Tag Archives: volunteering

Green deals for Earth Day (hooray) + Webby Awards & BarCampLA!

The month of April has been filled with Spring cleaning, organizing, recycling, and driving around in my SUV. Yes, you read that right. To help offset the last thing, I’ve taken a more active role in taking care of the planet by volunteering, helping people connect with others, and sharing some deals for Earth Day/Week/Month.

Earth Month Festivities

I took the opportunity to volunteer at the SEA lab‘s Earth Month event and Redondo Beach pier cleanup. We drew arrows and wrote encouraging directional verbiage on the sidewalks leading to the pier. This is where the 2011 Earth Month Chalk Art Challenge was held. I didn’t create this one, but thought it was too cute to not share.
Just Keep Swimming

Anyone was welcome have some chalk and draw on one of over 100 cement squares, to be voted on later in the day.

Chalk art A clear frontrunner by mid-morning: Beautiful chalk art by Penny

I didn’t stay in that area long enough to find out the winner, but lots of fun was had by all who participated. View 5 more photos on my Flickr.

Here are some Earth Day deals from Yahoo! including free admission to any national park through Sunday and free coffee or tea at Starbucks when you bring in a reusable mug. I’ve already entered the Target Refresh Your Nest sweepstakes listed on that page. If you enter too, let me know if you win something cool.

2011 Webby Awards voting is now open. This is a great way to find out about some top sites and apps you may not have been aware existed. I’ll list my top picks next week when I’ve finished voting.

LA Local Goodies
Have you registered for BarCampLA 8 yet? Here’s the BCLA event page on Facebook. This is the first one in a couple years, so if you have never been now is the time to go. I can only attend for one of the days, but I am looking forward to seeing my fellow tech geeks. If you don’t know what a BarCamp is you should check out the BarCampLA blog.

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My first LA Marathon experience

All smiles at 16 miles!

VoluntEARS at the mile 16 water station

LA Marathon Group Shot. Photo taken March 20 by J. McKenzie

5 tips for volunteering at a marathon in the rain

1) Don’t wear jeans if you can help it. If you do, wear a waterproof poncho or otherwise cover yourself up with plastic. Clean garbage bags will work just fine. Derelicte chic is always in fashion whenever working outside in the rain.
2) Wear waterproof shoes or boots or bring a spare pair for afterward. I wore running shoes because I was helping at a marathon. Bad idea. Unlike the runners I didn’t have to run, but like all of the runners, my socks and shoes got soaked. All that fancy breathable shoe mesh technology is useless after stepping in a few puddles.
3) Plastic is your friend. If you must carry a cell phone keep it in a zip-top baggie until you need to use it. Or store it in another waterproof bag. If your purse/bag/backpack isn’t waterproof put that in some sort of plastic bag too. To keep my things dry I used a vinyl reusable swag bag that I got last summer at a triathlon expo. One caveat is to avoid storing your valuables in a garbage bag unless it’s very clear to others around that your garbage bag is not to be pawed through or thrown away. Finally, even if you are wearing a waterproof jacket with a hood, wear a poncho on top. A dry volunteer is a happy volunteer.
4) Expect to get wet or accept that it may happen at some point. I had a poncho and umbrella and still got rained on. Once I realized I was as dry as I was going to be, I accepted it and focused on hydrating the runners rather than trying to avoid the quickly forming rivers in the street gutters. With that simple change in focus, everyone won.
5) Avoid hypothermia. Take off as much wet clothing as reasonable as soon as you can. Though I’d layered three tops– long sleeve, short sleeve, and light jacket– plus my waterproof coat and then a poncho, I ended up wearing home just my short-sleeved layer because all of the other layers had gotten wet. After I wrung out my socks I drove home barefoot for the same reason.

Weather issues aside, the LA Marathon mile 16 water station was well organized and racers and volunteers were troopers the whole time. It took about an hour and 15 minutes from the start of the race until we saw the first racers. When they appeared in the distance everyone ran to a spot at the edge of the street and cheered them on. The first wave of racers were in modded wheelchairs. My photos came out blurry so I won’t bother posting, but I almost shed tears at the sight of the athletes zooming by, knowing that a lot of them had been lying face up in the rain moving those chairs for 16 miles at that point.

After a loud clap of thunder I saw the elite men, women, and then a little while later, a huge mass of runners. I held out water– holding the cup by the bottom, to make it easier to grab– and waited. And waited. It seemed like all of runners were stopping before or after me to get water from other people and I was so looking forward to giving water to someone! Oh, well.

We cheered people on and called out the names printed on their bibs if we could read them. Some looked up at the sound of their name and smiled at us or even ran a little faster, which made me feel happy. Then out of the corner of my eye I saw a gloved hand reaching for my water cup. Then it was gone. That was the best feeling. I quickly went to the table and came back with another cup and waited again. I imagine the thrill was similar to fishing (I’ve never been). I had so much fun doing that and cheering for people, I didn’t mind when the rain began stinging my numb outstretched hand holding the water cups. I saw a few friends who were heading toward mile 26 and was happy to see them in good spirits that far into the race. I searched for a few more I didn’t see and eventually picked up my stuff and walked a few blocks to my car feeling like quite the soggy sponge.

The whole experience was pretty amazing. If I had some sort of guarantee it wouldn’t rain… I could see myself running one. There, I said it. That’s all I’ll say on that for now.

Here’s a news roundup of LA Marathon coverage from the LA Times.


Perspective

Step back.
Imagine the possibilities.
Create the plan.
Enjoy the process.
Relish the outcome.

–From my desktop calendar (an actual paper calendar, and not my computer’s desktop)

Tomorrow is the LA Marathon. It’s supposed to rain at some point. A point at which the forecasters haven’t been able to reliably predict to save their lives. Oh well. I’m going to head to the Hills of Beverly to volunteer at a water station after a few hours of sleep first. It’ll be my first time attending a marathon. In the past I’ve intentionally stayed away from the general area and felt bad for the people not participating but who got caught in the resulting street closure traffic anyway.

Since I’ve been running, that disinterest has waned. Rather, the interest grew. I’m excited now to see what a race that long is like. I knew I wasn’t psychologically ready to sign up for this marathon a few months ago but a few good friends of mine were and did so. This is an amazing feat not to be entered into lightly and I was in full support of their decision to train and essentially drop out of my life for the most part, except for digital communication.

The best part about tomorrow is that I will be able to share in the joys of their goal accomplishment and live vicariously through them for an experience that there’s actually still time and other opportunities for me to do if I choose. The worst part is that I’m sure to lose my voice by 10am from all the yelling for the runners and maybe get rained on for hours. Last year I would not have entertained the thought of running in one. Me, run a marathon within the next couple of years? You = cray cray. But things happen, and people change. This year if asked if I’d run one, I may simply shrug and give a definite, “We’ll see.” I know that all it takes is for me to just start running. And coincidentally, I already do that now.

Yes, it’s hard and frustrating at the beginning but that’s what makes crossing the finish line of any ambitious goal so great. Eventually it gets easier to run further and at some point you will realize the finish line is attainable and within a reasonable time frame. I pulled off a 10k last month and am now signed up for a half-marathon (with plenty of time to train). There’s nowhere to go but up now.

My perspective next year might actually be from the point of view of a participant, where I’ll be up even later than I am now trying to force my brain to shut off and go to sleep long enough to get at least 4 solid hours. We’ll see.

Best efforts to anyone and everyone participating in tomorrow’s ~26.2 miler. You show me how it’s done and I’ll hand you some refreshment and a kind word to help you on your way.


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