Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Many Hats

Every year around this same time, instead of thoroughly enjoying the gifts of summer, the laze, the relaxation, the slower pace of life, I feel driven to frustration and stress over my overly-packed schedule. Inevitably I feel like I am falling short everywhere, seemingly not being appreciated. Does anyone know how hard I work? Does anyone have any idea the responsibilities I carry?

I shake my head at the vision in the mirror.

The weather-worn Suzanne reflecting back at me is wearing (or rather, juggling) ten hats, all at the same time:

1. "Single Mom"
2. "Full Time CSU Employee"
3. "Girlfriend"
4. "Daughter"
5. "BR100 Volunteer Coordinator"
6. "Friend"
7. "Ultrarunner"
8. "Housekeeper"
9. "Gardener"
10. "Person who almost always says Yes to More."

It is a contrary vision, myself in that mirror. There is fatigue, but there is strength. There is insecurity but there is confidence. There is floundering, but there is direction. Most of all, there is yearning for understanding, but there is self assurance of knowing myself.

I am the first to admit, this dichotomous challenge is my own payment for taking on so much responsibility. I am a do-er, a helper, with a high work ethic, gaining energy from the enthusiasm and camaraderie of good people who give of themselves to make an event work.

I would not wear these hats if I did not love the folks for whom I wear them.

But I am not unusual or outstanding. I dare say that most of my friends, most of the folks around me, see the same reflection of hats piled upon hats, weighty responsibilities they shoulder every day.

Today's post does not serve as a complaint, but rather as a point that we all need to stop and look around at all the extraordinary people, wearing many hats, who go above and beyond for each of us every day. There are some amazing people around you -- do you see them? Do you acknowledge them?

This weekend, July 28th and 29th, is the Burning River 100 Endurance Race -- a point-to-point 100-mile race which begins in Willoughby Hills, Ohio and ends in downtown Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio. I am proud to say this is my fifth year serving as Volunteer Coordinator. Between race directing, volunteer coordinating, course planning, marking, supply organization, delivery, registration, manning 18 aid stations, and clean up, our volunteer total nears 350 to 400 folks.

Heading up that group of volunteers are directors -- for the volunteers, the race, the course marking, the supplies, the timing of runners -- as well as aid station captains. None of these positions is a paid position, even though the hours we log are way overtime.

Let me assure you, though, that each director acts as if he is paid a high salary. The amount of behind-the-scenes communication, preparation, planning, real WORK that goes on for this race in particular amazes me.

For example, were you aware that our race director Joe Jurczyk personally responds to every email he gets, even the "general information" online response forms? Yep. And did you know that Mark Shelton, our supply director, will reformat an entire food plan to include watermelon if a captain wants it? And Paul Romanic, our course marking king, sends out detailed emails and directions to the planning committee and his helpers -- even with pictures of what the course marking flags will look like! Yep.

And, did you know that most all of my aid station captains have an event page created on Facebook where they recruit between 10 and 40 (no kidding) volunteers each -- and then follow up with definitions and assignments of each job that needs to be performed on race day. Elizabeth Hiser does that. And they have themes, with props! Michelle Bichsel has made smiley face signs galore for Happy Days. Yep.

And then there are folks like Dan Horvath -- already race directors for other races -- who step up to take on a major (pain-in-the-butt) role like generator pickup and delivery. Or Lloyd Thomas who has assumed duties like assistant to the race director on race day.

And they do it for no money. They do it out of love... and out of dedication to the group that is joining an effort. For the runners, for the sport. Because they love the people for whom they wear the hats. What an outstanding team we have for BR100.

Yesterday I admittedly felt overwhelmed, beaten up, and unappreciated, bemoaning my willingness to readily serve.

Today I see the opportunity to appreciate the effort others are making, too, and to point out the extraordinary people I am fortunate enough to have beside me, not hasting at the mirror, but busily creating windows or doors with me.

I thank you.

"Volunteers are love in motion." ~ unknown

1 comment:

  1. Girl, I cannot fathom being the volunteer coordinator, and I too feel for your overwhelmed hat wearer self. That's what makes us awesome ladies ;) Looking forward to helping out Saturday and grateful you have made being a captain each year a relatively painless volunteer job to do!