It was just another normal race day morning, Saturday, April 23rd. I had raced and trained on the Escape from Prison Hill ½ Marathon course for years. I had run a 20 mile training run just a week before with Carol and I had completed the Way Too Cool 50k earlier in March. We had also run the Escape from Prison Hill race course twice recently, as training runs. We were ultimately training for the Wild Wild West Marathon and Ultra for Carol’s birthday run in two weeks. I was preparing for the 50k, so the Escape from Prison Hill ½ Marathon ought to be easy.
The Escape from Prison Hill ½ Marathon website boasts that “it is complete with very difficult and rocky terrain, steep hills, and narrow mountain trails”, as are most ultras. It’s a perfect training run for ultra runners. I was reassured that the Prison Hill race should be fairly easy for me when I received my bib number that morning at registration, bib #123. So, I took off at the start, knowing that I’ll never be as fast as I used to be in my younger years but glad to be there
plodding along. I was feeling quite normal, taking in water and electrolytes as usual, even on a cool day.
I reached the Carson River Damn aid station at mile 11, knowing I only had 2 miles to complete and it’s almost totally level now that the tough part was over, with all the major ups and downs behind me. Even though the last 2 miles should be easy, most runners feel they don’t have a lot left at this point. Of course my legs weren’t moving as fast as I wished, so I was pushing, maybe a few hundred feet past the last aid station.
The next thing I knew is that several runners were looking down at me, telling me I had fallen flat on my face and had passed out. I didn’t even block my fall, dirt and blood on my face, broken sunglasses. They insisted I stay down even though I wanted to get up and finish the race. I actually felt bad that the runners took time to help me instead of completing their own race. That’s part of the camaraderie I love about fellow runners! Little did I know at the time, that they aided in saving my life.
The runners relayed messages by yelling back to subsequent runners to the previous aid station that I was down. When Craig arrived from the aid station, to help me into his truck at Mexican Ditch, I realized I wasn’t capable of even standing on my own, let alone finishing the race. Upon arriving at the finish line from the wrong side, a nurse, Patty, was brought to my aid and I was given water, electrolytes, and chips to see if I could come around. She was diligent to ask if I had any symptoms of a heart attack or maybe dehydration to which I had none. I was freezing cold even though Craig had loaned me his down jacket and I couldn’t stop shaking. While I was still in the truck, Carol miraculously crossed the finish line just a few yards away almost running into the truck and quite surprised to see me there. How timely! With little delay, George and Chris supported me to get to Carol’s car and we were off to Carson Tahoe Hospital to get checked out.
Carol helped me into the emergency room. We signed in and had to wait our turn, about 20 people ahead of us. While sitting there, shivering and not even able to sit up, I satirically commented to Carol “What if somebody was having a heart attack or something?” However, once we were called to be sorted by the triage nurse, she did a quick EKG and I was off to another race, but this time to the Emergency Room and it was pure pandemonium! It was like one of those hospital shows with doctors, nurses, assistants, tech guys, all over me! I never had so much immediate attention in all my life, plus I got to squeeze ahead of all those poor people in the waiting line in ER! They were shoving wires, needles, penetrating my body, seemingly helter-skelter, while bombarding me with lifesaving questions and sucking my blood.
Meanwhile, they soon wheeled my gurney into a nearby room for some CT scans of my head to see if I may have had a stroke. Interestingly, they did find that I had two tears to my vertebral artery caused by trauma which poses me subject to a stroke, which according to the neurologist, I may very likely had just experienced. We now know that at least one of these tears was probably from my ski accident that occurred years ago when I skied into a tree (another story). Immediate blood analysis showed my troponin levels were through the roof which indicates a heart attack. So I was admitted and scheduled for a next morning MRI of my head and an angiogram for my heart under the subsequent condition that they might have to open me up for a bypass if an artery is completely blocked.
Next morning it seemed like seconds after going under, they were waking me up and immediately informed me that they only had to do an angiogram, with one stent, and that everything was good. The artery had been 95% blocked. I only spent 2 nights in the hospital and they kicked me out. I have to admit that Carson Tahoe Hospital gave me utmost attention, diligent service, and the staff and nurses were awesome. I now have a neurologist, a cardiologist, a dietician, a plethora of new meds, a new lifestyle, and a newfound appreciation for friends, loved ones and fellow runners. I’m still getting more tests and they are investigating my other arteries that they claim could possibly lead to a stroke, especially my damaged vertebral artery. The meds and diet that I will now be on should hopefully deter that issue. I also have known that I have had high blood pressure for quite some time and procrastinated addressing that issue with a doctor. It was definitely written on my list of things to do. My Bad!
I consider this misfortune to really be a blessing.
What if I were on one of those long runs on the trails by myself? I’m sure I would have been coyote food. What if I wasn’t rescued in a timely manner? What if my artery was completely blocked? What if I did have a stroke, maybe at a later date, because I didn’t know about my vertebral artery? If it wasn’t for this event, I may not have discovered these fixable problems, through modern medicine, of course. This whole event may very well have saved my life. I’m a lucky guy!
My sincere thanks to all those who, in a concerted effort, including the Tahoe Mountain Milers running club and my wife, Carol, assisted to preserve me for future days of running. I have now scratched “seeing a doctor about high blood pressure” from my planner. I have replaced that goal with a new goal to “finish Escape from Prison Hill next year”. Or maybe I should call it Heart Attack Hill! The morning before they took me down for surgery, the neurologist walked in to my hospital room. He threw his arms in the air and exclaimed “I see you’re still alive!” I laughed so hard, I almost had another heart attack. So, I thought “Still Alive” might make an appropriate title for this article but it just dawned on me, this really was an “ESCAPE FROM PRISON HILL”!
Mark Struble, current President of the Tahoe Mountain Milers (TMM), represented the club March 17-19 at the annual Road Runners Club of America (RRCA) National Convention, held this year in Dallas, Texas. Being a native of Dallas, Mark stayed with family while in town for the convention, plus ran a PR in the Dallas Rock-n-Roll Half Marathon after the convention! Click here to continue to read Mark’s report of his experience at the Convention.
The convention started off with regional gatherings. I represented Nevada at the RRCA Western Regional Meeting. RRCA now has about 2,600 running clubs nationwide, representing just under 300,000 runners! RRCA has come a long way since 2004 when they had a $400,000 deficit. The organization’s national finances are now in the black and in very good shape. The Western Regional group discussed the RRCA Championship Series where hosting clubs get nice perks like free supplies, medals, etc. All running clubs should look on their neighboring run clubs as sister clubs and not rivals; we should share our resources and strengths, and invite all of our adjoining run clubs to our events. Giving neighboring run club members discounts at our races and volunteering for their events provides for good interclub friendship and cooperation tools!
I attended a series of club government seminars over the next two days. The first session was on Risk Management & Event Insurance, conducted by K&K Company, Indiana (underwriter for the national RRCA insurance policy). K&K provides a general liability coverage policy for up to $2 million/occurrence for all RRCA clubs. They cover our run clubs in case a member is liable in an accident while conductimg club business as a volunteer.
Lessons Learned and shared with us about past running events: Be careful how you manage your aid stations! Follow health rules, use potable water and wear gloves when handling food. Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. Remember WAIVERS! Always get participants to sign them. Remember liability related to alcohol distribution and consumption. *Obstacle course, mud pits, etc., are not covered under the national policy. Overnight relays are NOT covered by RRCA unless they are on a closed course on a trail and not on a roadway. Compensational funds for out-of-pocket volunteer expenses are OK, but if someone is “paid” for specific event work, then they are no longer considered a volunteer and are NOT covered by RRCA. That means payment of any kind including cash, gift cards, etc. If there are any questions, go to RRCA.org website and go to the insurance section (national policy posted there).
Club Government Series I: First Steps for New & Returning Board Members. This series of three club government topics was presented by Steve Wright (OR State Rep) and Dwight Mikulis (MD State Rep and Eastern Regional Director for RRCA). Finding the right Board member; this is only the first step. Board orientation is critical, as is a board briefing book. Then new Board members should be mentored and brought along in the process. We need to “build abundance” by having people want to serve on our run club Boards. It was stressed to look now for young people with “Millennial” skills to serve on our Boards. It should be every Board members’ job to be on the lookout for new Board members.
Club Government Series II: Financial Management & Tactical Planning. Major points made in this session included: “It’s not just the Treasurer’s job!” All Board members need to understand the financial side of run club management. We have a fiduciary obligation to know this! Non-profit does not mean No-profit! What is our charity-giving policy? “You don’t have to give it all away every time.” It is OK to keep your run club soluble - keep some financial reserves. Having a club draft budget is important but not universal. It can help answer questions on our profit/loss, revenue sources, club expenses (one time and reoccurring), cash flow (how much comes from member fees?) and cash reserves, etc. The speakers suggested checking out “Google for Non-Profits” in the Cloud.
Club Government Series III: Club By-Laws & Effective Board of Directors. Read and absorb your club by-laws; carry a copy with you to meetings because questions come up all the time on what the club can and cannot do! Do clubs all post their by-laws on their websites? It was suggested that “modern” run clubs are having Directors of Communication to handle club websites, email lists, newsletter, and social media. Do club by-laws get specific about where/how to have Board meetings? Do our clubs hold “virtual” Board meetings (if not, why not)? Check out Google Hang Out! It was suggested to treat annual General Membership meetings with seriousness; we are putting on major events, donating to charities, investing in quality local running opportunities, volunteering for other major events like the Western States 100, etc.
Check out Wilymanager.com for club management ideas.
Thank you TMM, and let’s having a another great running year!
Date: April 14, 2016
To: General Membership, Tahoe Mountain Milers Running Club (TMMRC)
From: Mark Struble, President
Subject: Nominations Being Sought for Club Board of Directors through June 6, 2016
Dear members of the Tahoe Mountain Milers Running Club:
Nominations are now open through June 6 for the upcoming election for four positions on the club Board of Directors. The TMMRC By-Laws detail that our Board of Directors be composed of a president, a vice president, a past president, a secretary, a treasurer, and four directors. The following offices are open for nomination for the period starting July 1, 2016: president (1-year term), vice-president (1-year term), membership director (two-year term) and social director (two-year term). An individual must be a member in good standing to be nominated for any position.
This year the elections will be held on Monday, June 20, 6:00 p.m., at the annual General Membership Meeting at Riverview Park, east end of 5th Street at Marsh Road in Carson City. Details will be forthcoming as the date in June approaches.
*The secretary, treasurer, runs director and volunteer director positions are two-year terms and will not come open until the end of June 2017.
Nomination procedure: Members are being advised in April that nominations may be submitted to current President Mark Struble, (email to firstname.lastname@example.org or 1 Ophir Circle, Carson City, NV 89703). The nomination cut-off date is Saturday, June 6, 2016. The final list of nominees will be included in the June club newsletter, via email and social media in advance of the annual meeting on June 20. The Board may consider other eligible individuals in addition to those whose names have been submitted. Officers and directors shall be elected based upon those receiving the most votes from the general membership.
Voting procedure: Votes by club members in good standing may be cast either in person at the annual meeting on June 20, or be cast via e-mail or regular mail (specific details of how to vote via e-mail will be provided at the end of the nomination period on June 6). The President will retain documentation of each vote cast for 30 days.
Specific positions up for 2016 election at the General Membership meeting on June 20:
PRESIDENT: elected to a one year term beginning on July 1 and terminates on June 30 of the following year. The office of the President is open to all members in good standing and is voted for at the General Meeting each year. The President presides at all meetings of the TMMRC Board. He/she shall be an ex-officio member of all committees. The president is the chief executive officer and enforces all of the provisions, objects and purposes of the organization. The President shall discharge such other duties as may from time to time be required by the Board. The President is responsible for running monthly meetings, managing the events of the club and interfacing with the Road Runners Club of American (RRCA) as needed.
VICE PRESIDENT: elected to a one year term beginning on July 1 and terminates on June 30 of the following year. The office of the Vice President is open to all members in good standing and is voted for at the General Meeting each year. The Vice President assists with the day to day operations of the club, and steps in to run meetings when the President is unable to attend. The Vice President shall discharge such other duties as may from time to time be required by the President or Board.
MEMBERSHIP DIRECTOR: Maintains club membership lists, maintains email and addresses distribution lists, alerts members when membership dues are payable.
SOCIAL DIRECTOR: Determines location of Monthly meetings and makes any arrangements needed to obtain reservations. Works with Runs Director to set up “Fun Runs” throughout year. Works with the Board of Directors to set date and location of Annual and Christmas meetings. Works with members to obtain necessary food, drink, and equipment needed for fun events.
Other Board Position of Interest:
PAST PRESIDENT: The Past President retains his/her vote on the board for one year following Presidency. The role is advisory but he/she is expected to attend monthly meetings to ensure that a quorum is met. After one year, if the sitting President is elected for another term, the Past President shall have the choice to stay on the Board as Past President or vacate the position.
If the Past President vacates the position, a fifth Director (at-Large) position will be added until such time that there is a new Past President.
If anyone has any questions about this election cycle or other club business, please contact current President Mark Struble, at email@example.com, or call/text to 775-721-8006.