Friday, November 2, 2012

Tennessee ToeOFF Trot

A break from Half Marathons to help my Tennessee neighbors!

Friday, October 26th:

We started the day at 4am in time to get the coffee brewed, the car packed and get ourselves on the way by 5am. We're off to Knoxville, TN for my favorite event of the year... The Tennessee ToeOFF Trot. This will be the 4th Trot in 5 years and we've been proud participants each year. I committed to this event very early in the year knowing that I would have to skip one of the Rock 'n' Roll events to make it happen. This, as it turned out, means missing out on the Rock 'n' Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon this weekend.

It's taken this many events in 2012 to finally arrive at my favorite,  the Tennessee ToeOFF Trot! No L.A. for Jim and I this weekend but we will be thinking about all of our Rock 'n' Roll friends while we're supporting our other friends in Knoxville.

A little over halfway on the road to Knoxville, we make a sunrise stop in Asheville. We  choose the Moose Cafe right off the highway.

The view of the sunrise from our booth by the window.

Country charm (or kitsch?)... ice water in a canning jar.
(Becky, this place was definitely "Country with a 'K'")

I didn't get a photo of my meal but if you visualize 2 sticks of butter you have a pretty good idea of what I just ate. Goodbye, Moose...gotta run!

Out of NC and into TN on a beautiful drive through the mountains.  Up at the higher elevations the leaves are past peak but we did see gorgeous fall colors at lower elevations.

Now one hour outside of Knoxville, we stop at a favorite location of ours, the Bean Trees Cafe on the Pigeon River in the Smoky Mountains.

While I would't say the Bean Trees is four-star dining, it sure beats the usual highway chain-restaurant options and offers several great vegetarian options as well. You can't beat the atmosphere if you opt to sit outside on the patio overlooking the river! It's also easy-on/easy-off Interstate 40 so treat yourself to a nice rest stop next time you're passing through:

Fall textures on the patio.

So close to I-40 but all you can hear is the rustle of the leaves and the rippling of the waterfalls.

You can almost see the fall transitioning into winter right before your eyes.

Last look, then Knoxville or bust!

See you on the way home!
We arrived in Knoxville around 1pm and found a pleasant surprise in the local paper...our Get Back UP story included as a promotion for the Trot!
The Knoxville Journal gave an incredible amount of space to promoting our message and event for the weekend. Thank you to reporter Wes Hall and the Knoxville Journal!

Here's the link to the story, please read the second half about Stuart... I am looking forward to meeting him and his mother tomorrow:

We also got a shout-out in the local events magazine, the Metro Pulse.

We enjoyed a late lunch then set off to explore Knoxville while waiting to meet up with the organizer of the ToeOFF Trot, Leslie King. Leslie is not only the organizer of the event, she's a SUPERWOMAN: a Certified Prosthetist/Orthotist (CPO), a champion of her community, a great friend and an all-around fantastic human being. The event, while sponsored by a few organizations, would not happen without Leslie and her incredible circle of friends. More about this later, for now... some sights around Knoxville...
Downtown along Gay Street.

Market Square shops and restaurants, one block off of Gay Street.

Sculptures in the park off of Union Street across from Market Square.

Water feature in the sculpture garden.

Perfect day for a walk in the park.

This sculpture did double duty as a busy birdhouse.

The view from our hotel room overlooking the city.

Not quite as high as the view from the St. Louis Arch but a great view just the same.
By late afternoon we set out to meet Leslie King and Laura Jones (of River Sports Outfitters) who made reservations for us at a local establishment. To Jim's pleasant surprise, they had booked tours for us at SawWorks microbrewery... a leading-edge craft brewing company with an emphasis on local partnerships and sustainability.

Seeing Leslie and Laura again was the cake, the brewery tour was the icing! Thank you, ladies, for a great start to our Trot Weekend. For those of you interested in craft brewing or in sustainable agribusiness, please check out the Saw Works story:

Leslie had another treat in store for us on this pre-Halloween weekend. Between the brewtour and dinner her friends were hosting a puppet show in their restored historical home downtown. I love puppet shows and jumped at the opportunity!!

Jim gets inspired for his costume tomorrow.

This is outside Brian and Brandon's home in Knoxville.

Puppet show attendees and performers.

He said he's a lobster but I can't help but think of Kafka's "Metamorphosis".
OMG!!! The puppet show was incredible! I can't even describe it. It was held in the historic house next door to Brandon and Brian's place, currently undergoing renovation. With exposed beams and creaky floors it was perfectly spooky for the Halloween-themed puppet vignettes. I wish I could have filmed it all, but here's a small morsel for you:

Immediately after the show we went to Market Square for a late dinner then straight back to the hotel to get a few hours of sleep before the Trot.

Saturday, October 27th--EVENT DAY!!

Brrrr! A cold start thanks to the early winds of Hurricane Sandy. Let's hope the rain holds off!
Tootsie Truck was here to support our cause, serving hot coffee, hot cider, hot soup and a delicious assortment of hearty meals. They donated a portion of sales to the Trot, how wonderful!! (They happily reported that by the end of the event they had completely sold out)

Meeting a champion!! Kent Teffetelle sports his 2 Blue Rockers. I am meeting him in person for the first time here but I feel like I've known him for years since he's such a great supporter of our online Get Back Up campaign. I had such a fantastic time visiting with him throughout the day. Thanks, Kent, for everything you do---I am a huge fan of yours!

Thanks to Jay Nowlin for coming out to support the Trot. Jay is the TN rep for Allard and came out in the cold, drizzly day despite feeling under the weather.

I break at Tootsie's for some coffee while we're setting up for the event.

Kent and Jay pose with me and the GBU sign.

Jack the Pumpkin King makes an appearance at the Trot!

Laura and Jack (aka, Jim Austin) feeling the Halloween love.

My heroes! Kent (in the back holding the sign), Stuart, from the article in the newspaper at right and perennial "Trotter" Michael Travelstead in front. All three of these guys are inspirational in how they continue to Get Back Up in their lives

Beautiful music once again for the Trot: Louise Mosrie and Anna Uptain.
I can't say enough about the talents of Louise and Anna, nor about their generosity for contributing to the Trot year after year. Please visit Louise's fan page and thank her for her support... and check out some of her award-winning songwriting!

This is a riot... Kent bought this Volvo used with over 200,000 miles on it and had it retrofit with hand gears and he calls her "The Blue Rocker". I love it!!
I wish I had taken more photos of the event but I was so busy meeting the participants and the sponsors that I didn't get to document the day very well. There were, however, many other people taking photos and you can find links to them on the Trot's Facebook page. Please visit this site and "Like" the event... we hope to keep growing it every year and would love your support!

The 4th almost-Annual Tennessee ToeOFF Trot was a big success despite competing with the local Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure on the same morning. Over $3,300 was raised with donations still coming in and for that we owe our thanks to Leslie King, one of the most hardworking women I have ever met. And of course, big thank you's to all who participated and supported this year's are all my heroes!!

When the last of the cleanup was done I was offered an opportunity to be race support for a change. Laura Jones and a few of the Trot-runners/sponsors had plans to do a Zombie Run across town later in the evening and invited me to tag along. I jumped at the chance to cheer them on through all the "death zones" and had so much fun taking in all the sights...
It was hard to tell who were zombies and who were runners so I made the choice to run from all of them.
The official info.


Laura's team. Imagine what they'll look like after the race when they look this rough at the start.

Zombies are turning on me!

Oh, I am so gonna have nightmares tonight.

They did it! They didn't actually make it through with any of their flags left but they didn't get eaten either.

Leslie King and Laura Jones after one very long day of races. These are 2 of my all-time favorite people and I look forward to working with them on next year's Trot.  No one deserves a Get Back UP medal as much as these two women and I am so proud to call them my friends.

Please check out River Sports when you're in Knoxville and please also look for Laura's "pint nights" which raise money throughout the year for many deserving charities. The ToeOFF Trot Pint Night is tentatively scheduled for September 2013... I will see you there!!!!

Opening soon, a River Sports shop and bar in Market Square...sign in here to get updates:

And here's an example of the Pint Night from 2013's calendar:

That's all for now, I'm home for a few days then off to Savannah for the Rock 'n Roll Half on November 3rd!!

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