First off, I hope you all had a fantastic Thanksgiving yesterday and are just about recovered from your food comas.
Although it is not holiday-related at all, I’ve been meaning to share this post for a while now and the timing just worked out this week, so let’s take a break from talking about turkey and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, and talk about me.
Like now that I’ve been at my job for just about 6 months (Where does the time go???)
In case you’re in the dark about what it is that I actually do, I plan races [Just as a note, I tend to try to avoid sharing too many personal details on this blog because there are crazies out there in the world – you can never be too careful!].
But seriously, I go to work and think about running and races, and then I come home and blog about running and races. It’s so funny for me to think back to that first half marathon my mom talked me into in 2012. It quite literally changed my life.
(Throwback pic to a previous post)
See, I always wanted a career where I would feel like I was helping people. The crazy idealist in me wanted to change the world, even if it was in some small way. When I was in high school, I thought I was going to be a lawyer (one of the good guys, like the lawyers that you root for on Law and Order).
Then in college, I decided to study psychology. It fascinated me and I figured I could become a psychologist and still help people with their problems. I LOVED all my psych classes in college, but the more I learned about clinical psychology, the more I realized that AGAIN, this might not be the right fit career-wise. I didn’t know what I was going to do, which stressed me out to no end, even as a sophomore with 2 years of school left (or really 1 and a half years as it turned out). Living without a plan made me very uncomfortable (maybe this was my first hint at my future career!).
And then I fell in love with races. (And I do mean races, not running. The love for running came later, but the excitement of race mornings caught me hook, line, and sinker right from the very first half marathon). There was no instant epiphany for me, but slowly I began to play with the idea that if I enjoyed running races so much, then maybe being involved in putting on races would be a career I could enjoy. And I would STILL get to help people, albeit in a very different way from an attorney or psychologist. I still remember what Dave McGillivray (race director of the Boston Marathon) said during a Q&A at the Falmouth Road Race (when describing what he said to people about his job when compared to his siblings who were doctors).
“Yes, I’m a race director. I put on events and am responsible for raising the self-esteem and confidence of thousands of people.” I’m sure I don’t have the exact words right, but the sentiment struck me and has remained with me to this day.
After volunteering at countless races and jumping at any and every resume-boosting opportunity related to running, I finally landed my internship with a company that puts on obstacle course races across the country and even globally (not saying specifically which one because again – crazy people.) And that internship turned into a job. And now, I spend way more of my time discussing toilet to participant ratios then I EVER would have imagined. 😉
But in all seriousness, working in this field has given me an incredible appreciation for all the nuances that go into putting on a great race. There are quite literally HUNDREDS of details (probably thousands depending on how you look at it). And I personally have experienced some less-than organized races and a lot of really awesome races, and I want to make sure that the events I am personally responsible for leave people as excited about running as I was from my first race. I know how impactful it can be.
But I don’t want to leave you with the impression that I have the most perfect job in the world.
Yes, I feel passionately about it, but it’s not a cakewalk. Race days are STRESSFUL. And they are a THOUSAND times more stressful when you are responsible for making sure they go smoothly than they are when all you have to do is go out and run. I’ve learned that it is impossible to please everyone (people have an incredible knack for finding things to complain about), and that can be hard for me because I do take things personally, even when I shouldn’t.
It’s something that I’m working on. But the job itself is something I feel strongly about, which I know is more than a lot of people can say. So I’ll take the challenge and I’ll continue to learn about what it truly takes to put on a great race, because I know it’s worth it – for the person running their very first race to the person running their 50th. So if you’re running a turkey trot this weekend, take a moment to look around and appreciate all the work that went into putting on that event- thank the volunteers, smile, and enjoy the race!
So that’s a little background on me! Feel free to ask me any questions you might have about putting on races or what it is that I do!
Keep enjoying the holiday weekend!