Quick recap: I have a plan to raise $10,000 for some awesome organizations by Sept. 22, 2013 – the day I run in Ironman Lake Tahoe. Over two and a half months in and so far we are a bit ahead of schedule. Raised so far: $2,890!
Last Friday I introduced a new cause in our Tri-ing for a Challenge effort, St Jude Children’s Hospital, at the suggestion of Papa Jeff & Suzanne. So we did… and the contributions started flowing in. The ridiculously generous people at ORAMAC have once again amazed me by their giving spirit – this isn’t the type of thing they do only during the holidays. These folks are active in their community the entire year. And, trust me, next year there are some BIG things in store from some members of the ORAMAC gang. We’ll be talking a lot about this in 2013… it is going to be AWESOME! But for now, please consider making a donation to St Jude here. It will make Papa Jeff & Suzanne very happy… and we like it when they are happy.
There are many things I’ve been highlighting this year in this Tri-ing for a Challenge effort. It’s not all just about raising funds for great causes, or living an active lifestyle, or pushing yourself to take on new and exciting challenges. It is also about being aware of needs within your community and finding other ways to help out.
One way this is exemplified is in Lauren’s work with the HerShe Group. She volunteers a ton of time and energy as a mentor for this wonderful organization. The young lady she is mentoring is an incredibly special person; both she and Lauren have grown and found benefit in their relationship. It has been amazing to witness and has definitely been an inspiration to me!
It was through HerShe that we came to know about the Children’s Institute, Inc., and volunteered for their annual Holiday Festival this past weekend. We arrived at the CII’s Burton E. Green campus in Torrance bright and early on Sunday morning, not at all knowing what to expect. We started walking through the facility toward the volunteer registration booth and were amazed at what we saw: a bunch of police officers hanging around – not just to keep things in order, but to interact with the community and show off their cool new truck; firemen on hand to show off their firetruck; popcorn and food booths; a petting zoo; a giant slide; a DJ with a dance stage; face painting and arts & craft tables; a Santa photo booth; and, the big attraction, each child got to select a holiday toy. All to benefit children who have been witnesses to or victims of violence in their homes or community.
We hadn’t been assigned to a particular location, so we volunteered to work in the toy area. As volunteers we got red shirts – there were a ton of us dressed in red helping get things set up and ready to go for the kids. The CII and event staff were in green shirts, asking us to help in certain areas and guiding us on how we could be useful. Lauren and I reconstructed the balloon arch welcoming the guests at the event registration tables, helped set up the book selection area, and ultimately ended up in the “stocking stuffer room” that was filled, literally, floor to ceiling with Mattel toys. Barbies, Hot Wheels and Matchbox cars, stuffed animals and Disney characters of all sorts, DC Universe action figures, Toy Story play sets… the list goes on and on. Ridiculously impressive.
The main toy selection area was even more impressive. Toys donated from all over the place were separated into sections by the ages of children they were deemed most appropriate. The tables were filled with AWESOME toy options. Underneath the tables were filled. Back rooms in the facility were filled. But, we learned something VERY surprising about this… these organizations get tons of toys, literally, donated for young children. It is the older kids that don’t get many donations. This is something we will remember and work hard to remedy for next year…
Notice, we don’t have any pictures to post of the toys, and most certainly none of the children or families – in order to protect the privacy of the Children’s Institute and of the families we will not be posting any pictures of their facilities or of the children & families. As the Children’s Institute posts their own pics, however, you can be certain I will point y’all to them.
At 10:00am on the dot the families were registered, they received their coupons for the toy area and food booths, and at 10:01 the first little boy came sprinting straight to the toy area. In just a few minutes the queue to enter the toy area was full. The way the process worked: each child registered for the event was given a coupon to enter the toy area. Each child could select one book (there were thousands of great age-appropriate book choices), one main gift, and one stocking stuffer.
We worked the Stocking Stuffer Room, making sure things were kept tidy, that gifts were being restocked, helping kids select the stocking stuffer of their choice, and making sure that nobody was getting too greedy. Remember, only one stocking stuffer per child, please. Fortunately, we ran into VERY few instances where anybody needed to be reminded of this. Lauren settled in as the officially unofficial room greeter, and I ultimately ended up working as the intimidating guy standing at the room exit to make sure nobody tried to get away with anything untoward (strange, I know… but it turns out I pretty much towered over all the other volunteers and guests).
Throughout the morning, I was ridiculously impressed by how much joy I got to witness. The joy on the face of each child as she got to pick out a Barbie – these were very popular – and as he got to pick out a packet of Matchbox cars or his favorite Batman action figure. The joy on the face of the parents as they helped their kids choose the toys. The joy on the faces of the volunteers and staff. Heck, I didn’t even mind having to listen to ‘Gangnam Style’ blasting from the DJ stand at least 132 times.
After a few hours our replacement volunteers arrived, we handed off our responsibilities, and walked away with giant smiles on our faces. It was amazing to witness so much happiness. The volunteers all just seemed to self-organize and fall into place quickly. All the green shirts (CII staff) were so amazingly wonderful. This day was truly magical. And we will most certainly be back next year to volunteer.
And to do something about getting more gifts for the teenage kids.
It took only half a day for us to volunteer for this effort, and it made a real difference. Your time is a truly valuable resource that so many worthwhile organizations would be glad to use. Even if it is as simple as a blood donation to the Red Cross… or something as complicated as working as a mentor for an organization like HerShe. Every little bit helps. And it costs you nothing.
Alright, back to holding my feet to the fire. My recap of a week of marathon training that was in one part frustrating as I heal from that freak ankle injury, and one part encouraging as taking the time to heal may prove to have been a wise decision. My training plan and results from Dec. 3 to Dec. 9:
Monday: 3 mile recovery run
Done: 0.0 miles – ankle recovery day.
Tuesday: 5 x 800 intervals (run really fast for 1/2 mile. Jog 1/4 mile. Repeat until you are done, stopping only to puke or because you pass out)
Done: 3.0 miles @ 6:17/mile. First test run on the sore ankle. Bad idea to do intervals, so I just did a normal 3 mile out and back… and tried to keep it moderate… but it felt pretty good.
Wednesday: 3 mile run
Thursday: 35 minute tempo run
Even though the Tuesday test run felt great at the time, my ankle proved to be a little tender the next couple of days… more rest is in order.
Done: Yep, the rest trend continued. Ankle starting to feel solid again.
Saturday: 7 mile race pace run
Done: 9.3 miles @ 6:29/mile. The extra days of rest seemed to do the trick. Ankle felt solid, so it was time to test it out a bit… always ready to pull the plug if it felt quirky. It didn’t feel quirky. Really good run.
Sunday: 10 mile slow run
Done: 0.0 miles. One of the reasons for the slightly longer than planned run on Saturday was knowing that I wouldn’t run today due to volunteering at the Children’s Institute Holiday Festival.
Grand total: 12.3 miles out of a planned 31.5, at an average pace of 6:26/mile… 1,634 calories burned. Worked on quality as the body heals at the expense of quantity.
This week: a rampup week in the training cycle. 39 miles planned with some hill work capped off by a 16-mile Sunday run. I don’t think I’ll get in all 39, but I’ll try. The calf is better and the ankle is at about 80%, but neither is ready for high intensity workouts (like intervals – that might set me back if something is pushed too hard there).
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