Archive of ‘NYC Marathon’ category

10 Bullet Points, 5 Updates, 2 Marathons

1. I already wrote most of my very first Bellingham Bay Marathon Training: Week 1 post! Since I’m still in the middle of week 1, I have a few more workouts to do, but I’m so excited that I actually couldn’t wait to blog about it. This has never once happened in the history of this blog. I’m in full-on can’t stop staring at my training plan mode, and I have to say – it’s nice to be back.

2. On Monday I went to my first Refine class since February. This is because of my asshole neck injury. I’m finally doing better and I can take Refine as long as Brynn (the founder) is right there making sure I’m not doing anything that seems dumb. I know some things not to do – anything overhead, pick up a kettlebell – but she can spot the others. She stopped me from climbing planks (which I was about to stop on my own, I think. It didn’t feel right) and sprinting in place, because my neck was like ‘HA bitch!’

3. The thing about not going to Refine for 3+ months after going consistently for 3+ years is this: I lost all my thigh muscles so at first my clothes fit better and I was all “YEAH I’M HOT I DON’T NEED TO WORK OUT” but then a month later my middle area got soft and all spread out and not only did I not like the way I looked, but my clothes started getting tight again. Just in a new way. A worse way. Also, I probably should have been wearing a full size bigger in the first place considering how much better the jeans felt when I lost the muscles. TL;DR: I’m out of shape and now that I am not so injured, I will get back into shape.

4. I’m trying to figure out what I want to be when I grow up.  I was on an awesome track and after two companies in a row got bought out by other companies, I found myself on a broken track. And that was four years ago. It’s time to get back on the awesome track once again, if only I can figure out what exactly that is. On that note, how the hell has it been 10 YEARS since I graduated college?! I still feel like I am in high school.


In memory of my Aunt Dale (far right)

5. One month after my goal marathon, I am running the NYC Marathon with Team AOL to raise money for the American Cancer Society DetermiNation. This is my fundraising page – know everyone asks for money, but I really appreciate ANY donation at any amount. Deciding to do this was tough – I agonized for weeks. In the end, I decided to sign up for the $3,400 fundraising commitment for the following reasons:

  • I am running in memory of my Aunt Dale. My aunt died in August 2012 after a long battle with kidney cancer. My grandma and cousin also had kidney cancer, by the way, so this really hits close to home. My Aunt Dale fought so hard and remained positive the entire time. Her positivity during her ordeal is inspires me and motivates me to raise money for ACS, and I will be proud to wear her name on my shirt on race day.
  • I have some unfinished business with NYCM! I didn’t realize how much I wanted to not only finish what I started in 2011, but actually experience the miles I was too sick to remember at the time. I’d like to get the real NYCM experience. I’m not running with any goal time – this is purely to enjoy the experience and have fun while keeping it meaningful and close to my heart.
  • The main reason I didn’t want to do NYCM again – waiting in the cold for hours before the start – is not an issue when you raise money for charity because you get to hang out in the heated VIP tent.
  • Networking/making friends – Not only do I want to meet more people at AOL to network with and become friendly with, but I’ll be meeting a lot more people who are also on the ACS DetermiNation team at team runs and events.
  • Team support – There are group runs twice a week, and additional events. While I likely won’t make it to most of the Tuesday night runs because my weekday runs are generally interval-focused, I will go to the weekend long runs. I like the idea of a built-in network of people to run with, including a coach, and getting to know people as the miles fly by.

I’m working on some fundraising ideas both on and off the blog. If anyone works at/has connections to brands that would be willing to help by donating an item for an auction or raffle, please let me know! I’m excited to get started – I welcome your advice on fundraising ideas and of course any donations.


Should NYRR CEO Mary Wittenberg Be Fired?

My friend Kai wrote a fantastic post called Lay Off Mary Wittenberg. He wonders why Mary Wittenberg, CEO of New York Road Runners (NYRR), is taking most of the fall for the terrible decisions to not cancel the NYC Marathon after Hurricane Sandy and to then cancel the race at the last minute.

Kai argues that the blame belongs to more than just one person, and Mary is a person who’s done some incredible things for the NYRR organization so people should not be so quick to call for her firing.

At first I agreed.

When I read that people were demanding she be fired, I thought “Of course she should not be fired!” The real fuck up was Mayor Bloomberg’s. It was his decision not to cancel the race, his decision to let 47,000 runners hang out on Staten Island with their free coffee and bagels while parts of that same island were destroyed, people lost everything and bodies were still being discovered.

Whether or not Mary had any power to persuade him otherwise, I don’t know. But regardless, I don’t think she should be fired for the decision not to cancel the race.

That being said, I do think Mary Wittenberg should be fired.

NYRR puts on phenomenally well-organized races, yes, but there is a lot more to running a company — one members pay money to belong to — than just being good at one specific thing.

I’ve always been astounded by NYRR’s lack of communication and inability to learn from every single shit show that hits their social pages – and there have been many. There was controversy over the NYC Half Marathon lottery after NYRR changed how it works but didn’t communicate this to people paying to enter the lottery. There was controversy after NYRR decided to remove marathon baggage check but didn’t communicate this until well after the race entry fees were paid. There is always a lot of noise on their Facebook page from members wanting simply to understand, to be communicated with, to be looped in, to not be left in the dark about events they are paying for.

And each time, NYRR continues to fail to communicate and they continue to fail to respond to the criticism or moderate comments.

The issue culminated this past week, with heated Facebook wall posts ranging from people demanding the marathon be cancelled to sharing petitions to have it canceled to threatening attacks on runners who choose to participate in the race.

There were thousands upon thousands of comments on the NYRR and ING New York City Marathon Facebook pages, almost all scathingly negative. These comments were not moderated in any way; in fact, there were barely any official postings from NYRR at all. When they did post an update, it was well after the news already revealed the information. But those posts were few and far between.

NYRR had ample time over the last two years to develop a communication plan, establish a social media policy, hire a social media or community manager. Someone from the organization should be on those Facebook pages. Someone from the organization should be offering the updates to the very members and marathon participants who paid money for this race and have a right to know what is going on.

Why did marathon runners find out the marathon was finally canceled on the news, with no word at all from NYRR until the following DAY?

And now, after they already handled the entire debacle as poorly as possible, they STILL aren’t offering any information. Their last official Facebook update was November 2. Today is November 7. Thousands of runners are still waiting to hear what will happen to their race fees? Will they be donated? Will they go towards their entry fees for next year’s race? Will they go into NYRR’s pockets? And they want to know what, exactly, is the policy for next year’s race? Are they expected to pay again? While this Runner’s World article provides some much-needed information, there are still many more questions from people who have a right to know. [Update: A few hours after this was posted, NYRR shared a short update on their wall & via email]

And why are registrants learning official NYRR information from Runner’s World in the first place? Why are they learning it from the news?

Why won’t NYRR communicate with their members? Do they not see that would be a simple way to appease many of the frustrated, angry people leaving negative messages about them on their own Facebook page?

If NYRR is still working on the details and doesn’t know the answers yet themselves, an update saying that much would quiet a lot of the noise. People — customers — just want to know their concerns are heard, their interests are in play.

What it comes down to is that Mary Wittenberg is not just the CEO of the marathon and she is not not just the CEO of the races. She is the CEO of the entire NYRR organization. As such, it is her responsibility to ensure the organization runs professionally. It is her responsibility to listen to her paying members and customers, and take their interests into consideration. It is her responsibility to take the mistakes she made and learn from those mistakes so they don’t happen again

Mary Wittenberg excels at certain parts of her job. She is great at bringing elite and international runners to NYC. She is great at taking primarily NYC races and turning them into world-class events. She is great at inspiring people to run who might never have before. She is great at generating excitement about the NYC Marathon. In fact, I admired her for a long time. But she is not great at being a CEO.

I don’t enjoy every aspect of my job, but it’s a JOB. I can’t pick and choose what I feel like doing and ignore the rest. If I did that, I would be fired.

While the circumstances surrounding the marathon cancellation were not necessarily Mary Wittenberg’s fault, that situation brought to light the serious problem with the way she leads her company. What was once a source of frustration among NYRR members and runners is now a source of frustration to a far greater amount of people. She had plenty of time to identify the communication and customer service issues and fix them. Instead, she let it go — continuing to ignore the very member base that allows her to have an organization to even run — until the ultimate customer service issue happened last week regarding the 2012 NYC Marathon. This backlash — which continues on their pages today — could have easily been greatly reduced.

So yes, I think Mary should be fired.

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