All week in the office we joked about not getting sleep, the disasters that could happen race morning and crying. I knew there would be some things that would be pretty unavoidable. We had this running joke that it was like planning your wedding, making the guest list in-between 30,000-40,000, taking over part of the city, not eating for like 36 hours, and not sleeping for 48 hours. So it’s the worst day of your life. Though it wasn’t the worst day, it was by far one of the craziest and most memorable days I’ve ever experienced.
Saturday night, after the carbo load dinner we got some coffee and did some errands. We packed up our hotel room at 1 am after quick showers and got ready for a night/day of craziness. We got down to the volunteer tent area and had a list of things that a co-worker and I were in charge of. I had the list on my iPhone and we just worked on checking off certain things throughout the morning. I finally got the nerve to get on a gator and drive it around, which sped up the process tremendously. After cruising around on it all morning in the dark I was getting pretty edgy with it and we were flying all over the place. We put up the signage at the tent in the finish line festival area. Got the finish clocks hung and start clocks hung. We got all the age division awards to the race results tent and kept checking on the people who were slowing arriving to set up. Timing company. Race Results. VIP parking list. Water Station trucks. Every one was working at 100 mph hour. We set up the personal item tent and it was finally 4 am. The bike tour started at 6:00 am. We saw our first runner shortly after 4 am and that was when I realized it was finally happening.
All the planning was leading up to this. It was funny because all week we were ready to get it going and then race morning I still felt like there was so much to do! Finally everything was starting to get set up and in place and I felt like we were as ready as we were going to be. People were using the huge bridge we had erected to travel to the running group section and other portapotties on the festival side. Bikers were arriving and donning their helmets. I was so nervous I thought I was going to throw up. I couldn’t eat anything. I desperately wanted everything to go well. For people to like the race, the vibes, the bands, the new start line, the t-shirts, the medals. Everything I had worked so hard on the entire time I had been working there. The bikers were all lined up and finally it was time for them to take off. We had a separate corral for them to finish in, store their bikes and head over to the finish line festival for everyone if they so desired. I was up on the starting podium for a while and seeing them all lined up and realizing all these people were here to do what we had worked so hard on was pretty breathtaking. I double checked everything over there was good to go. The medals were being unwrapped and everyone was ready for the bikers to come back into the corral. Though it would take them a while I wanted to make sure all was good for their arrival.
The bikers were all lined up in the starting area. When they finally got started, I was down off the starting stand and saw them all start to whiz by. Then I was back down to the results tent and back to the bike area.
When I was down back by the start line again, checking in to see how everyone was doing and what else needed to be done we figured out that there was no one there to drive the media truck. I was asked to drive it and was really nervous but it needed to be done. I made sure my other job of the elite gatherer and results would be taken care of and got the truck ready. Then before I knew it I was off following the cops. This was my view for the next 26.2 miles.
It was actually really scary. I didn’t like doing it at all and was really nervous for what I was suppose to do once I got to the finish line. Everything was going okay until we met back up with the half marathoners. That’s when I got stuck behind a lot of runners and the cops kind of got away from me and I got way stuck on the side of the road. I felt horrible because I could only imagine that the runners I was almost running over thought of me. I really didn’t want anyone to get hurt and I was in a huge truck! Gah what a morning. After that I was a little shaken up and I think I was nervous for the rest of the day. I finally decided to park the truck on a side street and walk back down to the finish line area. I was so upset with the whole situation and how I got lost and felt like I let everyone down that I work with and those who were running. HELLO giant truck running over people.
I was lucky enough to catch a crew guy to give me a lift back down to the finish line. I got back over to the VIP tent and saw a huge line throughout the festival area and had no idea what all these people were waiting for. I also saw about 100 people walking around with a million frozen pizzas? I was so confused as to what had gone on and the finisher for the full already had come through so a few full marathoners were starting to trickle in. I asked a few people what they were waiting for and they said the bridge. WHAT. So everyone thought that was the only way over to the other side. I tried to tell a few to go around and it was no line? But no one was listening and I had other things to take care of. I checked in with those at the volunteer tent and then was off to get the awards and race results to the VIP tent for the elites. At this point it was 10 am but it felt like it was 3 pm. I had no idea what time it was and was just getting everything done that I was suppose to do to complete my list.
I finally figured out that Little Caesars was giving away free frozen pizzas. That explained the pizza everywhere. Random. I also heard that the 5k went really well. For a 5k, I think we put on a good race with Bubba Gump. Everyone gets a medal, a t-shirt and a free meal from Bubba Gump just for them. Yet people still complain that they don’t get everything that the half and full marathoners get. To each their own. If I ran a 5k like that I would be stoked.
Then I got the race results to the VIP tent and helped with the award presentation going on there. The awards we gave out turned out really good. It was now quickly approaching 11:30 and that’s when I heard about the chaos over at the personal item storage tent. It was really unorganized and everyone was screaming at each other. We were trying to get it under control and I realized it was the same type of thing that happened at the kids run, but multiplied. It’s weird, when people aren’t patient they start to attack each other and it’s almost cannibalistic. Just like at the kids run people just started yelling and attacking. We couldn’t get it under control in time and then it just spiraled out of control. That was a big bummer because it left a bad impression on some. People kept telling me what a problem it was, but I was so busy doing everyone on the other side of the festival and I knew that there were people over there dealing with it. The bridge line was gone but I knew it was still a long day left as it was only noon!
I think everyone just was exhausted. I still hadn’t eaten and I was working on picking up trash and helping out the recycling team and organizing more volunteers to be dispersed places. I had been on my feet since 1 am and was starting to feel it. My phone had been dead for more than three hours and I was so worried about a few people that I told to call me if there were any problems. My nextel radio kept beeping off about random things and I kept hearing about the personal item storage issue. I worked hard on my side but that and the truck issue really got to me. I saw a friend in the bridge line and she smiled and just had finished her first marathon and I was so happy for her and so emotional and tired I just started getting teary. After that I was teary for the rest of the day.
More picking up trash and checking on all the little different aspects like medical, vip tent, cops, road closures, sag wagon and the pick up truck. It was just a lot going through my head. Finally, around 2 things started to slow way down. The recycling team was doing an awesome job of cleaning up after everyone. I will forever be grateful for their hard work. The personal item storage tent was under control again. The PF&F line was going well and we still had lots of medals left. The bridge was open and flowing well and the volunteers were finally getting to eat. I finally just started feeling horrible that all my friends who had come down to run the race had the worst time ever. I was so sad that I felt like I had failed them. It was really a hard feeling to deal with and though I hadn’t talked to them yet, I just was so scared that they would be so upset with me.
I finally found a place to plug in my phone. I immediately texted a few people and apologized for any problems they might have had. I was shocked when all I got back was praises. That’s when I just kind of cried for 5 minutes. I think it was a long day for me and I was just so happy that they had a great time and enjoyed it. I felt so much better after talking to them and hearing that they liked it and felt good and didn’t have any problems. I still feel horrible for all those in line at the bag check and all the complaints and emails… They all come to my inbox.
Since the race I have felt tired up until this weekend. I finally started to feel back to my normal self and after we had a debrief meeting for 5 hours on Monday morning at work, we all finally could breath a sigh of relief. It wasn’t perfect, and there will always be complaints.
I actually really like the shirt this year and think they looked awesome on everyone running in them. I worked really hard to get them to be sized correctly and there was actually a lot of thought put into them. On the front are many different parts of Long Beach that you run by during the race. We also chose Grey because so many races did blue this year.
The bibs all had the lighthouse on them as well, and I think they looked awesome and the medals. Le sigh. I am in LOVE. They turned out better than I ever though and I’m so proud of them.
The ribbons they are on are so cool and I really just like the overall look of everything. It’s crazy being on this side of the “tape”. I can’t believe I used to complain about getting to a race at 6 am and think my life was rough, because now I’m the crazy who was there at 1 am driving around the gator and putting up all the stuff and getting everything ready. Who made countless trips to home depot and now know that I loathe that place.
It was one of the best days of my life because seeing everything come to life was amazing. Though I can definitely wait until next year for another one of these, I know I’ve learned so much during my entire time here and I know exactly how to improve myself and we all know what went wrong. I was actually really bummed that I couldn’t run the race since it does mean a lot to me. It means a lot to all of us here at work.
I’m so thankful that the city of Long Beach came out in full force and everyone was so excited about the race this year. That’s was really important to me. I’m so thankful for everyone I work with and so thankful for all the runners who descended upon Long Beach and I truly hope everyone had an enjoyable time. The most thanks goes to the volunteers. All 2,500+ who came out and helped us all. Thank you, thank you, thank you.