1.... But then there are the numbers that I guarantee any race director anywhere would know off the top of his/her head, ingrained in their DNA.  Even me, who does not understand numbers.

The first is a list of dates of their races. I could recite my calendar in my sleep. April 8, April 21, April 30 and so on. But, that can be applied to any business where events or deadlines take place. Not that unusual.

Here are some race related numbers that keep popping up in my head or daily life:

1440 - how many of you know what that number is? Ask any race director and they will know. That is the number of safety pins in a standard size 1 box. 1440, why don't you know that!?

128 - there are 128 ounces in a gallon. Standard water jugs are 5 gallons, standard serving cup at an aid station is filled to 3 ounces that leaves about 200 servings of water, give or take 13 or so cups. There are 450 cups in a Costco package. Also, there are 40 bottles in a Costco container of water bottles. Did you know that?

5280 - off the top of your head? Nope? That's how many feet in a mile. I know this intimately as I have spent a lot of time with my trusty wheel measure, wheeling and marking every 5280 feet.

18 inch - nope, not what you are thinking! 18 inch is the standard smaller sized cones. 28 inches - that is the bigger size cone.

What numbers are ingrained in you? Maybe your PR for a 5K? Maybe the dates of your kid's birthdays? Maybe your head is devoid of numbers all together? 1440! Number of safety pins in a box. I don't think I can ever erase that knowledge!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Cloudy with a chance of energy bars!

Quick - dodge that bar!

I was just sitting on my computer, doing some prep work for this weekend's Lake Union 10K and here comes my friendly Fedex guy who delivers a huge case of granola bars. I did not order them, I do not know who sent them. They just appear, out of nowhere. This is not the first time this has happened. In fact KIND Bars is officially on our access list to our storage unit and make frequent deliveries.

I think its awesome that food in massive quantity just gets delivered here at race headquarters. I feel like I am in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Only in my case its mostly energy bars, electrolyte drinks and other random samples. I just wish that it was more like ice cream or mac and cheese. But, hey, I guess I will take it and our participants sure appreciate all the free goodies too.

Plus, Lake Union 10K is catered by Portage Bay Cafe with french toast and a big bowl of whipped cream and berries. Now, that is something I can get behind and after all the work that goes into producing this race I feel as if I earn a swim inside that bowl of whipped cream! If it would only rain down some syrup.

See you on Sunday!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

What I learned from my trip to Costco

For someone who doesn't like bananas, not even a little bit, I sure do buy a ton of them! In my humble opinion the banana is a slimy, nasty, smelly, sweet mushy mess in a peel. No thank you. Be that as it may it is still a popular item to eat after finishing a race. It is a cheap source of nutrition and easily distributed. So, I found myself at Costco yesterday buying bananas for the upcoming Move Mmore 5K on Sunday. I might as well buy the water bottles too, right? One thing I have learned from dealing in large quantities of bananas from Costco, they are almost always way too green when you get them in the store and you must purchase them days in advance or else you will be serving rock hard slimy, nasty, sweet piles of bananas. 

I have learned at Costco that folks are friendly and think they are really funny. It is always a game for me, how many comments can I get on my loaded down cart of bananas, water, huge quantities of pretzels and maybe some muffins for volunteers? Yesterday, three comments. Amongst the usual: 

"I guess you are thirsty!"
"Preparing for the zombie apocalypse?" 
"That's a lot of smoothies!"
"Throwing a party?" 

I usually respond with an overly sarcastic remark. Usual replies: 

"Nope, just watering the garden today"
"They are coming, don't you know?"
"Just feeding my pet gorilla!"
"Nope, just house fire protection." 

However, as I was using every bit of strength to get my very heavy cart up the slight hill towards my vehicle a couple approached and asked, "Which race are you putting on this weekend?" I almost hugged them! That was the first time someone had actually asked me the appropriate question. Turns out they were race directors too and had done this same slog at this very location before and answered the same inane questions above. 

Another thing I learned from my trip to Costco is that exactly 16 cases of Costco water will fit into a Kia. Anything heavier will rub against the tires. Please note for future zombie outbreaks! 

Friday, May 13, 2016

Perks of the job

I am both a mug girl and a loyal customer and for both of these reasons I was rewarded by the universe with my new favorite mug from one of my favorite race day vendors! Of course I am friends with Honey Bucket on Facebook and of course I enter in their monthly contest to win this awesome mug and of course I never win it. The odds are slightly better than winning the lottery but I am still always up against hundreds of entries. As I was confirming our last event order I told my contact there that I have never won and then this arrived yesterday! It was wrapped in layers and layers of bubble wrap, nestled in a box, like a precious jewel. The only thing that would have made it better would have been if it was painted the iconic blue on the inside, mimicking the solution inside the real toilets. 

I cannot wait to casually bring this out for my next family gathering! 

Thank you Honey Bucket for my new favorite mug and most of all thank you for being a great vendor, always having our back and always having a sense of humor. I know our runners appreciate your services and our events would be a lot crappier without you (pun intended)!

I guess there are a few perks of being a race director. This mug and jars and jars of leftover peanut butter in my cupboard are amongst the top. 

Meanwhile, if you are interested in learning more about portable toilets, and who doesn't, here is a fantastic article about portable toilets as they relate to the race industry. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Almost Famous!

Well, that was a first! I was just recognized on the street. Granted, I was pulling up to Super Jock and Jill, lots of runners around, granted I was pulling signs out of my car for Good Karma 5K and 15K. But, still. To be stopped and asked if I was the Race Director from Lake Union 10K on Sunday? And then told how much fun she had at the race!? Well, I guess I am almost famous, amongst the community of runners in Seattle, who run races! I will take it!

Maybe I should hire a publicist. Next thing you know it's going to be paparazzi at my door! 

Friday, July 31, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Things

I am one of those types of people that will write something on a list that I have just done just for the satisfaction of crossing it off the list. Crossing an item off the list is one of my favorite things as a race director.

I keep notebooks, I am a pen and paper kind of girl and each race we produce gets its own dedicated notebook at the beginning of the planning process. It is my race brain, everything that needs to get done, every contact, every issue, every meeting goes into these notebooks. There are several satisfying things about these notebooks.

At the beginning of the year, when all the pre-planning down season stuff is happening one of the things I love to do is to start a new notebook. I feel as if I am starting fresh. Each and every event gets almost all the same lists; Permit, insurance, porto-potties, update website, update volunteer sign ups.....Yet I get some sort of pleasure out of writing it all out, one by one. I think it is because I get to see the scope of work in front of me each year.

Which, makes the second satisfying thing about these notepads: Putting them away, blank at the end of each event. At the beginning of the year I have this huge stack on my desk, each laid out, so organized. As we tick off the events I tear out the pages, file them away with that year's file folder and stow away the notebook until next year's plans start afresh. One of my favorite things is seeing that pile on my desk dwindle as the year goes on.

The things that drive me crazy about these notebooks: The items I can't check off until the day before race day. Things like "Print out volunteer list" or "Buy volunteer food." I can't seem to stand the sight of unchecked items.

These are just a few of my favorite things! Others include giant jars of leftover Nutella from races!!