This event has been looming for me. August was a tough month - between our hard workouts for Ironman Canada, my bike crash and all that followed, then the actual Ironman....I was exhausted, mentally and physically. The idea of putting together an event was often more than that I could stand.
I did most of the prep work for the event before we headed to Canada, that way, when we got back I would only have a few things to do. Those few things always seem to take up every single minute of every day before the event.
I thought we had things all ready, then we had a surge of last minute registrations, so we needed to do some more work. The night before, we were building bike racks in the garage. Trevor was drilling the holes on the last one at 4 am when I was getting ready to leave home to set up the course!
We did get a little sleep. We went to bed around 10 and got up at 3:30. I showered, ate and headed out to put up the cones and arrows. This is one of my favorite things about an event - being out on the roads, still dark, all the stars are out. Its peaceful and quiet...before the mayhem begins. I like that.
Trevor was picking up Jim and going to be down at the park at 5:30 to start setting up the transition area. I got there around 6:15, after setting up all the course marking. The sound system guy pulled in right after me, which was awesome. I saw Doug's car, which meant all of our team was there. A good way to start the day.
The guys had the transition area about half built. I got the registration table all set up, the food on its table and the cones where the needed to go. Next thing I knew, it was 7 am and people were starting to show up. This is where things turn into a blur.
Next thing I knew, it was 8 am and I was briefing the volunteers. I went down the list and realized that everyone who said they would be there was there. I breathed a momentary sigh of relief. Everything would be covered. No one had questions, I had briefed them via email a week ago. I have to say, my volunteers are the best. They make my job easier.
As I was briefing them, I saw Doug briefing the kayaks and the Sheriff's boat. The Sheriff's boat was there at 7:30 and helped us set up the course. So much help from so many people. Amazing.
I sent the volunteers on their way and then announced that the Olympic distance participants needed to get to the start area for a briefing. They were set to hit the water at 8:30. I headed down to the water to give them all the details they would need. The Olympic group was 22 people. We got them ready to go and sent them on their way. Journey started.
As I was watching them go, I heard Emimen's song "Lose yourself" come on the speaker. We were using my ipod for music and my playlists were playing. Earlier, when this song was on, someone came over to me and asked me to change the music because of the curse words. Well, I really like this song and so it is on just about every one of my playlists. I heard it start and I SPRINTED to the sound system area to stop that song before the first curse word was uttered. I made it just in time.
I announced to the Sprint distance folks that it was time to make our way to the start area. I got down there and Doug was watching the Olympic swimmers like a hawk. I loved looking out on the water and seeing the boat and about 6 kayaks on the small pond. Safety. I love it.
I got the Sprint group ready to go and off they went! 53 more people in the water. I thought I would get a moment to relax here, but I didn't. The Olympic swimmers would be starting to exit the water soon and I needed to be sure that the swim exit was ready to go. I told Doug to watch my swimmers and I headed back to the transition area.
The time really got away from me today. The swimmers came out of the water and got on their bikes. Some of those people really swam fast! We had to pull one swimmer from the water, she had leg cramps and couldn't continue. I felt sad for her, but quickly focused on the rest of our people out there!
I saw all my favorites getting out of the water....Liz, Trish, Koby, Angie, John, Mike, Garrett, Kim, Ron...the list goes on and on. I knew so many of these people personally and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw each one of them.
The last of the swimmers exited the water and I got a call from the Sheriff asking if they were all on their bikes. I said, "Your boaters kept them safe in the water, now its your turn to keep them safe on the roads". I believe the safest place in Clark County on Sunday morning was Klineline Pond and roads of Felida.
I had over 40 volunteers helping out today - the majority were either on the bike route or at the transition area. The bike route was really hilly and I knew some of these people would be cursing me!
Again, I thought there would be a lull between the swim finish and people heading back in from the bike ride. I was wrong, before I knew it....here they come. I had put together a time line of the day and I was about 3 minutes off all day long. I guess I didn't look too closely at that before the event, because I would have seen that there was no lull.
The bikers headed out on the run. I knew as soon as the first runner crossed the finish line, the mayhem would really start. That would mean we had bikers coming in, runners going out and runners finishing. Luckily I had amazing volunteers at the transition area. Jim, Derik, Eric and JR managed to keep everyone safe and out of each other's way. The had a whole line up of volunteers directing people. My transition area people really rocked it. Thanks guys.
Our first finishers came across the line. I was able to see the transition area and every once in a while would catch a glimpse of someone I knew coming in on the bike and heading out to run. I would yell words of encouragement to them.
I again watched all my favorites finish. I watched people I knew before the event finish and then I had some new favorites...people I had met at packet pickup or the day of the event. I found myself cheering for every single person who crossed the line. THIS is my favorite part of the day - seeing them come in, knowing their name and making a personal connection. I am not out there on the course, but I get to share in a moment with them. For many of them, I don't know what brought them to this moment, I don't know what hardships they have endured, I don't know if they have met their expectations for the day. But for that one moment, we are there together and I get to say their name as they cross the line. It may sound strange, but its a very personal thing and I really do get a lot of satisfaction out of it. THAT is the reason we do this.
That is the reason we go nuts with the details. I obsess over every minute of the event, every inch of the course, every race packet, decision point and detail of the day. I do it so that at the moment they cross the line, they only focus on themselves and their day, not the things that went wrong or were not what they wanted.
I am a control freak. I admit it. It drives me and most around me nuts, but I get great satisfaction from seeing something through to the end and having it go the way I planned. Right down to the minute.
Before I knew it, we were watching our last finisher cross the line. We were packing up and hitting the road. The day was done. There is still much work to be done to finish up this event. We got a lot of great feedback about our volunteers and the event itself. I look forward to an even bigger group next year, I look forward to making some changes that will make it run even better and I look forward to giving up a little bit of control to others....well, let's not get carried way. We'll see what next year brings.....