Thursday, May 26, 2011

Ah, Race Week!

This is race week, the week of no sleep, running around, worrying, stressing, constantly checking the weather forecast, obsessively checking registration numbers, race nightmares taking over sleep, scrambling and busy work. Sounds like fun!? Your ideal of a job!? It's mine!

Ah, race week!

Race Directing has some fun challenges and decisions that most people probably do not think about. I have been obsessing about porto-potties. Yes, portable bathrooms have been haunting me this week. Good Karma is sort of on that fine line, not quite enough people to warrant porto-potties (they are really expensive!) but if I get as many people as I am hoping I will need them. Do I just go ahead and order them? When there are nonprofits involved you have to consider them as well. If I do not get porto-potties its more money for them. But, you want participants to have the best experience possible and also not get in trouble from the Parks Department. When is the last possible moment I can order them? Really, this is my life!

Ah, race week!

My small apartment has officially been taken over by race stuff. You can barely get through the hallway without running into boxes of shirts, bananas, prizes and big signs. Good thing I have a storage unit so I don't have to dodge traffic cones and water jugs with my bad knee.

Ah, race week!

I am also completely high on fumes from the plastic bags I have been stuffing with hundreds of pieces of printed materials. Oh no, how many bags should I make? Should I include that sample and that flyer?

Ah, race week!

Now the worry of what big thing I am missing, what have I forgotten. I am hoping nothing and that every participant and volunteer walks away with a smile, a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction of knowing they have helped with some great causes.

Ah, race week!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Demand is High, Supplies are Low

One of Good Karma 5K's beneficiaries is Northwest Harvest. Participants can sign up in support of them or they can also bring food donations on race day. I went to their Cherry St. location yesterday to pick up some fliers and a food drive collection box for race day and was blown away. I just so happened to be there during a food bank pickup time.

We have all been told the need for food to stock the food banks, we have heard on the news that supplies are low and demand is high these days. Sure, some of us might put out a can of almost expired beans when the post office does their annual food drive. But, you can't really know what that all means until you go to a food bank and see for yourself.

When I arrived there was literally a line up the hill and around the corner. I went inside to the warehouse distribution center I saw piles and piles of food and volunteers buzzing about. I thought to myself, ok, this looks like enough food for these hungry people, its not so bad. But, as I stood there, waiting for the employee I was getting the stuff from, maybe 5 minutes, that pile of oatmeal had dwindled down from an overflowing pile to just a few bags. Was it enough food? I had the sudden urge to run out and start collecting food from any passer by.

It makes me feel good, personally, that I am trying to get something done about it. I feel like I am helping in some small tiny way to help the situation. This is why I started this company in the first place. I am glad I happened to be there at that time, gave me a renewed sense of purpose, as cliched as that sounds.

Like the news says, the demand is high and the supplies are low. It really is true. If you doubt it just go observe a food bank in action, or better yet, volunteer your time and donate food! Or better yet, sign up for Good Karma and bring some food along with you. I will have the bin waiting to be filled.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sweat the details

Finally got off the couch and back to the real world yesterday and went crazy, and am paying for it today, I feel like a ran a marathon yesterday! I was feeling a lot better in terms of my calf and leg so I decided to venture out and take care of a few things that had to happen for race day. It made me remember how much detail goes into races.

Most runners, or event attendees in general for that matter, do not realize how much planning goes into an event. And there is only so much of that planning that happens online. Here is a taste of what I did yesterday, just to give you an example of a day in the life of a race director.

I dropped off fliers for Good Karma to Redeeming Soles (the organization that is accepting shoe donations at the race) and got fliers from them to put into runner's bags. I distributed fliers to a bunch of coffee shops, community boards, shoes stores and gyms. I went to an office supply store and bought sharpies for the gear check, pens for the registration area and tried to figure out how to attach the laminated signs (which I have still to laminate) to the fronts of the tents. I dropped off fliers at Cascade Land Conservancy and picked up their fliers to distribute at the donation station. I picked up fliers from The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society on my way to going into a book store to ask for a donation for a prize.

At home, I checked registrations, checked the Facebook page, ordered bulk thank you cards online, checked in with a volunteer, looked at best prices for bananas, arranged a time to go to Restaurant Depot with a friend who has a membership to buy cups and responded to a few random emails and phone calls (one about a team discount, one about race bibs).

Phew, and that was only one day! Today I order balloons, make all the signs I will need, laminate those signs and hopefully cross 20 more things off my list.

Amazing this is all for an event that will be over in the matter of about an hour or so! But, I have to keep on remembering that hopefully it will make an impact on the community, the nonprofits and the participants themselves.

Sign up today and test out all these details, and when you are out there running, look at the mile markers and realize that was someone's care and time that made that happen, they didn't just appear magically. Or maybe they did!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

It's all about perspective

What I need is a little Good Karma to come my way!

What I wouldn't give to just have an ACL tear these days, sounds like heaven to me! Since writing last I have had these nasty calf cramps, which I was told was normal. They felt like I had hopped a full marathon, on one leg without any Gatorade or salt. To make a long story short, I ended up in the ER. They found I had a blood clot in my leg and waited too long and a couple of pieces broke off and traveled up to my lung.

It's amazing how a life threatening event can change perspective. I thought the knee was serious business. Now I am on blood thinners, daily blood tests, bed rest and my ACL surgery has been delayed for 3-7 more months. The goal of returning to running hasn't really entered my mind, now I just want 10 minutes of no pain! Perspective.

Needless to say, I have gotten creative on how to pull together the upcoming Good Karma race. It is frustrating not be able to run around and do what needs to be done. It is coming together with the help of friends and family and lots of emailing! It begs the question, when is a good time for a race director to start to think about hiring a staff? At what point are you in a position to hire an assistant? I think I have to pull off this first race first!

Send some Good Karma my way, get some good karma for yourself, get a great workout, a fun t-shirt, a possibility of some prizes, free food, a timed event, free photos and help local nonprofits. What do you have to do to do all that you ask? Just sign up for Good Karma 5K run or 4K walk!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Amazing what a minute can do

I keep on singing those lyrics in the title over and over these days (Dave Matthews song). I come to you from the couch today, not a place sought after by most runners and active people, especially as the season turns nice, sunny and warm. I want to be outside, running, frolicking and making merry. Instead I am confined to my home base, my couch and my one or two blocks of flat terrain outside my house.

That is right, I am officially on the injured list. Shortly after coming back from Paris I went skiing, had an unfortunate accident where I fell but my knee fell the opposite direction thus resulting in a torn ACL and a damaged meniscus. In a flash my life has been altered. It's amazing how fast life comes and sometimes smacks you upside the head. In fact, as I was falling, in that split second of searing pain, I thought "well, there goes running for a while. At least I just did Paris!" When you make running and being active your entire life, it defines you. What happens when you can't do it anymore? Are you even the same person that you were 1 minute ago?

Since the accident I have only left my couch a handful of times. Once to see the orthopedic doc, once to get my MRI and a couple of times when I have felt adventurous and needed fresh air.

It is amazing, also, how your definition of luck changes when these sorts of things happen. I am lucky that there were amazing ski patrol right up the hill from me. I am lucky I didn't do something really bad like shatter my knee cap. I am lucky I had a good friend with me. I am lucky I had just done a marathon and a big trip to Europe. I am lucky I can schedule my upcoming ACL reconstruction surgery around my schedule (after Good Karma 5K). I am lucky that for the most part when I am stationary it's not so painful. I am lucky I work from home and do not have to commute. I am lucky that the majority of my work can be done on the computer and phone. I am lucky I am strong and in shape going into this. I am lucky I have one of the best ACL surgeons in this area. I am lucky I have insurance. I am lucky that if everything goes according to plan I will be back to absolute normal in about a year. I am lucky I have a great support system around me. Who needs the lottery, right!?

So, for the time being I will be volunteering at races, rather than running them. This just gives me an opportunity to slow down and observe the running world from a different perspective. Its probably exactly what I needed in my life. Maybe I will write a book, or make some art or actually read all those books I have been meaning to read.

So if you see a volunteer at your next race in a leg brace, well, stop by and say hi!