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.


1 comment:

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