59th Annual RRCA National Convention

Wow, what a whirlwind of a week! I’m still trying to catch up from being gone this past weekend, but it’s completely worth it for the time I got to spend at the Annual RRCA Convention this past weekend. I am so thankful to the Lynchburg Road Runners Club for letting the Marketing Committee go. We had a blast and learned a ton! Here’s a little recap of our weekend in “the Big D”.

Thursday

We made excellent time getting there, only 9 hours and 45 minutes in the car! We rolled in to the hotel around 4, and quickly got ready in time to attend our regional meeting. In that meeting, we got a taste of what was to come and met other passionate runners from the Eastern region.

The regional meetings were followed by a short meet and greet reception to kick off the event, but the real work started Friday. We were then dismissed to go find dinner. We went to the only logical place: Canada!

The border crossing was only a 5 minute drive from our hotel, so with passports ready we made our way to Windsor, Ontario. After a short encounter with a grumpy border guard, and a quick stop at Starbucks to purchase a “You Are Here” mug we wound up at Loose Goose Resto Pub and Lounge.

When in Canada, buy the mug. 🇨🇦 #youarehere #starbucks #canada

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I finally got to try a bucket list food- poutine! I now understand why everyone goes nuts over it, it was delicious.

Friday

After a short night’s sleep, we all got up to take part in the morning’s fun run. After all, what’s a running convention without some running? The route took us on a bike path, and we got to see all kinds of cool graffiti street art.

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As an added bonus, Ashworth Awards and Leslie Jordan (both RRCA sponsors) had some swag for us when we finished.

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After a quick shower it was time to start learning for the day! Here are all the sessions I sat in, both before and after lunch:

  • Insurance FAQ- Everyone sat in on this one, as it happened during breakfast. I learned so much about race insurance, including things I would have never even thought to ask. Fun fact: the most claimed injuries at a race last year were dental injuries.
  • Managing the Complexities of the Detroit Free Press Marathon- I thought this was going to be a crash course in race directing (which is something I have an interest in), but it wound up coming across as a sales pitch to come run Free Press in November. I guess I did learn a lot about the qualifications to run the race…
  • Developing Training Programs Using the Hanson’s Method- I’ll be honest, I only went to this one because the other one was on project management and that’s my day job so I feel like I have that down. I had never heard of the Hanson Brothers before, but quickly learned that they are the ones training Desiree Linden (more on her later) to her hopeful Boston win next month. While their training plan was fascinating, it definitely wasn’t for me.

17200920_1454755987876512_8054767310349574782_nLunch had special guest speaker Doug Kurtis, who is not only a phenomenal runner, but a great storyteller. He also happened to be the race director of the 5K most people in attendance would be running on Sunday. Can you guess the theme from his suit?

After the afternoon sessions wrapped up, we found ourselves with a few hours to kill before dinner. So we hopped on the PeopleMover and set out to explore. After a quick appetizer, we made our way to dinner at the Detroit Historical Museum. There, we mingled with all the other conference attendees and tried food from all over the world. One of my favorite things I sampled is a local favorite: Faygo Redpop!

I've seen @carleemcdot post about it, so I had to try it! #faygo #redpop #detroit #rrcaconvention

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Saturday

Another early wake up was necessary, due to another fun run! This one was awesome- we ran past the Fox Theatre, Ford Field, Comerica Park, and a few other landmarks that scream Detroit. I have to say, running will always be my favorite way to tour a new city. This excitement was only a small taste of what they day had coming for us, though.

After a quick breakfast and shower, we set out for an action packed day of seminars. Here’s what I attended:

  • Executing a Social Media Strategy- For most of the class, the guy talked about email marketing, which as a marketing professional bothered me. The two are not the same, they’re apples and oranges. Once he got off that topic all anyone wanted to talk about was Strava. Which is a little closer. But, this one felt like a waste of my time.
  • Engaging All Members of Your Club- This class was the one that made the entire convention worth it to me. I left the lecture feeling energized about the future of the LRRC, and with a million and one ideas on how to help us be successful. Shout out to Bonnie Sexton of  Kalamazoo for providing such an enlightening session.
  • Developing a Network of Sponsors- This was probably the runner up for what made it worth it to me. Never before had it occurred to us to have sponsorship as a source of revenue. We also left this one with a million ideas on how to improve the club.

Our lunch speaker was Craig Virgin, the first and last American male to win the IAAF World Cross Country Championships. I have never run Cross Country, so his story didn’t resonate with me as much as it did others, but I still found his success fascinating.

After the final sessions of the day we changed out of our running clothes (got to love being at a running convention) and into our “fancy” clothes for the final reception. Before, there were both a silent and live auction to raise money for the RRCA. All of our club members had their eye on something, and I think we all left with an item or two. Personally, I’ll be running the NCRC Classic Half Marathon in May thanks to my winning.

17264202_10103253219823748_4700554996165889608_nBy far the coolest thing that happened was meeting Desiree Linden, who was being inducted into the RRCA Hall of Fame that night. It’s not often I meet a person who is shorter than me, and to think she is one of the best marathoners of our time is mind blowing. Here’s to her winning Boston next month! Of course, we got her autograph and a picture.

After the awards ceremony was over, we also got to meet the Race Director of The Boston Marathon, Dave McGillivray, which may be as close as I ever get to that race.

Sunday

Before heading home, we had to do just one thing: run some more! The featured race for the weekend was the Corktown Race, a St. Patrick’s Day themed 1 Mile and 5K race. Naturally, we had to go for the “challenge” of running both races to get the extra bling!

17202755_1456433324375445_2114586051155574673_nNever in my life have I had such a blast at a 5K. I don’t know if we were delirious from lack of sleep over the weekend, or on a runners high, but we cracked jokes the whole way and I wound up laughing so hard I was crying at one point.

The only disappointing part of the race was the lack of crowd support- how does a crowd just stand there and not cheer? We made up for it though- yelling and cheering on other runners who looked to be struggling. You never know, that might have been someone’s first race, and I hope they felt encouraged enough to do another one.

Overall, this weekend was so much more than running. I got closer to my fellow committee members, and we created a plan to rejuvenate our club. We got to spend time with and learn from other who share our passion, which was reassuring to know we aren’t the only crazy people out there.

I’m so thankful I got this experience, and I hope to be able to come back for the 2018 convention in our backyard- Washington D.C.

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