I meant to sit down and write about this year's race sooner than this, but I really needed a little time to decompress and process it all - and last week was still filled with race-related tasks that had to be done to tie up loose ends and clear all the boxes and papers out of my car and house and off of my desk. I kind of forgot about the aftermath of the event - not nearly as stressful as the days leading up to the race, but still pretty time-consuming.
But all the work, and stress, and last-minute panic attacks, and boxes that took over my house and my car - once again, completely and totally worth it.
Last year I got way more involved than I had intended with the race planning, and I'm not really sure how it happened, but this year I ended up officially taking on the title of Race Director. But what didn't change from last year is that I still had the same incredible team of people working on all the moving parts and doing so much of the heavy lifting that makes this race happen - and for that, I am so extremely grateful.
Things got a little hairy during the final week before the race, as I got sidelined by a horrible respiratory virus that had me couch-bound (with a fever that lasted 4 days) for nearly the whole week. I was still able to accomplish most of the things I needed to accomplish, but it was a struggle, and I was really concerned that I wasn't going to get better in time for race weekend.
Luckily I started to feel better late in the week, and was able to rally just in time to pull things together for our Saturday packet pickup. I was still dragging a bit, but had enough energy to do what needed to be done, and to be there for most of the day Saturday, which was so important to me.
I know full well that I have plenty of people who know what they're doing and can execute all the necessary tasks flawlessly, without my help. But after all the months and months of planning, it would have crushed me to not be able to be there to see race weekend kick off.
Seeing and talking to our runners is absolutely the highlight of the weekend for me, and I got to chat with so many of them. Talking to the first-time half marathoners is the best. I'm always truly honored when people choose our race for their first half, because I know what a huge deal that is, and I love knowing that Gansett is where they'll achieve their goal.
Saturday night was filled with more last-minute tasks and emails and checking and double-checking of volunteer assignments and registration supplies and weather forecasts. We didn't get a perfect weather day, but we did get a much improved weather day as compared to last year's Nor'Easter.
The temperature for race time was forecast to be just about 60, with clouds and possibly a shower. And the wind wasn't a huge factor, but the wind that we did have would be a headwind for the runners on the way out, and a tailwind on the way back, which is definitely preferable. And as it turned out, the rain held off, so it ended up being a pretty decent day.
Race day registration and pre-race festivities are mostly a blur. It's always so amazing, though, to get there early and set everything up, and then watch as the room slowly fills up with more and more runners, and the energy level just goes through the roof as they all gather and get ready to get out and race. That's the part I love.
Watching it all come together is one of the most gratifying, rewarding things I've ever experienced, and as jealous as I was to not be among the hundreds who were going to get to run, it is so incredible to be on the other side, knowing what went into making the event happen, and knowing that all those people are there because of your group's efforts and hard work.
I made my way out and watched the start, and snapped a few photos, and then took a few minutes to regroup before getting ready to deal with post-race responsibilities.
Fortunately I was able to get outside to see our top three male and females finish, and was also able to get out again later on to see Scott cross the finish line - his first half marathon; so proud of him! - and then it was another whirlwind of checking in with the timing company and volunteers, and answering questions, and just generally being in as many places as I could possibly be at the same time. It was crazy, and busy, and exciting, and I loved every minute of it.
Before I knew it, we were handing out awards and winding down, and cleanup began. And it was about that time, when the adrenaline began to wear off, that I realized how utterly exhausted I was.
Being sick all week and then pushing through and being insanely busy all day Saturday and Sunday finally caught up with me, and I'm not sure how I made it through the entire cleanup process. I think it was having the help and company of awesome friends : )
And the takeaway from the entire weekend was primarily positive, glowing reviews. No event like this goes off without a hitch, and there is always, always room for improvement, but the phrase that keeps going through my head is "We did it!" Once again, we put on a well-organized event and had a course full of happy runners. We did everything we could to ensure that they had a great day, and by all accounts, we succeeded.
Of course, as far back as a month ago, I was already formulating a list of ideas for next year, and that list has since grown to be about 3 pages long. Like I said - always room for improvement, and we plan to just keep building on the success we've had this past two years, and continue to make the race bigger and better.
Last year none of us imagined that we'd end up with the turnout we had, and having it come as something of a surprise added to the exhilaration of pulling off the inaugural year in such a spectacular way.
But even though we didn't have that element of surprise this year, it was no less exhilarating.
It's hard to put into words what it feels like to see all the planning and checklists and meetings and phone calls and emails come to fruition. To see all those runners gathered at the starting line of your race, and celebrating their finish at your race, and smiling and posing for photos with the medal from your race. Definitely the next best thing to running, and my heart was so full all day Sunday, seeing that vision become reality.
I did want my turn to run, though, and after crashing and falling asleep around 8:30 Sunday night, I woke up feeling pretty good, and decided that I was going to take my turn on Monday. So I lined up at the start Monday morning, and ran the full course. It was a tough 13.1 miles, as I was still dragging from being sick and then exhausting myself for the past two days, but it was a beautiful day, and I'm glad I did it, and I think a new tradition has been born.
Now, almost two weeks later, I'm slowly getting my life back, and am kind of enjoying finding myself with a little bit of free time most days. It feels a little strange, but in a nice way - especially on a day like today, when it was actually warm enough to escape to the beach with my book for a couple of hours!
And now that my mental energy isn't completely consumed by race planning, it occurred to me this week that I need to finalize my Boston training plans, as that training will begin just six weeks from now. It's hard to wrap my head around the fact that I'll be training for a marathon again, given that I've had an entire year off from being on a training plan, but I'm ready, and I'm excited to get started.
And although Gansett thoughts are no longer all-consuming at the moment, I am still basking in the glow of a successful event, and love reading all the lovely comments that people have posted and emailed to us.
We have set the bar high, but I know that we'll just continue to raise it higher, because we know how important all the details are, and we want people to love our race - not just so that they come back and run it again, but because it feels great to know that you gave someone a fantastic race experience and some great memories. That's what makes it worth it.
I'll enjoy the break before planning for 2016 really gets into full swing, but I'll also be excited when we do get things underway again. I tell people that I kind of fell into this whole thing, but I don't think that's really true. I think it happened exactly the way it was supposed to, and I couldn't be happier.
Year 2 - 692 registered, 583 finishers
Just some of the amazing comments and feedback that we've gotten. Makes me so happy to read them all -