Saturday, June 30, 2012

No race, but no rest for the weary!

American Physical Therapy Association's National Meeting in Tampa, FL. 

Wednesday, June 6th through Friday, June 8th:

After being home for one day I was off again for an important stop in Tampa, FL. No, I am not a Physical Therapist but I was in attendance for their Association's national annual meeting. An important part of this year's Get Back Up mission is to educate, not only the consumers (patients) needing bracing but also to educate all the professionals who are involved in our care. Primarily, this means physicians, orthotists and physical therapists. So I am in attendance for 3 days to help spread the message!

The Allard booth. In this photo Scott Hennessey is encouraging a PT to try the ToeOFF so he can actually feel for himself the "dynamic response" that his patients will get from the high-tec brace.

A few from outside the conference center before the record rains set in. 

Believe it or not, the hotel across the water is the Harbor Island Westin. I went from Harbor Island San Diego to Harbor Island Tampa in 3 days.

I would have liked to join this runner today but alas, I had an indoor assignment this week!

Harbor Island West Coast to Harbor East Coast!

My lunch break: a walk to fresh fruit and salad plus a few extras for snacking later on.

Productive hours with the Allard team this week, sharing my experience with the ToeOFF as an endurance athlete. Here I am sporting the medals from this year's races since January... not quite halfway through our journey!

Friday, June 22, 2012

10 Down, 12 to go!

8th Rock 'n Roll Half, 10th Half overall of 2012: San Diego, California

Before I get to the San Diego adventures, I want to share one of my favorite reasons for being HOME during the Spring and Summer... the Greensboro Grasshoppers baseball games. When I got home from Portland I was actually able to make a few of the games before leaving again for San Diego.  The Hoppers are a minor league team associated with the Miami Marlins franchise and, in my humble opinion, we have one of the best minor league stadiums in the country. Plus, it's walking distance from our house! It is really so wonderful to be able to walk to the park, catch up with good friends, relax and enjoy great baseball. If you're ever in town when they are playing, you should treat yourself to a game!

View of the Grandstand from our seats in Box 19, with a view of Natty's Hill in the background. This photo was actually taken at a game during the ACC championship, held here this year.

Here's the game I caught before heading back on the road to San Diego...what a great show from Mother Nature!!

Wednesday, May 30th:

This was another one of those trips where it was more affordable to fly out of RDU (1 hour and 15 minutes from Greensboro) than the GSO airport. The bad news is that we had to leave town at 3:30 in the morning to make the flight out. The good news is that we had the airport practically all to ourselves!

RDU terminal, heading to the gate. Hello? Is there anybody out there? Bueller? Anyone?...
The flights were on time and perfectly smooth.** After leaving RDU at 5:20 in the morning Eastern Time we arrived in San Diego around 9:30am Pacific Time... still so much time left in the day!
**Is it just me, or does the word "smooth" just look wrong when you type it? I keep thinking it reads like "tooth" and not "soothe". Okay, now even "soothe" looks wrong. But I digress...

Upon arrival we were too early to check in to our hotel, the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina, so we took some time to explore the beautiful scenery... thank you, Priceline for this score!! The hotel overlooks the marina on one side and the bay on the other... here's a shot of walking between the 2 towers on the marina side. Not too shabby.

 Not too many folks in the pool this early but at least 'someone' was enjoying the facility!

Skinny dipping before anyone was around to catch her!

The view down the promenade behind the pool as the sun gets a little higher in the sky.
Okay, I must admit that I actually fell asleep poolside before the room was ready. After all, I was up at 3:00am Eastern Time, which would have been midnight last night here! By my clock now it's almost 2pm and I haven't even had lunch. When the hotel restaurant finally opened (11am Pacific) we got our food and then checked into the room immediately afterwards. Sorry, in my jet-lagged state of mind I neglected to get shots of the menu, my lunch or the restaurant. I remember it being a good meal though, if that matters to you at all.

I worked for a few hours when I got to the room then headed back out to explore before my parents (2 of my 4 anyway) arrived at the hotel.

Bayside view from Harbor Island, this is actually the same view from my room but a few floors lower in vantage point.

Not my boat. :-(
The allure of the bayside scenery was too strong to resist enjoying it a bit more so we took advantage of the free time to go for an easy 4 mile run along the waterfront:

View of one way down the shore, my legs were so grateful to get this workout after so many hours in the airplane.

Just another view from further down Harbor Island.

Finally the rest of San Diego hits the bay... California-style Happy Hour?

After 5pm it seems the boats appeared out of nowhere...this is the view from the hotel room.
Jim and I had a great day upon arrival but it was about to get even better. Two of my four parents were coming out to San Diego for this trip! Mom and Bob promised me that they'd come to see at least one of my 22 half marathons during this Get Back Up journey. They chose this one, a trip to San Diego... can you blame them??

They arrived at the hotel around 7pm and after checking into the room went walking with us along the harbor to a spot that Jim and I had found earlier, The Boathouse restaurant overlooking the marina.
Anne and Bob with us at The Boathouse for a sunset dinner overlooking the marina. This shot was taken around 8pm Pacific time so my body thinks I'm eating dinner at 11pm after being up since 2:30am Eastern time. Although dinner was lovely and the scenery spectacular, I opted out of dessert in exchange for my pillow!!
Thursday, May 31st:

One great night's sleep later and we're off early on a walk along the water to Harbor Island Liquor & Deli... not for the liquor but for the coffee and the view, of course.

Bob and Jim waiting, with coffee, for the made-to-order breakfast. Just another beautiful day in sunny California.
The view from our table.

I swear, we came for the small font, not the large font.
With full bellies we embarked upon our journey to the next stop, my birthday treat for this trip--a round of golf at Torrey Pines! Yes, my birthday is this weekend... which is why I'd like to think my folks made it out for this weekend in particular. Although somewhere in the back of my mind is the lingering suspicion that Bob just wanted an excuse to play this storied course. Either way, I got a free round of golf for my first time at Torrey Pines... woo woo!!!!

Practice putting green with view of the clubhouse in the background.

Golf in the front, hang-gliding in the back!

Overcast skies but beautiful views throughout our round.

Bob probably thinks I took this shot of his spectacular swing, but really he got in my way as I framed the Torrey pine tree and the hang-glider on the ocean. :-)

I love the fact that my brace, Allard's Ypsilon version, allows me to play golf without ever thinking about having foot drop!!! And in case you're wondering, I am totally certain that this shot was long and straight down the middle... and you can't prove otherwise. 
Jim, smack-dab in the middle of the fairway. Why would anyone assume otherwise?

I never get the opportunity to forget how blessed I am to have such wonderful family.  Thanks so much, Bob, for my chance to play Torrey Pines and for a wonderful birthday weekend!

My stepdad and my husband, in the way of my shot of the clubhouse on the green of the 18th hole.

What a great birthday present this was!!!!

Mom patiently waited for us after her day in La Jolla... complete with a spot of tea!
I thoroughly enjoyed the day at Torrey Pines and next we set off in search of another stop on our agenda. If you've read some of my other posts you'll remember how much my husband loves to visit microbrew pubs, especially the ones with top-rated food AND beer. He collects pint glasses from each of these visits and is a snob of sorts in that he only buys a pint glass from true microbreweries (they must brew on-location) and only when he gets to drink the pint himself. Bob is also a fan of international brewpubs and he's also a collector, not of pint glasses but of the actual microbrew bottles. Although he'd prefer to drink each brew himself he will eagerly accept empty bottles, much to my mother's horror, as long as it's a label he doesn't already own. While I am not a collector of anything beer-related, I do prefer micro-brewed beer over the mass-produced versions and often these venues have wonderful vegetarian fare on the menu... so I have become a fan myself. Mom, well, not so much. But mom is a fan of her family and thus is always a great sport on these adventures!

So off we were to the Stone Brewing Co. in Escondido, California. If you've never been here, as I had not, you might be surprised to learn that this highly popular, highly acclaimed national favorite is located quite discreetly in an industrial park. From the outside it looks rather plain and if you weren't expressly looking for it you may never know it was such an amazing place.

The menu at Stone Brewing. Not exactly your typical bar food.

We sat outside on the patio for our dinner, an amazing oasis totally unseen from the street.

The view behind my chair. I wish I had taken more photos of the rest of these Japanese-style gardens, which extended well beyond sight from the patio seating area.

Bob, awaiting a bottle of one of Stone's many, many beer selections.
I mentioned earlier that my mother is not usually of fan of brewpubs but she couldn't stop talking about this one. She's an amazing gardener and thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of these gardens. Since my photos weren't thorough (I got side-tracked by food!!) here's a link to more images:

We had a fabulous dinner and when the sun went down and the bullfrogs started croaking so loudly we couldn't hear each other any more, we said good-bye to Stone Brewing Co. and headed back to the San Diego harbor for another great night of sleep.

Friday, June 1st:

 After yesterday's great adventures I was reminded that I came to San Diego on a mission... to run the Half Marathon in an effort to share our Get Back Up message. Usually I don't get this much time to appreciate what each city has to offer but I took it upon myself this trip to celebrate my birthday this weekend, too. Also, despite great efforts to reach out to the local media we had not secured any interviews to this point so I had a bit more free time of which to take advantage. 

Still, there's the business of the race details to take care of and we chose this morning to get to the convention center for check-in at the Expo. Mom and Bob accompanied us, meaning, we got a free ride to the show... another great perk! We met in the hotel lobby where I ran into a familiar face:

Standing in the lobby beside me was a group of people running the Rock 'n Roll Half on Sunday. I was slightly star-struck at seeing this particular runner, Ryan Hall of the US Olympic marathon team!! I love following Ryan's journey online and in the media so I was so excited to get a chance to chat with him. He was sooooo nice and very down-to-earth and we wished each other luck in the event. I told him I'd be right behind him on race day...kinda like the newest iPad was right behind the hatching of the first Pterodactyl, anyway. 

FYI: One of my friends said this about the photo: "Ryan Hall? Oh. Darn. I thought you ran into Owen Wilson."
Enough of this hob-nobbing with the American Olympic team, I had a race to run. Driver, on to the Expo! (Did I say "thanks", Bob?)

Picking up my bib number

Still had Portland D-tag on my running shoe. They ask you to check all of your runner information on your new tag for accuracy and I noticed they had something wrong... I'm 45, not 46!!! Oh, wait... yes, after tomorrow I will be 46. Sigh. Goodbye 45!

A friendly, familiar friend, Emily, who works for RnR Marathon Jewelry/Terryberry working the Expo. I bought my San Diego bib charm to add to my bracelet... this makes 11 charms in all for the year.

Another stop, another friend! Merle plans to run the San Diego Half after working the Expo all weekend. Sweaty Bands rock, but Merle Rocks and Rolls!
The Expo was fun, always great to see my new friends, but my family was hungry and so we left to find food. With my parents in town we had a chauffeur of sorts; I wasn't about to let the opportunity go unused. We chose to make the drive to Coronado for a bit of sight-seeing along with our needed lunch stop. By now you know the drill: If there's an undiscovered brewpub to be found we made it our mission to get there.
The menu at Coronado Brewing Company.

The exterior of the brewpub, from our seats on the quaint little patio.

Hmmmm. I knew Californians had a reputation for being liberal, but a Kid's Night in the Tasting Room? Somebody needs an early bedtime!

Just another shot of Coronado Brewing, street-side.
With full bellies we explored the island of Coronado a bit before heading back. The weather was perfect for a walk but with so much to do before the race I felt anxious about getting back to the harbor. My parents drove us back and we parted ways for the evening. Dinner in the room and an early night was enough of an adventure for me today.

Saturday, June 2nd... Happy Birthday to Me!!!

I'm not sure exactly what time I woke up, but I did sleep in and sent my husband off with my parents to enjoy my birthday without me. I had a full day's work to do on my computer, plus make my Get Back Up sign for the race tomorrow, plus get all my gear and planning done for the race coordination. Ugh. This is what I get for procrastinating!!!

I did receive wonderful birthday messages from friends and family but had agreed to celebrate AFTER the race tomorrow with Jim, Mom and Bob here in San Diego. Back to the computer for me. One wonderful surprise I received after logging on was this image sent by a friend from the East Coast:

Susan Fortener, a former Allard rep who had claimed she'd never be a runner sent me this photo of herself. Since convincing her a few years ago that she could easily do a Half, she pulled a Forrest Gump on all of us and hasn't quit running since. She texted me from the finish line and then let me know she's now going to do her first FULL MARATHON at the Rock 'n Roll Savannah this year. Way to go, Susan!! I am so proud of you and will be cheering you on in person as you cross your first FULL FINISH!
The rest of this day really was spent working. My family came back from a fun day of exploring just in time to meet me for an early dinner at the hotel. I filled them in on the race strategy for tomorrow morning... not my running strategy but instead, the details of where we all needed to be and when to make sure we had a smooth day. Bob volunteered to drop us off at the start, an extremely generous offer since we had to depart before 5am. Mom generously offered to meet us at the Finish Line a few hours later. :-) She's no dummy!

Sunday, June 3rd...RACE DAY!!

By now you are all bored and completely unimpressed by my photos of wake-up-time alarm clocks. Suffice it to say that it was early and dark.
Another "0'dark-thirty" meeting time in front of another hotel for the journey to the start of another Half Marathon. When Jim and I got downstairs Bob had already pulled the car around in front for us... I feel like a DIVA!

Proof that Bob was up with us before the sun was!! Thank you so much!!
Despite all the serious planning and strategizing, we still hit pre-race traffic on the way to the start. There were 3 people in the car who all had a great idea of what we needed to do to get where we needed to be in time to beat the starting gun. One of those 3 actually had a good plan, accompanied by a traffic app called Waze (totally recommend!!!!!!) so we got out of traffic in the nick of time to make it to the starting area with just enough time to use a porta-potty and drop our gear. I won't say who had the best plan but I'm guessing most of y'all will figure it out.

Thanks to the generosity of the Rock 'n Roll staff we had access to the VIP start and finish areas once again. We were so pressed for time at this event that it was a much-needed perk. The potty lines were much shorter and the Gear Check was right there so we didn't have to race all the way to the main line of UPS trucks before heading to our corrals. THANK YOU, Rock 'n Roll Racing/Competitor Group!!!

How cool is this? Table decorations at the start of the race!! San Diego is the home base for all the Rock 'n Roll/Competitor Group events and they spared no efforts to make sure all runners felt like a Rock Star!

My bib had me starting in the 3rd corral but with no time to spare I missed my start and jumped in with Corral 5 runners.

And we're off!!! Sort of anti-climactic, really. All you can do is shuffle your way the long block to the real starting line, and only then are you really on the clock.
Official time, 1:52:55!

We did it!!!  Under great running conditions, overcast and cool, both Jim and I had good races. The course was relatively flat and the spectators, volunteers and race crew were all wonderfully supportive. The worst part about the race? So much of the route was along pitched highway which made for an uncomfortable stride. The best part of the race? For me, it was seeing my parents around mile 9 or 10, holding my Get Back Up sign!! We had planned to meet only at the finish area because we thought it would be too difficult for my mom to maneuver her way around the course. (She's in great shape but she's had 2 hip replacements along with rheumatoid arthritis so things aren't as easy for her as they used to be.) So I was in total shock to look up and recognize the sign I had made the night before... way to go, guys!! I think I smiled throughout the entire last 3 miles.

At the finish we met up at the VIP tent. I arrived before my parents since they had a long walk from mile 9 around the secured-portion of the finish area to access the tent. I spent my time engrossed in the sights and conversations of the elite athletes who had competed in today's events. The coolest thing to me about running is that it must be one of the only sports where the elite athletes compete in the same "arena" at the same time as the everyday Joe/Joanne. You can't jump onto the field at the Super Bowl or take an at-bat at the World Series and yet you can run in the same event, on the same course, in the same conditions, on the same day as the fastest runner in the world... albeit a stride or 5,000 behind them!

Ryan Hall after his race. I asked him how it went and he said he was a bit disappointed. Apparently he has a mild but nagging injury and he's supposed to be entering the most strenuous phase of training for the London Olympics. With those concerns duly noted, he still placed second in the Half Marathon race. Congratulations, Ryan, and good luck to you in the upcoming months!

The scene at the VIP section of the parking lot. 

Elite runners in the background, elite running gear in the foreground.

Too cool!! I told you I wasn't the only one to travel with a foam roller for pre- and post-race body work! Ryan's working his quads while talking on the phone after his 2nd place finish.

OMG!! This is one of my favorite runners, Meb Keflezighi...another American Olympian! He won today's race and took time to talk and pose with me. Thanks, Meb, and CONGRATULATIONS! Best of luck to all of you as you represent the USA in London this year.

Another of my favorite runners! Tim Fennell, lost 128 pounds through pure determination and hard work, on his way to "12 in 12"...12 half marathons in 2012. Congrats, my friend and hope to see you in Chicago!

A new favorite athlete! Congratulations, Gerard!

My wonderful parents in the background at the table with Jim and Tim. What a beautiful group of people to celebrate with!

It just gets better and better! Merle (of Sweaty Band fame) has just completed her first Half since knee surgery. Plus, she worked long hours at the Expo the last 3 days and still sports an ear-to-ear smile! Way to go, girl, you are an inspiration!

Go ahead, just try to find a hair out of place on the Sweaty Band Team after their Half Marathon finish!! Congratulations ladies!!

The Medal.

After the race I got to enjoy time with my family. We celebrated our finish, the Get Back Up journey, and my birthday together with a few special friends. Thank you all for making this a great 46th for me!!

Celebrating on the beach near Escondido.

Family and long-time friends... plus pizza!!!!

Jim and I say goodbye to San Diego. :-(

Just thought I'd share the glamour of baggage claim upon return from the long flight back to the East Coast.

See ya next time!!