Friday, November 16, 2012

20 Down, 2 to go!!

20th Half Marathon of 2012: Rock 'n' Roll San Antonio

Thursday, November 8th:

With a late-morning flight booked I was able to grab a coffee with my friend, Michelle and then visited briefly with another friend, Melissa, who gave me a ride to the airport--what a treat! I was actually home 3 full days this week between trips but I had so many projects and appointments to fit in that I had no time to connect with friends or family before today. I'll take what I can get!

Meeeeeeee-lissa playing taxi driver. Thanks so much, my friend!

My flights were delayed but only slightly so I made it to San Antonio by late afternoon. This trip is going to be the busiest of all the race-weekends this year because there are 13 people I need to connect with. If we end up getting good media opportunities things may get really crazy since I have to be ready for interviews at a moment's notice... and you never know what time of day or night they'll pop up. The only good thing about the chaos of the weekend ahead is that I am really excited to see each and every one of the 13 friends and supporters who will be a part of this event... I only hope we can manage some quality time together in between the work and the run on Sunday.

First 2 people I get to see are very special to my husband and me, Marci Carranco and Mark Canha. We met Mark when he played for the Greensboro Grasshoppers before he moved up in the league to the Jupiter (FL) Hammerheads. We met his girlfriend, Marci, when she came for a summer visit before returning to her last year of school in Notre Dame's architecture program. We've been friends ever since but it's been over a year since I've seen them in person. (For those of you who follow this blog, you may remember our dinner with Mark's parents written up in my San Jose post.) Today Mark is picking me up at the airport and then we're to meet Marci for dinner when she gets off of work.

Two of my favorite people! Marci and Mark have reversed the roles on me and are playing host/tour guide while I'm in town. Marci works for a local architecture firm and Mark is visiting her in his offseason. So happy to see them both! The weather was so beautiful we opted to dine outside.

One thing we learned about "The Mars" (MARk and MARci) is they like the same foodie places as "The Jims"**. Tonight they brought me to a place called FEAST, a Tapas-style restaurant with great ambiance and wonderful food just south of downtown San Antonio.

**For those of you who don't know the story of how Jim and I became known as the Jims, here's the scoop: When someone first asked Jim if I was planning to take his name once we wed he answered without hesitation, "Oh yes, she's taking my name!" I looked over at him a bit flustered, we had never discussed this and I thought I should be consulted about this first. Before I had time to say anything he turned to the person and blurted "She's taking my name alright but I'm not giving her my last name, I'm giving her my FIRST name... we're gonna be 'The Jims'". And so it was. :-) 

On the left, a grilled pear salad. On the right, fresh chickpeas with cilantro and feta salad.

Yummmm... one of my favorites, fresh roasted Brussels sprouts!
After my fabulous visit and dinner with The Mars they dropped me off for an early night at the hotel. Jim will be arriving tomorrow along with the rest of the folks coming to town for the race, it's gonna be a busy day and I am excited to hit the pillows.

Friday, November 9th:

I worked all morning in the hotel room then set off after lunch to meet a few of our team at the Expo. Mark and Marci were hoping to get an entry into the Half Marathon Relay so I met them there on Marci's lunch hour.

The Mars become a relay team in their first race together... just look at their determination.

Jim arrives at the same time as Denny Kelly. Denny is here in person for her first race of the year. No, she's not running it but she's running the media blitz we hope to achieve while here. Denny is the owner of the PR firm Allard hired to help with our Get Back UP campaign. I'm sure you can tell by all the media attention we've gotten this year that Allard chose the right firm! Welcome to the madness, Denny.

I introduce friends to friends: here Mark gets to meet Emily while I add my San Antonio race charm to the bracelet.
Jim, Mark and I walked through the Expo after picking up our race packets and t-shirts. It's easier to see everything on the first day of these Expos than to wait for the huge crowds arriving the day before the race. I still have to be back tomorrow though when Peter Allard and Kelly Millard arrive.

The afternoon totally disappeared as I was fielding calls and meeting each friend as they made their way into San Antonio. It's gonna be a big job finding a way to coordinate with all of these people but with Denny here to help I'm crossing my fingers that all will go smoothly.

Just as I was heading back to the room to change we got a call that a local reporter wanted to interview us. Back to the Expo! (Luckily, thanks to a last-minute Priceline bid we got a hotel right next to the convention center)

I didn't get any photos of the reporter, my cell battery died, but here's the link to the interview that aired:

A great surprise for the interview, Marc Martinez arrived at the Expo and joined me for the TV spot. For those of you who don't already know Marc I will tell you more of his story later in this post. Many thanks to KensTV5 for the interview and the coverage!

A quick stop back at the hotel to drop our stuff and change clothes then finally we're off to meet our Rock 'n Roll buddy, Jim Campbell for a walk to Southtown (the area Mark and Marci took me to last night.) We will visit together for a bit and then be joined for dinner by The Mars when Marci gets off of work.

From previous blogs you'll remember that Jim Campbell also loves to find cool foodie places and he proposed we go to Blue Star Brewery, hoping to surprise Jim and I with a fun new spot. Little did he know that we discovered this place on a previous trip to SA... sorry, JC! No worries though because we really love the Blue Star.

It was too windy to sit outside so we went inside to this part brewpub/part bike shop/part bakery.  Here's a peek at the menu for this evening.

Closeup of the sandwich choices, but they also have entrees and salads as well.

Jim Campbell ordered this Croque Monsieur...which must be French for Death Monster.
(in actuality, it's a Blue Star Brewing Company's Baked Brioche w/Ham, Gruyere and Dijon with Mornay sauce and topped with a pasture-raised chicken egg. And a side of fries. Like I said, Death Monster.)

Jim Austin ordered the Braised Pulled Pork with carrots, spicy aioli, horseradish, shaved cucumbers and pickled mustard seed on house baked bread.

"Jim Deloria" ordered one of the best bowls of tomato basil soup she's ever tasted, alongside a delicious grilled cheese and tomato on housemade sourdough bread. YUM.
Mark and Marci arrived a bit late but then ordered the Death Monster and the soup, which you've already seen. After dinner we walked across the street to one of The Mars' local favorites, The Friendly Spot. This place is an outdoor bar with a large projection-screen TV set up to watch big sporting events. We each had a beer at The Friendly then called it an early night.

Jim Austin and I (aka, Jim Deloria) officially adopted Jim Campbell into "The Jims"... much easier for Mark and Marci (background) keep names straight this way. :-)
Mark and Marci departed The Friendly Spot for their 45-minute drive home while the three Jims opted to walk the mile back to our hotels. Once we got into the Riverwalk area, Jim C. turned off for his hotel and we kept straight to ours. On the last block we got a call from our RnR friends saying that they were nearby after attending an invitation-only hospitality function. We made the choice to pop in to say hi, especially knowing this would probably be our last time to see them this weekend because of a busier-than-usual schedule this trip.

Rafael (you met him in the San Jose blog), Dan (from Biggest Loser Season 5) and David, aka The Beast, who has run EVERY RnR event this year plus 20+ more marathons and half-marathons.

It's so nice to see my RnR family when they aren't working or running...or both! But now it's off to sleep for the Jims... big day ahead!
Saturday, November 10th:

The Jims got up early and went down to the Riverwalk area for coffee and to find some foam core for my sign. With events scheduled all day long I really wanted to get my sign made this morning to have that out of the way. This turned out to be more difficult than we thought; most of the walking-distance drug stores were smaller and didn't carry foam core or poster board. After about an hour of walking the entire downtown area we finally found a Walgreens that had one board left--woo hoo!! By the time we walked back to the hotel the morning was almost gone.

I had plans to meet with Peter Allard, president of Allard USA and owner of the parent company in Sweden. This is the first and only race Peter will attend in 2012 and he's coming all the way from Sweden to show his support. Not only will he be here to cheer us on, he vowed to run the event--his first Half Marathon ever!!

So Jim and I were off to meet Peter for lunch then had plans to introduce him (finally in person) to Denny Kelly. Before we finished saying our hellos we got a call from Denny that another TV station wanted to interview us... so off we went!

Peter gets a chance to shine!! He did a great job in the interview, especially considering that English is not his native language. 

Denny and Jim look on as Peter and I talk with reporter Christina Coleman. Jim says here "Better Peter than me in front of the camera!!"

This TV team was one of the best we've had this year. Both Christina and the photo-journalist/photographer (I didn't get his name, so sorry!!) asked insightful questions and were extremely thorough getting every detail. Christina is also planning to run the Half tomorrow so she was very savvy about what an event like this requires; she added a great perspective to the interview. 
Here's the link to the piece that aired later in the evening:

Once again, thank you to Christina Coleman and Crew from Fox 29 San Antonio for sharing our message!! 
Having walked around all morning on only a small bite and some coffee I was REALLY hungry now. We had delayed our lunch by an hour and now we only had 30 minutes before we had to meet the Rock 'n Roll officials back at the Expo for Peter's tour. Jim, Peter and I opted for the food court because it was convenient, close and quick. I didn't think our food was photo-worthy but it did serve the purpose of stabilizing our blood sugar.
Peter and Jim looking not-so-impressed with the selection. 

Now back to the Expo!!

After months of training and more than a little anxiety over his first Half Marathon, Peter seems ready to Rock and Roll...

And so we did. Rock and Roll, that is. "One for the money, two for the show, three to get ready now Go Peter Go!!"

Peter meets the American "Biggest Loser" Team. That's Dan on the left, back to work after his nice evening out last night with friends. Peter said he hopes that he's not the biggest loser in tomorrow's Half Marathon.
Peter Allard was given the true VIP tour thanks to Tracy Sundlun, vice-president of the Rock 'n' Roll Competitor Group. Tracy ended our tour with a few words of wisdom for tomorrow's run. He said that at many race starts he looks out on all the runners and tells everyone to look at the runner immediately to their left, then look at the one to their right. He then says "One of the 3 of you will do something really stupid today, make sure it isn't you."

Peter, Jim and I stood looking at each other...all hoping we wouldn't be the stupid one. Peter then asked for the best advice for the Half Marathon and Tracy told him "Make sure you don't miss the Half Marathon turn-off point... you must stay to the left or you'll wind up running the Full." The rest of the night Peter was singing Beyonce's "Irreplaceable" lyrics:  "to the left, to the left..."

After the Expo I went back to the hotel to get my sign made and get my race gear set out for the morning. With a group of 15 dining together tonight things may run late and I don't want to be the stupid runner by not getting good sleep.

20th sign of the year.

With the sign made we were off to meet the crew for dinner. We headed out along the Riverwalk to find Boudro's, the restaurant Denny selected for our pre-race meal.

This was the view across the river from Boudro's.
My view "to the left, to the left" at our table for 15.
The view to my right, it was a tight squeeze for all of us.
A heartfelt "Thank you" goes out to Denny Kelly who graciously offered to treat all of us for dinner. The restaurant handled our large group easily and the food was delicious. I was so busy visiting with everyone that I didn't get many photos but I highly recommend ordering the fresh guacamole which is made table-side. Here's a link to the rest of their menu:

My dinner: wood-grilled salmon with roasted veggies and mashed potatoes. 
Our post-dinner meeting was short, just a review of the plans for the morning and last-minute reminders  of what to bring to the race. Fingers crossed that our plans don't go awry with 15 people all coming from different locations.

Sunday, November 11--RACE DAY!!!

I couldn't believe it when I went down to the lobby in our hotel and found everyone already there, what a team!
Peter is still singing "To the left, to the left". Mark and Marci are all decked out in their USA gear in honor of Veterans Day. Jim, per his ritual this year, is running in the race shirt from his previous race... this one is his Savannah shirt.

On our walk to the start line area we find Jim Campbell, hard at work on the Start Line Stage before sunup. He gave us a cool opportunity to be announced at the start by John "The Penguin" Bingham and race series founder Frank Shorter. Thanks, Jim!

Mark and Marci chowing down on watermelon while Kelly, background, gets photos of our group.
Marc Martinez met us inside the convention center about an hour before the start. Here is the story of my connection to Marc:

When I first started running using Allard's ToeOFF brace I allowed Allard to use my experience as a testimonial. There were several articles published online regarding my success qualifying for Boston and detailing the physical challenges I had as a runner with foot drop. My hope was that by sharing my story other people would find it easier to Get Back Up.

Marc had foot drop for years, in both feet, and although he had always been an athlete he was never a runner. He and a friend were cycling in downtown San Antonio one morning when they came upon the inaugural  San Antonio Rock 'n Roll race. He had never seen a marathon before and got caught up cheering for all the runners... he was so inspired by what he saw. He wondered if there would be a way he, too, could run but didn't know if it was possible with foot drop in both legs.

He went online that evening and quickly found my story. He sent me an email right away and asked if I thought he could run the Half Marathon when it came back to town in a year. Not knowing his full condition, not knowing him at all, I told him "Of course!" Secretly I knew it may not be easy, especially since he had never done a race of any distance, but I was not going to be the one to discourage him.

We kept in touch sporadically that year but then I stopped hearing from him. I was afraid his condition had worsened or that he wasn't having the success that I had... I didn't want to write to him for fear of hearing bad news. Then, about 11 months after our first contact I got an email from Marc: he was entered in the upcoming second annual RnR San Antonio Half Marathon!!

I couldn't believe it, I was so excited that I convinced Jim to sign up for the race with me and off we went to be a part of Marc's first race. Marc never looked back and is still running half marathons. Not only that, he has officially teamed with Allard as a Review Committee Member for Allard's nonprofit Dralla Foundation.

Now that everyone has arrived, the photo ops begin. When I should have been stretching I was making sure I had pictures to remember all the great people who are here to celebrate "getting back up":
Marc, Peter and me... ready to run the streets of San Antonio together. Thank you, Peter and AllardUSA for making this possible for us!

I am so happy that Denny, right, gets to see an event in person. She's got her race day strategy all mapped out and is ready to work the media.

3 great friends of mine: Mark, George and Marci.

The Jims and The Mars. What a patriotic couple, Mark and Marci!

Greensboro reunited! Jim and I with Gema and Ronnie The Rocket.

Quick break from photos to interview.
Yikes! We're out of time and now we need to get to the starting corrals. I almost forgot my fanny pack and phone in gear check but scooped it out just in time.

Jim, Peter, Andrew, Ronnie and Marc. They'd make a cute boy band, don't ya think?

Almost 35,000 runners entered in today's events. This is the view behind us at the starting line.

This is the view in front, with Jim Campbell's stage far up on the right.
The run itself was a tough one for me. The course is great, only a couple of hills, but it was a humid and hot morning. The crowds and spectators were phenomenal though, and I got recognized on the course more than any other race this year...what a boost to hear first-hand from people who are encouraged by the Get Back Up information. Kelly Millard, the local Allard sales manager, said she was already getting calls and emails thanks to the news coverage--woo hoo!! Maybe we'll have other ToeOFFs running in next year's race. Between the heat, humidity and the posing in photos along the run I didn't quite break my 2 hour mark but overall was very happy with the run today.

This is Michelle Sawyer, we "met" on Twitter and follow each other. Thanks to on-the-spot technology we texted each other and got to meet for the first time in person here at the finish line area. Michelle ran a 1:50 today, congratulations!!

My Chilly tattoo beginning to peel off in the heat. I think maybe he's just tired of running all these races.

Local runner Jose Munoz wins the Full Marathon in a time of 2:27, congratulations!!

Ronnie The Rocket finished first in our group and now he's reaping the rewards. Congratulations on a great run, Ronnie!

The AMAZING Get Back UP team!!! From the left:

Mark and Marci (Relay Time: 2:01:19)
Denise Martinez (Marc's wife and team support!)
Marc Martinez (unofficial time 2:30:00ish)
Jim Austin (2:18:21)
Peter Allard (2:24:51)
Denny Kelly (Master Media Coordinator of the day!!)
Beth Deloria (2:05:15)
Gema Gonzalez (2:25:17)
Ronnie Lane (1:50:01)
Rick "Buck" Buckner (2:12:13)
Kelly " The Skateboard Kid" Millard
Andrew Pelletier (2:33:36)
Shelby (race support crew and first officer in charge of keeping Kelly off of skateboards!)

We met Andrew in New Orleans and now we're here to see him get his Rock Legend bonus medal. Well done, Drew!!

George relaxes after running the Full marathon today, soaking up the sunshine and the spotlight. Go, Geo!!
(you can tell it's a hot day when Geo's mohawk lays down)

Jim destroys another sign. Only 2 more left, DS!!

Mark and Marci sporting their patriotic Sweaty Bands. 

A year ago Jim and I made a sign for Mark and the Grasshoppers, cheering them on through their championship year. Mark and Marci decided to return the favor with this fantastic poster! Yes, guys, "The wheels just keep on rolling!" And thanks to your encouragement, everyone finished strong today.

VIP beauty.

The Get Back Up/Dralla Team...all thumbs up. What a great memory this will be for me. 
After the post race media and celebrations, we parted ways to find comfort in showers and pillows. We then had plans to celebrate again at a dinner hosted by Peter Allard. Denise suggested we meet at Rosario's, a popular local spot in Southtown, to escape the Riverwalk crowds.

Hemisfair Park on the way from our hotel to Southtown.

Marci beams after her first Half Marathon Relay.

The race support crew worked as hard as the runners today. Thanks to Denise, Denny, Shelby and Kelly for your efforts, we appreciated your support!!

Check out Rosario's and the rest of the Southtown area next time you're in San Antonio for something different than the Riverwalk.

Congratulations, Peter, on a great run today. Thank you for everything you do each day to help others to Get Back Up. Thank you, also, for your generosity by treating a hungry troupe to a great dinner tonight!

Post race fun at The Friendly Spot after dinner.

Denise is all smiles through yet another of Marc's half marathons.  Hope to have you out as a runner next year, Denise... good luck with your training in 2013!

The Half Marathon Medal.
Monday, November 12th:

A great weekend behind me and now it's off to the airport and home for 2 days. We arrive home after midnight tonight and I have TV cameras meeting me at the house before 8:00am tomorrow morning for another story. I will not be looking my best, probably huge bags beneath my eyes, but I don't want to miss out on an opportunity to spread the word.

As I was going through my emails at the airport I came across this one from my friend and former co-worker, Tim Long. Miller and Eleanor, left, are his kids and Teagan, right, is his niece. Here they are doing an impression of what it feels like to run 20 half marathons in a year:

Thank you to all of our supporters and friends, together we are really making a difference! Next stop, Miami Beach!!!

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