Thursday, August 2, 2012

12 down, 10 to go!

The Countdown begins! 
(only 10 Rock 'n Roll Half Marathons to go after this one in Chicago)

Thursday, July 18th:

If you read my last entry you'll recall that Jeri Rowe's article about our Get Back Up campaign was printed last weekend. The whole point of gaining media attention is to get the word out to others with mobility issues that there is better technology out there than ever before... so I'm always thrilled when we get an opportunity to share this information with those who need it. That being said, every time we do get an article printed or a story aired on TV I am instantly inundated with calls and emails from desperate people wanting to know more right away. I take these inquiries very seriously and try to respond personally and promptly to every one of them because I know how desperate I once was for a way to "get back up". Unfortunately this is not always possible--there are only so many hours in a day and each phone call usually ends up taking about 45 minutes to an hour. I've spent the last 5 days meeting in person with some of the people who contacted me, responding to emails and coordinating with Allard to find orthotists for each of these people, and also talking on the phone to as many of them as I could in the amount of time I had before needing to leave for Chicago. For the folks I didn't get to, I apologize, but I did send your inquiries on to a new point person at Allard so you will get the basic information you need right away and then I will follow up as time allows. With more than 25 individuals waiting for phone calls this will take a bit of time to complete but I am more than happy to do so!

Photo of the article, nicely framed by "In the News". I will post the link when we secure the full version, or you can keep checking on the Allard web page:  then click on "media" and then on "print media".
In the interim hours I've been coordinating plans for my Chicago trip and I am off bright and early today to the Windy City!
Making my way to the hotel in the River North area, a few miles north of the starting line.

This just reminded me that I need to check in with my neighbors to see if they can water my plants while I'm here; time got away from me in the last week!

Waiting to check in to the hotel, I go across the street to watch some of the British Open at a restaurant in the Omni hotel.

I selected some delicious cheese varieties and was not disappointed!
When I was able to check in to the hotel I spent my time trying to follow up on a few more of my emails and phone calls. I was slowly making my way through the list when Jim got to the hotel. Both of us have been working so hard in the last few weeks and decided we'd take advantage of a "free" evening here in Chicago to unwind a bit. We had already made plans to join Merle for dinner later in the evening before we got too busy with race and media activities but now we decided to see if she was up for joining us on an impromptu outing: a trip to Wrigley Field to catch the last few innings of the Cubs vs. Marlins game. She was up for it and made her way to our hotel where the 3 of us sped off to Wrigleyville!
Cubs are playing Miami Marlins, the franchise team of the Greensboro Grasshoppers, what a great coincidence this weekend! We were able to see some of the guys play here in the big league after seeing them come through the minors just a few years ago in Greensboro.

Climbing, still, to our seats in the nosebleed section.

The view from our seats. We made it in time to see almost 3 innings.

Jim and I are enjoying our second MLB game this season, our first time together at Wrigley Field.

A perfect day in Chicago.

Leaving the field and walking back South towards downtown Chicago.

Jim can't refuse a challenge.
Merle, Jim and I all enjoyed our late afternoon adventure but needed to get back to our hotels to change clothes for our dinner plans. Merle graciously invited us to join her at a restaurant she's been hoping to try, RPM in the River North area. RPM is a fairly new, chic spot and Merle has had her reservations for over a month. Part owners of this Italian-fare restaurant are Bill and Giuliana Rancic of TV-fame. Bill was the "first hire" of Donald Trump's Apprentice show and the Rancics have a show of their own on Style network, of which Merle is a huge fan.
Big surprise awaits Merle (foreground) as Bill Rancic (background) was in the house tonight dining with his sister and nephews!

Okay, so I couldn't resist saying hello. I learned that Bill has run the Chicago Marathon twice--is there anything this man can't do?!

The menu at RPM. The food was actually fabulous and the prices, considering the area and the popularity, were fairly reasonable. We bought several dishes to share around the table... I would definitely go back for the food alone!

Jim and I enjoying the soothing atmosphere of a packed RPM.
Friday, July 20th:

First of all, Happy Birthday to my little sister, Becky Kubin!! More greetings to come but I need to start the day off right!

Merle and I are finally going to run together. After all these months traveling the Rock 'n Roll circuit we had yet to find a time when both of us were free to run at the same time. We chose 6:30 a.m. today as the first one, so Jim and I made our way down to her hotel near McCormick center and planned to run along the lake front. Jim had meetings for work from 8:00am through early afternoon so he planned to leave us halfway and keep heading north back to our hotel to start his day.

It was a beautiful morning to run, here are some of the highlights along the route:
The Marina area near Grant Park along Lake Michigan

Beautiful boats!

If you're facing the marina and do a 180 this is the view you'll see.

Merle, opting for a picturesque water break.

Me, copying Merle.

Merle does Yoga to get centered for our return-trip along the lakefront.

What can I say? I learned all my Yoga moves from the Karate Kid. :-)

This was our half-way and turnaround point... that's Navy Pier in the background.
Way, way back in the distance you'll see where we were earlier... at this point we're about 7 miles into our run.

"Wait for it...."

"...wait for it..."

BLAM!! Now that's what I call a water break!

We found another early-riser at the Point and finally got into a photo together.

We got a bit lost and passed our cut-through back towards McCormick but discovering this grassy plain just off the lake was a real treat. Who knew there was so much to see right here?
The Garmin measured 8 miles for our run, what a cool thing to be able to have a friend to run with this year. Because I'm on the road so much I rarely get to spend any time jogging with my friends so this was fantastic--thanks, Merle!

Now back to the hotel for breakfast and a shower then to the Expo for race check-in and planning. First stops are always Emily's and Merle's booths!
Emily added my Chicago race bib charm, the one on the inside of the circle. She finally had to start going back the other direction on the bracelet, the first charm of 11 on this side for a total of 22 on the year!

Thanks, Emily, for being such a bright spot on the Rock 'n Roll tour!

The Get Back Up team with the Marathon Jewelry team.

The 8-mile runners are back to work. I got my newest Sweaty Band, yay!!! Thank-you, Merle!
Jim met me at the Expo after his afternoon calls and we made plans to get a late lunch. We also needed to make plans for this busy weekend... I was in charge of coordinating the schedule for several people I had not yet met. More about this later, for now here are some shots of our food selections:
We opted for "tapas style" dining and planned to order several small portions for sharing.

The cute little spot we found on our way back towards the hotel.

Perfect day for a table at the open window.

The interior of Ma&I.

Yummmmm...steamed and salted edamames.

This was a veggie and tofu roll with teryaki glaze.

Jim's chicken satay with cucumber slaw and peanut dipping sauce.

My crispy fried tofu with a mirin sauce.

Some sort of dumpling which apparently was off limits to Beth!

I really did mail Becky a card before I left hoping it would arrive on her birthday today. Which it did. However, I had forgotten that Becky was visiting Chapel Hill this weekend so she wouldn't receive it until returning home. Thinking she may check into Facebook, I made this sign while we waited for food and posted it.

I miss you and love you, Becky. Happy Birthday!

Jim is taking credit for the sign on Facebook right now.

Wow, what a coincidence! Beck's books on Beck's B-day!
With full bellies and a lot to do we made our way back to the hotel for the evening. I made my phone calls necessary to get plans set for Saturday along with tending to a few emails. We ventured out for food at a Mexican restaurant just a block from the hotel then retired to the hotel for a good night's sleep...sorry, I neglected to bring my phone with me so I didn't get any photos of our meal.

Saturday, July 21st... the day before the Half Marathon!

I am SOOO excited about today. What I haven't said yet about the Chicago event is that I will be running it with 2 other women with foot drop, both wearing Allard braces!

I've met one of the women before, Lisa McKinney Victorius, when she and her mom came to NC to run a Half Marathon with me. Lisa was the captain of her University of South Carolina cross-country team when she had a bad fall during a steeplechase event. Long story short, she wound up with a badly damaged leg which included foot drop. Devastated as she was, her orthotists in South Carolina had heard about me running marathons with foot drop and quickly got her into the Allard brace. When the rest of her leg was healed enough to support her full weight she began the long process of relearning to run. Along the way we had exchanged emails with each other and became "virtual" friends over several months. I was thrilled to hear of her progress and even more excited when she chose to run with me in NC in her first half marathon ever. She later got married and moved here, to Chicago, and when she found the Get Back Up page on Facebook she posted that she was planning to run with me here--I've been looking forward to this all year!

The second woman's story is equally amazing and I've not yet had the opportunity to meet her in person. Barbie Barnett is a teacher in the Chicago area and has been struggling for a long time with foot drop after her back surgery. As you know if you've read other posts in my blog, foot drop does not just affect people physically, it also has serious emotional "side effects". When your mobility is impaired, so is your lifestyle and your self-identity. Careers can be compromised, relationships are often torn apart and depression is a common theme among those people who have foot drop for any length of time. Barbie was dealing with many of these side-effects, although she did still have her teaching career and a host of great friends and family. One of her friends discovered our "Get Back Up" page on Facebook and immediately sent it to Barbie. Barbie then quickly posted her story on my page and I, in turn, contacted the Allard rep for the Chicago area who happened to be a brand new employee.

Again, long story short, Rick (the DM/rep for Allard in Chicago) actually went to meet Barbie at her school within a day or 2. He brought a sample brace for her to try and for the first time in 4 long years Barbie could run down the hallway! Tears were flowing and her students were cheering. What an amazing way for Rick to see the impact his products have on the people who need them, and what a beautiful thing to know that the ToeOFF would work for Barbie.

Fast-foward 4 months and Barbie's life has completely turned around. She's lost a lot of weight, has been able to exercise regularly and is actually signed up for tomorrow's half marathon!!! Lisa, Barbie, Rick and I will all meet for the first time today (okay, Lisa and I knew each other and Barbie and Rick had met each other, but the rest of the introductions would be a first).

The plans were made to meet for lunch at a restaurant that Rick suggested in the Lincoln Park area of Chicago just north of downtown. Jim and I set out to catch the Red Line then walk the few blocks east to Cafe Ba Ba Reeba.

Waiting for the Red Line L train.

Another beautiful day in the not-so-windy city.

Off the L and walking east. Just stopped to take a photo of Bissell street because just yesterday I learned that my orthotist, Michael Bissell, will be running the Half at the Rock 'n Roll Savannah event with us!

Yay!! Teary-eyed meeting with Barbie Barnett... luckily we were both easy to pick out of the crowd thanks to our fabulous AFO's.
Rick and his girlfriend arrive. I finally get to meet the guy I've been emailing for months.

Lisa and her husband arrive! She is wearing her Ypsilon brace on her left leg but you can't see it from this angle.

What a fabulous selection at Cafe Ba Ba Reeba... but we were so busy talking and learning about each other that the waiter had to make several attempts to get our orders.

More of the menu...

Still more of the menu...

Lisa and Jared, still not ordering.

Rick and Barbie are reunited after the initial meeting at Granger Elementary school. Still not ordering...

The entire crew (minus Jim, who is taking the photo)...we finally ordered!

Lisa's Eggs Benedict

My poached eggs over roasted root vegetable hash.

For the table, baked goat cheese in tangy tomato sauce with fresh garlic bread.

Also for the table, smoked salmon with caper vinaigrette.

The A-team!! (or is it the AFO-team?!) We are ready to rock!!!
It was hard to say goodbye after such a great lunch with everyone but we all had to be up well before dawn in the morning. We made our plans to meet at the starting line around 5am... a lofty goal but necessary if we were to maximize media exposure opportunities. Jim and I walked off a portion of our meal by heading south on foot rather than taking the Red Line back.
Here we are in the Old Town neighborhood. I remember being here with my sister, Maria, when she and Charlie lived in Chicago. I miss you, Maria--I need a shopping partner! :-)
Back to the hotel to get everything ready for tomorrow's event. The race starts at 6am so we plan to wake up by 3:30 and leave the room by 4:30am. As usual, one of my pre-race projects is making the Get Back Up sign.
Free-handing the sign with my trusty Crayola markers!
I'm going to bling it out with the remainder of the red foil fringe I bought in Seattle plus some funky new duct tape I found at the CVS.

Sunday, July 22nd--race day!!

OHHHHH NOOOOO!!! For the first time this year I've woken up with a stomach bug!!! I will spare you the details but this may be a challenging day. Jim and I got up right away so we'd be able to look for a 24-hour drugstore... I need some Imodium A-D, pronto!!
Jim holds the sign as we cross the river nearing the start line. I still haven't found an open drugstore and i'm starting to panic

OK, I finally found an open 7-11 and bought some relief... I hope!! I drank half the bottle (it was a small one though) and just prayed that I would make it through the morning without embarrassing consequences

Lisa and Jared arrive at the VIP tent.

The sun is starting to come up and we're still awaiting Barbie's arrival.

Finally all parties are here with about 15 minutes to spare. Rick was actually the first to arrive, at 4:30am to avoid the traffic!

Final gear adjustments and for me, my 5th trip to the PortaPotty already behind me.

Good luck hugs from Rick and we're all off to find our starting corrals.

Lisa is a corral in front of me, Jim and Barbie are in a corral somewhere behind me. 

The view from the starting line looking back towards Chicago's south side...runners as far as the eye can see!

After meeting us at several spots along the course today, Rick and Jared come back to the Rock 'n Roll VIP area to wait for us to come in.

Lisa is the first, with her best half marathon time ever, just under 1:49!! Way to go, Lisa!

A friendly face, Andrew Pelletier (we met him in New Orleans and have run with him in Dallas and Nashville before today). Congratulations, Drew, on your bonus Rock Star medal for number 5 this year!!


Hugs and stories are shared regarding the efforts of the day.

An Allard first... and probably a world-first... that 3 women with foot drop in AFOs complete the same half marathon. We rock!!

We're all so happy and grateful to have each gotten back up.  Thank you, Allard, for making this day possible for all of us!
Score! The Chicago Tribune is interested in sharing our story.  Thanks, Bridget, for spending so much time with all of us.

Jim and I have seen the Carinos in other Rock 'n Roll races but this time we got to meet them. They informed us that we are the only 2 married couples to receive the "Rock Idol" status for running 10 races in the same year.  We are happy to be members of the club and look forward to seeing them again soon. Keep up the great work!
For those of you wondering, I did finish the race without incident but I also had to stop for the PortaPotties 4 or 5 times in the first 7 miles... which I consider a minor miracle. The heat and humidity of the day, along with 5 potty breaks, led to a finishing time of 2:03:19. My slowest time of the year but not too bad considering all the stops I made today!

The medal for Chicago on the left, the AWESOME bonus medal for 10 Rock 'n Roll races this year.

On the walk back to the hotel.

The famous Bean sculpture.

This really is an impressive and fun sculpture to experience.

Thank you, thank you to the marathon gods (and Imodium A-D) for getting me to the finish line "solidly". 

Upon return to the hotel my digestive tract seemed almost back to normal. I didn't eat much due to my early morning condition and suddenly I found myself famished! Jim and I showered and changed and headed north to find a spot for lunch. We ended up in Old Town again and entered Old Town Social Pub for brunch.
This was their take on eggs Benedict: poached eggs on spinach and artichoke heart over fresh-baked bread. Although it was served with Hollandaise sauce I was worried about over-doing the richness considering my bout with a stomach bug earlier so I went without it. This meal totally hit the spot.

The interior of Old Town Social Club.

The Menu.

More of the menu.

I would have gotten a photo of Jim's meal, Sausage and Waffles with extra syrup, but it was gone too quickly to do so.

Just a close-up shot, with perspective, so you can see how huge the medal is.
Monday, July 23rd:

We made page 7 of the Tribune!! Thanks so much for the coverage, Bridget, so many more people may now be able to join us out here! Here's the link to the full article:

Sweaty Band makes the Tribune!! Lisa stopped by Merle's booth and chose the nautical theme since her husband is in the Navy. Congrats again, Lisa!
Cool coverage and a great souvenir to keep for the wonderful memories. I will never forget today... I feel so very, very fortunate.
So just as the Greensboro calls start to fade, the phone is ringing off the hook and my email accounts are on fire with dozens of new inquiries. This is why we're doing this campaign, to help others to Get Back Up. But I am gonna need some more help to connect with the latest inundation... a terrific problem to have!!!

One final thank you... to all the people at Competitor Group/Rock 'n Roll racing: We SOOOO appreciate the efforts by your team to put on such amazing events. We are also so grateful to be given access to your VIP tent on race day... this makes it possible for the media to find us easily, which makes it possible to give so many people across the country the hope to Get Back Up. Thanks again for your generosity to our campaign!

See you in Providence!!

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