Saturday, October 19, 2013

I'll show you my cart, if you show me yours!

I assume if you are reading this you are somewhat into fitness and health. From that basic premise I assume that your shopping cart is filled with healthy things like apples, carrots and whole grain bread to fuel those long runs? Not so much here at Run for Good!

I do not know why, but I somehow get a perverse pleasure out of shopping in mass quantity for somewhat unusual things for races. 

One of my most memorable shopping experiences for a race happened at a regular grocery store, which was kind enough to donate a gift card for volunteer food. I have been told by many good volunteers that what they crave in the early morning of a race is sugar and carbs. Well, take a look at this cart! I got so many stares, presumably from people thinking I was feeding this to what must have looked like my big brood of children. And, of course the comments from the checkout staff, "Wow, that's a lot of donuts!" Thank you, yes, it is a lot of donuts!

For Run Scared this year we are doing a candy corn tasting bar. So exciting! That is right, did you know there is more than one flavor of candy corn? I found 7 different kinds ranging from traditional to caramel apple to Starburst flavor. After doing extensive candy corn pricing (another fun race director job), it turns out that Bartell's has the best price. When they went on sale last week I took my cart and wheeled on down the Halloween aisle with glazed over eyes and proceeded to pile in bag after bag of candy corn! Do you know how hard it is to predict how much candy corn 1200 people will consume? I still do not know if I got the right amount, I would hate to run low on candy corn. You know this stuff never goes bad either so pile in the bags! I actually use candy corn as a source of fuel for my long runs, its the perfect amount of sugar my body needs (my stomach cannot handle Gu's). So really it is an investment into my running future, right!? 

My mantra this week is, "Do not eat, do not eat, do not eat!"

I always feel slightly awkward about this situation, our runs are supposed to get people off the couch, motivated to be healthy and here we are feeding our participants candy corn. But, I guess running to earn your candy is better than just eating the candy without the run. We usually try to provide healthy items too like bananas and whole grain bread, chili and healthy energy bars. And, what is Halloween without candy? 

What is in your cart!? I bet you it is not as fun as mine! See you in the grocery aisles! 

Monday, October 14, 2013

2 of the best compliments paid to a race director

Yesterday marked the culmination of almost a year of planning for a big national event that we had been hired to help produce. Run for Good was hired to do all the very local stuff, including all things course which consisted of finding a course, getting permits, arranging for street closures and no parking, measuring the course, notifying residents and businesses that would be impacted, marking the course, cleaning up afterward, planning for water stations and medical, getting volunteers out to their positions.. So basically everything that makes a race a race, aside from the finish line festival.

It had been a year of back and forth with the City, hours of planning, hundreds of emails and phone calls. 3 days of going door to door for neighborhood notifications, 4 days of course measurement where literally I walked the entire 5K and Half Marathon courses with my trusty measuring wheel, doing very hard S.A.T style math problems.

It was our first time working for a national race series and it was definitely a learning experience.

After a very harried, very very early morning we had finally gotten everything done and set up, the race had started. My crew and I went back out to ensure that the course was, well, coursing. It was in fact. We saw everyone making all the right turns and volunteers exactly where they needed to be. That fact alone was great enough to ease my stress that had been building about this event.

When we happened upon the Mile 8 mile marker (which were beasts of things to set up) the banner had shifted in the wind so that participants could not see it at all. We stopped to fix said banner when the best 2 compliments came my way, right at the moment I needed them most.

The first was a woman runner, as she saw the mile marker being swung back into place, looked at her GPS watch and said to us, "You know, these have been dead on!" That made my 4 days of measuring seem worth it. The second came literally on the heels of the first compliment. A gentleman running with a Run Like The Wind shirt. Oh, what joy! I ran with him for a few paces and told him I was the race director for that event and he said, "oh yeah, I remember, that was great and so is this!"

A race director's job is hard, often times thankless, we have to take the fall for all the problems, listen to complaints, deal with stress and behind the scenes work that goes totally un-noticed. But, just sometimes, there is something that happens that makes it all worth it. Usually I see it at the finish line when people are smiling, happy and sometimes crying with the joy of accomplishment. Or in the thanks we get after we have donated all of our money. But, sometimes it happens out on the course, when you need it most.

Other compliments a race director likes to hear:
- Heard at Run Like the Wind - "That downhill mile was the best mile of my entire life!"
- Seen at Run Scared 5K - a wheel chaired man, being pushed by a friend, with a beaming smile as they crossed the finish line who said "thank you for allowing me to feel normal and have some fun!" He then made a large donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
- Heard at Run Like the Wind - "That was awful, I loved it!" (Sometimes you gotta be brutal on your participants!)
- Heard at Good Karma 5K - "That was my first race ever and I am hooked!" She then signed up for several of our other races.

There are many others, but it was a long day yesterday and my brain needs a rest.

So, to those two runners yesterday, thank you for easing my morning and I hope you had a great rest of your race!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

For the Love of Our Participants

Sometimes race directors do funny things to demonstrate love, love for our participants that is. This was one of those times. I ordered a batch of safety pins for an upcoming event. I have to admit, I ordered them from China. I know, I feel bad, huge carbon footprint, outsourcing to another country and all. But, they were cheap, plus I figured if I ordered them from somewhere in the States, most likely they had been imported from China originally, so I am just cutting out the middle man. (Look at me, justifying my obviously guilty behavior).

They arrived in a giant plastic bag. All 6,000 of them. Each pin was connected to a group of 9 other pins. All stuck together. Yeah. All 6,000 of them, Well, you can't have participants reaching in and trying to undo the group, getting poked, stalling the registration lines. I love my participants too much.

So, what did I do? I put on my current favorite tv show (The West Wing), sat down on the floor and undid those little clumps and freed each and every safety pin, released it to its own personal freedom! Go forth, be free! That was 600 clumps that had to be undone. After two episodes my fingers were silver from the residue. But, my love for my participants was demonstrated once more.

This is my final pile. 

Making mountains out of safety pins! 

Other things I have done for the love of participants:
  • Waking up before another human being on the planet is awake to get to the park to set up in the cold, dark and rain
  • Figuring out how to cook, transport and keep hot pumpkin soup hot for Run Scared (never again)
  • Baking for hours so our participants can have awesome finish line food
  • Figured out how to keep bottles of Gatorade cold in the middle of a dessert in June with no shade
  • Made sure our favorite furry participants have treats too
  • So many other things, I mean really, my entire job is showing the love to our participants. I hope you agree next time we see you at a race and are feeling the love!!!