Sunday, February 21, 2010

To Medal or Not to Medal?

There has been some buzz about the medals for the Vancouver Olympics . . . I personally find them to be pretty awesome looking.  The design is pretty cool although it does remind me of a serving platter or a candle holder you can pick up at Crate & Barrel.  Truth be known, if I had an Olympic medal- bronze, silver, or gold- you know I'd wear it everywhere. Grocery store? Yup. 20 mile run? Of course! METRO trip into town? Obv. Shower? Well, you get my drift. 

But other medals? Not so sure.

To be totally honest, I've never been a medal junkie (my mom may disagree since she is still trying to unload my grade school plastic soccer trophies on me).  But, as an adult, I've received I think four medals . . . three marathons (Detroit, Boston, Chicago) and one from the George Washington University when I graduated with my MPH.  I have no idea why they gave out medals but I'm sure it had something to do with GPAs (my medal was most likely a bronze). They passed them out during our graduation ceremony that I didn't want to go to; however, my friend, Ben Klein, who probably is the reason I can blow the dust off my diploma, twisted my arm and made me go to commencement so he had someone to sit next to (much to our horror,they sat us alphabetically and "D" is not immediately proceeded by "K" so Ben- you still owe me).

Anyway, I don't get the medal thing.  My staff are medal junkies though- they ran the Goofy Challenge because "we get three medals!".  As I am listening intently about their suffering, I'm thinking there is a 100% better chance of me running an ultra event if there are three beers at the end rather than three medals. Now a belt buckle? That's another story.

However, I fell victim to the medal hype and we are trying something new this year: we are offering medals to people who complete certain Pacers Events challenges this year. 

I posted the designs on our FB/Twitter page and was curious if I was just being unduly influenced by my staff.  I had a few posts that were "awesome! these are cool" to my favorite "do people really like this stuff? I don't" (I had to kind of silently agree but again, I am but one runner and one opinion; and I might have lost my staff in the interim).  

After my marathons, I'm sure I wore the medal out of the finish chute and might have even worn it to lunch . . . but more because I thought I might get a free sundae from a sympathetic waitress. I also might be guilty of wearing a medal out to the bars the night of the race but probably did so b/c "everyone was doing it" and maybe because it matched my shoes.

Now, I'm not trying to be "too cool for school" but I am trying to understand the medal deal. So, what's your opinion? To medal or not to medal? 

Michael Phelps, the ultimate medal junkie

Sunday, February 14, 2010

From Villain to Best Friend

Today was supposed to be the Love the Run You're With 5K.  The roads look "ok" but not great so good call by Arlington County.  I've also heard about a bunch of other race cancellations- GW Birthday 10K obviously, the DCRRC marathon,  and the Myrtle Beach marathon.  

So, instead of tearing down barricades and cones in the cold, I am at home watching HGTV and hoping my valentine is stopping by Starbucks to pick up some chai lattes after his AM run. Hey! There's Erika Rhoades on HGTV's "Designed to Sell". . . she's a local DC runner and marathoner.  Pretty cool.

Well, today is the day I become the most popular person in the DC running community.  Yesterday, the GW Parkway Classic 10 Mile sold out and in the coming days I'll be receiving desperate e-mails from "old friends",  "friends of friends of friends", "elites that are not so elite" . . . you name it. 

I discussed this phenomenon with Cherry Blossom Race Director Phil Stewart . . . Mr. December if you will since his race lottery takes place a few weeks prior to the new year.  "You wouldn't believe how many friends I have!" Phil exclaimed when I saw him at the Hall Steps reception in mid-December just as the lottery results were being posted.  I checked- Phil only has 162 friends on Facebook.  Well, 163 if he accepts our friendship.  So, if you think you can get into Cherry Blossom by boasting yourself as a friend of Phil's you better legitimize your relationship AT LEAST on the world's leading social media site. Just saying.

Why the sell out? Well, there are a few reasons . . . the largest, the National Park Service and our permit.  And while my valentine always thinks there is room for one more, I'm more concerned with keeping our friendly rangers happy and abiding by their rules.  Don't let those ranger hats fool you.  They are serious about their jobs.

Also, we have to bus all these people to the start . . . do you know how difficult it is to bus 5,000 people 10 miles away? If you were in line to get on a bus last year, then you probably understand how crazy it is (note: we have a new bus plan this year that includes about 20 more buses).  

And finally- we are not here to be the next Cherry Blossom (of course, no offense to my "hopefully" new Facebook friend, Phil).  We want to be the best boutique race company in the DC area; not the biggest.

So, yesterday I was a villain and today I have new best friends.  For the record, I have 445 friends on Facebook.  Well, hopefully 446 after I hear back from you-know-who.


Friday, February 12, 2010

The Aftermath (OK not that dramatic)

Well, we've gotten through the date change relatively unscathed.  Only about 12 unhappy people but I think we were able to take care of the vast majority.  With the Feds finally open for business, people are now getting to their e-mail and realizing what's going on with the event. So today is another "hold your breath and look towards happy hour" day.

Thank you to the folks who let us know they didn't agree with our policy; we had some great suggestions and you know what? We changed it.  Just like that- changed the policy.  Revised policy should be posted on the site by now. I like to think we are nimble (and not pushovers) and do our best to serve our customers and the community. 

I did receive at least one notice of legal action from an irate runner.  When I get "that" one off the wall note, I know I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and we are getting close to the end of the unhappy people.  So, he doesn't know it- but thank you for the note.  Now I know we are in the clear.

In the end, I'm a nice gal not here to steal anyone's cash.  And contrary to popular belief, I'm not stuffing my mattress with race registration fees.  I usually laugh out loud when I receive notes insinuating such . . . as I am sitting in my 1960s rented apartment with peeling wallpaper and decade old MARLO furniture. . . . or driving my Saturn with the cracked windshield.

What does get me mad is when they send ugly notes to my momma.  Don't mess with Pat!

Honestly, I don't take any of it personally.  And 99% of the time when I write back and admit a mistake or explain myself, I suddenly turn human to these people and have even developed friendly e-mail relationships with a few.

Although, to the woman who thinks I should have offered multiple snow dates . . . I can't help you. And the guy who wants to report me to the Better Business Bureau. . . well, let me try to remember the last time I checked with them before I registered for an event.  Or my favorite  . . . "that it was my choice" to change the race.  Really? Like I brokered a deal with Mother Nature to drop 30+ inches of snow? True, I was bored and decided to change the race date; you got me- guilty as charged.

And an oldie but goodie:
To the guy who was mad at me because I didn't tell him personally that his timing tag was to go on his shoe and not around his wrist and that my detailed instructions that accompanied the timing tag was like having "instructions on a condom wrapper- not really the opportune time to educate someone on how to use the thing" . . . well, your forwarded e-mail offered plenty of comic relief for my race director friends.

Hey- "disgruntled but now happy" runner just e-mailed me back- I'll see her at the Four Courts Race. Life is good.

- Kathy

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Waiting for the mats to be pulled out from under us

Yesterday, I received the news I was half expecting/half not expecting to hear from Arlington County: no race on February 14.  It makes sense; even if there is sunshine these guys are dog tired from working 24/7 the last few days and are still on emergency patrol which means there is no one available to work. 

When you work with a County as often as we do, we need to keep them happy.  We don't consider the County our vendors, but partners.  We also don't forget they have a monopoly on the roads either.  And if they can't do it- well, we simply can't make it happen.

In the first time in the history of Pacers Events, we have been able to reschedule an event. So now, the Love the Run You're With 5K is on February 28th.  This is no small feat; most municipalities don't allow rain dates.  But our police department doesn't want to be the party spoiler and suggested a later date to allow their crew to catch up and rest up (hence the 28th date). This is certainly a huge concession by the County and we are terribly thankful.

Since we've announced the date change, we've received numerous e-mails, most good, some so so, and some you just have to throw your hands up in the air and ignore.  

When we send out changes to an event, such as yesterday's date change announcement, we sit for a few hours with our hands over our eyes waiting for the e-mails to come in -- the first couple are usually asking for clarification, the next few express their "disappointment", and then we tend to get a nasty e-mail or two.  When you think you've made a wrong decision on a policy, a nice note will pop through . . . like the one I just got from Jennifer Norris congratulating us on making the date change happen and letting us know she'll be at the race.

We know what we do is not a matter of national security, or a life or death situation. But it's what we do and we want to be the best we possibly can be. And sometimes you can't make everyone happy; that's usually the hardest to swallow though.

Changing a race date less than a week out is a feat not many can accomplish which we attribute to Arlington County and our strong relationship with the police department-- so we might pat ourselves on the back a little bit but are giving a standing "O" to Arlington County.

Hope to see you at Love the Run You're With 5K Take Two.


Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Welcome to the Pacers Events blog.  Through this blog we'll offer a "behind the tape" look at our operations, race recaps, and general happenings in our world.  We'll be delivering the real deal here of what we do and hope through the course of this blog we can learn something about our runners and you all can learn about us. We love feedback, congratulatory and constructive, so please feel free to comment on our posts.  

People often say "you have the best job in the world!"  Well, they are usually right.  You may not know this, but my entire family is involved in this operation.  My fiance's family owns the retail shops, my mom is our events company registrar, my dad is usually the guy at the turnaround (or handing out the tee shirts when we run out of the good sizes), and my brother and his kids usually come out to the GW Parkway to pitch in.  Not to mention that my Uncle Mike and I drove from Kansas City to DC this week (and got stuck in a snow pile in Front Royal) with our new tricked out box truck.

It's a good life and a fun job where I get to work with great people and customers.  We have our fair share of disappointments, stress, fights, and downright nail biting moments . . . but in the end, it's all good.

Thanks for reading. -Kathy, your usually friendly race director
Don, our Operations Director, and me at the 09 Earth Day 5K.  Don, an ex-cop, 
is usually packing heat which is why we try not to cross him. And yes, he is usually this jolly.