Monday, July 17, 2017

Lesson 489: ERC: Erie Runners Cheer!

Hip, Hip Hooray!
Three cheers for Old Eloise!

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I finished my 7th Presque Isle Half Marathon on Sunday,
and my old hips are hip, hip, hooraying this morning. 

This was a special year because 
my family came along for the journey--
daughter Ellen Louise
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and nephew Jack.
Jack is an accomplished runner,
and trusted his abilities enough to run with Ellen
even though he hadn't run since November.
He's walking like the Tin Man today,
but still agrees it was worth it.

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My sister-in-law Jean also completed her first loop on foot, as well.

Ellen Louise clicked CONFIRM to her on line registration
 on the last day of school,
giving her about 5 weeks to condition.
She frequented Team Adrenaline workouts,
and got up early on five weekends to practice at Presque Isle.
As much as most teenagers hate mornings,
Ellen said she wouldn't trade the sunrises
or the end accomplishment for a few extra Z's.

Prior to start time,
everyone was all smiles.

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Everyone looked forward to the event with nervous excitement.
Unfortunately there were a few instances that undermined the momentum.

A few means more than one,
therefore I have to bring them to the attention of the 
Erie Runners Club--
as these few people are impacting the views of your whole organization.

Perhaps it is a sign of these intolerant times,
or maybe it is a sign of an annual event becoming routine--
but I encountered less than stellar behavior first hand,
some several of the ERC staff sporting the yellow shirts.

I must stress that the negative examples I am about to bring under 
the light of the Lamp Post are from just a few.
A few green grapes are enough to sour the whole bunch, though.
Good always outweighs the bad,
but the bad parts are always noisy and can etch in lasting negative memories,
so we have to put the thumb on the bad 
so it doesn't get out of control.

Here is a little constructive criticism from Eloise.
This is not meant to be negative or hurtful.
I am a teacher by trade, and when I see mistakes,
especially errors that impact many-
I point them out and offer suggestions.

#1--Packet Pick up
To the woman working on Saturday around 2:00 pm--
I am sorry I bothered you by picking up 5 packets.
Your long sigh was noticed
  after I did not have race numbers to present to you,
only names--
and that annoyed sigh trickled down the line of people waiting--
it was heard and remarked upon by others.
Your impatience with your fellow volunteer when she asked you for help was also noticed.
Someone down the line called you a Not Nice Name
which I shall not repeat.
See--negativity begets negativity?
I chalked it up to just one person having a bad day,
and let it go.

if you really are that unschooled in general interactive social behavior
here are a few pointers which can be found in Natalie's
Autism Manual for Social Behaviors:

*look the person in the eye
*greet them with a friendly hello
*say, Thank you, Goodbye, or Have a Great Race! when they depart from you

ERC--please include 4 safety pins!
If it is too expensive for you to hit up a local dollar store
for a few boxes,
I have a buddy committed to Community Wellness,
who would be happy to provide pins for your race next year,
so the participants don't have to scrounge for their own.
Just give Eloise a jingle and I'll connect you to someone who cares.

Also, some coupons from local businesses
would be a nice inclusion in the bag.
Sure, most paper coupons probably go unused,
but it's the welcoming thought that counts.

#3--Your Comments Can Be Overheard, Facial Expressions Interpreted
Women were waiting in the long potty line next to the pavilion.
A ERC member politely told the women that there were
16 port a potties at the start line that were open for business,
and some of the women did move,
but most stayed to carry on their early morning conversations with other fellow runners.

Apparently not enough people moved,
and two other ERC staff members standing nearby
snickered and snorted and muttered under their breath,
that we were "like sheep"--too dumb to move, I guess.

In a time when comments such as that can not only be overheard,
but captured on video,
and blogged about--
I'd be extra careful about choosing your words.
Remember--if it's not nice to say, then don't say it.
In public school we teach Kindergartners that on their first day.

#4-Stay to the Left!

As you can tell from the photos posted,
Eloise is a back-of-the-packer.
By the time Eloise William Howard Taft rolls in,
most on lookers are headed for home.

The back of the pack represents a lot of newbies,
and people not interested so much in their times,
but do the in support of others,
or just to enjoy the journey around the park at a slower pace. 

A few newer people did gravitate out of the left lane,
I'm guessing not to cheat---
because they'd sure have a heck of a lot of time to make up--
but just out of non-awareness.

To the gentleman barking STAY TO THE LEFT!:
If you took the pitch of your voice down an octave,
and shaved some of the annoyance out of it,
perhaps your words would serve more as reminders
than a warning of impending doom.

I understand the fact that you must be a highly important individual,
given that you "are on the committee", as you let one runner clearly know--
but perhaps it's time to trade the bullhorn for a lawn chair.

Maybe you should trying handing out some water next year.
Those people sure were encouraging!

This kid was my favorite.
He was at TWO stops,
and from our conversations during those stops,
 I found out thathe had to get up at 6:00 in the morning
 just to do this!

Thank you,
friendly water stop volunteers!

perhaps you should morph your acronym into

I have lots of friends from my wellness group that showed up 
to do just that!

You have such a unique and beautiful place to attach your name to, 
Erie Runners Club.

You not only represent your group,
but my city, as well.
You want to keep people coming back,
time and time again,
like this lady.
I ran behind her most of the way.
Her shirt reads:
Today is my 50th Half Marathon!

Nothing is better than crossing that finish line
and seeing your friends and family, 
and showing them what you earned
(besides a sense of accomplishment and sore feet).

#5--Being handed a plastic license plate
 does not create the same excitement as receiving a finisher medal.

Maybe for you "in the club"
you have been there, done that,
so many times with finisher medals that you just wanted a change.
I bet you could probably find a way to swing both a medal
and another token--
if you were creative and resourceful.

These are but small suggestions in the scheme of things, ERC.
Most people probably won't remember the glaring errors
of short tempered volunteers and lack of perks like safety pins.

Personal accomplishment trumps just about everything. 

But when you accompany personal accomplishment with
warmth and kindness from all volunteers,
and consideration of what people like
(finisher medals, some coupons to local businesses, and FOUR safety pins),
we will have a race that will close hours upon opening up registration.

Eloise's personal accomplishment was met this year!
I beat this race walker!

I hung with him throughout most of the race,
completing my normal routine of slow running,
stop to take a picture,
stop to talk to someone,
run to catch up to where I was.
I took 50 photos,
so try doing that 50 times during a 13.1 mile race.
It's hard!

I'm glad I was there to catch him at the finish.

ERC--in school we have these things called Morning Meetings.
My class gathers up every day as a group to discuss our goals,
review the rules,
and encourage one another.
I think all you need is a little Pow-Wow
and you will have some new, fresh ideas for next year.

Look for 47 year old female,
most likely running under the name of a dead President.
According to my calculations I should be up to Herbert Hoover.

Congratulations everyone--
especially Ellen, Jack, and Jean!


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