Friday, March 18, 2011

I am the cruise director.

I am the ultimate planner. At the beginning of the year, all vacation time is allocated down to the hour on where I'm going to go for the year. I plan down to the level of what campground we are going to stay at for which nights. Often this works well because I discover things like the campgrounds for California go on sale in January, and you have to be online in order to get a high-demand spot, such as a waterfront campground at Lake Tahoe in July. Some of my friends have discovered how I plan everything, and follow along, which is how I've become the cruise director of vacations involving races and events.

As part of corporate training, we are given the True Colors assessment. Four colors represent personality styles. They are pretty detailed, but I'll provide my summary: orange = adventurous, spur-of-the-moment funseekers; yellow = organized planners; green = thoughtful & scientific; blue = touchy feely emotional people. I remember taking this test back in middle school. Back then I was mostly green, because I loved my science classes, which is how I eventually became an engineer. I recently took the test again, and my colors had changed. Can you guess what the primary color was? Yellow? Ha! Wrong! My dominant color is orange, followed closely by yellow, then green, and my lowest score was blue (really, really low on blue). It fits pretty well because I'm the spontaneous type that thinks of crazy adventures on the spur of the moment, but then I go into the crazy planning mode to figure out how to make it work and become reality. Green would be my engineering side, and the lowest score of blue means I don't give a damn how anyone feels. Please don't cry in front of's really, really awkward. ;)

Recently my cruise director skills were put to the test. When I go on travel for work to someplace interesting, I often try to find a race or event in the area to do on the weekend before or after the week of work. This is how I ended up doing the King of the Hill XTERRA in NJ last year. I was in Boston for work the week before, then drove down to NJ with my bike to do the XTERRA that just happened to be the weekend after. In the first week of April, I'll be going to Washington DC for a final training session for work and graduation from the class. There is always a ton of stuff to do in DC, so museums were obviously on my list. But then I started Googling. It turns out the first week of April is right when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, and seeing the cherry blossom festival is something I would love to do. As I read about the festival, I found out that it is really popular, and hundreds of thousands of tourists flock to the area to see the flowers on the trees. This is a bit of a bummer because I don't do crowds. Crowds are full of idiot people that frustrate me with their stupid actions, so I avoid them.

But wait! There was a glimmer of hope. I started looking at sites like, and there is a Cherry Blossom 10 mile run the first weekend of April in DC. They shut down the streets for the race, and the course follows the cherry blossom trees. I could do the race, and only have to deal with a couple thousand runners instead of hundreds of thousands of idiot tourists! Now, I'm not one to really follow running races. I know the Boston Marathon is a big deal, and Badwater is a stupid hard event, but that's about it. Well, I guess this race is very popular because as soon as I checked out the race site, it said the race had sold out AFTER people were given lottery slots. Great. Lottery means crazy hard race to get into. But I kept researching, and it just so happends that for the month of February only, the race allows for bib numbers to be transferred. You have to find a racer that doesn't want their bib, send them money to reimburse them for the entry fee, they release their bib to you online, and you go in and pay a $12.50 transfer fee. So how do you find the racers with the bibs up for sale? Well, the race site has a message board with people pleading to take numbers off other racer's hands. The message board was quite the scene with people offering up chocolate chip cookies, sob stories of death and disease, or people wanting to run the race to propose to someone at the finish line. Crap. I was just looking for a fun race to do in the local area before I had to head to a week of corporate training. How was I supposed to compete with the tug-at-the-heart stories?

It was a gamble, but I kept an eye on the message board. Suddenly there was a post by a gal named Sarah, and I decided to pull the trigger and email her for her bib that she was offering for sale. As soon as I emailed her, I saw the sharks had smelled the blood in the water and there were 3 or 4 posts asking for the bib. I waited for a reply. Nothing by the end of the evening before I went to bed. I figured I was out and one of the sharks got it. But the next morning I had an email from Sarah. I had been the first to respond so the bib was mine if I wanted it. Happy happy orange! Time for yellow! I hit the credit union an hour later and had the check in the mail to her that afternoon.

The check arrived to Sarah at the end of the week, and on a Friday she released her number. The race sent me an email that said I had 72 hours to claim the bib. This is where owning a Droid makes it all worth it, because at that point in time I was in the middle of the desert at the 24 Hours of the Old Pueblo mountain bike race. I caught the email in time and filled out the entire race transfer form on my phone and successfully got in the race! Had I waited until after the race on Monday when I was sitting in front of my computer, I would have missed the window. Thank you Droid!

I'm now entered into the Cherry Blossom 10 Mile run. The next steps involved setting up all flights, transportation, and hotels for the 2 weeks of travel. I have the entire itinerary in a Word document down to the metro stops that I need to take to get around. I'm not going to share that on the blog because it would reveal how truly crazy I am about the planning, and I don't think we know each other well enough for that. ;) And of course I still have all the museums planned that I want to see. For the race I have no set time goal for the run. Rather, I'm just there to do a really fun event and see the cherry trees. I'm planning on taking my camera to take pics while in the race. I have to maintain at least a 14 minute mile to reach the time cutoff, and I think I can handle that no problem even with carrying my small camera and taking pics. :) So stay tuned for the race report and cherry tree pics. The race is April 3rd!