Monday, October 29, 2012

18 Down, 4 to go!!

Half Marathon #18 of 2012: Rock 'n' Roll St. Louis!

Wednesday, October 17th:

A brief 2-and-a-half days home and it's time to pack up and go again. During these days I managed 2 full 'office days', did laundry, cleaned the house and made it through my dentist appointment this morning before taking off for Chapel Hill. Jim and I will be flying out of Raleigh (RDU) for a better flight to St. Louis tomorrow and since Jim's flight is at 6:00am we're staying with my parents again--both Mom and Bob are in town for a change. As a bonus, my Aunt Dorothy is here visiting from Sherman, TX so we enjoyed a wonderful dinner together.
Dorothy, Mom and Bob are sporting the newly minted Get Back Up medals.  These medals were designed as a way to say "Thank You" to the people who are going above and beyond in their support of our campaign. We're also going to give them to individuals who themselves have "gotten back up" and have joined us along the way by sharing their stories. I wish we had thought of these at the start of the year but better late than never, right?! 
Thursday, October 18th:

Jim, Bob and I were all flying out of RDU on separate flights today, all evenly spaced about 3 hours apart. Mom was busy with appointments so Dorothy stepped up and played taxi-driver back and forth--what a trooper! Thank you, Dorothy, it was so nice to have the luxury of visiting with you at home instead of spending more hours in an airport this year.

My flights were on time and I got a pleasant surprise upon my connection in Charlotte: Jim Campbell was once again on the same flight and we finally got the opportunity to sit together and get acquainted. Jim is the sound engineer hired by Competitor Group to oversee the sound production for all of the Rock 'n Roll events this year. We both fly through Charlotte on a regular basis and found ourselves frequently on the same flights and running in the same circles surrounding these events. At one point I joked with him, saying that Jim (my husband) and I were stalking him... and that's how we became friends.

One note about friends: Traveling as much as we've done this year we are almost never at home, where we have some of the best friends anyone could ask for. We miss them terribly and yet, when we are home it's usually only on a Tuesday or Wednesday when everyone is working so we don't manage much time to see everyone. That's what makes it so fantastic to have new friends "on the road" who are living parallel lives in a way. We've become a small "Rock n Roll" family and we've bonded by sharing time with each other surrounding each of these races.

Upon landing in St. Louis Jim Campbell took off to start his work and I took off to meet up with my Jim. We got ourselves checked into the hotel and walked around town a bit before grabbing an early dinner and turning in for the night.

Friday, October 19th:

Off to the obligatory race check in at the Expo. I'll keep the descriptions limited to photos since must seem like a broken record to regular readers (if there are any of you!)

My take on the St. Louis Arch (thanks to Emily at Terryberry/RnR Marathon Jewelry).

Collin is helping Emily in the booth this week and will also run his first half marathon on Sunday.

Jim shops.

Still no Merle! I miss her but I got to see Susan, right, whom I first met back in Dallas in the spring.

Sweaty Band Susan and I meet again--finally! Susan lives here so she gave me the scoop on some of her favorite places to add to the list my friend Marian gave me earlier in the week.

Leaving the Expo at the St. Louis convention center. Today was a chilly day in the city but no rain in the forecast.
With no media having committed to anything yet I go into "on call" mode. This usually means exploring the city while sticking pretty close to the hotel in case I get a call from a reporter and have to meet them on short notice for an interview. Jim and I thought we'd start by heading to Busch Stadium to check out a few of the surrounding places that Susan recommended.

The tour starts here.

A cool fountain colored Cardinal Red for the St. Louis Cardinals who play the SF Giants tonight in the baseball playoffs. 

A runner warming up for Sunday's race?

The St. Louis Arch is hiding in the back.

I am here.

And here!

The Cardinals are everywhere you look... and so are arches.

Our choice for lunch today thanks to Susan's recommendation: Broadway Oyster Bar. 

Jim's Crawfish enchiladas.

My fish tacos.

We are here in the afternoon but apparently this joint is hopping in the evenings.

Susan is not the only fan of this restaurant.

The back room.

Definitely a 'Nowlins' vibe at Broadway Oyster bar.

When in Rome... This town is completely overrun by Angry Birds (aka St. Louis Cardinal fans) decked out in red and black. I bought my bird scarf to stay warm while blending right in.

The covered outdoor patio is already jumpin'.

Jim Campbell met us on Broadway during our lunch. We took the opportunity to explore the other spots nearby. He's standing in BB's Jazz, Blues and Soups.

Another view in BBs, hopefully we'll get a chance to come back to hear some of the live music.

The stage at BBs.

The 700 block on Broadway here in St. Louis is a spot I would definitely recommend if you plan to visit the city... especially if you're a Blues or Jazz fan! Here's the link to BB's website for information on upcoming performances:

This week's lineup.

Ooooh, this is kinda spooky... Jim now claiming to be a member of the Illuminati.
We left BB's to check on The Beale on Broadway across the street. Amazing chalk drawings, guitars and posters grace the old brick walls.

The spirit of Blues.

The front door of The Beale.

Incredible chalk drawings are everywhere in here.

We gave in to temptation and had a pint early evening before trekking back to the hotels downtown.  Sean, Jim Campbell's coworker, joined us on our tour of this side of St. Louis.

Busch stadium is packed as the MLB playoff game gets underway. The stadium is about a mile from our hotel so I was happy to have my Angry Bird hat/scarf for the cold and windy walk back.
Saturday, October 20th:

First I'd like to wish my Mom and Bob a Happy Anniversary... I think this makes 33 years!!

Happy Anniversary!! I love you both.
With no media or local appearances scheduled thus far, today is a day for planning race day strategy and not much else. I do hope to get media, that's the whole point of these events, but with so little down-time in my schedule--especially on weekends--it's actually kind of nice to have time to relax a bit. Jim and I wanted to make the most of our time in St. Louis and decided to walk around for 2-3 hours as a warm-up for tomorrow's Half Marathon. We started out by walking the route we'd have to take to get to the starting line tomorrow...

This reminds me of my friend Michelle "But-I-AM-Running" Sanford, aka Cecil the Turtle. Hiya Meesh! We miss you and Tex!

We passed this on our way back from the starting line about a sandwich board!!
With "race reconnaissance" done, it should take us 15-20 minutes to get to the start tomorrow from the hotel, we set out on our own architecture tour of the area. I spent some time reading about the city before we arrived and I am excited to see so much of the architecture in person.
Downtown neighborhoods hint at the city's affluence in it's  heyday.

I forgot to charge my phone yesterday and need to limit my use of it in case I get a media call. Thus, I am taking very few photos but I encourage you to read about the architecture and history of St. Louis... it is fascinating and rich! Here's a link to the basics:

Hoping to check this out while I'm here, it's right down the street from my hotel.

A modern addition to the sculptures of St. Louis, seen along our walk to the riverfront.

This is Lacledes Landing, an historic area on the Mississippi River. In the background you see the Martin Luther King Bridge. 
Here are 2 links to the history of the MLK Bridge and to Lacledes Landing:

As I mentioned, I had to save my battery power and didn't get many photos but hopefully I'll have some time after the race tomorrow to show you more. For now it was back to the hotel to make my sign and then off to meet Emily Schulte (Marathon Jewelry vendor and a new friend this year) for dinner.

My trusty sign-making kit with newly purchased foam core.

It's never perfect but I free-hand the sign in permanent marker each time... I think I could do this asleep and blindfolded by now!
Now it's off to Mango, a restaurant Jim Campbell recommended from his trip here last year. We're meeting Emily, a nice treat to enjoy the company of friends on the road.

Entree options...

Small plates and salad options...

Something for everyone...

Veggie-stuffed avocado salad.

Spinach & goat cheese savory tart.

I believe this was the Mahi special Jim ordered.

Emily ordered the Shrimp and Pesto pasta.

Thank you, Emily, for treating us to dinner... what a nice gift!! Also, I got to surprise her with a Get Back Up medal for all the social media posts she writes on behalf of our campaign. Thank you for continuing to promote and share our message across the country, Emily!
Sunday, October 21st--RACE DAY!

A chilly start this morning and a bit breezy but we are undeterred! As we make our way to the start we find friend and Rock 'n Roll regular Kevin Gonzalez:

I was glad to have my Angry Bird on! Jim Campbell will be on the starting line stage and asked me to bring it this morning so he can wear it for the festivities. 

Another friend and race regular, Andrew Pelletier in town from Dallas.

As the sun rises the runners line up. You can see from the attire that it will be a chilly start. This is the view behind me from Corral 3.

The view in front of me as the sun comes up over the Arch.

I'm supposed to hand off my Angry Bird warmth to Jim Campbell on the starters platform but I may rethink it!
(Actually, I did get a shout-out from John Bingham at the start and did hand it off. After all, I had to remember the traditional marathon wisdom "If you're comfortable at the start you'll be too hot by mile 2"...sage advice.)
With no supporters in town for today's race I don't have any of the on-course photos but this Half Marathon is a great event. The course itself was "rolling" but no truly steep uphills or downhills--my favorite type of terrain. I prefer a rolling course to both hilly and flat ones, good variety for using different muscle groups without taking a huge toll on heart or lungs. The weather was PERFECT for my tastes as well... cool at the start and upper 50's to low 60's for Finish Line festivities. The leaves were almost peak color and the run through the different neighborhoods in St. Louis was fabulous. This is among my top 5 favorite runs this year.

My sign stood tall all morning anchored at the VIP tent, cheering passers-by with positive support. :-)

I made my way through the finish line area and passed Emily's tent. She was wearing (and promoting!) our campaign as she provided finishers with another opportunity to purchase commemorative marathon bling.

We did it! Jim's time: 2:02:51. My time 1:55:44.

Andrew not only finished strong and got his St. Louis medal, he also picked up his "Super 6" medal for completing his 6th RnR event this year. Congrats Andrew! See you in San Antonio!

My post-race recovery: Baked potato with plain yogurt & veggies with sides of penne and broccoli---YUM!

I carefully extracted some pineapple from the melon bookends. The ONLY fruit or vegetable I don't like is anything from the melon family. I feel like a freak of nature.

More healthy and delicious treats.

After a change of clothes I took the opportunity to chat with  John "The Penguin" Bingham. For anyone even remotely considering doing a marathon (or ANY running distance, from 1 mile or more) I highly recommend his book "The Courage to Start". This book is an informative, inspiring and hilarious take on becoming a runner... it was the kick I needed to sign up for my very first marathon.

Another encounter with Marathon legend Frank Shorter. He didn't run this event this year, just there in support of the race series he co-founded. Thanks for yet another fabulous event, Mr. Shorter!

Beautiful flowers on the VIP tables once again.

The medal.

David DeNeire finally rolls in from rocking his second FULL marathon in 2 days. 

David, Michelle, Rafael and Sherry all did the Indy Marathon yesterday and today David and Sherry did the St. Louis Full, Rafael and Michelle the Half. Sherry did 4 full marathons in 9 days...unbelievable! 

Jim and I with our measly 18th Half Marathon medal this year. :-)
(my skinned knee has almost healed from my NY fall)
Another great event behind us and a beautiful afternoon to see some more of the city. Emily's flight doesn't leave until this evening so she wrapped up her Marathon Jewelry duties and met us on the riverfront for some last minute sight-seeing.

The walk along the riverfront parks from the hotel towards the Arch.

I told you it was a beautiful race day!

In front of the Arch on a perfect day to see the view from the top... we're just waiting for Emily.

Another gorgeous view in this urban oasis.

The Mississippi River. We're standing with the Arch to our right with the MacArthur Bridge visible in the background.

For $10 a person you can ride up to the top of the Arch in teeny tiny tram cars. Emily and I squeeze in.

Jim has to lean forward to keep from hitting his head.

They pack 5 people into each tram car then begin to ratchet us up to the top. I don't recommend this for anyone who is claustrophobic!
I heartily recommend this attraction to anyone visiting the city! Here's a link to the amazing history you will discover upon a tour of the St. Louis Arch:

The view of downtown from the top of the Arch on a perfectly clear afternoon.

Emily peeks through small Arch-top windows to photograph the city.

Jim and I at 630 feet above St. Louis.

Other than the race in the mile-high city of Denver, I would consider this the highest point of the Get Back Up campaign. 
The view of the Mississippi river with Illinois on the other side.
Again, I loved the trip up to the Arch and learning about the rich history of its construction, along with the game-changing technology of the construction and success of the Eads bridge. See here for more about this:

And speaking of "game-changing", the city of St. Louis underwent a remarkable change of color from Cardinal Red to Wisconsin Badger Red to Packers Green and Gold! If you had no idea where you were this Saturday and Sunday you'd be convinced you were in Wisconsin. Everywhere you looked you saw a Packers' fan... they are here playing the St. Louis Rams today.

Making our way back from the Arch through Lacledes' Landing we felt transported to WI.

Finally, someone else not wearing a Cheesehead! These Irish Wolfhounds were gorgeous and so friendly... and huge.

We popped in for a bite of Wild Mushroom Ravioli on our way back to the hotel. An early morning tomorrow (after an early start and a long day today) dictates an early evening for us tonight.
A few final comments on St. Louis: First, the race itself is a great event and a nice, easy course for anyone wishing to try a Marathon or Half Marathon's one of my top 5 faves this year. Second, the people of St. Louis have been INCREDIBLE. Jim and I heard numerous tourists repeating this same sentiment, we couldn't believe how nice, helpful, down-to-earth and generous these people were. Especially considering the town was overrun with opposing fans and traffic was snarled with the Marathon course closings it was a pleasant surprise to be met with nothing but genuine smiles everywhere we turned.


Monday, October 22nd:

Now it's back to reality on the way home...
My newfound friend expresses his sentiments during yet another "mechanical delay" on the journey home.
Next stop, Knoxville, Tennessee for the Tennessee ToeOFF Trot!