I write about my life and life itself seen through my eyes for who can write through the experiences of others if not their own?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Race/Adventure Report

photos and more photos

I normally don’t do race reports but this one is different. This race is all I have been able to eat, dream and talk about for the last few weeks.

Celebrate Life Half Marathon on March 8th was a successful event. It was a total success. Did I say it was successful?

We were blessed with an unseasonably warm day. In spite of the weather forecast that had changed 12 times every 12 hours in the last 10 days, the sun peaked out long enough to provide a gorgeous view of the lake.

We knew from the start that we were above the registration numbers of past years. I kept a comparison chart and all along we were 100 numbers higher and in the last 2 weeks, we had a lead of 200 numbers. On race day, we had surpassed last year’s number by 265, an increase of 90%.

The blessings did not stop at a beautiful day. We had been lucky enough to get the Lodge at Rock Hill Hotel to host the event. That in itself provided the space to accommodate the increase in participants. The Outback donated the post race meal and Michelob sponsored us with the beer…no wine.

When we set up the room the evening before, it almost felt like we were preparing a room for a major production, and we were, a production for 573 runners and walkers who would register and participate.

I was the first one inside the room on race day. People started coming in to pick up their packet and bib earlier than usual and that allowed us to manage the crowds more efficiently.

There were many faces I knew and many more I didn’t. I saw people wearing T-shirts that said “My Grandmother is my hero”; “Fred’s Team” “I run for xxxx”, etc. People handed me envelopes with pledges collected for their run. Others showed up and handed me a check as a donation. I even got a donation from Dawn, how sweet of her!

We had an hour 17 minutes before the first runner crossed the finish line and then the next wave of work started not that the work had ever stopped but just a different wave. Post race amenities were served and the room was packed with not one inch of space available.

If I had to look hard for something that went wrong, I would have to say the awards were it. It took forever to get the results and by the time I took the microphone my audience was no more than 200 people. I got my wish after all. I had been intimidated to speak in front of 500+ people.

My speech was short – no point in delaying people more than they had already been delayed. I read a paragraph a girl who had lost her 29 year old husband to Leukemia had sent me. That moved many but it summarized what the race is about; the impact cancer has on families.

I am not exactly sure what made the race this year so successful. No doubt it is more than one factor. We prepared better and we had more help. Maybe we asked the right people and allowed more to help us. The fact that this commitment is so voluntary for them makes them so willing to help. They do it because they want to, they simply want to help.

And we do it because we created this race 6 years ago without ever thinking that it would reach this level and we are embracing what it has become. And I do it for many reasons and one of them because I am lucky to be working with someone who takes pride in what she does, and does it well.

This time there was that “unusually familiar” feeling. The feeling of the increasing stress, the overwhelming sensation of the last two weeks. The bickering, the disagreements but also the compromise and the unselfishness of our decisions. And also the laughs, the run, the meetings that were enjoyable again.

It was successful, did I say that?