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How a company performs.

How a company performs is directly dependent on its employees. No matter how good a product, how strong a market, or how great the economy, poor performance by the people that do the work will bring the company down.

On the other hand, a group of happy, productive employees can help a company weather the worst of storms provided it is possible to survive until things improve.

Ownership can have an impact.  A public corporation has stockholders, a board of directors, and management.  Because they are separate, there is a disconnect that can hamper response to adversity.  The owners do not know and work with the employees.  I do not claim that this is either good or bad.  It is merely observed.

Private companies, on the other hand, tend to have a smaller group of owners (or a single owner) who is more likely to be involved in the daily operation of the company.  There is a good possibility that the owners talk to and work with the employees on a regular basis.

Which is better?  It’s hard to say.  The stock market comprises thousands of publicly traded companies, and we use the market to evaluate the economy.  Private companies are not represented there.

A good representation of the economy is GDP, but we don’t talk about it as much.  We just get quarterly reports on GDP growth.

Boy, this sure wandered off track.

I won’t worry about the economy based on the stock market.  It’s not a good indicator.  I want to know about GDP.  Is it going up or down?  My guess is a rise.  It should continue to rise as long as companies (and employees) meet or exceed expectations.

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Getting things done.

When I have a lot of things to do (but not a lot of pressure), I tend to wander around. This happens most when there are a lot of distractions and noise.  If it’s quiet, I can usually focus on one thing & get it done.  But Squirrel!  I have two dozen projects in progress. They’ll get done. Eventually. This make Jen nuts, and I’m sorry about that. I’m working on it.

When there is a deadline and I have one or two things to get done, I can focus and get the things done, on time & under budget. It’s a pain in the butt, and makes me short-tempered, but it gets done.

My real problem comes when there are many high-priority tasks that all have to be done right now.  In situations like that, I benefit from somebody telling me “this is first”. That’s the kind of situation you don’t want to see.  I’m short-tempered, distractable, and worried.  I’m not a type-a.

I’m really good at doing the things I do.  I’m not good at making it look pretty.

Skiing with the Kinder

Saturday afternoon I took the kinder over to Harborcreek Community Park for some wildcat-type skiing.  Really, it was just regular skiing, as I’m not coach, and there was not a gaggle of younglings on skis having a blast.  But it was good all the same.  As soon as we got there, Emma’s foot hurt, Grace’s thumb was numb, and Joe was ready & raring to go.  (!!!).  It was probably the fact that Dad was doing it and not the coaches.

Given that it was the community park and not a regular CC ski area, we had to blaze our own trail, which Emma took to right away.  Her siblings alternated between following her (easier) and doing their own trails (more independent).  I brought up the rear so I could yell at them to get up (you know how to get up!).

Grace spent some time complaining about her skis going under the snow while the rest of us seemed to be going on top.  I observed that she was picking up her foot (like walking) instead of just gliding it forward (like CC skiing).  I demonstrated & she imitated and she noticed an immediate improvement.  Coaching.

Joe and I found a nice little hill to go down.  Neither of us are terribly good on skis, so it was a thrill to go down and not fall.  Good things.

Emma stayed a good ways ahead of us, so no story on her.  Well, except that she stayed ahead.

We got 0.51 miles in before they took the skis off & came home.

Sunday, after the race, I had planned to go out again with anyone that wanted to get a couple of miles in.  I stopped at work to take care of a problem for 30 minutes.  When I came out it was pouring rain.  Darn it.

There will be more opportunities.

About blogging

Several years ago I decided I wanted to be a blogger.  Like many things I take up, I got bored with it quickly and simply stopped doing it.  I won’t apologize for that – my personality and tendencies are what define me.

Lately I’ve been posting longer items on Facebook – the kind of thing that you have to click on to read the rest of.  I don’t know that it will be a long-term thing, but it does help me think things through and get in a good mindset for the day.  So I’ll continue.

This will be a little more work – I’ll wind up posting links to the posts on FB & Twitter, which means going through Social Pilot.  I can live with that.  I use SP for the timing and club work in any event.

2016 ERC Turkey Trot Final Info

 

Start Times:

7:30 am for 10k, 9:00 am for 5k events

Chip pickup on race morning:  6:30 am.  Get there early if you plan to park at Beach 1.

Parking:

  • Beach 1 – if you don’t get there by 7:00, you should PROBABLY park at the top of the hill (Waldameer)
  • Waldameer, Ridge Center, Rainbow Gardens  – there will be a shuttle to take you to Sara’s, and you will walk over to Beach 1.
  • THERE IS NO PROVISION FOR BEACH 6 PARKING.  If you park there, you’ll have to walk to beach 1, and you’ll have a hard time getting out.
  • If you park on the side of the road, you will be ticketed.  You may even be towed.  In short, DON’T PARK ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD.
  • If you are doing the 5k, your best bet will be to park at Waldameer or the Ridge center & take the shuttle.  The Beach 1 lot will PROBABLY be full by the time you get there.  You should get there by 8:00.

If you have not picked up your chip yet, you will pick it up at the ERC Beach 1 Pavilion.  PLEASE bring the email sent this morning to speed processing.  If you didn’t get the email, PLEASE consider registering online next year.  While they CAN look you up by name, it is noticably slower.  Bringing it on your phone is sufficient, though a printout might be easier (you can throw it away when you’re done.)

If you have picked up your chip, your chip number can be checked here.   If it doesn’t match the chip you have (and ONLY if it doesn’t), please send an email to jimlang@bigwhitetrailer.com so I can fix it. (Don’t send anything else, please.  I’ll correct bib numbers, but I have ‘way too much going on.  Tell me the chip number you actually have.

I REALLY want to get results right on Thursday, and you verifying your chip will help immensely.

RACE START:

The start for both races will be on the MAIN ROAD – Outbound lane just north of the last Beach 1 entrance.  This is the same spot the 5k started last year.  We’re moving the 10k there as well. There will be no chance of hearing announcements, so be ready.  The 10k will start promptly at 7:30 with the sound of an air horn.  The 5k will start promptly at 9:00 with a long blast of an air horn.  You have until 9:10 to start the 5k.  At 9:10 the start will be narrowed to 4 meters, and at 9:20 the start line will be closed. For both races, you will proceed NORTH over the start mats to your turnaround point (there will be a marshal at the turn for each race), and finish on the old Lake Road (same finish as last year).

See you on Thursday.

Thanks
Jim Lang
the Big White Trailer.

Thoughts on Races (and pricing)

As I am involved in more than a few local races (and some not-so-local), I’d like to share thoughts on some types of races and their effect on the local running community.

As I see it, there are 3 types of races (in general)

  1. Local race, regional draw.
  2. Local race, national draw.
  3. National race, national draw.

The first is what most runners encounter on a regular basis.  The epitome of this race is represented by the PR run, held Saturday, June 11, 2016.  There’s a new RD this year, and they worked hard to live up to the standards of the previous team.  It’s a race that will be around for as long as people are interested in running it.

Another example of such a local race is the ERC Father’s Day race.  It’s a local club drawing local people to a familiar course.

The second type of race is well represented by a couple of ERC races as well.  The Erie Marathon has become a destination event, drawing participants from California, Texas, Montana, and many other states. There’s still a regional draw, but there’s national attention as well.  That it’s done on a regional budget is remarkable.

Another example would be the ERC Turkey Trot.  4000+ runners coming from across the country.  Admittedly, it’s mostly family visiting family that drives this, but it’s still a lot of traffic.

The final kind is epitomized by races like the Biggest Loser and the Color Run.  I know some local runners that don’t care for these events.  They’re put on by out-of-town organizers, charging more than local races, and they’re taking the money out of town.  That’s the perception, at least.

It’s that last kind I’d like to focus on for a moment or two.  The prices seem high for our region, and they are.  But there are a couple of reasons for that.  Erie has a notably lower cost-of-living than other areas, and we’re used to $15-$20 for a little 5k.  Local races in other regions regularly charge $25 or $30, with prices that go up.  There is also a difference in expense.  These races spend a good bit of money on advertising (to get the national runner), equipment (stages, entertainment, scaffolds), and other fees (permits, venues, etc.) local races simply don’t pay contribute to the cost as well.  Packet pickup at the Convention Center?  Very nice, and it contributes to the viability of the Convention Center as an attraction.

But the real effect of out-of-town organizers with national draw is more subtle and more profound.  Of the 350+ participants, 150+ were from outside our region.  These folks came to town and either spent a night in a hotel or visited with family.  They also bought at least 1 meal here, perhaps 2 or 3.  A large number of these folks where here for the event, not for the race.  It’s a mindset that shows when you watch for it.

Most local runners who have been at it for a while have done something like this.  It’s usually a half or a full marathon, but you’ll go out of town and make it a weekend or week-long event.  Arrive a couple of days before, see the sights, eat at local restaurants, go to the expo, and run the race.  After it’s over, you’ll eat a post-race meal and head home.  The effect on the local economy is noticeable.

It’s a name-draw.  Most runners will recognize names such as:

  • Biggest Loser
  • Western States
  • Marine Corps Marathon
  • Rock & Roll
  • Army 10-miler
  • Bay to Breakers
  • Boston

People love to be a part of something like this, and the side-benefits help those nearby.  That’s the draw of a national event.

So, there are 3 types of races – with 3 types of customers.  There won’t be a lot of overlap, but you’ll notice the types if you go.

  1. Local runners, looking to race & socialize, as well as event-specific entries, looking to support a friend.
  2. Local and regional runners, looking to race and to be a part of a “big” event.  How many of the folks at the ERC Turkey Trot are there because of its reputation?
  3. Regional and national runners – there because of the name of the event, wanting to be a part of something big.

I love that we have all 3 types of events around here.  I would encourage everyone to spectate.  Be a part of the crowd that’s cheering. You KNOW how it feels when you’re running.

n.b. – I do have an interest in seeing these races succeed.  All of these races.  Even the ones that don’t use my services.  Running is good for the community, and the more races we have, the healthier our community becomes.

Race Check-in and registration

When I started directing St. Pat’s years ago, I “turned on” online registration and did all of the paper apps myself.  It’s work, but it’s worthwhile.

Since then, I’ve gone through two online registration services (I started with Active, then RaceIt, and now RunSignUp), eliminated registration fees (so you don’t pay extra to register online), and raised the price of paper apps.  I’ve gone from hundreds of paper apps 5 years ago to 11 (that’s 10 + 1, or one less than a dozen) paper apps mailed in this year.  The paper folks paid $2 more to register than they would have had they registered online.  (And they still paid less than race-day registration.)  I advocate making paper available no matter what.

In years past, race day applications were entered by me, in my trailer, on the order of 100-150 applications.  Some races saw 400 race-day entries.  The most St Pat’s ever saw was  127 (that I know of).  This year, a volunteer did most of the paper apps, while I did 30 or so in my trailer, and I did corrections in the trailer after the race started.

We also turned on kiosk registration wherein people could register on their phone, their home computer, or at the race site.  Anyone using the kiosk was able to specify cash and, when they check in, pay for the race.  The advantages?  No handwriting to try to decipher and they can use the same lanes as the pre-registered runners.  Disadvantages?  None that I know of.  (More on that later).

I had NO trouble with folks that registered via kiosk. I cannot say the same for the paper apps.  That nobody noticed speaks well for the volunteers and how well the system worked.

So, what I’m trying to say is that I would advocate kiosk registration (and virtual elimination of paper apps) going forward.  It works.  The key will be getting the word out ahead of time and letting people know it’s available.

And an objection comes to mind.  What’s to keep folks from waiting until race morning and just using the kiosk?  What is the saving grace?  The same things that encourage folks to pre-register for every other race apply here as well.  Prices go up on race day.  No shirts on race day.  Shoot – we could have kiosk price at $20, paper price at $25.  Then racers still have the option of paper if they want it.

I welcome your thoughts.  I’d like a discussion on the pros & cons.  Ask questions.  I am going to work towards this and knowing what people think ahead of time will help when addressing problems that will ievitably arise.