Just to let you know- this blog is no longer active. I'll be keeping up my 101 in 1001 list until its completion, but will not be writing new posts. You can read the post below if you want the long version. Thanks for the journey to all my friends in the blogosphere!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

25 Tips for Organizing a 5K

I said before that I was working on a 100 list for if I hit 100 followers, but I decided it would be way too much to stomach if I just had a list of 100 tidbits about me. (Of course, I'm about a month behind, but whatever.)

So, I've decided to break up my 100 list. Because 25 + 25 + 25 + 25 =100, right? 25 Running Tips, 25 Tips for Organizing a 5K, 25 Songs on my Running Playlist, and 25 Random Facts about Me.

I'm starting with 5K organization tips because that's what I'm working on the past month and that's what's on my mind. (Moving on after this for those of you who are sick of hearing about this race.) So without further ado....

25 Tips for Organizing a 5K

1. Form a committee- quick. Try to find people who have done races in your area before so you can steal their tips and avoid their pitfalls. Our committee includes representatives from our farmers market, parks and recreation department, health department, cooperative extension, and the mayor. Yeah, I got lucky.

2. Consider partnering with an established non-profit that already is set up with a bank account and can accept tax-deductible donations. We partner with the local farmers market, which is an obvious choice. It also helps with promotion and public relations.

3. Download this free guide from Adin Lykken. It's really long and detailed, but he thought of a lot of things I never would have thought of otherwise.

4. Use G-Map Pedometer (and your running Garmin, if you have one) to help figure out your route and print off multiple copies when it's final. Run it many times at the time of day you're planning to race to look for problems (traffic, shade/sun, uneven surfaces, etc.) before you make your final route.

5. Find out what permits you need to complete- with the city, police, ambulance/rescue, county, etc. Some need to be turned in very early- like 90 days before the event.

6. Make a website with a short catchy title. I LOVE Weebly and use it for everything- my race website, my class website, school projects, and anything else I need to put up. I pay a small yearly fee for a Pro Account because I use it so much, but you can use almost all the features for free.

7. Make a facebook page for your event, not an facebook event. Just trust me- it's less confusing.

8. Have an artistic friend or graphic designer create a logo that can be used on flyers, website, t-shirt, etc. A publicity company designed ours as an in-kind donation. We listed them as a sponsor and they got a tax deduction. Win-win!

9. Consider just doing online and race day registration. I only had one person who said they didn't have access to register online. When participants enter their information into the online system (instead of filling out a handwritten form) it's legible, accurate, and in Excel format- which will save you a lot of headache later. I just use a Weebly form on the race site.

10. Plan early for t-shirts! I have participants pre-order their sizes and then just order a few extra in each size.

11. With your committee, make decisions about dogs, strollers, headphones, etc. and publish on your website and race materials.

12. Print up flyers with the website and basic logsitics and carry them everywhere. I give them out to businesses, schools, health organizations, etc. Two hundred flyers goes quicker than you think.

13. Type up a sponsor letter explaining your event, the types of donations (monetory and/or prizes) you are seeking, and what the sponsors will get in return (promotion on t-shirt, website, event, t-shirt, etc.). Start hitting up businesses and don't be afraid! This is my very least favorite part, but honestly, most people are nice and more people than you think will want to help. It's also a good time to spread the word about your event and hand out flyers.

14. Order race bibs early. I recommend pull-tag bibs so you'll have that as a back-up system for whatever timing system you use.

15. If you are going to do age group awards, assign letters to each age group and write onto bibs so you can spot winners as they come through the chute. (Example- Female 0-9 is "A," Male 0-9 is "B," Female 10-15 is "C," Male 10-15 is "D," etc.)

16. Decide how you are going to time. Last year, I just started my Garmin Forerunner, hit a lap for each runner as they hit the finish line, collected pull-tags, and prayed it all matched up. It did, but I should have had a back-up, just in case. This year, we used Race Timer, which is relatively cheap and easy software that doesn't require any equipment beyond a laptop. Still used pull-tabs to match up.

17. If you are a long distance runner and have forgotten- remember that a 5K is a really, really long way for a beginning runner or walker. Plan according for water stations. We had 2 along the route and the runners passed 1 twice so they had 3 chances for water.

18. Think about bathrooms. Get portajohns if necessary.

19. Reach out to local volunteer groups for race day help. I had no idea so many of these existed in my community until I started asking around.

20. Assign specific tasks to specific tasks as much as possible. If you're the director, you need to just be there to troubleshoot, answer questions, and direct (hence "director") people around. Get people with race experience to help with bibs, timing, and pull-tags.

21. Have separate tables race morning for Preregistered and Race Day Registration. Use big signs. Have plenty of pens (to fill out forms) and pins (for bibs).

22. Make the race day registration form as simple as possible. All you really need is name, age, gender, signed waiver, and emergency contact with number. Maybe email. Consider having a table just for people to fill out forms and then to bring them to volunteers to turn in and get race bibs.

23. You'll need a megaphone or PA system. Give a brief overview of the route AND finish line procedures before runners start.

24. Carefully set up your finish chute. I put a table at the end of the finish chute with a volunteer to check off age-group winners as they come through. My chute wasn't complete this year and I screwed up the age-group awards (which I was able to sort out later on the computer and post correctly) and it was pretty frustrating to me.

25. Use Excel to help sort age results. You can publish pages as pdfs and post on your website.

And that's 25! This list is in no way all-inclusive, but I think 25 is more than enough rambling.

If you have any further tips to add (either as someone who has planned a race or just ran enough to know what makes a good one), please let us know in the comments!

If you are planning an 5K or other fitness event and want to see my event's website or the forms I use or have further questions, email me at 365runs{at}gmail.com.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

"First Time 5Kers" - Some of Them Brought to You by Me

Yesterday was the Second Annual Farmers Market Fun Run & Walk that I organize here in our rural, ranked-most-unhealthy-in-the-state county. I'm so pleased to report that we had 156 finishers, some very proud little 1/2 mile kids run participants, and a huge volunteer and cheering crowd.

What meant the most to me though was...

Twenty little girls, who made huge, dramatic gasps 10 weeks ago when I told them we were going to train to run 3 miles, finished their first 5K.

Over twenty teachers, family members, and friends of these little girls, many of whom made remarks such as "Say what?!" when I asked if they could train to be Running Buddies, finished their first 5K- beaming alongside those young runners.

My husband, who swore he hadn't been running enough and was just going to walk, ran his entire first 5K and finished second in his age group.

I might have been completely stressed out for the past few weeks pulling this together and I may have had a good 10 minute nervous breakdown yesterday morning when there was a timing snafu (which was resolved), but it was worth it.

I LOVE running. But even more than that, I BELIEVE in running. I believe in running as a destressor, a health-improver, a confidence booster, and a life changer. I use my runs as a time to think, to pray, to work through what's going on in my day and my life. I'm not a person who exercises by running, I'm a runner. And I'll use any means to get others to join our ranks.

Yesterday, we got some new recruits. "Proud" would be an understatement.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

New River Marathon Race Report, Finally!

I realized I had a major typo in my last post...despite the hills, I did manage to squeeze under 5 hours at 4:55:03. Here's how it broke down...

Miles 0-2.5
Meredith (my friend running her first marathon), her running buddy from home, and I started out fine. We were watching the Garmin closely and slowing down to stay at about a 10:00 minute mile pace since our goal was to get in below 4:30. This was my first long distance race with the Garmin and I was a little afraid I'd be glued to it.

Mile 2.5
First hills started. I really thought I was not going to be able to keep up even that early in the race and first started to realize these hills were going to make a huge difference in my performance.

Miles 3-13.1
Really nothing to report. Scenery was nice, chatted with a few other runners (including a guy running his 75th!), kept an average 10:00 pace by going a little slower up the hills and faster down them.

Halfway Point- Mile 16
We hit another hill and I told my running buddies to just go on. From that point on, I was walking up the hills and then just leaning forward and rolling down them.

The runners were pretty spread throughout the course and I was alone without another runners visible at several different points. I might have made a detour into a ditch at one point.

Miles 16-18
At one point, there's only one runner visible in front of me and I see her take a right onto a dirt road. I thought she was lost, but there was a guy in a truck sitting there so I asked him. He just nodded his head towards the dirt road and it was then that I realized this particular dirt road was straight up the side of a mountain. There might have been some four-letter-words and there definitely was some walking.

Miles 18-20
My quads are not happy about all this incline walking and sprinting down hills, but I've still managed to hold a decent pace overall. I hit mile 20 at a little under 3:30 and had the ridiculous thought that if I just pulled out a 10K in an hour, I could still hit my 4:30 time goal.

Mile 20-23
After the Mile 20 water station, I knew 4:30 wasn't happening. My legs (especially my quads) were screaming. I don't really feel like I "hit the wall" because I knew I could still finish and beside my legs I felt pretty okay, but I did really start to struggle. (There was a poster hanging in the woods that said, "All walls have doors," which I thought was pretty poetic.)

There was a lot more walking than running. There was self-pity, whining, and frustration. My mom and sister biked by and offered some water and encouragement which was helpful. What was not helpful was the woman who I ran with for a little while who kept saying things like, "When I get tired, I just try to keep running to a goal- like that tree up ahead!" I know she was just trying to be nice and keep me going, but I didn't appreciate being talked to in the way that I talk to my 3rd grade beginning runners. I just wasn't in the mood for being pushed.

I know my body and its limitations and that I was going to be doing a great deal of walking between little stretches of runs to get to the end of this race. My new goal was just to make it under 5:00.

Mile 23-26
This is when my Garmin turned on me.

From the beginning of the race, my Garmin was a little bit ahead of the mile markers. For example, my wrist would say we hit Mile 12, but the Mile 12 marker was 20 seconds later. This was not a big deal at mile 3, but at Mile 23, this was a very. big. deal. I was running with that enthusiastic lady when Garmin beeped for the 23rd time, but the mile marker was nowhere in sight. I finally scared her off when I yelled, "Where is the &$*#$@* Mile 23?!?!" We were going around a never-ending curve in the road and it felt like we were just going in a huge circle.

Mile 23, and then 24 eventually appeared, but that Mile 25 marker almost cost me a mental breakdown. When Garmin said "25.00," the road was straight ahead, but I still didn't see the marker. I was literally crying, whimpering, and begging to see that mile marker. It was a good thing I was alone.

The Mile 25 marker finally rolled around at "25.34" and I knew if I was to preserve any diginity at all and make it under 5:00, I was going to have to get it in gear.

Then I got passed by a girl in a cowgirl costume. That was demoralizing.

Mile 26-Finish
I saw my mom, sister, and friends cheering at the end and pulled out what I had left to push the last little bit. Unfortunately, I had no idea where I was going. They did not have the last section where you had to go around a curve marked well and I may or may not have shouted angrily at the volunteer, "Where am I going?!" (You shouldn't have to think after running almost 5 hours- the last stretch should be pretty clear.) I rounded the last little field they had marked with cones and I was crying, frustrated, and sprinting with every little scrap I had left when I crossed the finish line.

Post Race
I was pretty discouraged about my time right after I finished. (It didn't help to hear that the cowgirl runner who passed me had apparently been drinking along the route...that made me feel pretty pathetic.) After a little bit though, I was okay with it. I finished my second marathon! It was a mountain marathon! I had only had flat land training! (Which was stupid...)

Anyway, I learned a lot of lessons from this race and it makes me excited for the next one!

In other excitement, I graduated from my master's program yesterday and the 5K I'm planning will be this Saturday! (Which might help to explain my blogging absence.) I hope to get a little caught up soon though and catch up on all y'all's excitement too!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Respect. the. Mountain.

New River Marathon complete! I didn't meet my A or B time goals (I did (I had a typo before) squeeze under 5 hours), but I'm still pretty happy with the result and already itching for Marathon #3.

In a nutshell: I severely underestimated the effect of hills on my time and my fatigue. My hill training has been zero to zilch because it's flat where I live. Bad excuse. I'm hitting up the overpass or treadmill incline big time before I tackle anything like this again. I didn't respect the course in my preparations and I paid for it dearly.

My friend/college roommate fought hard through the hills and finished her first marathon almost 20 minutes ahead of me. Her running buddy from home wasn't far behind me. My two friends from the flatlands each finished their first half marathons and I was so proud!

I'll give the full race report tomorrow, but for now I'm with my mom for Mother's Day! Happy Mother's Day to all of you!

Friday, May 6, 2011

It's Marathon Eve!

Right now, I may, or may not, be eating breakfast dessert (after breakfast main course, obviously) and desperately racking my brain to figure out what I haven't packed yet.

Yep- It's Marathon Eve!

It's been a crazy week and I've been completely absent from blogville and probably will be again until Monday. (I'll try to pop in real quick and let you know I survived the race!)

I'm excited and a little nervous about my second 26.2. This is the plan:

A Goal: Sub 4:30
B Goal: Beat my first marathon time of 4:39:45
C Goal: Finish this mountain marathon after training in the flatlands and have fun with my 3 friends who are racing!

Be thinking about me tomorrow morning starting at 7:30 am!

Monday, May 2, 2011

What a Week.

There is so much going on right now. This morning, my fourth graders and I had debriefing time to discuss, Google map, and hit up Time for Kids for everything that's happened in the past week while we were on spring break.

It feels like a huge responsibility to be some of these kids' sole source of news and explainer of all things weather, politics, history, and world affairs. Some of our impromptu vocabulary/geography words were: Pakistan, monarchy, terrorist, devastating, Alabama, duchess, prime minister, and London.

I sometimes have to remind myself that these kids were babies when the 9/11 attacks happened. They knew that it was a big deal that President Obama announced that some guy was dead and they knew that guy was bad, but Osama bin Laden wasn't rolling off any of their tongues.

I'm a little surprised at how much I feel affected by bin Laden's death. I get my NPR news feed (or Fox News Radio when the NPR station has too much static...see- I'm balanced!) to and from school, but I don't don't follow world news that closely otherwise. I didn't know anybody affected by the 9/11 attacks and I'm not a big Toby Keith/boot-in-your-a**-it's-the-American-way fan. But I had a strong reaction to the news last night. I'm so proud of our military and leaders for making this happen and the world just seems like a little safer place. I'm bursting with pride for my cousins in the military- one about to embark on his third tour of duty to Iraq and the other graduating from West Point this month.

Anyway, that's where I am today.

Tomorrow- back to being the crazy running lady. I have 4 running list posts planned for this (okay, maybe continued into next) week and a marathon coming up on Saturday!