Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Time I Ran The Marathon I Helped Make Happen

I decided not to renew my personal trainer certification in January of this year. After a lot of thought I came to the conclusion that it wasn't the right fit for me. At the time I had no idea what I was going to do next and was kind of floundering around trying to figure things out when my friend Chris contacted me about an interesting opportunity. We met for lunch to discuss a little event he was working on called the Milwaukee Running Festival.  And thus, a partnership was born.

Sitting here now I'm still kind of amazed we pulled it off. Honestly most of the time I felt like I was just making things up as we went along. I had been a part of the crew that organized the Great Milwaukee Race for five years- an event for about 300 hundred participants. I'm not really sure what made Chris think I could do that for a race over ten times that size? I felt a little like a fraud at times with my made up title we created. Social and Marketing Director it reads on my business card. What does that even mean? I have no business giving myself any kind of title. The funny thing is, that title didn't cover half the stuff I ended up doing for the event so I guess I shouldn't sell myself short.

I'm so glad he had confidence in me from the start. Although it made me feel better that I knew he was making things up as he went along too. I mean, if we messed up we would mess up together? But... if we were successful it would be even more fantastic! It would make for a damn good story.

I was surprised at first to hear that many big city marathons actually employ a full time staff. I am not shocked by this anymore. Holy shit there's a lot of work that goes into planning an event that goes through an entire city! The fact that we pulled this off without our teeny tiny little staff is just bonkers looking back on it now. Luckily we had completely awesome people step up to give a hand on many levels of the operation. We also hired an experienced and phenomenal crew that has a number of big city events under their belts and made us look really good. Still, inaugural events are tough any way you cut it. EVERYONE is skeptical of you. Frankly, even some of your supporters probably are. A lot of runners just want to watch to see if the first year is a shitshow first before deciding whether or not they will participate in the future.

People expect you to fail.

I won't get into the nitty gritty politics and other silly little dramas that plagued this event from it's very conception. There's no point to it. Our event was not without it's missteps- nothing ever is- but honestly, we outperformed my wildest expectations.


Oh, and my reward on race day? I actually got to run the marathon course! 3:48:58

I felt a little guilty about being able to run in the race. On one hand I felt like a chump for not having a race day job. On the other hand? I was so completely fried from stress and not sleeping for the last 2 weeks that all I wanted to do was let go and RUN. I wanted to experience every step of what we had been working so hard to put together for the past year.

Viewing it though my eyes is of course going to be different. Everything was super charged and super emotional because of my own connection to the event.  I have literally never felt better in a marathon though. Ever. And the course was not easy! I started out like a crazed banshee at first because I had so much adrenaline, but as I began approaching all the aid stations I helped organize I started slowing to thank everyone who had come out to volunteer. I was just so happy to see everyone out there supporting our event. As I ran the course I kept thinking about every stupid obstacle that came up in our path on the way to this day and the fact that we kicked every obstacle in it's stupid face. My own face hurt from smiling so much.

As always, with great highs come great lows.  After a week of riding the post-event high (and work that came with it) I've been kind of a sloth. We have a few weeks before we have to start kicking things into gear for 2016 so I'm kind of floundering around again with no direction. I need it though. I'm going to hunker down with family for the holidays and come back refreshed and ready to tackle next year's event with renewed excitement. With the first year out of the way it's all easy peasy from here on out, right?


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