I hadn’t planned on running the half at the final Rivanna Greenbelt Marathon & Half Marathon because I was also directing the race, but wow am I glad I did! I loved making runners (and strangers on the trail) smile with my silly Coney costume and appreciated hearing participants and volunteers say thank you for putting on a great event. This was the 11th race so you’d think by now it would have been routine and relatively stress-free, but because of my anxiety disorder it never got any easier to pull it off. In fact, I think this year was the most difficult because I had put so much pressure on myself to make it the best yet. In October, at nearly the last minute, I made the decision to end it on my own terms. The fact that weeks later I finally received closure in another ongoing event that in many ways was intricately linked to this race made me realize I totally made the right call. I want to start 2024 focusing on new adventures that both challenge me and help me grow. Thanks to all the volunteers and runners who made this year’s race the most special one ever! A lot of times when I race, I force a fake smile for the cameras. On Sunday Natalie Brinton Krovetz captured my pure joy at having achieved what I set out to do with this race back in 2014. I’m so grateful for the experience of being a race director for my own event and can’t wait to finally find a way to tell the story of what this race has meant to me over the past 10 years now that it’s really over.
Special shout out to Ryan Ross, Nicole Brimer, Ellen Houle, Becky Keller, Tommy Safranek, Ragged Mountain Running Shop, Rivanna Trails Foundation, and everyone else who isn’t easily tagged on Facebook. 🙂 Oh and most importantly my other half Malinda Ann Hill 👯TWINS RUN in our family.💕
I was 43 when I created this event in 2014. When the race is finished I look forward to finally working on a short film or multimedia piece about this quirky little event! It’s been a labor of love for 10 years.
Thanks to Ellen Houle, Nicole Brimer, Tracey Lynn, Ryan Ross, and Diane Curtis who were there at the very beginning! It’s been a special journey with memories I’ll cherish. 🥰
“So, you are a sponsor of the race?”
To recognize the value of my in-kind design work as well as my contributions to digital marketing and social media, I asked to be included as a sponsor on the back of the 2022 Charlottesville Ten Miler shirt.
For 14 years, I helped the Charlottesville Track Club (CTC) with graphic and web design, marketing, and event management. For 13 years, I supported five race directors (Alice Wiggins, Mike Inge, Maria Bell, Deb Gilbert, and Nicole Brimer) with the Charlottesville Ten Miler (CTM). I’m grateful and honored to have worked closely with people who valued my ideas, creativity, dedication, passion, and time.
There aren’t enough words to describe how much it meant to me to see my “Twins Run in Our Family” logo on the backs of fellow runners as I ran this iconic race. I loved seeing the new CTC logo I designed (last year) at the top of the shirt, too!
I’ve been struggling emotionally and financially since I lost my job of 22+ years in September 2020. During the 50+ interviews I’ve had since turning 50, I've always spoken about my volunteer work in the Charlottesville running community as my proudest accomplishment.
During COVID-19 I devoted my time and talents to help Mark Lorenzoni promote the Charlottesville Track Club’s modified events during the pandemic and I especially enjoyed marketing and managing the C-VILLE-athon, Race Fest, Marathon and Half Marathon Training Program, Winter Training Program, the All-Comers Summer Track Meets, and Bruce Barnes Mile.
During this time a conflict arose between me and various CTC board members. Unfortunately, in spite of my best efforts, this conflict could not be resolved. Therefore, I made the extremely difficult decision to step away from the CTC in September 2021.
Although I had to separate myself from the CTC, I knew I wanted to help CTM race director, Nicole Brimer, with the 2022 Charlottesville Ten Miler. It was very important for me to end my tenure with the CTC on a high note. So, I made a variety of new designs for a special bib, stickers, and volunteer shirt as well other logos that I never got to use.
I wore my rainbow sparkle skirt and formerly white running shoes that I colored with a rainbow of sharpies. So many spectators and fellow runners complimented me on my tutu and I appreciated the encouragement as I was rather untrained for this endeavor!
The best part of the race was seeing my identical twin sister cheering in her inflatable T-Rex costume at mile 4 and the finish line. Being able to finally share this historic event with her made a difficult day of saying goodbye to this race a bit easier.
Thank you to Nicole for allowing me do what I love and including me as a valuable contributor to this spring tradition in Charlottesville.
I'm not sure who will be the next director for the Charlottesville Ten Miler and what changes will be made under new leadership. I know that my twin and I will always smile when we see someone wearing a shirt from one of the years I helped support the race, especially the shirts with my designs (2009, 2010, 2011, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020/21, and 2022).
music is my therapy
All the right songs came up at the right moment .....
I managed everything for the C-VILLE-athon from 2015-2020. A new team is now in charge. Good luck, runners!
The C-VILLE-athon is the brilliant idea of coach, volunteer race director, and running store owner Mark Lorenzoni. Created as a way to encourage runners to try a variety of local not-for-profit races as well as to track one’s progress over the year, the C-VILLE-athon allows participants to design their own racing experience by running at least 26.2 miles in charity events in a calendar year.
I worked behind the scenes to create logos, flyers, website, and social media presence for this initiative and it has been a huge success. During its first year. Of the 243 people who signed up for the challenge in the inaugural event, 83 runners submitted their checklists, running a total of more than 2500 miles for worthy causes!
Ouch. My finger really hurts and it’s an important finger. It’s the index finger on my dominant hand and it’s the only one I use to type on my iPhone. So what happened? How did I lose a layer of skin from an open blister on my index finger?
Well, here’s the story.
For a couple days I risked my life walking from my townhome in Pantops to the grocery store and Starbucks because a few businesses felt it wasn’t their responsibility to shovel the sidewalk in front of their establishments.
I documented the lack of accessibility to the only crosswalk on Route 250 as well as the Charlottesville Area Transit bus stop near the DMV and tagged the Chick-fil-A Pantops and Atlantic Union Bank on social media. I even tagged the local news stations and newspaper. Obviously nothing happened.
I’ll do anything to avoid a phone call so I grabbed my shovel and decided to just do it myself. It was only after I was almost finished that I realized my throbbing finger had an injury from the cheap shovel and my lack of skill in moving huge chunks of slush, ice, and snow.
I talked about this in a job interview yesterday because I feel like it is a perfect example of my personality and work ethic.
I will never complain about something without trying to fix it. I’m a problem solver. I care about other people. I hold businesses and people accountable for their actions (or inaction). I’m willing to endure pain (both physical and mental) to do the right thing.
I keep checking my feeds for a thank you. For someone from corporate to respond to my tweets, reels, and Facebook posts. It hasn’t happened.
Luckily a couple of amazing things did happen as I was shoveling and it’s what gives me some hope and pride.
A couple in a car stopped in front of 2050 Abbey Road Medical Center and asked if I worked for the city. He mentioned that he saw me on the other side of the road shoveling, too. I told him no, I don’t work for anyone. I’m actually currently unemployed and I don’t have a car so it’s important that sidewalks are accessible. I explained that I had tried to use social media to “shame” the businesses into doing the right thing, but it didn’t work so I took matters into my own hands. They thanked me and gave me fist pumps in solidarity.
A few minutes later another truck stopped and a guy came out with a flyer. It was for a snow shoveling service and he asked if I could give it to management. I told him that I didn’t work for the building and I was just volunteering. He seemed shocked, kept his flyer, and said, “Wow, that’s nice of you!”
So I did get thanked and acknowledged, but it wasn’t from corporate headquarters, it was literally from the man on the street (x2).
One last thing. As I started walking home to clear the patches I missed in front of Atlantic Union Bank a van from the Albemarle County Service Authority parked in the lot. A man got out and opened the back of the van and pulled out a shovel. He said he wanted to help me out since he had a better shovel. He noticed I just broke off part of my low-end orange plastic one attacking a stubborn piece of ice. I was so grateful that not only did one more person recognize my efforts, but he stepped up to offer me a hand. I didn’t get his name, but I want to thank him. His generosity and friendliness made my day.
My husband is writing a book about post-punk music in Kansas entitled, “No Choice But Action.” It’s my mantra now. I have no choice, but to act when I see injustice. Shoveling a sidewalk is just another example.
Charlottesville has an ordinance that businesses and homeowners need to clear their sidewalks by a specific deadline after a storm. Clearing sidewalks is about accessibility and pedestrian safety. I saw children navigating piles of snow to get on the school bus this morning. We need to think about others and make our communities safe for everyone.
I’ll take recommendations on a good shovel to purchase. I have a feeling I’ll need one for the next storm.
The Rivanna Greenbelt Marathon started in September 2014 as an opportunity for local runners in Charlottesville to have a last chance to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I designed the course to follow the flattest section you can find in a town full of HILLS, a paved trail that follows along the Rivanna River. Because the trail is just 2 miles from the start to the end, participants need to complete 6.5 “loops” of the course. Some people thought it would be boring or crazy to run a marathon on such a course, but I found more than enough runners who were up for the challenge!
When I created the race I wanted to make it low-key and no-frills. There were no shirts or swag. The only people who got a medal were those who did not finish (DNF). I wrote a blog once about how hard it is to quit a race even when it’s the right thing to do (i.e., if you feel like you’re developing an injury or if you don’t think you’ll hit your goal, etc.). I joked that we should give medals for dropping out. I took that idea and put it into action at my own race. I actually earned a medal myself in October 2014 when I dropped out of my own race.
Having the race in September in the Mid-Atlantic was quite challenging in terms of weather. We had heat waves and thunderstorms. I decided during the pandemic that I would change the timing of the race. We adjusted a few things for safety and had our race in November 2020 on a perfect day. I directed three races in 2021 (March, October, and December) and added a half to the mix.
As both a runner and a volunteer, I wanted my race to have everything that I think is important for an amazing experience. We have medical support from the UVA Runners’ Clinic, volunteers from the running community, chalk messages and signs along the course, free course photos, and chip timing with finish line video. Our race mascot is “Coney” - a funny addition inspired by satirist and writer Mark Remy (The Dumb Runner). It’s fitting because you need to run around cones multiple times. In 2020 I started to give out mini traffic cones with googly eyes and hand-drawn mouths to finishers. Also, by adding a half marathon and raising the entry I was able to donate almost $2,500 this year to three charities.
I’m really proud of my quirky little race. There are runners who come back every year (when they aren’t injured) and I’ve heard so many amazing stories from participants about what motivated them to pick my race. I always send evaluation surveys to both runners and volunteers so I can keep improving the event.
We had a panel of local runners talk about Lessons Learned with Joan Benoit Samuelson and I spoke about the importance of giving back to the running community by volunteering at a race. That inspired a few new volunteers to show up my November 2020 event!
I really love talking about my race because it’s been a labor of love for me and my identical twin sister. There’s been a lot of ups and downs - during the 2nd race I had to disqualify a friend because she turned around before the course marking twice and it was on video. For the first 6 races we did all the timing old school (no chips!) with Time Machine and lap counters. That was labor intensive to compile the results, but it was always a thrill to submit them to the B.A.A. We’ve had people complete their first marathon and first half marathon with us and it means so much to be part of someone’s important running history.
Necessity is the mother of invention.
I banged out a lot of creative work for the running community that I'm very proud of over the past 14 excruciatingly difficult months because somehow I knew deep down that there was no path forward for me working with the CTC if all of the current board remained in place.
If anyone thinks I left because of my new job or that I wanted to pursue other projects that's not the truth.
I won't publicly name names or explain the absurdity of the situation except to say that I wanted to do the work and avoid the drama and although I was uncomfortably transparent about my vulnerable state and my own faults, at every opportunity I was triggered into anxiety, depression, and paranoia. It's no way to live.
So I choose optimism and life and I'm going to throw my creativity, passions, and drive into other things that will give me purpose and meaning.
Spoiler Alert Ladies: Menopause is no joke. Turning 50 is no joke.
I've not been my best self the past year, but I've tried my best to seek help. I've tried to always be there for anyone when they needed something from me.
When you reach out for a hand and it's not there you have to make the choice to accept the situation and carry on with the relationships that have weathered the storm.
Thank you to everyone who has made an effort to make me feel that I matter. That I'm valued and appreciated. I'll pay it forward! I promise.
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P.S. Writing this post finally motivated me to update my resume. I never thought I'd see some of the changes I just had to make, but I'm so excited about my new position.