I write another blog — Runner’s Notes — for the Erie Times-News/GoErie.com and I don’t often crossover, but I wrote a couple posts on R.N. lately that you might find interesting/funny/entertaining.
Unfortunately, there’s some sort of bug in their blogging platform that will not allow me to just link you, so…I’ve copy & pasted:
By heather.cass | September 30, 2015 9:12 am
One of my guilty pleasures is a subscription to Us Weekly (don’t judge me). I’m not sure why I like it because I don’t really like/care about wealthy/famous people and mostly I feel they should help others with all their obscene wealth and fame and I sort hate gossip, so it makes no sense, but….I like it. I’m chalking it up to easy reading and pretty pictures.
ANYWAY…perusing a recent issue I came across this and it make me LOL:
This is EXACTLY what my friends and I look like when we run….thigh gap, perfect hair, full makeup, jewelry.
Oy vey. They’re not even SWEATING.
About the only thing my running friends and I have in common with these running stars is that we, too, are laughing most of the time.
Here’s what running friends really look like:
By heather.cass | October 6, 2015 8:00 am
10 years of HT5K T’s
Let’s get into the waayyyy back machine and go back to the early 2000s, shall we?
In 2005, I was in my early 30s and I had a new boss, a new desk in a new department at the Erie Times-News, a pixie cut, and a fairly new baby (Lauren was 18 mos. old) and a toddler (Kelly was 3) at home.
In a brainstorming session with the new boss, Marnie Mead, we talked about reviving a woman’s special section I had tried before. We decided to go great guns and make it a glossy quarterly magazine (later it became a monthly). Dubbed Her Times, it was designed to be written by, for, and about local women. I hand-picked the freelancers I wanted to write for the magazine and carefully chose the content for each issue. I was adamant that it would contain useful, uplifting, and helpful information for women, not the trite stuff you find in national women’s magazines that fill their pages with articles to help you fix all your flaws. (Psssh…bite me, Cosmo). We covered fashion and makeup/hair because, as Marnie frequently had to remind me, there are lots of women who actually do care about these things. We balanced each other out that way and she was generally supportive of nearly anything I wanted to do.
Exhibit A: One morning I casually said: “You know what would be cool? We should do, like, a women’s race…a 5K maybe. They used to have one in Erie years ago & I loved it because, for once, the women got to be first. We could, like, print a training plan and encourage women to do it through Her Times magazine.”
I wanted women to find the power, strength, self-confidence, and the friends that I’d found when, a few years after college, I somehow got the courage/gumption to get off my size-20 butt and start walking, which progressed to running and a 60+ pound weight loss. Running had saved/changed my life and I wanted to give that to every other unhappy woman out there. I wanted to shout from the rooftops: OMG…girls! FOLLOW ME…I know how you can feel GREAT about yourself!
Anyway….when I said this to Marnie, I was just thinking out loud, but she mentioned it her boss who later said to me, “So, when the race?”
“Uh…well…I was just…you know…I don’t know, I was just thinking…,” I stammered.
“You should do it,” he said. “I really think you should.”
“Uh..OK, well, I’ll…ah….look into it,” I said.
I emailed a friend at the Erie Runners Club, inquired about potential dates and how to do this whole race-director thing anyway. I gathered advice, recruited friends to help, secured a spot as an official ERC race, and soon we had a date — October 7, 2006. Close to 300 women signed up for that inaugural race which was held at Beach No. 1 (you know….BEFORE the ERC shelter was built). It was a terrible day. Windy and raining. Then it began sleeting and then…hand to God…it started SNOWING. SNOWING on October 7th! I will admit to you that when I saw snowflakes, I lost it and I cried. And, I never cry.
This is me…after that very first 5K — note the SNOW on the ground!
Weather-wise, it was not a fine start to the Her Times 5K dynasty, but I did learn that Erie women are a tough, dedicated breed. All but 30 or so women who signed up for that race finished it. They weren’t going to let a little rain/sleet/snow stop them from reaching their goals.
After that, how could I quit on them? So, we did it again in 2007…and then again in 2008…and again..and again. And each year it got easier. And bigger. It snowballed (pun totally intended).
Today, I’ve got the whole process down to a science and, thanks to the help of a lot of friends/volunteers, it’s pretty easy to pull off.
Two of the guys who make the Her Times race possible. Timing guy, Jim Lang (beard) and Chuck Orton who does the course set up/tear down with my husband, Dan
Though, I still can’t control the damned weather, I can tell you that I don’t care anymore. Truth: I never even looked at the forecast this year until Friday. Why bother? What could I do about it? Why stress myself out, right?
This year — 2015 — we celebrated our 10th year of building stronger women.
Though I quit working at the newspaper several years ago, we still work together on the Her Times 5K. Marnie secured a sponsor this year — Saint Vincent Hospital — who made it possible for us to celebrate in style with swanky bags that fold unto themselves into a cute little heart, custom HT5K finisher’s pins from Breakiron Jewelers, a photo booth, and 1,000 sugar cookies from Ye Ole Sweet Shoppe, Erie’s premier (woman-owned!) bakery!
The weather was less than ideal this year. Again, it was cold and windy. But, the rain held off until after 9:30, giving us time to get the 5K and kids races off, so I can’t complain too much. I wasn’t driven to tears. (Wasn’t my first rainy rodeo).
We had lower attendance than we have in the past few years. I’m not sure why, but if I had to guess, I’d say it had to do with both the weather and competition from other events (be that other runs or just mom stuff…like cross country season, football season, etc.). But, I’m not discouraged because every year I meet a few more women who are doing their very first 5K. They usually come back the very next year with friends/family.
Because the thing about getting a woman to run is that it has a ripple effect that really can’t be measured. She ends up — deliberately or not — influencing the people around her. Before you know it, her kids are joining her on her runs, coworkers start thinking “well, if she can do it…then maybe I can,” her friends start attending races with her (maybe walking first), and she has changed 100 lives simply by living hers.
Sometimes I wonder how many women we’ve started down this path. How many women have changed their lives because of that random “hey…you know what we should do” morning conversation 10+ years ago? We’ll never know.
The newbies inspire me every year. I cheer the hardest for them — the women at the end. The women for whom 3.1 miles is a huge accomplishment. I can always pick them out. While I’m in awe (always) of my fast friends at the front of the pack, I admire the slower ones just as much.
When we started this race in 2005, I always had to arrange care for my daughters. Often, my mother would take them overnight, so Dan and I could get up at 5 a.m. to get down to the park and get set up. When they got a little older, she started bringing them down so they could do the kids races.
This year, at 12 and 14, they were old enough to get up at 5 a.m. to go with us and help us set up. They both did the race, too. Kelly — who doesn’t run regularly — ran it in 34 minutes. Lauren walked with my mother.
My sister, niece, and two sister-in-laws also participated. Two of my brothers, my nephews, and my dad were there to help out. It’s a family affair these days.
My extended “family” includes the dozens of running friends who are there for me each year — helping set up and road marshal and work the finish line and the registration table. I’m blessed beyond measure and honored each year to share some of my good fortune with the hundreds of women who show up to challenge themselves.
This is me Saturday afternoon after the 10th annual HT5K – from champagne in 2005 to cake in 2015!
Thank you to all of you who have helped, participated, or just offered a few words of support. Race directing can be a thankless job (talk to any marathon director and they’ll confirm that), but I’m happy to say that I’ve had the opposite experience with the HT5K. Every year, I receive kind words from the participants — kudos, thanks, offers to help the next year, etc.
I feel the love, ladies.
And that’s what this is really all about. We can be competitive and compassionate. We can challenge each other without tearing each other down. We’re stronger when we support each other.