Turkey Trottin’

I’ve been MIA from this blog due to one reason: the 3rd Annual Turkey Day 5K. It ruled my life for the better part of the last month. It was nuts. Here’s some background . . .

2013 Turkey Day 5K (1)-L

My friend and I started an informal 5K in 2008. Our birthdays are a day apart and we both love to run, so we decided to get a bunch of friends together and hold a 5K to celebrate. We asked each person to bring a new or gently used toy to the “party”. We had a good turnout and collect a bunch of toys to take with us to Guatemala. It was really cool, and we did this in 2009 and 2010 as well.

We got so many people in 2010 (I forget how many, but maybe 50-60) and collected over 400 toys (they were mostly small so they would fit in luggage on the way to Guate), and we thought it might be best to legitimize the race. During the formation of the non-profit Tree 4 Hope (of which Jenn is the co-founder and I’m on the board), I got to work on the first official race.

That first year was small. We had 19 runners preregistered and 17 signed up at the race. It was good. I had things pretty well figured out for the small crowd. I felt like I had things under control. Last year was absolutely nuts. We went into the race with 120 preregistered runners, and I was stressing but I still thought I had things under control. We showed up on race morning to set up at about 6:30am, and the first race-day registrants showed up at 7am – 2 hours before the start of the race! We had over 100 people register that day. I nearly puked. It was mass chaos. We were running out of registration forms. People were asking all sorts of questions. The pens that I had put in my car the night before had frozen, so people were having an awful time filling out their forms and bibs. We started 15 minutes late.

I took notes. I created spreadsheets. I made lists. 2013 was not going to get the best of me.

I started working on this year’s race in the early spring. Things went slowly. I had a heck of a time getting some of the basic things done, and those were things that needed to be done before I could start recruiting sponsors and runners. I was stressed by June.

By the time September rolled around, I had a good handle on things. I had the grounds reserved, timing services set up, a good number of sponsorship dollars and door prizes, and some volunteers. I opened registration online and posted the form on our website and . . . .

. . . . crickets . . . .

Less than 5 registrations came in during the first 3 weeks. I knew that the race was more than 2 months away, but come on! I was worried we would have a smaller race than the prior year.

During the last week of September, we got a few more. Then during the first half of October, it picked up a little, but not much. By November 1st, I was thinking we’d have about 150 runners preregistered and then was expecting 75-100 on race morning. I planned pretty much everything on those numbers.

As November wore on, registrations flooded, and I mean flooded, in. I started to worry. I was spending an inordinate amount of time working on this race. By myself. It was nuts. Since my husband and I share this computer, a lot of my work was done late in the evening or early in the morning. I like my sleep, so this arrangement wasn’t cool. At this point in the game, though, it was too hard to figure out how to delegate what was left. Those of you who’ve been on project teams or leading committees get that. If you don’t get your help lined up early, you’re stuck doing just about everything by yourself.

Ten days before the race I find out – only by accident – that the water main leading to the only available restrooms on-site broke and wouldn’t be fixed until spring. This meant I had to rent port-a-johns. This wasn’t in the budget. Then I found that it would be super cold. How was I going to keep my volunteers warm? Then I realized that I needed a way to be heard at the starting line and the PA system needed an electrical outlet.

I was stressing.

In the final 5 days before the race we got over 50 registration forms. I was going batty.

When race day rolled around, I awoke at 4:30am after less than 4 hours of sleep. The winds were positively howling. I threw down some oatmeal and at least a gallon of coffee (or so it seemed) and headed out. I stopped at Dunkin Donuts to get my volunteers coffee and donuts. I apologized profusely to the folks working at DD for the fact that they had to work on Thanksgiving and for the fact that I was shopping there despite my best intentions. They looked at me like I was nuts. Maybe they didn’t care that it was Thanksgiving and they were just happy to be earning some money? (Maybe . . . I’ve been in that situation before.)

I arrived at the race by 6:30am and it was cold. The winds miraculously died down and while it was in the mid-20s, it didn’t feel so bad. We started unloading my car and then noticed that one of the port-a-johns had fallen over. WHAT? I couldn’t believe it. Another volunteer and I pushed it back upright and were amazed that there was no . . um . . remnants? on the ground. We opened the door and saw not even a drop on anything. I’m going to guess that they fill those suckers up with just enough fluid to do the job, but not so much that it spills if it’s tipped. Genius.

The morning hummed along pretty well. The goody bags were assembled, the bagels and bananas were cut, and the registration stations were set up. I was beginning to think that the fallen toilet was the worst of the day. But then, as people started checking in, one of my volunteers asked for the list of participants in alphabetical order. The color had to have drained from my face at that point. “Oh s$%#!” I exclaimed. I forgot to print that. I had printed the one in alphabetical order. Grrrrrr . . . .

The looks on our faces sum up how we felt the majority of the morning.
The looks on our faces sum up how we felt the majority of the morning.

I gave my car keys to one of my dearest friends and told her to go to my house and wake up my husband. She stood outside my house and called me saying that he wasn’t answering the door. My response to her? “You have my house keys! JUST OPEN THE DOOR AND GO IN!”

I was freaking out. Thank God I had the foresight to send out a list of bib numbers in advance. I told people to come knowing their numbers so they could speed through check-in. 90% of our runners did just that. I was thrilled. And then one of the volunteers realized she had that list in her email, and she could pull it up on her iPhone. I nearly kissed her.

The rest of the morning went swimmingly. We had a couple of small issues, but nothing major. We ended up with 70 race day registrations, which put our registration total at 409. I was beyond impressed. Beyond the registration total, though, I was impressed by our other totals. We had a couple hundred dollars in unsolicited cash donations to our non-profit, and we sold a few hundred dollars of traditional Guatemalan crafts and coffee. This was a huge fundraiser for us, and really got people exposed to our mission.

The starting line looks so serious.
The starting line looks so serious.

Heading down the first hill.

I was so happy when the race was over. The volunteers did a spectacular job cleaning up, and we were all home with our families by about 11:30am. I grabbed some lunch, showered and then did something I’d never, ever done before. I took a Thanksgiving nap.



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