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From the other side of the race registration table…

18 Apr

This past weekend I worked the Gulf Coast Half Marathon Pensacola Beach. A lot of people think when I say I “worked” the event that I really mean I “volunteered” at the event. While I in no way want to take away from the awesomeness of volunteers (after all, volunteers are what allow any group to actually make a race happen), I will put it out there that I am actually on staff with this particular race series. For this and other races I work on, it means that outside of race weekend, I spend many hours (in addition to my “real job”) helping get course certifications, city permits, coordinating packet pick-up, and all the other myriad of things that go along with planning a race. Often, for a big race (half marathon or longer), we start planning about a year out. That being said, I can assure you that for any well-produced race, there are dozens of people behind the scenes that work many hours…usually at the oddest times of the day…to help ensure an exceptional race-day experience by every runner.

Start line! This went up at 3:00AM.

Having been on both sides of the registration table allows me to have a unique perspective when it comes to planning/managing a race. As someone who has done a stupid amount of races, I feel like I have a good understanding of what a runner expects, what a runner is impressed by, and what makes them want to come back again. As a race director/manager/member of staff, I also know what is/is not feasible and what things are/are not under our control.

That being said, I wanted to share a few things about what it is like to be on the staff side of the registration table…

  1. If you did not register online ahead of time, please do not fuss at me if the race is sold out when you arrive at packet pick-up. Most races publish online registration links MONTHS ahead of time. Additionally, throughout the online registration period, you will often see discount codes published to further encourage online registration. If there is a race you really want to run, go ahead and sign up for it. Once online registration closes, we will open the remaining spots to registrants who sign up in-person at packet pick-up. For a successful race, this may mean only 10-15 remaining spots, and those are on a first come first served basis. If you show up in the last hour of packet pick-up on the day before the race and we say we are sold out, I assure you, we are sold out.
  2. Me and @RunningWithSass!

  3. If a race is sold out, please do not beg and plead for me to register you. Look, I *hate* being the bad guy. However, permits from the city only allow a certain number of people. If we ever hope to have a race in that city again, we simply CANNOT go above the number allowed on our permit. If we do, this could involve legal ramifications beyond what you are aware of. I promise to do all I can to find a way to get you in this race, but if I cannot get you registered and I have no more entries left, please respect that.

  4. If it is highly advertised that there is no race-day packet pick-up, please do not fuss at me on the morning of the race if you see me standing there with a bin of packets. As a runner, I totally understand how convenient race-day packet pick-up is. And for smaller races, perhaps a 5k with only a few hundred people, that start later in the morning, race-day packet pick-up is totally feasible. However, if a race has over 1,500 people and starts at 7:00AM, there is simply no way we could get everyone’s packets to them and have the race start on time…even if we started packet pick-up at 3:00AM.
  5. My favorite race day buddy, Ms. Diane!

  6. If you have an extenuating circumstance, please e-mail/call the race director/staff ahead of time. We are not bad people. We are generally willing to work with you on your situation. However, we cannot work with you if we do not know about your situation. Letting us know about it after that fact does not help us help you before race day. If you have special needs, we really do want to accommodate you! Drop us a line or give us a shout and give us the chance to help you make arrangements for race day!

  7. At the end of the race with a certified course, please do not complain that the course was too long/short. If a race has been certified, I PROMISE you that it is the correct distance. If you are running a half marathon, the only way your Garmin, RunKeeper, or other GPS device will read exactly 13.1 miles as you cross the finish line is if you hit every curve in the race course at 1 foot off from the tangent. If that makes no sense to you whatsoever, check out this post regarding running tangents.

  8. If you feel like you are so sick or injured that you will not complete the race or the race will have a tremendous negative impact on your health, please do not race. Before the start of Sunday’s race, I was approached by a woman who asked at what mile she would find the first sweep vehicle (ambulance). She said that she had been having terrible hip pain, and while she had gotten half way through her training, the last several weeks were not as dedicated to her training as they should have been. Basically, she started the race fully expecting not to cross the finish line. I understand there is a fine line to teeter on when deciding whether to push on and race through an illness/injury or pulling a DNS. However, if you are thinking of starting a race with the plan of not finishing, I encourage you to rethink the race. Take the time to get well and heal. There is always another race.
  9. Me and @Atha75!

  10. If you did not earn an age group award and you notice that we have extras, please do not ask if you can have one or offer to purchase one. Age group awards for this past Sunday’s race were these cool glass drinking jars. Everyone really seemed to like them. After all of the age group awards were given out, we had a handful left over, as some age group winners had already gone home before the awards. Those who did receive their awards happily filled them with beer and continued on with the post-race party. One gentleman noticed we had extras. He asked if he could have one. I politely told him that we could not just GIVE him an award. He then asked to purchase one. I again told him that we could not make the glasses available for purchase on the same day as the event. After all, the people who won them fair and square deserve the right to revel in their accomplishment. Just giving out the extras (or worse, SELLING them) would only cheapen their award. When I explained this to him, he walked away. Moments later, I overheard this gentleman call me “the B word.” Sigh. You just can’t win with some people.

  11. If you have an AMAZING time, please tell us! We work hard for months to make sure you have the best race experience possible. If we are successful, please tell us! When something goes wrong at a race or if there is something that runners really hated, you can bet we will hear about it. However, if something is overwhelmingly awesome, we want to know about that too so that we can make sure we do it again or incorporate it into our other races (if possible). If you have a great time at a race, please reach out to the race director/staff via e-mail, facebook, or Twitter to tell them about your experience. We love hearing from happy racers!

Finish line! Also went up at 3:00AM!


All in all, it was a fantastic race weekend in Pensacola Beach and I am already looking forward to our next race in the series, the Gulf Coast Half Marathon Louisiana Northshore (Mandeville, LA). I am also working on several other big races outside of the state (more details on those coming as soon as I am allowed to spill the beans!) so this summer and fall will definitely be busy.

Have YOU directed/managed a race? How do you feel it affects you as a runner? What issues have you encountered in the past?

Gulf Coast Half Marathon Expo

8 Oct

I have had so much fun volunteering at the expo for the Gulf Coast Half Marathon the last two days!  The last several years, I have been so involved in racing that I have not done a lot of volunteering.  The Gulf Coast Half Marathon Series is a great series of races and since I could not run this year, I definitely wanted to find some way to stay involved.  Plus, so many of my #RunLA fam will be at this event, I knew that I could not pass up being involved in some capacity!

Here are some things you get to do when volunteer for a race expo…

You help race newbies figure out the process…

You help people find their race number and get their packet…

You tell awesome people about upcoming races…

You show off the cool race medal (BLING!) and get people super excited about the race…

You hang out with cool vendors…who may or may not also happen to be your friends… :)

You hand out t-shirts…

If you are in Louisiana and there is an LSU game, you listen to the game in the background (GEAUX TIGERS!)…
…and that just scratches the surface!  You are also a safety pin finder, question answerer, and all-around friendly, smiling face!

So far, it has been a great day!  Tomorrow will start early but I can’t wait!  Lots of the #RunLA fam will be racing tomorrow and I can’t wait to cheer them on!  My cowbell is ready!

Do you volunteer for races?  What is your favorite job as a race volunteer?

Things October Brings

3 Oct

October is, by far, my favorite month! Even though Christmas is my favorite holiday, the month of October always seems to bring extra special things. This year, it brings extra EXTRA special things! Here are just a few reasons why October is a good month…

Breast Cancer Awareness Month
I am a huge supporter of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and have participated at many levels in several chapters of this organization. I have run in more Race for the Cure 5k races than I can even remember, have walked in five 3-Day for the Cure events, and have crewed one 3-Day for the Cure event. In fact, I am even in a promotional video for the 3-Day for the Cure! Granted, I am in it for 0.27 milliseconds, but hey, I am in there! Breast cancer is a disease that has personally affected my family and I do everything I can to help support finding a cure for it. I secretly fear that one day I will be diagnosed, as I am in a genetic “high risk” category. However, I do the best I can to help keep my body strong and healthy by eating right and getting exercise so that I am able to handle anything that may or may not come in the future. I believe that all the research being done to find a cure is worthwhile and I believe that we will see a world without breast cancer. Every woman deserves a lifetime!

The Saints love tatas, too!


Dropping Temperatures and Fall Fun
October ushers in wonderful things like cool snaps, decreasing temperatures and fall festivals. While I realize that Autumn technically starts in September, it is during the month of October that I really feel like fall is upon us. Leaves start turning and falling off the trees and I can hear the crunch of them as I shuffle down the sidewalk. Oh, and pumpkin-flavored menu items start showing up on restaurant menus and in grocery stores. Even though I know it is super healthy, I am not a HUGE fan of pumpkin. I do, however, love me some roasted pumpkin seeds!

Halloween and Costumed Races
Really, do I need to say anymore? Aren’t we all just big kids inside? Who doesn’t love the costumes, the candy, and the spooky (cheesy) Halloween soundtracks!? C’mon, you know you love it when Monster Mash is played on the radio! Halloween is my second favorite holiday of the whole year and I literally start planning my costumes (yes, PLURAL) for the parties I will be attending and the races I will be running MONTHS in advance. In fact, I have a whole post dedicated to some of my favorite running costumes coming later this week, so be on the look out for that!

Race Volunteering
I have promised my husband no more races until after Baby Key arrives. While I know when to stop or slow down when running on my own, all of that common sense flies right out the window when I am in a race environment. My pack mentality completely takes over and my uber competitive monster rears its ugly head. So, to prevent myself from overdoing it, I am going to be volunteering at several local races so that I can stay active in my running community! Plus, it is super fun to support others and experience a race in a different way!

…and last but certainly NOT least…in fact, this is the MOST EXCITING thing this October brings…

Baby Key
Yep, it is highly likely that Baby Key will have an October birthday! YOWZA! Picture me with my eyeballs bugging out of their sockets because that is pretty much what I look like ALL THE TIME these days. While technically my due date is not until November 7th, my doctor has informed me that women who remain very active during pregnancy (read = women like ME) typically deliver one to two weeks early because their bodies are pretty much just “ready to go.” Trust me, this body is DEFINITELY ready to go! Let’s get this show on the road and let this mama-to-be get back to running…with the Baby Jogger, of course!

What does October bring to you? Do you have anything special or fun going on this month?

Groups Doing Good: Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure

22 Jun

Dude, I’m famous!!  Okay, so I’m not like “famous” famous, but I feel SO big time!  I made into a promotional video by Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure!


That’s me…in the wig…leaning out of the van at 57sec! Go ahead and pause it, I’ll wait. Awesome, yes? (And yes, I know I’m all hoarse, but I had been cheering for the walkers for three whole days!)


Susan G. Komen for the Cure is a cause that I am extremely passionate about and have been involved in for many years. In fact, I even credit their Race for the Cure events as one of the things that got me taking my running seriously.

In 2005, seeking a challenge and wanting to make more of in impact for this cause, I signed up to do the impossible walk 60 miles over 3 days in the Breast Cancer 3-Day (now called Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure). Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure raises money to fund innovative global breast cancer research and local community programs supporting education, screening, and treatment. Did you know that virtually every major advance in the fight against breast cancer in the last 38 years has been impacted by a Susan G. Komen for the Cure grant? Pretty amazing stuff.

While my family and friends eagerly supported me, I quickly realized that none of them were going to be by my side on the walk. I was going it alone…or so I thought. On my first 3-Day experience, I quickly made friends with fellow walkers, realizing that we were all there for a common goal…to find a cure for breast cancer. We all had personal stories to share and all had so much to gain from each other. Over the last several years, it has given me the change to laugh, cry, share hugs, make new friends, grieve for a grandmother I lost WAY too soon, and celebrate my aunt who is a SURVIVOR. (Woot!) Walking the 3-Day is an experience of a lifetime and I wouldn’t trade my memories from walking and crewing for anything in the world.

After my first 3-Day, I sort of kind of became addicted… :)

2005 Atlanta Walker

2006 Atlanta Walker

2007 Atlanta Walker

2008 Philadelphia Walker

2009 Arizona Walker

2010 Atlanta Crew

2010 Atlanta Crew - Told ya that was me in the wig! :)

Make no mistake, the 3-Day is not “just walking.” Even though it is not running, it still requires training…and lots of it. Walking is a much different motion for your body than running and I would equate training for the 3-Day to training for a marathon. Like a marathon, it takes time, a good training plan, determination, and commitment. Oh, and without the 3-Day, I would have never discovered BodyGlide. In five years of walking and one year of crewing, I have never gotten a blister…not ONCE. (For you walkers reading this, listen up…stock up and rub it EVERYWHERE your stock touches…you won’t be sorry.)

I had planned to walk again this year in Atlanta. However, it just so happens that this year’s Atlanta event falls right about the time I am supposed to be delivering a baby. :) Sooooo, that’s probably not going to happen. I am still trying to work out (logistically) a city I can crew in, because I don’t want a year to go by that I am not involved in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure. The cause is too important and the risk of not finding a cure is too great.

Don’t worry, this mama on the move will definitely be back to walking in 2012. Who knows, I might even add a Susan G. Komen Marathon for the Cure to my line up!

If you are interested in finding out more about the 3-Day, I highly encourage you to visit www.the3day.org or e-mail me! I promise you that this is an experience that you will never forget.

Every step (whether walked or run) is one step closer to a cure! Join the fight! BELIEVE in a world without breast cancer. I know I do.

Groups Doing Good: Rocket Kidz Foundation

11 Jun


This morning I had the extreme pleasure of volunteering for the Rocket Kidz Rookies Triathlon! This triathlon was open to all kids ages 3-10.

The Rocket Kidz Foundation started in November 2006 to help raise money for kids’ programs in the Hurricane Katrina ravaged Mississippi Gulf Coast area, as well as the rest of Southeast Louisiana. The primary mission of the Rocket Kidz Foundation is to fight childhood obesity and encourage kids fitness through education, programs, facilities, and scholarship development. Many of their programs focus on multisport events, though any event that gets kids moving will be considered for support by the organization. In addition to setting a good example for our children, we all know that encouraging kids to stay active and eat healthy are the best ways to help reduce the instances of childhood obesity. I mean, really, who wants to live in a world like Wall-E?

Today’s big event was held at the ExxonMobil YMCA. I had never been to this YMCA and was built in the time while I had moved away. It is a REALLY nice facility and I am glad that area of the community has access to it. Brent and I arrived bright and early at 6:15AM. Before we knew it, our other #RunLAvolunteers showed up to keep us company! The more the merrier!

Beautiful morning!

Jeremy, Jamie, and Brent ready to volunteer!

Kids started arriving with their bikes and gear and starting getting it all set up in the transition area. Some of these bikes were TOO CUTE…we are talking handlebar streamers, baskets carrying little stuffed animals, flags, etc…the whole nine yards! And I loved the kids with fun helmets! Some were from the movie Cars, some had shark fins on top, and I think I even saw a few Toy Story helmets!

Transition!

Jeremy, Brent, and I were assigned to the bike route so around 7:45AM we went to our stations. The bike route for the older kids (ages 5-10) was a 1-mile out and back course so we basically had to just keep them going down the straightaway, turn them around, and get them to come back.

Here are a few of the best photos we got of the kids! I love it!

Cool recumbent bike!

Jeremy fixing a bike chain!

Too cute!

Overall, the morning was fantastic! The weather was a nice 90 degrees (hot, but a nice break from the ~104 degree temperatures we have been having) but clear. Even though I saw a couple kids fall off their bikes, a few chains got dropped, there were a few trips and falls, overall there were no massive meltdowns and all the kids seemed to have a really fun time! And who better to help the kids cool off than the one and only Ninja Snowballs! HELLO red cream soda snowball!

To see all of the photos that we have from today’s triathlon, click HERE!

The next events held by the Rocket Kidz Foundation will be the Rocket Chix Triathlon on Saturday, July 30th (this is the sprint triathlon that I am currently training for) and the Rocket Kidz Triathlon on Sunday, July 31st (for ages 6-14). And this coming January, the same great team behind Rocket Kidz will be presenting the inaugural Louisiana Marathon! It is going to be awesome!

I am eagerly looking forward to these fun events and hope that if you are in the Baton Rouge/South LA area that you would consider participating or volunteering. You won’t regret it!

Cancer Runner, Tchoupitoulas Barathon, Athleta IronGirl, and Weight Watchers Walk-It Day Challenge!

23 May

Friday morning started early, at 6:00AM. Okay, okay…I know that for some of you, you’re already done with your run by then, but that’s early for me. I was there to see Paul Sibley (@CancerRunner) get started on his 50-mile run around the LSU lakes. Paul undertook this journey in order to raise money for Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. In 2006, Paul was diagnosed with a rare form of squamous cell skin cancer. Though he has faced many invasive surgeries and radiation, Paul was finally declared to be cancer-free. Within 6 months of his return to running, Paul completed the HURT 100-mile trail race in Oahu, HI. In addition, he has gone on to compete in IronMan competitions, ultramarathons, and multiple other adventures. Paul Sibley is an incredible man and I feel so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet him. If you are interested in supporting his efforts, you aren’t too late! Please visit his website for more information about his running and fundraising!

Paul Sibley - CancerRunner.org


Wear your sunscreen, kids!


On a side note, while Paul was out on his first lap around the LSU lakes, I got the chance to visit with his sister Wanda. We got to talking and it just so happens that she has a Baby Jogger stroller that she is looking to get rid of. HEYO! Granted, its not brand new, but its FREE and we’ll take it! Yay!

I wanted to run a lap or two around the LSU lakes with Paul, but 1) even his warm-up was faster than my comfortable pace, and 2) I didn’t want to be too worn out for the Tchoupitoulas Barathon. Since I was up and itching to get my sweat on, I opted for the bike. I went out for 16 miles (which I did in a little over an hour). I wanted to do a little more, but we had to pack and get down to New Orleans.

We got into New Orleans just in time for a riveting game of Lego Star Wars on Wii with my nephew. Talk about a kid who takes his Wii games seriously? (Was I ever like that with my Nintendo? Probably.) We visited the family for a little while and then headed over to Le Bon Temps Roule on Magazine Street.

The Tchoupitoulas Barathon has been on my list for years as one of those “must do” fun runs. 6 miles…6 bars…6 beers. Sound fun? IT WAS!! Although I couldn’t partake in the 6 beers, Brent picked up my slack and we had a great time. For runners in Louisiana, I would highly recommend this run. A totally fun, out of the ordinary way to spend a Friday night!

Tchoupitoulas Barathon - Beer Stop 2

Saturday I had originally planned to run in the Academy of the Sacred Heart Heart and Sole 5k. However, Baby Key decided it would be fun to give mama some wicked heart burn around 2:30AM. We were staying in a smaller bed at my brother’s house and I just could NOT get comfortable. I moved to the couch where I couldn’t really get back to sleep because the only thing that seemed to help was sitting straight up. There was no way I could get up and run a 5k with any level of seriousness with 4 hours of sleep. Instead, I played with my niece and nephew, ate pancakes as a family, and took a trip to Lowe’s with Brent. Kind of a slow morning, but sometimes that is just what I need.

In the afternoon, I went over to UNO Technology and Research Park to volunteer for the Athleta Iron Girl New Orleans. I worked packet pick-up and had a FANTASTIC time! Seeing the excitement on all of the participants’ faces made me REALLY wish I was going to be competing. I know my swim isn’t strong enough, and that doing an open water swim while pregnant could be unsafe, but my competitive nature still made me wish my name was on that roster. I tried my best to give out high fives and encouraging words to everyone who came through my packet pick-up line…especially for the triathlon virgins. Overall though, everyone seemed really excited and the fact that the Lake Pontchartrain swim was still going on as planned made all the ladies happy!

All the ladies' gear! Ready for Sunday!


After the volunteering, Brent and I went to eat at Zoe’s Kitchen on Old Metairie Road. We had never been there, but I would definitely go back! It was super delicious and food tasted really fresh! Highly recommended!

In my efforts to encourage my mom to walk/jog (eventually run) more, I signed us up for the Weight Watchers Walk-It Day Challenge (sponsored by Fleet Feet Baton Rouge) on Sunday afternoon. This was my mom’s 4th 5k ever and she did really well. I’m really proud of her. She walked the first 5 minutes as a warm up and then did 60 seconds jog/90 seconds walk for the next mile and half. She then said she felt a headache coming on, and as hot as it was (94 degrees!), I didn’t want to push her too hard and we walked the rest of the way. I’m still proud of her! That’s more than she’s ever run at one time before! Baby steps! Wehe then said she felt a headache coming on, and as hot as it was (94 degrees!), I didn’t want to push her too hard and we walked the rest of the way. I’m still proud of her! That’s more than she’s ever run at one time before! Baby steps! We also saw my running buddy, Theresa, out there, so that was fun!

Our post-walk/jog victory was followed by a delicious Muscle Punch Plus (no turbinado) from Smoothie King! Once home, I was thrown back into the “real world” and had to pack for my work trip to Nashville.

I HATE packing…especially when getting dressed these days is a battle with the wardrobe. I never know what is going to fit day-to-day so I packed enough for at least three weeks! Oh well, at least I won’t be nekkid!

Despite having a crazy busy last few days, I actually made it to the airport (showered, dressed, and made up!) by 5:15AM! Woot! I made it to Nashville about noon today and have been in engineering meetings all afternoon. Let me just say, it’s been a thrill a minute. Mechanical reliability? Grounding and bonding? I mean, c’mon, how much more exciting can it get!? I have another meeting this evening, and then after that, I’m hitting up the hotel fitness center DREADMILL. Wish me luck!

So, what have YOU been up to??

Swim class #2 and Athleta IronGirl NOLA!

12 May

Swim class went well today. I feel like I understand a little bit better what I am supposed to be doing with my body. Now whether or not I’m actually doing what I am supposed to be doing is an entirely different story. But hey, I can honestly say I’m trying.

Today we learned more about how we should be moving our arms through the water. It felt VERY awkward and uncomfortable…so that probably means I was doing it more correctly than incorrectly. We used the kickboards again, and today we added the pull buoys. Technically, I didn’t use a “real” pull buoy because we ran out, so I used an aqua fitness barbell between my legs instead. This was pretty uncomfortable, so I ordered my own Speedo Pull Buoy to use next time. While I was feeling frisky, I went ahead and ordered my own Speedo Kickboard as well. I figure this would be a good idea since I need a lot of help on my kicking. In addition to adding the pull buoys, we also added a couple new drills called the catch-up and the 12+3.

I am also still having a hard time keeping my head down and face in the water. Coach Anne said the 12+3 drill would help this, so I better get used to doing a lot of those. Because I can’t seem to keep my head down, I just can’t get my breathing figured out. I am just so afraid of running out of air or something. I know I’ll get this, I just have to keep practicing.

Coach Anne says she’d like us to get in at least one other swim outside of the two times we meet each week. I’m going to shoot for two other times. Hopefully swimming four times a week will get me on the path to improving. Oh, and she also said the swimming will improve my running and cycling (BONUS!), but unfortunately, the reverse is not the case. Oh well…

In other news, I have signed up to volunteer at the Athleta Iron Girl New Orleans! I am really excited about this event. Last fall, I set my sights on competing in this event, but because of the holidays, moving states, starting a new job, and the surprise of Baby Key, I just haven’t had the chance to obtain the gear I need and train properly. Besides, a mass start open water swim (even if I was at that swimming ability) is probably a bad idea for a pregnant lady. Getting kicked in the stomach in Lake Pontchartrain isn’t real high on my priority list these days. I figured that this year, if I couldn’t get in on the action, I could at least be near the action. So until then, I’m working up my best high fives and “good luck” cheers to give the competitors on the big day!

Iron Girl couldn’t have gotten a better sponsor than Athleta. Their clothing rocks and ranks super high on my Gear Love Affair list. C’mon, have you seen how awesome their running skorts are?? (This pregnant lady has officially retired her running shorts until her pre-pregnancy, trim, toned legs return. Until then, I am loving me some running skorts! Don’t worry, I am sure a future post will be dedicated to them entirely.)

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