Now I Know

Yesterday was an emotional day for me.

What I didn’t mention in my previous post about the race I’m putting together is that it has two components:  a main 5K and a kids’ fun run.  The fun run has always been kind of an afterthought to the race, and almost didn’t even happen last year.

When I heard that one of the Sandy Hook kids was an alumni of our kids’ race, it wasn’t too much of a stretch to think of putting that part of our race on in his honor this year.  Because his parents grew up in our town, they’ve all been part of the race.  In fact, this little boy’s grandfather has worked on the 5K for years as part of our volunteer EMS crew.

Several of my friends know the family, because their kids went to preschool with this little boy here in our town.  I asked one of them to reach out to the family to see if they would be interested in having our kids’ run be in honor of their little boy.

They were.

So for the last few months, I’ve been quietly putting together this part of our run with a group of women who know the family.  One of them is a good friend of mine, the rest I’d never met before.  In a matter of three weeks they’d raised thousands of dollars for the event.  They reached out to local and national business to gain sponsorships, donations, you name it.

I’ve tried to focus on the nuts and bolts of it, because this?  I don’t get to feel sad about this little boy.  He’s not mine, he’s not part of my world.   I didn’t know him, didn’t know the family.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I went to a meeting with a member of their foundation that our race will benefit, and this little boy’s mom.  I was nervous.  How would I introduce myself?  Was it appropriate to say how sorry I was?  How much I’ve thought about them, prayed for them, ran for them?

In the end, it was like meeting someone you have always known.  She is friends with my good friend, so the odds were good that we’d end up getting along just fine, and we did.  It was a little awkward at first as she and my girlfriend caught up (they hadn’t seen each other in a few months), but as we all got more friendly, the conversation flowed more easily.  There was a lot of laughter, a few tears, and a naked honesty that I was impressed with and humbled by.  There were stories.  There was determination.
There was even a little gossip.

We spent two hours sharing thoughts and food.  I thanked her for meeting with me and she drove off, in her minivan, moving on and forward.  But I stood there in the parking lot, wanting to burst into tears.  I could feel the weight of what had happened to her, to her child, to this community, just hanging there all around me.  And I felt so wrong for feeling that way:  if she could be so positive and energetic, I certainly had no business wallowing in my emotions.

So I will take that sadness, that frustration that we all felt in those dark days after December 14, and I will use them.  I will use them to make this race, the kids’ run and the main race, as wonderful and as successful as I possibly can.  I will honor this little boy with this race, with this day, with this event, in every way that I can.  It’s the thing I can do.  And I will do it.

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Running A Race From the Inside

Busy.  Yep, that’s why I haven’t written much lately.  I’ve been really, really busy, busier than I have been in years.  Which is good.  I like busy.  I like feeling like I have purpose.

The main reason I am so busy is that I am putting together a local 5K here in town.  I got involved with the run last year, as a newbie to running, thinking of what a great event it was and how it raised money for lots of local charities.  The run was in its 20th year last year, and the race director made mention to me repeatedly how he’d like to hand off the reins.

Before race day was over, I’d tentatively agreed to be the woman in charge for the following year.

Race day is June 2, and I’ve been working off and on since January on the event.  Things started out slow, with me putting in a few hours a week gaining sponsorships and the like.  But since about April, it’s been a pretty steady part time job (all of it, unpaid, of course).

I like being in charge, don’t get me wrong.  That way I know things are done properly.  But I was a bit unprepared for how many jobs are involved in putting together a race.  At first I thought I could farm some of them out, but as time went on, I either found people didn’t have the skills or the inclination to take on some of these tasks.

Getting sponsors to help defray the costs of the race, so we can donate more money to local causes?  I did that.  I got some help with two or three from the previous race director, sure.  But most of the 40 sponsors came in through me.  Logo design?  Me.  T shirt design and logo capture?  Me.  Keeping track of income and expenses?  Me.  Designing and sending this year’s brochure out to print?  Me.  Putting out the brochures everywhere around town and to other local races?  Mostly me.

A few things I’ve gotten help with, because I’ve quickly realized, and had last year’s race director chide me for, that I simply cannot do everything.  As it is the tasks I’ve done so far were divided amongst four or five people.  But as we get closer and closer to race day, I’ve had to start calling in some favors because I simply cannot put on a race for nearly a thousand people all by myself.   I. Just. Can’t.

That being said, I’m kind of loving it.  I’m learning so much.  Using all those graphic skills long dormant.  Cold calling people, which I’ve always hated, has gotten somewhat easier.   I’ve negotiated for donations of water, money, food.  I never realized I had the skills to negotiate, not with adults anyway.  I’ve met lots of new people through working on this, people in the running community, people I would probably never know otherwise.

I’ve also learned our race goes above and beyond.  Many races don’t offer bags of freebies to their runners; we do.  I’ve never been to a race with a bigger spread of food than ours.  We also put signs up all over town to advertise it; not everyone does that either.

And at the end of all of it,  the goal simply is to have a good, well run race that no one thinks twice about.  No one will pat me on the back or notice all the hours and hours of hard work I’ve put in.  They’ll just see that it all came together and that they enjoyed themselves.  That’s the goal.  That’s running the race from the inside out.

I hope I do it justice.

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