If you live in the greater Houston area or anywhere in Texas, I really hope that you got outside and had an opportunity to take in a little bit of a beautiful day today.
A friend and I were talking at the finish line of today's 38th annual Huntsville Half Marathon, Quarter Marathon and 5K about our culture today - and just how it is changed.
I think we're not the far apart in age, although I'm definitely older.
They related a story from last night's packet pickup about a runner that asked, "What time do I need to be there?"
And, naturally, both of us - from our respective professions and being involved in the leadership of a running club and event production in general - were like "ah, the race starts at 8 a.m." so "sometime before 8 a.m."!
We mutually blamed the devices in our hands - our smartphones.
Yet I think that - with the benefit of some rest and sleep - we really have to think about doing our best to help - those of us with the ability - people focus from their hyper-divided world to put info into a small enough bit to firmly grasp it.
I shared it because for the second time this year I was race announcing where the National Anthem singer arrived as we were either playing -- or trying to sing it as a group a capella.
When I announce, to satisfy that body of runners whose world is hyper-divided, my major task - as I've shared before - is to order pre-race communications and activities in such a way to 1.) get people to and from where they need to be to 2.) get the race started on-time (as long as everything, of course, on the race course is clear to start).
And, when possible, always have a backup or contingency plan in mind - which usually comes from experience of doing it over and over - if the original plan doesn't go as planned.
When I arrived, after making a couple of opening announcements, I began to get my pieces together for the pre-race ceremonies.
I got with Seven Hills Running Club treasurer Ken Johnson to say a few words about charter member True Cousins, who recently passed away.
I then coordinated with Steven Bickford about how I wanted to have a moment of silence and go right into the prayer. I learned that somebody else would be leading the prayer.
Fantastic. We all can call upon God for to ask for protection and safety on the course for all participants - runners and volunteers alike.
At about 7:40 a.m., I started to see where the National Anthem singer was.
The young man, Steven's son-in-law, who was playing music had a version of the National Anthem to be played if we needed it.
In the back of my mind, we had a separated start. Half marathoners and quarter marathoners at the "finish line" and 5K runners were 270 feet up the street.
So I had to have the National Anthem finished in time to allow for runners for the 5K to get to their position to be able to start all three races at one time.
As the prayer finished, I still had no singer.
So the button was pressed for a recorded version, which is not my favorite. (Note: The version selected was perfectly fine. Just that we had to have a recorded version is what I didn't like.)
Many of you have heard me share that I'd rather have somebody singing it and if it is a young person, even better.
And no sooner had the Anthem started to play, the singer came into view.
I felt terribly bad. I mouthed to her, "I'm sorry."
And she understood, thankfully. The outcome of a sweet spirit, I'm sure.
Again, it is the second time that it is happened this year. (The other was at this year's Gusher Marathon in Beaumont.)
So maybe it is better for us to communicate, whenever possible, I really need you here by "a certain time".
That isn't to suggest failure on anybody's part this morning. Things happen.
I know, for example, that the new traffic direction on Bobby Marks Drive on the Sam Houston State campus (going from a two-way to a one-way street) threw me for a loop at 6 a.m.
I can only imagine what it did for people who have been coming to run the Huntsville Half for many, many years and had to deal with it for the very first time today.
But we have to realize that our strengths may be somebody else's weakness and God tasked us the opportunity to help individuals.
I appreciate the Seven Hills Running Club for having me out to announce their race and to trust me with the presentation of a long-standing event that came together as a result of the hard work of a lot of fine people.
I'm not a member of a running club or training group anymore (more so because I don't have the time to commit to one), but if I were, Seven Hills Running Club, Bay Area Running Club and Volte Endurance Training are the three tribes, if you will, that I highly identify with.
I felt a bit guilty accepting what I did today, but I've been blessed by God with some abilities that are uniquely packaged together to deliver a particular product that people seem to appreciate and enjoy.
And it takes some various worries off the hands and minds of others - and it frees them up to the tasks that they need to successfully execute.
As I struggle with the future volume of how much race announcing I continue to do into 2017, as I want to run more races as I get older to "stay in the game", as my friend Jim Braden likes to say, what I get - intrinsically - from it - while I'm doing it - is the relationships and friendships that I'm fortunate enough to derive from it.
Where else can an introvert like me have a thousand-plus friends and positive acquaintances?
One of the things that I discussed with my friends at today's finish line is that if you're in the vicinity while I'm working at race, please come by - even if just to give me a fist bump.
Most of you realize that there are times that I can't talk for a length of time because of those things that I spoke of earlier.
However, I value that connection more than you ever know.
I enjoy edifying you in your accomplishments, but your willingness to say "Hi!" by shaking my hand or offering a fist bump - especially during flu season - is your affirmation to me and I'm thankful to have it.