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Sunday: Race Day!

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.


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  • Reply Jason

    Long Beach was my first marathon… and I had the BEST experience! Everything went without a hitch for me. You did such a great job keeping everyone informed via email/twitter/facebook. The expo was great. The marathon itself was incredible. And girl… the medal is the most amazing thing ever! I’m so proud of it. Thank you for working so hard and thinking outside the box to bring such a quality experience. There will be shortcomings in every task, but it sounds like they all involved a lack of patience on others. GREAT JOB!!!

    October 25, 2010 at 10:47 am
  • Reply Naomi

    I never knew how much went into organizing a race and I am now so much more appreciative of the effort that goes into them, thanks to you. Congratulations on such a huge accomplishment!

    October 25, 2010 at 12:29 pm
  • Reply Shelley B

    Wow, I had no idea the amount of work and stress that goes on behind the scenes…THANK YOU for caring so much and it looks like it really was an awesome event!

    October 25, 2010 at 2:09 pm
  • Reply Toky

    This was amazing to read Danica! thanks for the behind-the-scenes look to the logistics of the race. Funny to know that when we were all sleeping you guys were working so hard on setting all up. You did an amazing job with everything. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

    October 25, 2010 at 2:14 pm
  • Reply Daddyrun

    2010 was the second year I ran LB. This was certainly better than the last time I ran the event. Sure, there was a line for the bridge…but I figured out how to cross back over without it. Wasn’t that tough. Most people see a line and simply stand in it without really thinking…this is not the fault of the event organizers.

    As far as the chaos at the bag check. I did not really encounter it (finished my half in record time so not really that crowded when I got there). It appeared to me that there were not enough labeled boxes so not all bags would fit and they needed to be placed around the boxes on the ground. Not a big deal assuming the volunteers were the only ones allowed in the area. What was upsetting was seeing runners simply walk in like they owned the place. Have some patience people, let them do their job. I think having runners rummage through bags contributed to the chaos as items were moved around. I can imagine it being a tough call between being nice and telling people to “stay the hell out”.

    Will I run LB again? – Definitely. Did the organizers do a good job this year? – Without question!!

    Thanks for sharing the day from your perspective. It’s amazing how much we (myself included) take for granted with regards to everything that goes into an event of this size. I especially appreciated the use of Twitter to help keep my eyes on the race and to motivate me through my training.

    October 25, 2010 at 2:42 pm
  • Reply cindylu

    LB was my first half marathon. It wasn’t perfect. I was one of those unhappy with the bridge and personal item retrieval. But those were minor compared to the overall day. It was a great race. I’d love to do it again. Thanks for all your hard work.

    October 25, 2010 at 2:43 pm
  • Reply Tri2Thrive

    (1) Great recap, & great job! My wife PRd LBM last yr, and it’s her fav. I loved it this yr (and PRd), so I’m sure next year we’ll both run it.
    (2) The shirts are awesome. I didnt get an XXL cuz they ran out at the expo. Normally I wouldn’t care much about a race shirt, but this one was SO nice, and the experience was so positive. Just a friendly reminder.. I know you’ve had a lot going on.
    (3) Walmart sells a small slim external Duracell battery that charges by USB. It can then plug into almost any phone and give you an extra 3-4 hours at least. $24.

    Thanks for all you did!

    October 25, 2010 at 2:56 pm
  • Reply Sarah

    I can’t even imagine the amount of work and planning that goes into an event like this. I just ran a marathon two weekends ago (the 10th running of this race) and while I thought everything went well, you wouldn’t believe all the complaining on the event’s website. Some people are never happy. It sounds like you guys worked very hard and it was a positive, memorable day for many runners! Congrats!

    October 25, 2010 at 3:50 pm
  • Reply Kristen

    Congrats on being a part of something so huge!!!!!

    October 25, 2010 at 3:59 pm
  • Reply ilovesteaks

    You did good out there Danica! I’ve ran enough of these suckers to have a good idea of the amount of organization that goes into putting together a race. I can appreciate the worked you’ve done for the Long Beach Marathon. I’ll try to be there next year to join in on the fun! :)

    October 25, 2010 at 4:30 pm
  • Reply Ben

    This is my third time running the LBM. By far, this was the best marathon of the three. The medal rocks. I finished a little before noon and I didn’t have a problem at the bridge. But I thought to myself some people might have problem going up and down the steps after the marathon. A better sign for an alternate route would be useful. My overall experience was a blast. Thanks for the behind the scene recap and for your hard work.

    October 25, 2010 at 4:39 pm
  • Reply Nicole

    Long beach was amazing! However, I will need some nicole and danica time ASAP because I miss you! take the good with the bad and tell people to get over themselves. i cant stand it when all people do is complain! sigh! LOVE YOU!!!

    October 25, 2010 at 5:23 pm
  • Reply Madison

    I know you’ve probably heard this like a million times already but you did an amazing job! I wish I would have ran this race because I heart that medal. I can’t even imagine all the work you did behind the scenes. It was interesting to get a peek via all your tweets and post on here. So thank you for sharing!

    October 25, 2010 at 5:32 pm
  • Reply cg9m

    excellent job on the shirts- they look great! and very cool that they’re properly sized. and go you for doing so much work to make the race a success- bet the runners appreciated it more than you knew.
    long beach is a race i’d definitely like to run some year- your pics made me a little ‘homesick’
    and lol re home depot- never ever buy a house! :P

    October 25, 2010 at 6:36 pm
  • Reply ocmomruns


    You did an excellent, amazing job! Don’t let anyone tell you different.I love the shirt and medals this year. It was a great day and a great race. I hope you get some rest!

    Take care-


    October 25, 2010 at 7:11 pm
  • Reply bree

    You are AMAZING!! I would have been crying in my car lol. Sounds like it went great.

    October 25, 2010 at 9:28 pm
  • Reply Rachel

    i can only imagine how much work this must have been, and the lack of sleep and food would just makes things more stressful. you did a fantastic job – i really enjoyed the race and thought it went very smoothly!

    October 25, 2010 at 10:27 pm
  • Reply Spike

    So neat to hear about the race from your perspective. Glad things went well. Looks like it was a great event.

    October 26, 2010 at 5:21 am
  • Reply Stuart

    Ah you can please some of of the people some of the time!

    If people weren’t smart enough to cross without the bridge well…stupid is what stupid does!

    Bag check…yeah there was a line, chill out people! You’ve just run 26.2 miles enjoy standing still for a minute!

    I did wonder where all the pizza was…what a weird giveaway?

    Seriously well done…I thought it went great!

    October 26, 2010 at 7:32 am
  • Reply Rioruns

    I loved running LB last year, but wish I ran it this year just for that awesome medal and shirt! Strong work Danica!

    October 26, 2010 at 10:09 am
  • Reply Marathon Maritza

    Personally, I was one of those people that LOVED LB! I thought it was so well organized and the volunteers and water stop crews were amazing and supportive! I didn’t check anything and had no problems at the finish line area….handing someone a bag with all their post-race food was an AWESOME idea and made it much easier to get past that area and meet up with my friends and family.

    I loved the race and I think you and everyone at Run Racing did a fabulous job putting on such a big event. XOXO

    October 26, 2010 at 1:51 pm
  • Reply Tales From the Back of the Pack

    Oh, wow, if I’da known you were giving out medals and free food for the 5K I would have saved myself 10 miles of shoe tread…Just kidding! The half marathon race t-shirts were super cool and absolutely worth the extra 10 miles.

    After reading all the preparation that went into LB I will never ever ever look at a race the same way again. I will be MUCH more appreciative of the blood sweat and tears that goes into such an event.

    Thanks for this perspective.

    October 26, 2010 at 3:47 pm
  • Reply Jamie @ Catch j(me) - if you can!

    Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Danica! It’s rare to hear the perspective of a race organizer, so I know I certainly appreciate this blog entry.

    My boyfriend’s sister’s boyfriend is a triathlete, and he mentioned the other day that he actually ran the Long Beach Marathon “on a whim”…and he said he really enjoyed it. No complaints or issues–no mention of a congested bridge or bag check. He said that he had a great experience and recommended the race to me for next year.

    I think people who are highly experienced athletes and have participated in many races know to take a chill pill with certain aspects of a race. NO racing event is ever perfect! And like others have commented, you can’t please ALL the people ALL the time.

    I’m sure your next event will be even BETTER with all that you experienced and learned this time around! Rest easy, Danica, and congratulations on a job well done!

    October 26, 2010 at 10:40 pm
  • Reply Tara

    I had a great time and I loved running this race knowing everything that you had put into it! Everything will never goes as planned, but it sounds like you and everyone else at RunRacing handled the mishaps with ease. People just need to chill the f#@k out sometimes! ♥♥♥

    October 27, 2010 at 8:11 am
  • Reply Aj

    I honestly don’t know how you do your job! It sounds so stressful, I know that so many people don’t realize all that goes into a race and can be really nasty if something doesn’t go exactly their way or if there’s a little mix up. I would cry! Congrats on getting through the race, I can’t wait to run it next year!

    October 27, 2010 at 12:33 pm
  • Reply Mrs. Mess

    Wow. That is a ton of work! You’re awesome! :)

    October 28, 2010 at 11:26 am
  • Reply Kelly

    I’m exhausted just reading this!! You poor thing. I know you put in sooo much work. You rock! I’m sure the race in wonderful, hopefully I can run it next year!

    October 29, 2010 at 9:29 am
  • Reply Mae

    Thanks for the flip side of the equation. Great job on making it thru the event.

    October 29, 2010 at 7:32 pm
  • Reply Lisa

    Thank you SO much for working so hard on this event. It was obvious that there were plenty of people working together to put on a good event. I was happily surprised at your e-mail addressing all the things I brought up in my blog post. I am thankful that you took the time to contact me. I actually feel bad mentioning any “cons” but you took everything so well.

    I have really enjoyed hearing about everything that goes on to put together an event like that. Thanks!!!

    October 30, 2010 at 2:55 pm
  • Reply Toronto Girl West

    You know I came from far (FAR!) away to run Long Beach. And I never once regretted it.

    Sure, there will always be unhappy people but you know (and I know) that you guys put your heart and soul into that race. And it showed.

    You and the rest of the Run Racing team are responsible for one of the most amazing days of my life. And I will always be grateful for that!


    October 31, 2010 at 5:25 pm
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