Tuesday, February 28, 2012

2 down, 18 to go!

Yes, it's been longer than I had planned between my last post and this one. What can I say? Coast-to-coast travels for back-to-back weekends of Half-Marathon-running in February, along with a slew of new faces to get to know, and before the month is even over I am once again off to New Orleans for Rock-n-Roll Half #4! Somehow the days keep filling up on me. Anyway, here's the recap of Race #2 in St. Petersburg, FL:

 Friday, February 10th:
I left NC for Tampa/St.Pete. Despite my best Priceline efforts I was not able to get a reasonable rate for a beachfront hotel in the St. Petersburg area this time and had to settle for Tampa instead. As it turned out, I got a deal on the Airport Marriott which I discovered really is IN the Tampa airport... not just in the vicinity. I was thrilled with being able to get off the plane, pick up my bag and walk to the hotel registration desk without ever going outside. I was equally thrilled with the quality of my room, the amenities and the staff who were all very helpful and friendly.

Upon my arrival I had some work I needed to do... and here's the spot I chose for my makeshift office:

It was a beautiful day, in the 70's with no wind... little did I know that all was about to change.

Saturday, February 11th
I woke up early, trying to get my body adjusted to the early start I knew I'd have for the race the next day. I put on running gear with the intention of running along the beach somewhere in St. Pete after picking up my race packet. I grabbed a quick bite (banana and yogurt) and got a Starbucks coffee for the road... the stand was right by the elevators so I couldn't resist!
The Expo for this race was held at Tropicana field which was about 30 minutes from the hotel. The drive was beautiful across the water and the temps were still quite mild. I checked my Twitter feed for the #RnRSP info, in case there was something important to be learned, and sure enough I got a good tip. A fellow runner Tweeted that they were charging for parking at the Expo but alerted us to free spaces very close by. Saved another $10 thanks to the Tweeple!

Upon entering the Expo I saw a guy walking around Tropicana Field, taking pictures and enjoying the day... he was wearing an AFO like mine! As I got closer I realized it was made by the same company that makes mine (Allard, of course) but his model was more rugged than mine: The Blue Rocker. I walked up and introduced myself to him, he got a big kick out of meeting someone else with footdrop... especially one who knew the make and model he was wearing (which even he did not know). I took this encounter as an excellent omen for the rest of the weekend:

The Expo itself was pretty small and it only took a few minutes to get my race packet and check out the 
vendors. The astroturf flooring was a first for me, can't think of any other race with this detail!
After the Expo I decided I was suddenly hungry again. I wanted to scope out the starting line area, along with the portion of downtown St.Pete we'd be running through, so I decided to walk around until I found somewhere cool to eat. I found this Cantina and opted to sit indoors, the wind was suddenly picking up and I wanted shelter!

The view as you run by, I think this is mile 1 or 2.

After lunch, the wind had gotten pretty strong and I really wasn't in the mood to run anymore. Besides, a good walk around was probably enough of a warm-up for the race on Sunday. I went back to the hotel and began putting together my "Get Back UP" sign, hopefully a way for the media to spot us on race day, and then I tried to figure out what I was going to wear for the run. I put out several layers, the forecast was now dropping to "cold and windy" and I didn't think to pack my running tights when I left NC. An early night was in order, I just learned from the PR team that I may have 3 very early interviews in the morning.

Sunday, February 12th--RACE DAY
Another early start to race-day activities! 

Breakfast of Champions! (or "Finishers" anyway)

"Chilly" conditions for race day... a good luck symbol from my friend, Cecil

Can you see the streamers blowing furiously in the wind?!

The sign was a way to be spotted among the thousands of runners in Start Village. I had phone numbers from 3 separate news teams and, unbelievably, we got all 3 interviews on TV! It was a rough pre-race morning with high winds and freezing temps, but it was all worth it in the end. After all, the mission is to get this type of media coverage in hopes of reaching people out there who need access to hope and information regarding foot drop.

1:53:56... official finishing time for the windy run!  This was in the Finisher's Village, with Grammy-nominated artist Flo Rida jammin' out in the background. It was too cold for me to stick around very long, so we headed to the fun of waiting in line for the shuttles back to Tropicana Field.

Finally, a cozy ride!

After the trek back to Tampa, I showered and dressed in warmer layers to find a fun place for the post-race meal. Ella's Folk Art Cafe was recommended by locals...it did not disappoint!

So that's the summary of the 2nd event of 2012... for video of the News coverage we got for the event, see earlier blog post or go to our video channel (Getbackuptoday) on You Tube. I will write a separate blog about some of the people I've been meeting along the way, one of whom is Arizona Jenkins (posted briefly earlier), but I'd like to save that for another day.

Thanks for your support and cheers... we're really starting to connect with people who need our help and it has made the efforts so much more fulfilling.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

News Coverage in St. Pete!

I am really excited to share with you news coverage that we were able to acquire while running in St. Pete, FL. No, I'm not excited because I got to be on the news.  I'm excited that we were able to spread awareness of Foot Drop and remind people that they can reclaim their mobility. You may not want to run a half-marathon, but you can get back up and check the mail, walk around the block, or even walk through your house. Get Back Up Today!

If you could get back up today, what would you want to do?

Here's a link to my YouTube channel with 2 of the news stories.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Meeting Arizona Jenkins

Another GREAT experience was meeting Arizona Jenkins, pictured here enjoying a cigar in Ybor City. He is an amazing man and had me laughing so hard I pulled a muscle. If I don't do well in Pasadena, AJ, I am going to blame you! :-) Arizona has set out to spread the same message as our Get Back Up campaign: no matter what your challenges may be, there exists a path for you to love your life completely. PLEASE check out his non-profit's website and inspirational message: http://www.newhorizonssupportgroup.com/

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It's February One...

“The only people who can change the world are people who want to. And not everybody does.”

The first of January is always notable for kicking off the new year. It's a time to contemplate the changes we want (or need) to make, and many people see this day as an opportunity to resolve to follow through on these changes. 

For me, the first of February has become the better time to reflect due to the historical significance of this day. February One has special meaning to so many people, but specifically for those of us in Greensboro, NC --the city I've called home for 30+ years. 

If you are not aware, February 1, 1960 was the date that 4 African-American college students sat at a Woolworth's store lunch counter in downtown Greensboro and forever changed the course of history. Here are two great links to the details:

From the Smithsonian Institution: "Ezell A. Blair, Jr. (now Jibreel Khazan), Franklin E. McCain, Joseph A. McNeil, and David L. Richmond leave the Woolworth store after the first sit-in on February 1, 1960. (Courtesy of Greensboro News and Record)"

These 4 young men sparked a civil rights movement known as "The Sit-ins" which spread across the nation and forced the country to evaluate our national ideals of  "life, liberty and justice for all." February 1, 1960 also became the date by which these four men would forever measure their lives.

So what do I reflect upon on February One of each year?

I do think about "The Four": Did these unlikely heroes ever imagine how momentous their actions would become? That so few would bring power to so many?

I think about their courage: I wonder whether would've publicly acknowledged the injustice of the day and  then, would I ever have had the courage to sit down with them? 

I think about change: Why does change seem so daunting & impossible in the moment and yet so necessary & inevitable in hindsight? 

I think about how I will measure myself...

In reference to MacLeod's quote at the start of this blog entry, not everyone chooses the difficult path of combatting the status quo. I can honestly say that I have never been one with that desire to change the world. Not that I didn't want a better world, or wouldn't love to be seen as a hero, but quite honestly I just never had the courage of conviction and inner strength necessary to choose to embark upon these epic journeys. 

Or perhaps it's as plain as this: I was simply too comfortable in my life to upset my own apple cart. 

 The older I get, the more shame I feel in realizing this about myself. I understand now that I owe a huge debt of gratitude for all the extraordinary people who stand up against the world so that I may take my current quality of life for granted. 

I also realize that I still have many opportunities to bring change to the world. I can choose to be more like "The Greensboro Four " by leaving my comfort zone in hopes of making a difference in a lasting way. On days like today, February One, I rededicate myself to projects that are important to me and yet 'bigger than me'... for no better reason than it's my responsibility to contribute. I have no grand delusions of self-importance, but rather I see this as an opportunity to send a humble "time-machine thank-you" to historic heroes... by paying tribute to their efforts through actions I might normally resist.

I am in no way comparing my current endeavors with the magnitude of our history's heroes. I am saying that I will vow to Get Back UP to a better life... and I will choose to extend my hand to others to in the process.  

If I have learned anything from The Greensboro Four it's this: We are all responsible for our actions in this world, and we are equally responsible for our inactions.

If you're ever in Greensboro, let's do lunch: http://www.sitinmovement.org/


Sights along my Feb.1 training run

In an attempt to keep the promise I made to myself after the Phoenix Rock-n-Roll Half in January (to remember to TRAIN for the next event!) I have started February off right with a 10-mile run. I ran pre-dawn and took these photos as the sun was coming up. I can't remember ever seeing so many flowers blooming in the heart of our winter. "June-uary" was amazing in regards to weather and so far February is off to a great start. Temps were around 50 degrees, no wind, and by mid-day we're supposed to be near 70. Big change from last year's wet-n-wintry conditions here in NC, and it's lovely. I do really enjoy snow (the way we get it here, not lake-effect-Buffalo-snow) but since we usually get cold rain or ice instead I'll happily keep the current balmy weather. What's it like where you are?
All the daffodils have been popping out this week, let's hope they can hang on awhile before the temps plummet again!

More cheery blooms along the trail.

Hmmm... rare species of blooming tree?