Monday, September 24, 2012

Miles for Meso 2012

So here I am another year older and I’m not sure much wiser, you wonder why I say that, I guess because I continue to take on more and more hobbies, I mean you would think that adventure racing, mountain biking, running and even an Ironman this year, would be enough to keep me busy, but nope, I need to add race director to my list of hobbies.  I mean for the last 4 years I have been working as one of the 3 race directors for the Miles for Meso race.  I know, where do I find time, but I always do.  This year was no different, we started planning about 6 months out, getting ready for an even bigger and better event than the previous year.
So I guess, I should really start by telling you what a race director does.  From the outside looking in, you would think, well they get some people together, have a little race and give out some awards, but heck it’s way more than that, especially when you put on such a professionally planned race.  Ok, so I make it sound oh so hard, right?  Well in some ways it is, it takes tons of work by so many people, a race with a race director alone, would never be, it’s the tons of volunteers that pull the race off.  Race directors, are strategic thinkers, leaders, organizers, and engineers.  The Miles for Meso race has 3 race directors, Mike, who is the strategic thinker and has way more communications skills than should be legal, Robin, who is the organizer and let’s get it done type, and Terry, who is the technical guy who can map out and build anything.  So if you put that in corporate terms, Mike is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Robin is the Chief Operations Officer (COO) and Terry is the Chief Engineer. 
Now that we have that straight, let me tell the tale of the 2012 Miles for Meso race.  After months of planning, not just by the race directors but by what I would call the project team, (Todd, Mark, Andrea, Sarah, Greg), we made it to the day before the race, which is almost as crazy as race day.  Mike spent the day running to the airport and bus station picking up pro athletes, Terry and I spent the day riding around on a Spider, marking the course for race day signs and mile markers.  Terry and I had the better job, you would have thought that Terry was Benjamin Button, if you had saw him, he had aged backwards to about 16 years old when he got on that spider. He zipped me all over that course, my only job was to be a backseat driver and tell him where to stop and mark each intersection at. It was actually kind of fun, Terry was waving and talking to everyone, I was just sitting there looking good on that bike.
Terry and Robin setting the course up
After we finished our course marking, we did one last inventory of our sings and cones then hooked up with Mike and a couple of the pro athletes and headed out to Chubby’s, one of Terry’s favorite burger joints, and had lunch.  Surprising to me, the pro’s ate burgers the day before the race.  We had some good conversation then dropped the athletes off at their hotel and Mike went on another airport run. 
Later Friday evening, Mike had 2 of the athletes over to his house and some of the Metro Tri club members stopped by to meet them.  We had some great conversations and got insight into the life a pro. 
Phillip, Robin, Christian, and Mike
Sleep didn’t come easy for me and I found out later that Mike had the same issue.  We both got about 4 hours sleep and were up worrying about what we might have forgotten to do.  At 6am I was at race headquarters, Terry and Todd were next to show up and then Mike rolled in anxious and worried.  Things were quiet and deserted, but that would soon change.
The calm before the storm
The volunteers were showing up just as scheduled and the course marshals were picking up the course marshal tool that Terry build for each intersection on the course.
Terry's course marshal invention
This is a cool little tool that has caution tape and duct tape on it, it is attached to a slip of paper that tells the marshal where their position is. All the marshal has to do is walk out to their position, place the barricade on the marked spot then tape the caution tape up.  It’s a really great idea that Terry came up with and it works perfectly.  Mike is trying to get him to patent it and sell it to warehouses that sell race supplies.  I think Terry doesn’t want to deal with the money and fame, so he will just keep this contraption under wraps.
I had a meeting with the water stop volunteers, otherwise known as the Marquette High School Cheerleaders and pulled some of them to be mile split readers.
Marquette Cheerleaders, awesome water stop girls
They seemed to have a good grasp on their jobs so I moved on to the kid zone volunteers, otherwise known as the Edwardsville High School Cheerleaders.  Todd was in charge of all the kids zone stuff so I delivered the girls to him and he got them setup with games, popcorn, balloons and too much more fun stuff to list.
Kid's Zone

Next I ran around doing odd tasks that popped up and watched as the drinks were iced down, the sponsors booths were setup, and food was put out.
Setting up race headquarters

I went over to check on the starting line and discussed last minute details with Mike.

Robin and Mike
I checked on the 2K finish line.
A fun 2k finish line
I helped hang some signs and checked on the ones that were already up

Terry was busy with course setup, it’s just a good thing he had some super volunteers to help him with it, Mike, Russ and Jim were awesome and did a great job.  As soon as the course was set, Terry held a course marshal meeting and sent his marshals out to get into position, then he zipped through the course one last time to make sure everything was set.

The course is set to go
I watched the professional film crew that had came in from California just to film the race. They got video footage of all aspects of the race. Really I was trying to spy on what equipment they were using, because I love taking photographs and video and making movies out of it.  I’m very much an armature, so I was really trying to watch them and get some tips.  One of the guys was using the same camera and lens that I have, so after I saw that I puffed my chest out like a rooster for a while, thinking, yeah, I’m almost a professional.  Well not really, but some day when I retire, maybe that will be my retirement career. 

Getting Emmy caliber video here
It was soon time to start the race, Mike was fiddling with the race gun, trying to make sure he knew how to use it.
How does this gun work
The film crew was in place and ready to get some Emmy caliber footage.
Camera Ready

The police were out in arms and ready to make this a safe race for all.

The national anthem was sung by someone, I’m not sure who, but it was a great rendition of it.
National Anthem
 Then the race was off. One thing about being the race director is that I get first dibs on the best jobs.  I wanted to take photos from the lead truck, so while my driver Larry zipped around the course I stood up with my head sticking out the sunroof of Todd’s truck taking photos. Oh, sorry Todd for standing on your seats and console with my dirty shoes on.  I probably owe you a truck detailing.
This was the line-up, bikes first to tell everyone to get out of the road, police next on a four wheeler to make sure no random traffic appeared on the race course and to add a little authority, and Larry and I in the truck next followed by the racers. And of course the film crew where ever they needed to be.

Bikers ready to roll
Police all set and rolling
Getting the best shots
It seems like it only took minutes to fly through the course, I was getting some great shots and of course talking to all the course marshals as we passed.
Awesome course marshals
We pulled off the road just before the finish and I jumped out and got some great shots of friends finishing.
Bruce, the Clydesdale winner
Garrett 4th Place overall
Gregg putting the hammer down
When most of the field had finished, a Tumbling exhibition was put on by the Jesse White Tumblers.  They are from Chicago and they are an awesome group of athletes.  As they tumbled people watched in awe, they were just that good.  I was standing next to John Simmons, he was thinking about running out and doing a somersault, I said, why not go all the way and do a cart wheel into a somersault.  In the end, he decided, maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to go out and show all those boys up like that.
Jesse White Tumblers

Next up was the pro race, it started quickly and finished just as quickly, it’s amazing how fast those pros can run.  Again, I had the best job of all, I was back in the truck taking photos through the sunroof. 

Pro Race Start

It was a quick ride through the course this time the course marshals were trying to get some picture of their own.

I want to get a good photo
As we pulled to the side of the road just in front of the finish, I hopped out and tried to get a few more shots of the pro’s finishing the race.
1st Place Male Pro
1st Place Female Pro
I know what you are thinking, an entire race report and not one word about who won the race.  Well that’s because you are getting this report from a race directors view, not an athlete’s view. If you want to understand a race from an athlete’s view, you have to read my race report from Ironman Wisconsin, that one covers my race point of view as an athlete.  If you want to read it, just click here.  You can also view the full Miles for Meso race results on the Fleet Feet Sports website.

Next up was handing out the awards and the best thing we did this year was having the MC read the results rather the CEO Mike. Mike has the gift of gab, so we would have still been there today waiting for him to finish the results. Oh and the awards were some awesome glasses, if you were over 21 they were beer glasses, if you were under 21, well they hold soda and milk quit well too.  I love competing in races that give away useful awards.  I have boxes of trophies and medals just collecting dust, but every time I use an item I have won, I just smile because I know I worked hard for it. And even better than that, when someone says, oh what a cool glass that is, I say yeah and I won it. Of course the big winners got cash, cash is always a welcome prize.  I never complain about cash.
Cleanup started, again another big job that couldn’t be done without the help of many volunteers.
Terry and I stopped to talk to Todd, we are kind of like the 3 amigos, I thought I was the cutest of the three, but then again, some guys out on the course kept eying Terry up and giving him the old “nice bike” line.

Terry, Robin, Todd - The 3 Amigos
Here’s where I want to THANK everyone who made this race possible, not just because it’s a great race, but because it’s for a great cause.  This race raised 25K for Meso Research, that’s pretty darn great. A race is just a race, but research that may one day help millions, that’s something to be proud of.
So THANKS goes to all the volunteers, there are way too many to list, but you all know who you are.  I have some shout outs that I want to give also.  To the Race Project Team, (Todd, Mark, Greg, Andrea, Sarah), this would have never gone off without your months of hard work.  To the Edwardsville Cheerleaders and the Marquette Cheerleaders, you girls ROCK, the Kids Zone, Water Stop and Mile Splits were well done and it looked to me that you girls were having as much fun as the kids and runners were having. Plus I know girls your age would have rather been sleeping at 7am on a Saturday, so thanks for getting up early.  To the #1 CEO, Mike and the #1 Chief Engineer, Terry, it is always an honor and pleasure to work with you guys.  To John Simmons, “who would have thought that our phone conversation 4 years ago would turn into something this big”, thanks for continuing to support this cause and this race.
Mike, John, Robin, Terry
So the carpets were all rolled up and all the people were gone, and we were starving. We headed out to Mac’s for some lunch and hashed out the changes for the 2013 race.

Ahhhhh.... It's over
BTW, I was just about to give up my feud with Terry, and even forgive him for beating me at the Wood River Triahtlon this year, I mean after spending all that meaningful time together on the spider, I decided maybe we could be friends, but you see, I found out that he found a younger girl (it may have been his granddaughter, but that’s not the point) to take my place on the spider.  I mean one day I’m his princess and the next day I’m just thrown out like the trash.  Game on Terry, you’re going down, I’m a runner scorned now.

See more photos from the race here.