Exhaustion and chaos.

19 Apr

I just got back last night from my first weeklong trip to a race. This race was one we put on so instead of just doing the timing (which is an in-and-out job), we had to set the whole thing up, coordinate all the volunteers and staff, clean up, provide food and water to all the athletes, all of that.

Overall, the trip was a good time. We got to Vegas Monday night and checked into our hotel. It was a dump. It was near the race site but it was only $20 a night.

Tuesday, we met up with the old race director, Brogg, and went to buy consumables, like duct tape, zip ties, bricks and rope for the buoys, and air horns. I somehow convinced the director of sales at Hampton Inn and Suites to comp us a room for the whole week because we would direct athletes to their hotel. So after buying that stuff, D and I moved to the Hampton Inn – SO much better!!

Wednesday, we just spent at the hotel, which now had free WiFi, free breakfast, as well as a light dinner and freshly baked cookies every night. We checked emails, confirmed vendors, and finalized packets for packet pickup. Travis flew in around 7:30 that night so I went and picked him up from the airport (which I will never do again, because I always end up pissed off for the rest of the night due to the airport roads being so asinine…long story). We went back to the hotel to check in and pretty much went straight to bed.

Thursday, we went down to the race site (Travis stayed at the hotel to work on school work and relax after his 10-day levee inspection) to stage the bike and run course aid stations by filling up trash cans with water, sorting course marking signs, and loading the trucks that would take the materials out on the course the next day. I didn’t enjoy that day because I spent a lot of time just standing around the race site watching other people work because I didn’t know much about what they were doing. I communicated to my boss and friend, D, that next time, I need a job. Just give me a job to do and I”ll be fine. When we got back to the hotel, Travis and I ate at In-N-Out Burger (first time! and it was good) and then went to bed.

Friday, everyone else headed down to the race site again to put the buoys out in the water, set up the barricades and fencing around the transition area, set up the finish line scaffolding arch and tents, and set up the bike and run courses. I did not do that – I was back in the hotel room getting ready for packet pickup. I had to print final rosters, mark the last packets from online registrations, load all of the packets into the car, then Travis and I drove to the packet pickup venue and set it all up. Overall, packet pickup went really well. I learned a few things that will make packet pickup go more smoothly in the future – like have more volunteers at the front table checking IDs and taking new registrations – but I think the setup was pretty good. Travis was a great help – it was really fun having him there. After packet pickup, Travis and I got subs from this great sub shop, ate, and went to bed around 11:00.

Saturday morning was D day. My alarm was set for 2:15 AM but somehow, I didn’t hear it go off (or it didn’t go off) but luckily, I woke up at 2:45 and realized what time it was. We left for the race site by 3:30 AM and got there by 4. Wow, that was early. I set about setting up all the timing equipment with Travis, while D went and worked on the registration data and other stuff. After getting all the timing equipment set up in probably a little over an hour, all hell broke loose.

It was absolute chaos for the next 2 hours. I had coordinated volunteers before the race and had expected to be off the hook on race day, so that I could concentrate on timing. But D radioed and asked if I could go up to the volunteer check-in site around 5:30. So I did. Only 2 volunteers showed up. After standing there for about 5 minutes doing nothing but wishing I could just run and hide far away from the pressure, I found out that more volunteers could be used at the transition area for body marking, so I directed them down there. After that, Brent (my boss who was helping me time, since this was my first time doing it on my own) asked what time I would be ready to time. Right then, I said screw it to the volunteer stuff and went and did timing. After that, for me at least, the day went MUCH better.

The chaos was caused mostly by 1) not having enough volunteers (a group of 30 canceled on us the day before the race) and 2) not having the volunteers there early enough. Two more things I learned that should make things go better in the future.

Timing went REALLY well. Pretty much as well as I could have hoped. It went worlds better than any of the other 3 timing events I’ve been at. So that was a definite blessing from God.

Overall, we had a great turnout (about 750 athletes), the athletes had a good time, got their times and awards, food and water, and the race happened. We couldn’t really ask for more for our first go-around at one. (Brogg had put this race on for several years but sold his company and we are now directing the races – he’s just available as contract labor for the year, to help us learn how to pull this type of event off).

Then yesterday, dog tired, D and I got to drive back to Denver! Yay for us! After getting to bed around 11 again, I got up at 5:00 to get my crap together in time to leave at 6:00. If we had had any more stuff to fit in the Sequoia we drove, it would not have fit. The entire SUV was full. There was no seeing out the back. After returning the radios, we got on the road.

When we stopped to get gas for the first time, D took over driving and after another 30 minutes or so, D said that she felt we should have turned onto I-70 by now. So I whipped out my phone and went on Google maps. Sure that we were still coming up on it, I scrolled to the north of where we were. Nope… that was Salt Lake City. I scrolled to the south… and scrolled… and scrolled. Oh. I-70 was about 70 miles ago. How did that happen?!?!

Luckily, there was a road we could take to cut over to I-70 and not have to completely backtrack. My idiocy cost us about an hour and 20 minutes. D’oh! But when I realized how offtrack we were, I just had to laugh. I don’t know exactly how it happened but I’m sure that it had something to do with being exhausted, concentrating on staying awake, and the exit to I-70 being poorly signed. D had almost missed it herself the last time we were driving back from Vegas. D was really nice about my stupid mistake and hey, now we have a story. Road trips are nothing without adventures like that!

Finally, I got home at 9 PM. I had planned to sleep in as late as possible today but woke up at 7 AM Denver time (6 AM Vegas time!) and was wide awake. So I got up, made some coffee, and am now watching the news and typing this blog. What a whirlwind of a weekend!! And we get to do it all again in a month. Not only that, D and I leave again this Thursday morning for a timing event near Salt Lake City.

My parents are coming out the first weekend of May, then I have a weekend to relax, then it’s another racing planning whirlwind in St. George. But we have a crap ton of stuff to get done between then and now!

So after this experience, I would say that I am enjoying this job. It doesn’t really feel like a job because it’s so different than sitting in an office but HOLY CRAP is it a lot of work!!

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