Monday, March 21, 2011

Pi Anyone?

I must apologize to all of my loyal readers (my mom) for taking a brief hiatus from the "3 Days of Syllamo" series.  I thought sharing my experience of directing my first race was more important than going on about how I spent 3.5 hours crying in the woods.  There you go.  I just wrote my 3 Days report.

I can't tell you the names of these 2 right now, but I'm going to figure it out, because I have their jackets!

Saturday was the culmination of several months of planning for the Pi Day River Rotation Half Marathon.  Alright, I really spent several months thinking, "This is cake. All I have to do is order some shirts and get some awards."  The last few weeks was really when I did the most work.  If I looked back through my old blog posts, I could tell you exactly when I came up with the idea for the race.  It was definitely in November or December. 

The Lawrence Trail Hawks didn't have a race on the Lawrence River Trails yet and I thought it was about time.  In trail running, timing is important for several reasons.  1) You can't schedule it too close to your own races.  2) You can't schedule it too close to other trail races people want to go to.  3) You have to take into account seasonal trail conditions.  Taking all of these factors into account, I decided on March.  And everyone knows the most special holiday in March is Pi Day (3/14).  St. Patrick's Day?!  As my friend's 2 year old would say, "No way!"  On Pi Day, you get to eat pie, which is far superior to green beer.

Once I decided on a math-themed race, I had to come up with a clever name, like...

In case you don't remember, pi r-squared is the formula of a circle.  Don't feel bad if you didn't remember.  I'm an engineer and somehow I forgot too.  At first I was thinking there was a 2 or 1/2 in there somewhere.  Shhhh, don't tell.  Good thing I have lots of engineering and math books at work.

Justin Henning designed this fabulous logo.  It took a week or two to settle on the final design.  The beginning of the decisions that seem tougher to make than you would think.  How big should the font be?  Should we put the RRCA logo on it?  Should it say Lawrence Trail Hawks?  Should it have the date?

Early on in the race-planning process, Jacob Kaplan-Moss offered to make the post-race food.  Pies, of course.  This was one big task that was off my plate.  I also knew I wanted the awards to be pie servers engraved with the race name.

Unfortunately I didn't get any closeup shots of the engraving before I gave them all out.  Silly me!

So, I just deleted about 6 paragraphs of this, because I was getting way too long-winded.  Here are just a few dilemmas I faced.
  • How do you order shirts/sizes when you only have 12 people registered?
    • You make a bad guess. If you were really smart you would have historical data to guide your decision, like a) what is a typical size distribution, b) during what time frames do certain percentages of runners register?
  • What do you do when you told all your volunteers to run the race because you only had 12 people registered and all of a sudden you have 60 runners and 5 volunteers?
    • You make your boyfriend volunteer.  He's big enough (tall) to be 2 volunteers anyway.
  • What do you do when you're 4 days away from the race and you forgot about porta potties?
    • You freak out. Then when you're done freaking out, you reserve porta potties and call the city to make sure it's ok.
  • What do you do when you realize you have more racers than shirts?
    • You make a decision. I decided not to order more shirts but to allow runners to pay a discounted rate once I ran out.
  • What do you do when you're trying to stuff packets and you have a puppy walking all over them, eating kleenex and peeing in the kitchen?
    • You scream, cry, clean up the pee, put the dogs outside, and pour wine into a pint glass because it's St. Patrick's Day.
  • What do you do when KU is playing in the NCAA tournament during your packet pickup?
    • You hang out with the Garry Gribble's employees and watch the game.
  • What do you do when it's race day and you're brain isn't working?
    • You forget you put a bag containing cutting boards and paper towels behind your car and back over it.  Then you dust it off and call it good.
And they're off!
Well in the end, everything turned out pretty well.  I was just positive that I would piss somebody off no matter what I did.  I figured something would go wrong.  It turns out nothing really did.  At least I didn't get any complaints directly.  There were some things I think I could have done a little better.  I forgot to mention some things in my pre-race briefing, like that Justin had designed the logo, that Shelley Flones had provided the granola for raffle prizes, etc.  But as Justin, pointed out, you're lucky if people listen to anything you say in a pre-race briefing, but I'll try to do better next year.  There was also some confusion when Rick Mayo and Keaton Davis came through on their second loop.  I was confused about which direction they were coming from, so I stopped them for a few seconds to figure out what was going on.  It turned out they were running the course correctly.  It was just my overly-coffeed brain that was confused.  I don't think they harbor any hard feeling about the setback.  I gave out free hugs to make up for it.  They also received awards!

Everybody finished great.  We had plenty of pie and granola prizes.  We ended up having just the right number of volunteers.  The race wrapped up and everything was put away before the rain came through.  I couldn't have asked for a better day!  Here are the stats.

72 registered
66 runners/finishers
Top 3 males: Rick Mayo, Matthew O'Reilly, Keaton Davis
Top 3 females: Kelly Carlton, Kelly Cool, Step Cundith

And my thanks go out to...
  • Gary Henry - for advice, bringing the tents, table, water jugs, sign and probably a lot more
  • Coleen Voeks - for advice, course marking, course directing, course de-marking
  • Nick Lang - helping with last minute (5am) race day stuff, time keeping, course de-mark
  • Jim Beiter - lending a table, course directing, course de-marking
  • Kristie Campbell - course directing, registration
  • Caroline Wroczynski - lending a table, running aid station
  • Sarah Schmidt - registration, course directing, helping with aid station
  • Shelley Flones - donating granola for prizes, serving pie
  • Amanda Ernlund - de-marking while searching for her keys
  • Justin Henning - designing the most awesome logo in the world
  • Karen Collier - for being a wonderful treasurer
  • Garry Gribble's for letting us have packet pickup in the store
  • Everybody involved in the wonderful book and signing of "Pi: A Biography of the World's Most Mysterious Number", which I later realized is also signed by the author!
  • All of the runners for coming out!  You made my day.
  • If I forgot you, I am extremely sorry and owe you 10 pushups.  I can do 10 pushups now, Gary.  I think I still owe you 3.  I can even do 10 pushups several times.

We gathered at the finish line for a post-race group shot.


    1. sounds like a great inaugural race!! Bummed that I missed it! I ran the River trails for the time last week and they were great! Great job!!

      Oh and btw - You do have someone besides your mom waiting to read day 3 as well!! :)

    2. A lot of work and a lot of worry, but you made one incredibly special morning for a lot of people, including me. 100-miler, race director, congrats!! Now come out and defend your title at the Hawk 50.

    3. Once again, great job, Laurie! Next year we'll just have Adrian give the pre-race briefing. And I don't know the names of the two young studlies whose jackets you have, but they are some seriously strong finishers - they blew past me like I was standing still the last 0.5 mile of the race.

    4. wow! what a tough undertaking! it sounds like it was a great experience for everyone though, and now you can relax!!

    5. Dad reads too. And Peter. And someone from Homeland Security, no doubt. But, truly, in terms of significance (and humility!) you got it right the first time.

    6. Wow! Looks incredible! Awesome job girl!!

    7. i love this post. you did a great job. i really enjoyed the race and hope i'll be close enough to come back and run it again next year.