RDG’s Top 10 – #6 Shake N Bake ’15

These two. There’s so much about that 2015 team and the experience that I look back on and smile. I think the newness of it all was something that made it special. No one, and I mean no one had an idea of what it’d be like really. We saw Ragnar Relay as something that was a daunting physical challenge that if we could get in shape for it, it’d be great. We noticed something though, in pictures leading up to it, we noticed a ton of costumes. It just seemed like it was a bunch of adults acting like kids, all while running 200 miles.

Adam and Artie provided that level of entertainment for us. The cool part of it is that neither one of them had ever met before the race…ever. When they both comitted to driving for us, I told them if they wanted to do something, it’d be a lot of fun.

The next thing we know, Ricky Bobby and Cal Naughton, Jr are driving our van. They were immensely popular with the other teams and had quite a few pictures taken with other runners. They even ended up in the post from Ragnar showing pictures.

In all, having those guys around just made the whole experience a lot better. There were certainly a lot of nerves and they helped take the edge off and for that, they make the list.

RDG’s Top 10 – #7 Night Moves ’19

NeighborLink Fort Wayne‘s Night Moves series of runs is pretty awesome. Being that 2019 was our first year running to benefit them, we wanted to make sure that we were able to participate in some of the events that they were putting on and we LOVED IT.

You can find a review of that race here.

What made this run special wasn’t because the course was awesome, which it was, or that the weather was so great, which it was, but because of the vibe of it and what it meant to the team.

2019 marked the 4th year the team was together, last as Runnin’ Not Walken, as well as the 5th Ragnar Relay that we’d be training for as part of our epic running efforts to make a difference in the community. That all said, it was the first time that anyone on the team got together to run together prior to the Ragnar.

We had Matt and Amanda, Chris, Kelly, Jenn, and myself and then Artie and Amanda showed up as we were finishing to enjoy the atmosphere there atFort Wayne Outfitters, which was really neat. Everyone that ran that night, ran for the fun of it. There was no official distance so how could you aim for a PR? It was about doing good and having fun and boy did we.

We got to run through Fort Wayne’s new Promenade Park, the weekend it first opened, and then all around through downtown seeing some of the beautiful murals that have popped up doing the last several years, all while the buzz of a couple day food and arts festival was winding. The atmosphere which is constantly building in downtown Fort Wayne was just wonderful that warm August night.

We even walked down to Hop River for a drink there after it was all over to catch up and hang out. As far as nights as part of this team go, this was pretty special.

RDG’s Top 10 – #8 Courtney’s Kick-Off ’15

Year 1 was so special and different aspects of that first race will always be something that be near and dear to my heart. Courtney’s beginning here is really the culmination of a lot of hard work by the team to get ready, a lot of hard work in fundraising, and a ton of nerves because we had no idea what we were doing.

Courtney leads us off!

Her first steps really were the first steps of what would become 5 years of working to help those that are making an impact within the Fort Wayne community. None of us knew that we’d pass $25,000 in fundraising and that at least 4 more races were to come when she went flying down that chute but it’s been a pretty awesome ride and it all started right here.

A few thoughts on the significance of this:

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RDG’s Top 10 – #9 – Brandon’s Helmet Run ’15

This still makes me laugh to this day. Brandon had brought a cowboy hat to wear during the race and a lot of people had funny hats. He even brought one of his old football helmets. We were having a blast with the race and I simply thought he’d wear it somewhere along the way but not during a run. I was wrong.

There’s not much more to say than, can you imagine running 4 miles with a football helmet on?

Some of my personal thoughts:

RDG’s Top 10 – #10 ’19’s Night Runs

None of these accurately show just how tough the night runs can be during a Ragnar. The reason this comes in at #10 isn’t because it wasn’t hard. It’s more that there were so many other moments that come in that I’d rank higher. It’s been a full 5 years of running and fundraising and looking back on it all, my heart is full of what we’ve accomplished.

Conquering 2019’s night run was huge though, mainly because 2018 had been so brutal as well as because ’19 had some of her own tricks up her sleeve that really changed the course of the whole event for us.

While 2018 was COLD, 2019 had a massive storm to the southwest that had us all worried. The waves on Lake Michigan were massive as you can see in the attached video. It was pretty awesome but definitely rockin’ out there.

I was in Van 2 and we had handed off early afternoon, if I’m not mistaken. The good news was that as the storm was coming, we were actually already at a point in the race where we were headed straight north and if we could run fast enough, it was apparent that we’d may clip it just slightly vs taking the full brunt of it.

Van 1 got wet though. Due to a runner withdrawal the previous day, we were down 1 person and the race itself was a bit of a work in progress for us to cobble together the miles as best as we could. Coming into the evening, Kelly, a second year runner who had run the Indy-Mini earlier in the year, decided to take on a stretch of additional mileage that would end up with her tackling not only her leg of the race but enough of the next to add up to 11 miles. It was an incredible effort.

As the other runners in the van sloshed their way through the rain, which at some point was very heavy, in the very distance, we could tell there was lightning and we began to worry about their safety. Van 1 blasted through though until a lightning strike hit close enough to the major exchange that we were waiting at for them.

I believe Cherri was on the course at the point where Ragnar officials put a 2 hour hold on the race, skipping 1 leg. That’s where things got off the rails a bit for us. We’d consistently been running in the middle of the pack during the race as we had, what I felt, was no doubt, one of our strongest teams. We were ordered to skip the next leg which was Amanda’s and I believe it was a 4-miler. If only we could have gotten her on the course to pull her in and skip the next one, an 8 miler, we would have been up with the rest of the crowd. That’s not what happened though. We just needed 5 more minutes to do that and we didn’t get it.

What happened was that a lot of the runners we were running with were able to get onto that 6th leg of Van 1, pull their runner in and skip the 8 miler. We still had to run it which effectively put us 8 miles or at the speed that Michael was running that day, about an hour behind a lot of the teams.

By the time I took the hand off for the last leg of Van 2, there were only about a half dozen teams ahead behind us at that point, from what the official told me. I’m not going to lie, my heart sank. I knew that the rest of the race would be pretty lonely for our runners and have a completely different feel, and it did.

Van 2 wasn’t without it’s tribulations either. In the rain, Jenn had made the decision to wear a different pair of shoes so that her primary ones wouldn’t get wet for her last run. The above video was the start of that run. That proved to be a mistake as she ended up with some severe foot pain. Additionally, I would take on my nemisis of a leg in the night that I felt so awful during Ragnar Michigan ’18. My training had led me to that leg and I was excited for it, much less so when I learned how few teams were on the course when I took off.

From my recollection, it was supposed to have been about 1 1/2 miles of mainly uphill and then some fun downhill, which in ’18, I was in enough hip pain that it wasn’t very enjoyable. The map said it was only about a mile. In reality, it was probably about 2 miles because once I got to a mile, I could look ahead and it was just nothing but looking up. About halfway through after power hiking some of the hills, I got the point where it was heading downhill and looking like more fun again.

Admittedly, this stretch of road is desolate and if you don’t like being out in the middle of nowhere alone, you could be freaked out pretty easily. I was doing really well and then a vehicle that wasn’t a Ragnar Van came past and honked it’s horn at me. It starteld me and I jumped a bit to the side, catching the side of the road, and rolling my ankle left ankle. Luckily, I didn’t really sprain it as it rolled through it and got my next step on without falling but unfortunately the awkwardness of the step caused me to tweak my right groin muscle. I slowed down a good bit before taking off again, hoping that it would loosen up a bit, which it did and I was able to complete it with a time that was a considerable improvement on the previous year.

This makes it all sound pretty rough and I’m not going to lie, our track record with night runs isn’t great. I think of the 5 that I’ve had, only 1 or 2 have been good, but conquering them is something special and after freezing our butts off in ’18, to be able to come back and deal with the rain, covering for a lost runner, pain, and injury, it’s always satisfying to finish it off.

Some additional thoughts are below:

Runners Doing Good’s Top 10 Countdown

Good morning! With so little going on of late, there’s not much to chat about so I thought I’d start a series of posts about Runners Doing Good, formerly Runnin’ Not Walken’s, Top 10 moments from the last 5 years.

Granted most of these will be through my eyes but then again, I’m the one that’s organized the team during this time and the only one who’s run all 5 Ragnars so I have both a personally view on some of these as well as the big picture of having watched the runners work so hard to conquer these courses. It’s been something pretty special to observe so I’m excited to share these moments with you over the coming weeks.

I’ll drop 1-2 per week, describing the moment with pictures and then may provide a bit of video commentary on occasion.

You may see some pictures like this:

The first one will land on Thursday, May 21st! Talk to you then!

Take Care,

Gabe

RDG’s Self Sustaining Goal

In the article from the other day, one of the team goals was to become self-sustaining. That’s not an easy thing to become when you’re a group of runners, doing this for fun, but with a purpose. We’re not a Non-Profit who can go out there, organize, and bring in donations that benefit us directly.

Every dollar that we’ve raised has gone directly to the groups that we’ve worked to raise money for and we’ve not kept a penny. Sponsorships that we’ve received throughout the years have helped with operations but none of that is kept from year to year. If we had anything left over, those monies went directly into our fundraiser.

So here’s the cold hard truth of the reality we face in 2020. If we would have had Ragnar Relay Trail Michigan go off in June, we would have been in trouble. While we were ahead of pace on our fundraising, our sponsors were dealing with the impending consequences of Covid-19 and couldn’t commit at the level they normally would. We had enough to cover certain costs but we were still about $1500 short.

This only magnifies the want and the need to become more resourceful as a group so that if we do come up short, the runners don’t have to shoulder the full burden of the expenses to participate in this epic running events.

So here’s the ask….let’s start small. If we can sell 20 of these wristbands, that will cover the costs of running this site and get the team a runnersdoinggood email address so that we can more formally approach local businesses.

Beyond that, the more of these that we sell, the more costs we can cover on our own so that we’re not so dependent on sponsors to help boost our efforts. Selling wristbands, tshirts, or hats, could be that boost.

The hope is that through team sales that at some point, 100% of our sponsorship costs will go directly to our fundraiser. That’s a big next step but I believe that’s where this could evolve to if it gains some traction so, again, let’s start small. Let’s sell 20!

Who wants one?

 

Runners Doing Good Wristband

Join the movement! All purchases help cover the costs of team operations. Do some good and look good on the trail with your new Runners Doing Good wristband!

$10.00

RDG – ’20 so far and a look ahead

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Hey everyone! I hope this finds you well. It has been an absolute roller coaster of a year and it just got me thinking about where we started at the beginning of the year, where we’re at now, and where we’re going. We’re only in May but wow, a lot has happened!

Where We Started:

  • We started January with the idea of working towards becoming fully functioning in 2020. We started selling wristbands like what you see above as a way to raise funds outside of just leaning on sponsors. We had to be more self sustaining. That’s the next step. More on that later.
  • We also began January that along with trying to become self-sufficient that we would also work, as we have, in the past to benefit NeighborLink Fort Wayne so that we could pull off another fundraiser like we have every year to date. We scaled back on the team and registered for Ragnar Relay Trail Michigan which greatly reduced our expenses because there were just a lot less moving parts:
    • Fewer runners = fewer costs
      • 0 vans = huge savings
      • 0 condos rented = huge savings
      • Overall, expenses were cut about in half
  • Optimism reigned supreme

Where We Are:

  • The work towards self-sustaining the team is still “in progress.” We’ve sold enough wristbands to make our money back so with more then 375 of them still to go, there’s a lot of potential in them at $5-$10 each.
  • We kicked off our fundraiser and while the first month or so was quiet, we received a commitment from a long time donor to match every donation in the month of March. This led to a $1466 match in March, for a total of $2932 – our highest fundraising month EVER.
    • In perspective, that’s almost 3 times as much as our ’15 goal and about $700 more than we raised in that year and we did that in one month.
    • Currently we’re at $3,032 of our $5,000 goal – all from private donations and the donor who matched.

So that’s where we’re at with our efforts towards a fully functioning team and the fundraiser to benefit NeighborLink Fort Wayne, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. Covid-19 happened and this is the bigger picture:

The team’s effort towards self sustaining ourselves slowed and is “still in progress” because we needed to get the fundraiser up and running. It’s just me doing most of this so trying to do both things besides all of life’s other requirements for work and family, the fundraising is what got us here and we couldn’t let that slide.

The fundraiser took off like lightning and we raised more in the first 10 days of March than we did in the previous year’s matching opportunity. The next 10-14 days were when new of the Covid-19 pandemic became more ominous and the uncertainty of it all let to a major decline in momentum in our fundraising. Understandably so people needed to figure out their finances.

By the end of the month, we had a pretty awesome surge to hit that $1466 but we’ve done little more. Our work to raise an epic amount of money, for a small group, was always tied to running an epic event.

Ragnar Trail Michigan was postponed to a weekend that our team couldn’t attend and which, quite frankly, we’re unsure if it’ll go off anyways and we’ve committed to running it in 2021. More on that later.

Uncertainty reigns supreme at the moment

Where we hope to go:

This is the part of all of this that’s so difficult. It’s just not knowing what’s going to happen as things begin to reopen. We just don’t know if another spike in infections is going to happen or not because everyone is slowly being released towards what felt normal once.

So if I could pull off my wildest dreams and turn this into a massive comeback story for 2020, this is what it’d look like to me:

  • We have a $5,000 goal for NeighborLink. While this is $2,000 less than what we hit last year, my hope is to, in this crazy climate, hit our goal.
  • Get the wristband sales moving. Right now, if we sell just 20 of them at $10 a piece, we will cover the costs of our website and set up an official email address so that we’re one small baby step closer to being official.
  • Start work on ’21. There’s a lot to be optimistic about 2021. If things work out like we hope, then we’ll be able to run Ragnar Trail Michigan and we’re starting from a place where our registration is already covered and there’s an outside chance where if we sold enough wristbands, we could fully fund the rest of our expenses on our own, which would be a huge victory.

At this point, again, optimism, even with a little uncertainty – it reigns supreme. Thanks for reading and expect more in the coming days.

Have a great day everyone.

Take Care,

Gabe

 

 

 

 

 

And So I Ran

Ability is what you’re capable of doing. Motivation determines what you do. Attitude determines how well you do it. – Lou Holtz

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This blog and site isn’t supposed to be about me. It’s supposed to be about the team and our running and fundraising efforts but since the Covid-19 Pandemic, a lot has been put on hold. In many ways, I feel like I have been put on hold myself and that’s trickled down to a lot of things.

At first, I worked hard to come up with an idea of what to do since the Ragnar was moved to a date we couldn’t attend and quite frankly, with everything related to the pandemic, we didn’t have enough sponsorship to pull it off.

Additionally, since March 23rd, I’ve been home from work and while at first, I enjoyed the focus of the quiet, I’m not going to lie, the novelty has worn off. I miss my friends at work, the hustle and bustle of 40 other people talking and yelling and carrying on about who’s buying southern yellow pine lumber from what mill and everything associated with the craziness that my job can entail. It may not seem exciting to you and most days it’s not but the community of it all and the inner workings of our group as a team….I MISS THAT. And I’m staring at least another month of this in the face.

I’ve always been described as a pretty positive guy that’s hard to get down but over the last couple of weeks the weather….oh the weather. With the exception of a beautiful weekend here or there, the weather hasn’t been great. Add it all up and I know I’m not different than anyone else but I’ve had moments where I’ve just been down.

I swore that I’d not shave till I headed back to work and combined with my general malaise lately, I’ve definitely started to look every bit the part of that bearded grump in the picture above.

Add it all up and tie into the Lou Holtz quote above….my attitude hasn’t been good enough to maintain my motivation and it’s just led to an inability to move forward how I normally would lately.

Runners Doing Good’s site and social media platforms have largely been silent. I’ve not simply not run, which always helps my attitude, which leads to greater motivation, and results in an increased ability in whatever I do, running, work, fundraising, you name it.

People throw out there that we’re all in the “same boat.” I saw one today that I thought was more profound, “We’re in the same storm, but different boats trying to weather it.” Everyone’s dealing with the same overall problem but how it manifests itself for each person is different. I’ve been struggling of late and I’m under any illusion that I’m snapped out of it but I made a choice today to take a step forward.

I’ve had weight loss goals, mileage goals, fundraising goals, and all sorts of stuff for this year. 2020 is the lead up to my 40th at the end of the year. I promised myself I would run the fasted 5k and 10k of my new running life and run more miles than I’ve done since gotten back into running in 2015. It’s May 7th and do you want to know how how much I’ve run? 8.49 miles….yikes. I’m also heavier, north of 215, than I’ve been before any Ragnar that I’ve run in the last 5 years. That’s not the picture of a guy that’s going to be setting any PR’s right now.

But the step forward….I ran today and I’m going to try to keep a promise to myself to keep running. It was only 2 miles but it felt good. The sun was shining, the birds are chirping, and I put one foot in front of the other for the first time in weeks. Those goals are still out there and I hope that by just taking it a step at a time that I’ll meet and exceed them. Down days are bound to come but it’s time to do something about it and make them the exception.

Whatever boat you’re in, I wish you nothing but the best as you weather this storm too. May your steps keep driving you forward, improving your ability, motivation, and attitude.

Take Care,

Gabe

PS – Snapped this pic of the Magnolia Tree in our yard as I finished my run. It’s in full bloom! Love that tree. And now back to my desk to finish up my day 🙂

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Runners Doing Good Runs The Fort!

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Uncle Sam’s right……WE WANT YOU!

Since 2015, we’ve hitched our wagon to large scale, long distance relay races as a way to say, “Support us because we’re doing something epic” but with the state of affairs in the world this year, we’re not going to be able to participate in Ragnar Trail Michigan, which was supposed to have been our 130 mile romp through the forested hills of Hanson Hills Recreation area of Grayling, MI. We’ll be heading back to that in 2021 but what do we do in 2020?

That’s been the question that we’ve been trying to figure out and I have to give Andrew Hoffman, NeighborLink Fort Wayne’s Executive Director credit for this one. He said, “People are buying into you, not just the event you’re doing.” After some thought, I believe he’s on to something. We’ve seen our total donations continue to increase through the years and the average amount of those donations continue to rise as well no matter who is running on the relay team.

Going forward, we will always attempt to do a relay event. I think it’s important but we want to lean into our community more. We’ll get better exposure that way and hopefully deeper connections that’ll result in our cause of choice benefiting from our efforts even more.

So here’s the primary thing we’re going to do:

  • Place runners in the annual Fort 4 Fitness races. So far we have 4 that will be participating in the 10k. We have space for about 20 more. Runners qualify for the team by raising $50 for NeighborLink Fort Wayne. RDG will provide a team shirt to be worn during the race.
  • Put a great push on selling our wristbands and merchandising. The more of those that we can sell, the better off the team will be and less reliant on sponsors. If you’d like to purchase one, visit our Store!

Additionally, we know it’s difficult for businesses right now to commit to anything as a sponsor, much less the full amount we ask. We’re still going to reach out and if they can give anything, we’ll accept it.

With just running the Fort 4 Fitness, we’re not needing all of the sponsorship money we’ve used for the annual relay so 100% of anything a business gives us this year will be counted as sponsorship but go directly to NeighborLink Fort Wayne.

Our goal is to support our community, through NeighborLink Fort Wayne’s mission, one mile at a time. Who’s with us?

 

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