Friday, November 9, 2012

19 Down, 3 to go!

19th Half Marathon of 2012: Rock 'n' Roll Savannah!

Wednesday, October 31st:

I finished all my work and packing with time left over to buy candy for the trick-or-treaters and to stop off at 'the pumpkin church'. My favorite thing to do on Halloween is to carve a portrait pumpkin and this year I had just enough time to get it done before dark. I chose to make Manny "The Mayor of Wharton" Rodrigues my subject this year:

Manny and Manny.

Both Manny and Laura got a big kick out of this year's Portrait Pumpkin. While it didn't turn out perfectly (once you make a cut you can't undo it!!) , with the cigar added as a prop no one had difficulty recognizing Manny.

Manny definitely scared his share of the Trick or Treaters once he "lit up"!
We had a great time on the porch with Manny and Laura, handing out candy to the many kids braving the chilly weather tonight. After the last of the trick-or-treaters came through it was back home for an early night's sleep to prepare for tomorrow's drive to Savannah.

Thursday, November 1st:

A 5:00am wakeup to get on the road to Savannah. This makes 2 road trips by car in as many weeks... I can't remember the last time I went 2 weeks without being on a plane!

I drove the entire way while Jim worked by phone beside me in the passenger seat. The drive was easy, about 5 hours and 20 minutes, with no traffic issues except for the 30 miles each side of Charlotte... as usual.

We arrived around lunchtime on a beautiful day and checked in to the hotel right away. Then it was out to explore town, write our postcards and prepare for the busy weekend ahead.

Walking from our hotel on Liberty St. towards the storied riverfront area.

This is for Melissa (and Grant Dayton of the Miami Marlins franchise). I saw War Eagles everywhere here. Where are all the Tarheels?!
After checking in and figuring out where we could park for less than the cost of an arm and leg, then running some necessary errands, we finally got to the riverfront in time for an early dinner.
Historic Riverfront at Sunset.

A popular place to be.

There's something about being on the water, in the presence of boats, that brings a sense of calm to my world.

If it weren't for all of my obligations this weekend I would almost feel like I'm on vacation!

I have to admit, I was so tempted to go aboard and ask if they were in need of a deckhand for a long trip through the southern hemisphere.

Jim Austin meeting Jim Campbell for dinner. JC arrived here a few nights ago since, thanks to Hurricane Sandy wreaking havoc in WV, he couldn't get home. He scoped out a few good dinner spots and met some local musicians who invited us to their evening performances.

River to my right, historic Savannah downtown to my left.

We ate a few appetizers on the rooftop patio overlooking the river.

A few more 'Tapas-style' plates and we (JC, JA and I) were stuffed. Perfect time to walk along the streets of Savannah. 

Supernatural beauty in the ghostly, mysterious aura of Savannah in the moonlight. 

Not quite midnight in the garden of good and evil.
We walked through the historic squares of downtown Savannah on a mission to catch the last set of two local musicians whom Jim C. met earlier this week. As it turns out, they also will be playing at the mile 12 stage of the Savannah Rock 'n Roll race on Sunday.

Talented photographer and musician Craig Tanner, left, taking a break between sets as he visits with Jim Campbell at The Mansion on Forsyth

Craig plays solo here but performed with Eric Britt for a wonderful night of great music.

Not a great photo, didn't want to use my flash while they were playing, but Craig and Eric asked Jim to join them for a song or two. Good stuff!
I really enjoyed meeting Craig and Eric and learned that they will be playing two shows near Greensboro the week of Thanksgiving. I hope to see them again then!

I would encourage you to check out Craig's blog, link below, and also follow his feed on Instagram @themindfuleye. His photos are stunning! I hope he continues to share his photos while he transitions from a career in photography to his next journey as a career musician.

Also, visit Eric Britt's Facebook page to find our where you can hear him play. (We bought his newest CD, "Greener" and have been enjoying it ever since!)

Thanks to Jim Campbell for introducing us to his new friends. We ended our long day listening to free music in a gorgeous historic mansion with good friends...what could be better than that?!

Friday, November 2nd:

First, Happy Birthday to my nephew, Jackson Kubin in Virginia Beach!! Sorry I couldn't be there in person but we will deliver our presents soon... save me some cake.

Jackson on a recent visit to our house in Greensboro.
Very excited for today because Lisa Victorius arrives. You may remember Lisa from the Rock 'n Roll Chicago post; she has footdrop and is up-and-running thanks to Allard's Ypsilon brace. Lisa will be attempting her first ever full marathon this weekend and I couldn't be more proud of her!

Just off the plane and ready to head to the race check-in with us. Welcome to Savannah, Lisa!

Over the Savannah bridge into the downtown historic district.

I think Jim is holding on to Lisa to make sure she doesn't flee the scene before officially checking in at the race.

"Please don't find my name, please don't find my name, please don't find my name..."

"Darn, they found my name. Well I guess there's no turning back now!"

I love my friends. Lisa and I making the rounds with a first stop at Emily's booth.
With the race merely hours away now, Lisa's butterflies are kicking into full flight. She's been training for her first Full for over 4 months and she's finally here and nervously excited about tomorrow's challenges. We leave her at her hotel where she'll catch the ferry across to explore the Riverfront district while Jim and I head across town for a TV interview this afternoon.
The ferry boat transporting guests from Hutchinson Island to the Savannah Riverfront area.

The lobby of WSAV 3, the station that will give us great coverage for our Get Back Up message.

Mike the "mic(rophone)-man" coming at me, yikes!

Sorry, I just had to play in front of the green screen.

Getting ready for my closeup.

Jim is making faces in the background to keep me from being nervous.

...and... ACTION! 

A quick 2-minute segment and we're done!

Thank you, WSAV3 for sharing our message with your Savannah viewers.
With interviews and assignments finished for the day it was time to head back to our hotel for an early dinner and then to bed. Tomorrow will be a busy day!

Saturday, November 3rd--RACE DAY!!!

I was so excited I actually woke up BEFORE my 4:30am alarm went off this morning. Today I will get to see 3 great friends complete their first full marathons--I am nervous for all of them but also a bit jealous. I remember how great I felt after running my first marathon in Chicago back in 2001. What a long, strange trip it's been since then...

Anyhoooo... back to the tasks of the morning. I am playing race-coordinator for the runners in our group, for the Allard-rep and one of our PR coordinators coming to town to support us and also for the reporter hoping to follow us along today's Rock 'n Roll journey. Oh yeah, and then I have to run my 19th Half Marathon of the year.

First stop, our hotel lobby where Susan Fortener and Michael Bissell will meet us for the walk to the starting  line. Both of these people are so special to me and both are here in support of our Get Back Up campaign where they will attempt their first full marathons.

Susan was the first Allard salesperson I met when I discovered the ToeOFF brace and we hit it off right away. She has since changed jobs but remains an ardent supporter of Allard and our message. She also has become a much-beloved friend to both myself and Jim.

Michael is actually my current orthotist, one of those amazing (and rare) professionals totally dedicated to helping his patients reach their loftiest of goals. Thanks to Mike's creative problem-solving and enthusiastic support along the way I was able to fulfill my dream of getting back to the Boston Marathon. I cannot say enough how grateful I am to Mike and his team at Advanced P&O, my life would not be the same without you guys.

When I first met Susan and Mike (about 6 years ago) neither were runners.

Well, it's not for nothin' that my sister Becky dubbed me the "Pied Piper of Marathoners"...

I celebrated the gift of a lifetime at the Victory Junction 1/2 Marathon 4 years ago when Susan Fortener, Michael Bissell and Lisa (then McKinney) Victorius all ran with me in their first half marathons. And now, by incredible coincidence, all 3 are running their first full marathons and I get to see them cross the finish line!!!

Jim in the middle with 2 special friends: Susan Fortener, left, and Michael Bissell. We are walking through the dark, quiet streets of Savannah hoping to meet up with the rest of our crew at the start line area.
15 minutes later and we've reached the riverfront... the starting line has to be here somewhere.

No one backed out... we're all ready to Rock 'n Roll! Here we are with Savannah's mayor,  Edna Jackson, who came out to celebrate with the 20,000 runners.

My friend George Melichar made it here from New Orleans. I love you, George--always such a joy to see you!

The Phenomenal Four...back together again.
I took a break from the team to find reporter Raquel Rodriguez of WSAV. She interviewed me in front of the starting line before the sun came up and hoped to find me again later at the finish line. Thanks to perfect timing, Liz Summers (one of our wonderful PR team members) arrived with her daughter, Lauren just in time to meet Raquel. Liz and Raquel were a dynamic duo in navigating the scene all morning.

Yikes, where does the time go?!! With the interview done I raced back inside the Hyatt to get my gear checked before the trucks left. I had just enough time for a "pit stop" and met the rest of our team in Corral 3 for the start.
The view behind us as we prepare to take off.

The view ahead. Perfect weather in store for today's race.

Nervous but ready, these 3 are bracing for the 26.2-mile challenge ahead. Me? I'll take the fork in the road to the shorter finish line at 13.1 and will pace back and forth until I see all 3 of these smiling faces cross the Finish Line!

Jim and I having a deja vu moment. Didn't we do this last weekend?

I finally get to mile 12 stage where Eric and Craig were supposed to play. It turns out that 2 bands were playing 30-minute sets and switching out with each other for breaks. At the time I passed these guys were playing... not Eric and Craig but a welcome musical interlude while I rested my legs for the last mile.

The amazing Raquel! She got footage of me at the start line, at mile 5 and again crossing the finish line before yet one more interview at the Finish Line.

Thank you, Raquel, for lugging your gear around all day. Your coverage will change people's lives for the better and I thank you so much for sharing our story with Savannah.
See below for the online link to the story... the actual TV spots were longer and included information about how to learn more about the campaign and the technology.

Flowers on the tables in the VIP Hospitality tent. I love the Mason jar vase... nice Southern touch. I think even Paula Deen would be proud.

Buzz Hanie, Allard rep for the Southeast, makes his way to the course today. Not only did Buzz cheer us on, he became an invaluable asset to Raquel when he became her camera crew for the day.

I am anxiously awaiting the first of the 3 marathoners from our team...the finish line is off in the distance and I will head that way shortly.

The Rock 'n Roll Competitor team celebrating the 2nd annual Savannah event with Mayor Edna Jackson.

She did it!!!! First thing she did after completing the 26.2 miles? She sat down, of course.

Then she Got Back UP so I could give her a well-deserved Get Back Up medal.

Thank you, Lisa, for sharing your story and for inspiring so many others. I am proud to be on your team!

Between us we've got 2 Allard braces and 39.3 miles logged on the day.

NO LIMITS! Lisa finished the Full in 4:02, I finished the Half in 1:59. We ran together for the first 4 miles then settled in to our own paces, which were almost identical.

Recovery mode.

Everyone made it!!! Jim ran in 2:02, Michael finished his first Full in 5:48 and Susan rocked her first Full in 5:27. Congratulations to all!!

Susan goes swiftly into recovery mode!

Yes, there's a reason we are all sitting down. Sore legs but proud hearts abound.

Jim's had enough of Getting Back Up today. Goodbye, sign.

Later the same day and Lisa is on her way back to Chicago and her life in PA school. Good luck with your studies, Leese, you're gonna be an amazing PA!! Oh, and once again, CONGRATULATIONS on an amazing run today!

After taking Lisa back to the airport Jim and I meet up with Craig Tanner for some more of Savannah's great music before we leave town.
Sunday, November 4th:

What a busy day we had yesterday... so much fun, so much excitement with all the friends we had participating. Now it's back home to do it all again next weekend!

Goodbye, Spanish Moss. Goodbye, Savannah. We will miss you.

Parting shot.
Once I got home I received these photos from Susan and wanted to share them with you. I am so proud of Lisa, Michael and Susan for becoming official marathoners. Welcome to the club!!!

Susan with her "Rock"... husband Michael, her biggest fan.

Finally the 26.2 sticker can go on the car!!!

I really do love my friends.

The medal on the dashboard for the long drive home.
Thanks to all of you for sharing in this journey. Next stop: San Antonio for one of the most exciting weekends for our GBU campaign all year...stay tuned!!

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