Thursday, August 30, 2012

13 down, 9 to go!

Rock n' Roll Providence and the busy month of August!

For those of you who only wish to read about my race events you may want to skip the first half of this entry, which chronicles what I did in my "time off".  

August appeared to be innocuous enough at first glance with only one race event scheduled for the entire month. I had hoped to take my first week off this year and spend some time time away from my phones, my computer and my iPad.

I should have known better. 

August filled up so quickly with other assignments that I was actually relieved to "get away from it all" when the mid-month race finally took place.

July 28th-August 2nd:

Upon my return from Chicago I immediately began work on a presentation for my 4-day trip to New Jersey at Allard's corporate meeting, slotted for the last week of July and first few days of August. I had the presentation hanging over my head for weeks but never had any time to work on it, now it was crunch time and I was panicked. It took me a few days to solicit the help I needed in first learning the new computer program required before I even got to the actual presentation details... sheesh! In true Beth fashion I got it done barely in time after pulling an all-nighter in my hotel room the evening before I was to speak. 

You would think that with all the media appearances I've done this year that I would be perfectly comfortable standing in front of a group of people I work for. Quite the opposite! I was so nervous and stressed out about this project and I couldn't wait to have it behind me.

RELIEF!!! The dreaded presentation is over! I actually got to enjoy some social time with members of the Allard team before heading back home to North Carolina.

August 2nd-August 7th:

Back from NJ and it's time for another presentation project which I will present in Boston in September, this one requiring a video-taping session with one of my physicians. With Dr. Fields' schedule as chaotic as mine we were lucky to secure a few days this week to get it done... but we did, so another task checked off my list!

Then it's on to the home of my friends, Joy and David Savage, for a paint consultation. Back in a former life I was a decorative/faux painter and still dabble in it from time to time for friends and family.  Joy had booked me 3 months in advance for this week,  knowing it was the only extended time I would have at home this year. I didn't exactly want to spend my "down time" painting but I did want to see these friends and finally check out their new house. Plus, theirs was the type of project I truly enjoy so although it took a few days I was happy to be working "unplugged" for a change. I neglected to take photos, sorry, but Joy and David are quite happy with their new and improved kitchen. Check!

Also this week I was able to repay the kindness of my friends, Cindy and Don, by looking after their home and dogs. These dear friends are militant in their watch on my house while I'm on the road so now it's my turn to return the favor... check!
Poor Kip and Zoe HATE the noise of fireworks and thunderstorms, both of which they endured this week. I am here trying to comfort them somewhere around midnight during a fierce storm!
August 8th:

With no race on the calendar this week I was actually surprised to hear that a local news station wanted to do an interview with me, but I am forever at the ready! I met the reporter from News 14 Carolina around the corner from my house along the neighborhood running trail. Here's the link to one of the pieces they aired:

August 9th-15th:

As per usual when our "Get Back Up" stories air I get another influx of calls and emails. I spent the better part of this week responding to them all, not wanting them to pile up before another story hits. Some of these inquiries are easy to manage by simply connecting them to an Allard representative for more information. For so many of the calls, however, it is important to devote more time in the form of in-depth personal conversation... which brings me to an important side note:

When I took this job I did expect this contact to be part of my work. What I didn't anticipate was the huge emotional toll this brings to my world; speaking with people who are as desperate as I once was brings back every emotion I experienced in my darker days of coming to terms with my new limitations. I understand so well what they are going through and in my case there has been a happy ending which I hope provides some measure of hope for them.

I do take this part of my job very seriously and I try to personally connect with as many people as possible. With each of these conversations lasting about an hour you may better understand why, with hundreds of inquiries to-date, I don't have much free time in any given week. It should also help you understand why I need to take time out to recharge my batteries, to make sure that I can maintain an aura of positive energy necessary to do this unique job of mine.

And speaking of time out, the Hoppers were in town--yay!!

This is the THIRD double rainbow this season, so cool!

Good to see I'm not the only one excited to see these rainbows.
August 10th and 11th:

Another promised-project to do!! I totally forgot about this one until my friend, Carolyn Williams, reminded me just in the nick of time. For several years now I have offered my artistic services to the Williams' family in their zeal for their favorite team, the NC State Wolfpack. Their son, William (along with a friend or two) shaves his head for me to decorate with the team logo before they head to Raleigh for media day. The spray painting is the easy part... designing and cutting a three-layer logo stencil takes FOREVER and once again I am down to the wire on a promise!! Once again, though, I get it done moments before they show up on my porch...whew. And to make matters worse, I am A TARHEEL FAN and total arch-rival of NC State... what I do for my friends, I tell ya!

I enlist Carolyn's help in holding the stencil on William's head.

First layer, red!

The basic red, before I fill in the "bridges" of the stencil.

Basic red with the basic black... one layer to go!

Stenciling is hard enough on a flat surface, much less on a rounded head with hair!

All 3 layers before the final touches of filling in the bridges.

The artist and her subjects.

The finished product! Have fun guys... Go 'HEELS!!

My husband on my neighbors' porch, watching the stenciling from across the street.  Laura, meanwhile, is reading the Get Back Up article from the Chicago Tribune.
August 12th-15th:

4 more days of phone calls, emails & future travel planning simultaneous with laundry and packing for the Rock 'n Roll Providence Half marathon... where has the month gone?!

August 16th--off to Providence finally!!!

I made it to Rhode Island and first stop, a tourist shop for postcards !!
Friday, August 17th:

A surprise call from a Providence reporter wanting to feature our story for the upcoming race... score!! Usually we don't get anything to air until race day itself so this is a fantastic opportunity. The reporter, Abbey Niezgoda of ABC-6, actually drove an hour to meet me in Norwich where Jim was on a business call for the day.
I'm guarding Abbey's gear as she goes to the car for another load...

The interview from MY point of view!
Abbey was such a joy and it was so fun to spend the hour with her. Thanks for your time today, Abbey-- and I hope you'll be running the race this time next year! Here's the link to the story she put together:

When I was done with the interview I had a few hours to kill before Jim was done with his meetings. Lucky for me Jim had Priceline'd and won a bid for this fabulous hotel, The Norwich Inn and Spa. While I didn't take advantage of any spa offerings I did have a nice training run along the property, followed by a dip in the pool and a late lunch of chowder and fruit & cheese in their quaint little pub.
The Norwich Inn and Spa.

Ascots, the Pub inside the Inn.

The suite where we stayed, a perfect place for working before heading into Providence.

Upon Jim's return to the Inn we loaded up our luggage and raced back to Providence in hopes of catching the evening news to see Abbey's story. We made it to the Hilton just in time for the hotel bar to switch the channel to ABC-6 and sure enough, the story aired immediately. Thank you so much, Abbey, for sharing our campaign with your viewers!

It's hard to tell from this picture, but this is the bar area of Shula's at the hotel where we caught Abbey's story on the HUGE TV monitor. It was a bit unsettling to see myself on this television much larger than life... and so many wrinkles visible in Hi-Def... ugh! Oh well, a small price to pay for spreading the message...

Saturday, August 18th:

Alright, you knew she'd be here somewhere!! Without Merle's snappy new shoes and Sweaty Band to match you might think I just recycled a photo from another blog entry. :-)

Always great to meet up with good friends!

And I can't forget Emily! Another great friend found along the Rock 'n Roll 'tour'...
Don't forget to stop in and say Hi to Emily at the Marathon Jewelry booth! 

My latest charm, the Providence bib charm to go along with the 12 race charms from this year.

After the Expo it was time for lunch. Jim and I found a great little Italian restaurant within walking distance of the Expo and our hotel, a place called Zooma.

The menu, featuring homemade pasta and other delectables.

We arrived just as they were opening for lunch. Outside seating was not an option, it happens to be raining in Providence today. :-(

Yummmm... fresh Caprese appetizers.

Delicious calamari with roasted grape tomatoes.
During lunch I got a call from another local news team wanting to share our Get Back Up campaign with viewers. I was told to pick the meeting spot so I chose the Expo as an opportunity to feature the Rock 'n Roll venue along with their vendors. So back we went, in the rain, to the Expo to meet up with Tony Gugliotta.
You can see me in the viewfinder on Tony's camera.

The Superstar! Tony is the reporter and the cameraman and the news anchor!

Merle enthusiastically let us use her booth as a backdrop for our interview, then she offered to take a photo of me with my newest friend, Tony.

Spreading the Get Back Up message, but if you didn't know better you'd think it was an infomercial for Sweaty Bands!
I get to meet so many wonderful people doing this job, and Tony is no exception. We spent a good bit of time talking about our jobs...both of us feeling blessed to do be doing something we are passionate about. Tony, thank you for the time you spent with me today and especially for the positive energy you bring to your work. I truly enjoyed meeting you and wish you the best of luck on your own journey. Most importantly, thank you so much for helping us to share the Get Back Up message with more people in Rhode Island... the phone calls and emails began pouring in after each time the story aired!!!

For those of you who want to see how prominently Sweaty Bands was featured ;-), here's the link to one of the segments that aired:

Sunday, August 19th--RACE DAY:

Saturday was such a full day I barely had time to get my Get Back Up sign made before going to sleep! I did indeed finish it though and woke up today at the lovely hour of 4am. Surprisingly I actually felt rested and was ready to get race number 13 under my belt.

The mighty Jim Austin, trying to find an open coffee shop on our way to the starting line area.

Providence at dawn.

Sleepy Beth, posing in front of the Statehouse as the sun comes up.

The VIP tent--yay!!!

I thought my sign looked great with the flower arrangements in the VIP tent. 

Again, we were fortunate enough to be given access to the VIP tent thanks to the generosity of the Competitor Group. This means so much to us in that it really helps us to get more media coverage, which is why I like to return the favor by promoting the Rock n' Roll events every chance I get!

As the sun rises over Providence I find a familiar face making his way to join us before the race starts... Jim Ingegneri, an Allard District Manager, takes a day out of his vacation to cheer me on!

What a trooper! Jim was up at 3am to make his way to the race start for today's event.

Runners finally making their way to the starting area.

VIP tent is full of excitement, with perfect weather on tap for the Half Marathon.

7am and we're ready to go!

Shiny, happy people.
Runners ready themselves for 13.1 miles of rock and roll!

Another media score! This is a follow-up to Abbey's earlier story, thanks ABC-6! And thanks, Jim, for running all over town on your day off to help spread the message!

After finishing the race I did a quick wardrobe change and was ready by the time the reporter was set up.

While I try to stay on message, I am really thinking of the food awaiting me in the VIP tent behind me.

Jim caught up with me at 5 spots along the course, carrying our sign the entire day. It was really great to have his support today, this event was a tough one for me.
You never really know how you're going to feel when race day arrives, all you can do is prepare yourself well and hope for the best. Today was one of those days that I just didn't have it all together and I struggled to finish the last 5 miles. I'm not really sure what happened. The weather was wonderful, the course itself was beautiful and although it was much hillier than I expected I've run much tougher courses this year alone. I also felt like I got good sleep and I have been eating pretty much the same things as usual and yet my pace was off by almost a minute per mile. My time: 2:05:11... the slowest race of the year.

I would be upset with this time if I were really trying to run my best each race but ultimately I am so grateful to be able to be running at all, much less running 22 half marathons in the same year! My goal this year was to try to run all the races in about 2 hours, so this is still in the ball park but I'd like to figure out what went wrong so I don't struggle so much in Virginia Beach. I should also add here that the MAIN goal was to finish all of the races without illness or injury and on this mark I'm right on target, thankfully.

I suppose I may be slowing down due to pure fatigue, after all I've not really had any true break to speak of. Even when I haven't had back to back events I'm still traveling and working practically around the clock. I am going to have to figure out a way to regroup before the end of the month... I am starting a grueling 13-week stretch of 9 Half Marathons, another non-RnR charity event in Tennessee, a presentation & meetings in Boston and a family trip for Thanksgiving so there will not be an opportunity to rest and recharge until the 14th week. We'll see what happens... I'm a bit nervous due to how I'm feeling after this race.
The hard-earned medal--I love it!!

By the time I got back to the hotel after the race my inbox was full of more inquiries from viewers in the Providence area. I got to meet with two people who drove to my hotel to catch up with me before I left town... the campaign is working so well and I'm so happy to connect people with Allard's amazing bracing options!

While in Providence I got the opportunity to meet up with some great friends, they took us to this restaurant on the water about an hour out of town.

A great way to end the busy race weekend, relaxing on the waterfront with good food and great friends.

Calming breezes on  a gorgeous day.

Chelos on the water, highly recommended if you're in the area!

Jim, Jena and Pat enjoying the opportunity to catch up.

Tuesday, August 21st:

Back home in NC with another long list of people to call... such a great "problem" to have!! I never imagined we'd get so much great media this year and it is really exciting to make a difference in so many lives. Providence was fantastic if you measured it by media coverage... I think we got air time 7 different times which showed in the numbers of people calling/emailing me afterward for more information. My hope is to connect with all the latest inquiries by the end of this week so I'll have a clean slate again before heading to Virginia Beach next weekend for the next round!

Meanwhile, I have laundry to do, a long-overdue hair appointment and a few days worth of "office work" in preparation for the next few months of serious traveling. Then it's a quick cleaning of the house, much needed yard work and finally packing time again for the Va Beach Rock 'n Roll Half!

Wednesday, August 29th:

I have no idea where last week went... it just flew by in record time with all the tasks I had to complete. I'm off now to Virginia Beach where we'll see how/if I've recovered from August well enough to run a good Half Marathon this weekend!

Before I left town I got to enjoy my final Hoppers game of the season... I am so sad to miss the last stretch of games of the year but it's been a great season for the team and I was fortunate to see so many games, considering how little I am home. 

To celebrate my favorite team, I added one last project to my list...self-inflicted this time, but so worth it as a way to thank the staff at the ballpark: I made more than 100 baseball-themed cookies for my friends at the stadium who always make me feel so happy to be home in Greensboro.
Baseball sugar cookies from a Martha Stewart recipe...

Gingerbread mitts... also one of Martha's recipes!

I'm too lazy to go back and rotate this photo, but you get the idea, right? 

"Hoppers" pennants... let's hope we can win it for the second year in a row!
Jersey's and ball caps by the dozens...

And finally, the assortment given to each of my friends at the ball park, made from scratch in appreciation for their hard work during the long, long baseball season! I will miss you all!

See you in Virginia Beach!!!!!