When Running Expos Get Interesting

This morning I spent a good 5 hrs at the Broad Street Run(BSR) expo volunteering.  It involved me sitting and looking up bib numbers on a computer when people forgot to bring a print out of their number confirmation or couldn’t pull the email up on their phones because they deleted the email.  I was suppose to be there at 7:30 but since nothing really goes on the first 20 minutes or so, I ended up getting at the expo (over at the sports complex) at 7:35 and found the entrance for volunteers after walking aimlessly and

The design on my volunteer and running shirt

following in venders.  After signing in and getting a shirt (which turned out to be the same design as the running shirt I picked up yesterday with my bib and gear), I headed over to my station with 3 comrades and waited for instruction (think like 755).  Even at 755, we got no official training on how to actually look things up (this includes the people who actually showed up on time).  Thankfully we were smart enough to figure it out as there was only 3 or 4 links on the computer and only 1 which actually made any sense to click.  The nice thing is we could search people’s email, phone number or address in addition to last names (but that’s besides the point).  We got waves of people so sometimes we were busy, sometimes we weren’t.

Anyways, every once in awhile, one computer wouldn’t find someone’s number but the computer next to it would.  Apparently it has to do with when the fancy IT people update the systems on the computers.  As they go through, changes are made so not all the computers have everyone for some reason.

My story of the day in bib looker upper station is this.  A husband and his wife came to look up their numbers and the numbers of a friend of theirs and the friend’s bf.  We find the husband, wife and the bf of the bf/gf team.  We search the gf’s name, email, address and phone number (work, home and cell numbers) on 2 computers and the gf was nowhere to be found in our system.  The husband of the husband/wife team finally calls the gf of the gf/bf team.  It turns out, the bf registered himself but forgot to register her even though he said he would do both.  That stings (yes, stings, not stinks).  For the record, if it were my bf, I’d yell at him then take his number and run the race myself if I didn’t hurt him first.  However, the gf should have double checked this.  BSR sold out in 5 days and I wouldn’t trust my registration on anyone.

The only story that tops this is the little 3 yr old working next to his dad helping pass out bananas at a nutritional education table.  When I picked up my bib and shirt (and lack luster swag bag that had nothing good in it- more in the race review on that), I stopped to get a banana (free food and I was hungry).  The little kid handed me a banana and then proceeded to tell me to have a good race.  CUTEST. KID. EVER.

So sometime tomorrow morning (830 AM to be exact) the starting line of BSR 2011 will look something like this

NYC and the [Broken] Lottery System

Dear NYRR and ING NYC Marathon,

Today was the lottery for the NYC Marathon, a Marathon with had 90,000+ people in the non guaranteed lottery.   Additionally, a bunch of people already in through the guaranteed entry program, but that’s besides the point.  about 350 people had the chance to go to Columbus Circle to be the Opening Day Crowd and some of them won entries into the Marathon and were given their bib.  And by some, I mean 10, but that’s besides the point.  Then, it was a ridiculously long period of watching names scroll down the side of NYRR TV to see if people had been chosen.  Yes, 90,000+ people watching for 9,000 slots.  How the h**l does that make any sense???

First, not everyone on the east coast has a noon lunch, noon being the time the Opening Day started and we thought that names would begin to be released.  I didn’t log on to see Al Roker speak, as much as I love the guy, or TJ (or whatever her name was) spin a wheel or whoever the commentators were talk about things other then the lottery.  If you say people are going to be announced, then names should be announced.

Then, there was the log-in feature on NYRR.com.  For whatever reason, that was shut down until tomorrow.  Why, I have no idea.  Though there was a search application added, it was added who knows how long after names were drawn.  How about letting people log on like we were expecting and not have to find a search site that wasn’t where anyone expected it.

Now tonight, people who were accepted are now being dropped because their credit cards weren’t ‘valid’ even though they checked them numbers and the correct info was entered (though there were a few cases where people had cards stolen in the past few days and their accounts froze). What the?!?!

The purpose of this letter is to tell you to get your crap together.  You’re a major marathon and have been around far too long for this type of thing to happen.  My suggestion is to move up the opening day and the lottery to February or March.  Some races opened and sold out (read, the Chicago and Marine Corps Marathon) so there are 2 big ones people can’t get into.  Apparently, last year had a system that people thought worked.  I didn’t apply last year but if it worked, why’d you change it?  You’re getting close to $200 a head for this thing that people want to do, so make it right- you’ve been around long enough!!

Now, I will still run your race as I’m running for charity.  I’ve known since mid February-March that I would be on their team either way and they’ve been more than helpful.  Lesson for you NYRR, listen to your runners and applicants, especially those on facebook, twitter and those emailing- they got some good ideas!!

Thanks and see you in November anyways,


What Every Marathoner is Thinking During 26.2 Miles of Running

Ever wonder what goes through a runner’s head during a marathon?  This thanks to Pamela on DailyMile

Running Funk

For the past week, I’ve been in what I term as a Running Funk.  I go for the runs because I have the Broad Street Run in a little more than a week and I have thehon Cleveland Marathon next month.  I hate when I get like this- it’s like going through the motions.  I’m not sure if it’s the temperamental weather, 11-15 hr days at work on some days or what… if I had a face to put with it, it would look like this:

Today for example, I left the hospital at 630 pm.  I had been up since 515 and at the hospital since 600.  When I head to the gym, I normally take the back way which passes my apartment.  The parking lot with the front parking spot available looked very tempting.

So, if anyone has any suggestions on how to get out of this funk and to make the sad face change it’s mind, please feel free to let me know!

Penn Relay Distance Classic (20K) Race Review

Today of all days, I had absolutely ZERO desire to get out of bed at 615 AM to go run a 20K.  Tired from waking up at 500 AM for work during the week and not being able to go to sleep last night doesn’t bode well for a 730 AM 20K race.  But hey, I needed a long run, parking was free and that’s about where the fun stops.

The Penn Relays have been going on since 1885 and typically start with the distance classic which is usually a weekend or 2 before the actual Penn Relays (this year, they’re April 26-28 or so).  I actually forgot about the race until Wednesday when I went to check something online and realized it was actually today.  Woops.  I was wondering if this was actually going to happen as we got pouring rain all day yesterday (seriously from the time I woke up yesterday until after midnight).  But the sun was out and the Schuylkill River was high and looked like any more rain could send it flooding over the edge.  I arrived around 7 and had to find parking.  About 1/3 of a mile away was free street parking which is always a plus in Philly.  I picked up my bib and shirt and had to run and put it in my car before running back to the start in front of Franklin Field.

The course took us to the Art Museum and down West River Drive, over the East Falls Bridge, part of Kelly Drive and back the way we came.  I either love or hate out and back courses.  I hated this one because West River Drive can become monotonous.  And, it was a good 9.5-10 miles of the course.  When we got past mile 10 to where we actually had to make a decision about which way to go (up a hill or not), there was no good direction on where to go.  The Penn student volunteers decided to sit where we couldn’t see them and there was another race for Organ and Tissue Donation (a 10k/5k run or a 3k walk) that was setting up.  It was windy the entire race and I just felt like crap the entire time.  My hip flexors weren’t agreeing with me for awhile and I just wasn’t feeling like running.  I ran a 2:10:25 or something.  Had I been motivated and had this been a half I cared about, I could have PRed but oh well.  A run is a run.

The Penn Relays have been going on since 1885 so you think these guys have been doing this awhile.  While the Schuylkill River trail is nice, every distance race in Philly uses some portion of it.  The Philly Marathon uses both sides (which is why I only do the half since it only spends about 2-3 miles on it), Get Your Rear into Gear 5K/10K uses it, the Philly Distance Run uses it for a bulk of the course.  Can we come up with something else to use?  This race isn’t particularly big.  It’s almost like it’s a secret race that no one knows about.  Since it’s Palm Sunday, I give people the benefit of the doubt, but there were a boatload of people running the Organ and Tissue 10K/5K race.  The finish of the race took you into Franklin Field and around the track for the last 300m or so- I can’t tell you how much I hate races that end like that.  If I see the finish, I don’t want to run the long way around to get to it.  I think the Penn Relays could really use some PR help with the race because people would run this if they knew about it.  Still undecided if I’ll run this next year.  I have to get over the fact I really didn’t feel like running today first.

Runners, Finish Safe

Today, I saw my mom post something that had the word FREE in it.  I’m in school so FREE is always a good word to hear.  FinishSafe, a website that allows people to register on their website and put their medical information together.  In return you (normally) can purchase tags that attach to your shoe, luggage, race bib (if you’re a runner, triathlete, etc), key ring and even a larger one for your wallet.  You’re given a pin number so should you pass out, get injured, go unconscious, etc and medical personale are trying to figure out what to do for you, they can call the FinishSafe number, put in your pin number and find any sort of health info unique to you.  FREE TAGS, you hear me?!?

This is very similar to RoadID Interactive, only (until the end of April), you don’t have to pay to get the tags.  Also, you don’t have to worry about paying a yearly fee like you do for RoadID Interactive (I know since I have an account).  What’s better?  There’s an APP for that if you’re an EMT.

So hurry up and go take advantage of this.  It’s free and it’s for your own good.  You don’t want to be collapsing during the Chicago Marathon (like people did last year when I ran it) or cramping up and dehydrating during the Cherry Blossom Run and not be able to communicate with the medics about your medical history…you won’t regret it!

Picture Perfect Cherry Style


Cherry Blossom 10 Miler- My NEW PR!

Yesterday, had an awesome run in Washington, DC at the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler.  I took the train in Saturday morning, quickly dropped my bag off at the hotel my family was staying at (more like bag check since my parents weren’t getting in until early afternoon) and headed over to the Expo at the National Building Museum.  When I got there, the line to pick up bibs and shirts was out the front door and literally around the building.  Since I was volunteering, I got to sneak in the back door to head to the volunteer check in.  The organizers had sent out emails reminding people that it was a. easier to take the metro than attempt to try and park in DC (in any major city with public transportation, this makes sense since parking is usually horrendous- this coming from someone who’s lived in Chicago, NYC for a few months, been to DC and living in Philly), have your confirmation sheet with your bib number. My volunteer job was to point people towards the 10 mile pick up or the 5k pick up.  Despite the big sign pointing to the 10 mile or 5k packet pick up, people still asked which way to go.  No matter how many times I announced where the solutions office was too look up numbers, people still asked where it was.  There was a steady line of people the entire 3 hrs I was there.  My suggestion would be for the 10 miler pick up to have two rooms- one for numbers 1-10,000 and a second room for 10,001 onwards and then a room for the 5K.  I will say kudos to them for having a shirt exchange so if you had a L and wanted a M or something, you could do that.

There was also an opportunity to meet Bill Rodgers, the guy who managed to win 4 straight NYC

With Bill Rodgers at the Cherry Blossom Expo

marathons, 4 straight Boston Marathons, 22 Marathons total and 4 Cherry Blossom Runs (I’m wondering if 4 is his favorite number?).  He is a super nice guy.  He was talking with people for a few minutes per person and really asking people about races they’ve participated in all the good stuff that comes with running.  He signed my bib for me in addition to a picture of him from one of his Boston Runs.  Needless to say, he was getting a steady flow of runners coming by to meet him

On race day, we left the hotel around 7 since we were only a few stops away from the National Museum where the race started.  we got to the race at 7:32 (the race started at 7:40).  My sister was coming later to the 5K (but never made it because she overslept).  I ended up racing to the orange wave (my parents were in the green wave behind me) and we were off 10 minutes into the race.  We started at the Washington Monument and then headed out from there.  The entire course there were Cherry Blossoms in full bloom.  The race itself was a steady stream of runners.  Usually after a few miles, things thin out, but that never happened.  There were 6-7 runners across in the roads, a good 5-6 runners across if it was on the running trails.  Steady stream, the entire time!!  There was a gorilla with a cow bell cheering on runners, two teens dressed up as statue of liberties, and a guy with a sign at mile 7.5 with a sign that read “Free beer and oreos“.  Yes, the guy was handing out beer (yuengling) and oreos to runners.  The course was fairly flat, but there were some pretty sharp curves in there and then a mild hill at the end.  I couldn’t see the finish which, wasn’t ideal, but eventually I saw the wonderful line that welcomed me home.  I finished the race in 1:42:53 which is a PR for me in a 10 mile race!

Overall, a really good race.  I have a guaranteed entry into next year’s run since I volunteered this year.  The race changed to a lottery system this year since it sells out rather quickly.  I will say the expo either needs to be moved to a bigger location or the bib pick up needs to be changed because picking up bibs was horrendous.  Apparently some people took over 40 minutes to get their bibs.  Good run though overall!!

Picture perfect Cherry Blossom Style



My Run Review

Yesterday, a one night showing of the documentary My Run showed in 500 theaters across the US, including Philadelphia.  I went down to the University 6 Theaters down by the UPenn campus to see what this film was all about.  I had heard of the documentary through one of the running groups I get emails from (although it’s hard for me to go running with them with due to rotations sometimes).  The first 15 minutes were hard to take in.  I can only imagine how Terry Hitchcock felt when his wife calls him home from work in order to tell him she has breastcancer.  I can’t imagine having to tell my kids all under the age of 8-10 and having to try to explain what it is.

I must say, Sue Hitchcock seemed to be a woman who knew what was going to happen.  Writing thank you notes to friends the night before passing, having her youngest son leave the living room before taking her last breaths.  Then, there’s Terry who’s trying to take over the household chores after losing his wife, then his job.  The stories the kids shared of dinners cooked and shopping for clothes and pants for the boys.

Come 1995, Terry’s son suggests he run to California when Terry is trying to figure out how to raise awareness of single parents and the struggle they go through on a regular basis.  Apparently Terry, who had high blood pressure and no prior history of real exercise thought that sounded like an awesome idea.  When Atlanta is announced as host of the Olympics, plans change and the Opening Ceremonies of the 2006 Summer Olympics became the destination.  At the age of 57, Terry begins planning his route with a crew of people including his 2 sons, one of his son’s friends, his trainer and some PR people.  His trainer (who lead local running groups) had no idea what he was getting himself into and Terry’s doctors thought he was crazy.  Terry had no idea how people who run 1 marathon feel afterwards (not to mention how he’d feel after running 28-30 miles a day for 75 days straight).  He trained through April, including after being hospitalized for a heart attack and in between consults (how he had time, I have no idea).

Come May, a crew of 6 people plus Terry and his dog Charlie begin  a journey taking them 2000 miles.  The people of Minnesota were incredibly supportive, however, having a crew in an RV for 9 weeks and a car with no AC can certainly take its toll on those helping Terry.

As Terry gets out of MN, the runs begin to take an emotional toll and the support crew begins to fray.  3 weeks in, it’s only Terry, his oldest son (the middle of the 3 kids) and Terry’s trainer.  There were days where Chris (Terry’s son) didn’t know if this journeywould see another day or was getting an earful from a tired, emotional father and was calling friends saying I don’t know what to do.  There were times where local media wasn’t picking up the story as once thought and the small towns Terry was passing through surely factored into that.

At one point, Terry’s feet are in so much pain, he and Chris stop at a local hospital and find he’s got fractures in both lateral malleoli and a patella.  the next day, he develops chest pain which they doctors were unable to link to anything (allowing him to continue his 75 day mega marathon).  There were also times where he passed through East St. Louis and people were appreciative that he cared.  There was the girl (with her parents) that give him a ticket stub of a Twins ticket saying that the kids loved him and were inspired by him.

By the time he got to Atlanta, Terry had run 2000 miles.  He had a crew of people waiting for him at his finish line waiting to cheer him home.  He ran the last mile with Chris who spent 2 months of his life helping his father.  Though there wasn’t as much awareness brought to single parents’ struggles as Terry wanted (in his own words), he did complete what he set out to do.

If anything, get out of this film that life is a marathon and never easy.  There will be bumps in the road, injuries, struggles and low points in addition to the high points.  Take life by the horns and run with it.  Turn life into your own mega marathon

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