Wednesday, July 11, 2012

11 Down, 11 to go!!

9th Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon: Seattle, WA (11th overall Half Marathon of 2012)

Sunday, June 10th-Friday, June 15th:

I am finally home after my back-to-back trips to San Diego and Tampa just in time to prepare for this week's meetings with the director of Allard USA. Luckily for me the meetings are scheduled in Greensboro rather than me having to hit the road yet again, a wonderful gift!! The agenda this week is to assess the progress of our "Get Back Up" campaign to-date and to begin thinking about how we will carry our mission forward in 2013. We are reaching so many people but there is still much work to be done; many thousands of people are losing their "quality of life" unnecessarily which makes this mission so very important. The next challenge is to capitalize on the momentum we are gaining from this "22 in 2012" Half Marathon tour to ensure better access to life-changing technology across this country and beyond. 

Saturday, June 16th--a rare weekend at home before leaving for Seattle!

Just a quick gesture of appreciation for my neighbors in Greensboro, whom I miss terribly while I'm traversing back and forth across the US this year. I was so happy to be in town for one of our cherished block parties this are a few photos of the crowd:

Great food, great fellowship, great weather for our block party... just 4 blocks from Newbridge Bank Park where the Hoppers have a home game tonight.

Jim with our friend and neighbor, Manny "The Mayor" Rodrigues. Manny takes care of our yard and all of my flowers when we are both out of town... don't know what I'd do without him!

This is what I miss most about being on the road... home-cooked food!! My dessert was a made-from-scratch peach cobbler (local peaches, of course!) featured in the front left of the photo. I blinked and almost missed getting a serving of it for myself!

Manny's wife, Laura, on the left: she's my best friend in the neighborhood so I cherish these days when we get to catch up. 

Chuck Van de Zande with his good friend, Pat. Chuck has been an inspiration to me in marathon running: He's run almost 30 marathons in his lifetime and was running the NYC and Boston events back when there were only about 100 entrants! He introduced me to his daughter, Mary, and her husband, John, of Raleigh, NC, both of whom I now consider among my most-favorite friends. You may remember seeing photos of John and Mary in the New Orleans blogpost and you'll see them again, I hope, in the Virginia Beach post in September.

Following the block party we caught the end of the Hoppers baseball game along with the usual weekend fireworks. We are so spoiled in Greensboro!
Wednesday, June 20th... Back to work!

Another long but uneventful flight back to the Left Coast. We arrived in Seattle around 9:30 pm Pacific Time and this is the view from the airplane upon landing:

Gorgeous view of Mt. Rainier from my seat on the plane.
By the time we deplaned, got our luggage and rental car then checked in to the hotel it was after 11pm local time (2am by my internal East Coast clock). Upon checking in to our hotel, Silver Cloud Stadium Hotel thanks to a bid on Priceline, I ran into both of my favorite Rock 'n Roll vendors, Merle (Sweaty Bands) and Emily (Terryberry/Rock'nRollMarathon Jewelry).  We were all staying at the same hotel by complete coincidence, although for them it was the smart choice since the Expo where they will be working all weekend is right across the street. I was ready to call it a night so Merle and I made plans to catch up the next morning.

Thursday, June 21st:

With Merle on an East Coast clock as well, we were both eager to get out early and explore. Jim and I met her in the lobby of the hotel before sunrise and opted to walk the mile-and-a-half to Pike Place Market. It was a beautiful morning with temperatures in the upper 50's to low 60's, no wind and few clouds.
Sights along the waterfront just South of Pike Place Market

A brand-new feature on Pier 57 is the Seattle Great Wheel, the grand opening of which I will miss by one week. Extending 40 feet over Puget Sound, the 12-minute ride will boast an incredible view of the city. 

All's quiet on the Western (Water) Front

Famous fish mongers setting up for another busy day.

"I am such a pig", said one of us.

Merle led us to our destination du jour... the first-ever, original Starbucks.

Can you believe it? No line to wait in! The shop was small and quaint, serving coffee but no food at all.  I wish all the Starbucks followed this model more precisely.

With coffee in hand we found an overlook at Pike Place Market. In the foreground you'll see the Great Wheel. The arches in the background are atop Century Link and Safeco fields, next door to our hotel from which we began this morning's walk. The Seattle Seahawks (NFL) and Sounders FC (MLS) play at Century Link; the Mariners (MLB) play at Safeco. Further back in the distance you can barely make out Mt. Rainier.

The flower vendors setting up for another day at the market.

I wish you had Smell-a-vision for this. We practically fell into Le Panier because, well... because truthfully we couldn't resist. Each of us had intentions of a lean, protein-packed breakfast this morning in preparation for the weekend's run. Instead we were savagely accosted by the aroma, our faces slammed against the glass of today's fresh beasts. I opted for a pain au chocolat, Merle chose a savory tart and Jim chose a breakfast croissant. YUM.

The daily wall of fresh-baked bread at Panier.
With fresh hot coffee and patisseries in our bellies we made our way back to the hotel. All 3 of us had a full day's work ahead so it was especially nice to have a great morning adventure together. Before I hunkered down to work in my room for the morning I went upstairs to check out the roof-top pool. It wasn't open until 8:00am so I grabbed a newspaper and waited a few more minutes. It was worth the wait!

This is the whirlpool overlooking Safeco Field.

The whirlpool is directly behind me and this is the view of the pool overlooking the shipyard and Puget Sound.

This is the view in front of the pool... you can see downtown Seattle (where we walked this morning) in the background.

Checking out the local news and events before getting serious about the day's work ahead.
With 4 hours of assignments, emails and phone calls completed I set off to check in at the race Expo. As previously mentioned, I got a great break with my Priceline hotel bid and wound up 1 block from the site of the Expo, no need to find a ride or a parking space!

Number Nine on my Rock 'n Roll calendar!

The line at Century Link for the Expo.

A familiar sight these days.

Familiar, friendly faces: Hillary and Emily at the Terryberry/Rock'nRoll Marathon Jewelry booth. I am so excited to add my Seattle charm to the bracelet!

Merle in her flower-matching Sweaty Band... stopping to smell the roses at the Jewelry booth. Emily bought the flowers this morning from the Pike Place Market, we missed seeing her there by just an hour.

Seattle charm, top left!

My best new find at the Expo this week, a large "sunday funnies" umbrella. Although today is a beautiful day the rest of the weekend forecast calls for heavy showers... I am prepared.

As good a reason for running as any, I suppose. :-)

Another visit with Merle but a bonus encounter as well... far right is Ellen Heise Madden, VP of Operations for Women's Running Magazine. WRM is right in the middle of a "corporate merger" of sorts in that they have partnered with Competitor Group (the company behind all the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon series events) in the production of the magazine going forward. Ellen and her team have done an incredible job of empowering women and their families through the joys and rigors of running. Good luck with the transition, Ellen, and thank you for the work you do!
Once all my Expo fun was over I returned to the hotel to respond to some important phone calls, one of which was for  a media opportunity at the local Fox station. I gathered all my gear and set out to find the studio in advance, just to make sure I knew exactly where I was going. As it turned out, the studio was right near the race start line so I was able to scout out a plan for race day while in the area. Then I realized I was an hour early so I searched out a spot to grab a late lunch... I didn't realize until just then how hungry I was. The only option in the immediate vicinity was what looked to be a convenience store in a strip mall, but the sign said "Deli" so I took my chances. Turns out, I had a perfect lunch... grilled sharp cheddar on wheat with a cup of tomato-bisque on the side. 

A perfect lunch on a chilly day along the lake's shore.

The dining area of the shop.

Not much from the outside, just one of many businesses in the lakeside strip mall, but a great find for my lunch needs!
Fox news' local Seattle affiliate is Q13, and I was here right on time at 3:45 in preparation for a spot on the 4-5:00pm news program. Upon arrival there was no one in sight... there was a waiting room in front of a glass-walled reception station which was devoid of a receptionist. I killed a few minutes checking out the waiting room before getting bold enough to shout out in search of a real person.

Waiting room display.
One of my vocal inquiries finally got a response... an apologetic receptionist/administrator emerged from a back room where she had been working on a separate project. I guess everyone is feeling the economic woes these days! Anyway, it was now 4:15 and she officially checked me into the visitors log and told me someone would be with me shortly. 15 minutes later, with no sign of anyone else, I approached her glass again and knocked lightly before asking her if she would oblige me in a photo opportunity... she laughed and said "yes".
I just couldn't resist asking her to take my picture with this huge cut-out.  She was laughing along with me so I didn't feel too badly about taking her away from her official duties. Besides, I was getting extremely bored sitting by myself for almost an hour by this point!
Finally! A young man came out to retrieve me from the reception waiting area only to deposit me in the Green Room waiting area... again, just me and the walls to keep me company.

The view from my seat on the Green Room's sofa. I could watch the newscast in front of me but was beginning to think I was not going to get an interview since there was now less than 10 minutes left in the broadcast. Please note the cartoon cels to the left and below the TV screen... see the bottom corner with Stewie from Family Guy?

That's right... I felt the need to entertain myself and shot this photo while stretching out along the floor beneath the TV. If I wasn't going to make it on TV I at least needed proof that I was actually here!

More waiting.

With only a few minutes left in the broadcast a man burst into the Green Room and said "You're on!" only to realize I hadn't been "miked" or briefed on the interview. He quickly pinned the microphone on my jacket collar and said there was no time for a briefing, I was on in 30 seconds...YIKES!! Thanks to a veteran news crew the spot went off LIVE yet without a hitch... hopefully this link is still active so you can watch for yourself:

(If this link doesn't work, try going to and click on "media coverage" then on "TV" for the latest links, or try

It was after 5pm by the time I left the station and headed back to the hotel. Jim and I had plans to meet Charlie Knoll and his girlfriend, Sara Jang, at a restaurant overlooking downtown Seattle. For those of you who don't know, Charlie is family in that he married my older sister years ago. Although they are not a couple any longer they consider themselves each other's best friend and Charlie is still so loved by our family. This is the first time I would see him in over a year so I was so excited to catch up with him and to meet Sarah finally.

The view from our table at Palisades Restaurant in Seattle.

Mount Ranier in the background, beautiful marina in the foreground as the sun sets during the course of our dinner.

Sarah and Charlie across the table from Jim and me.

First course... it was being devoured before I was able to get a first shot at it, but this was a sauteed veggie and calamari appetizer.

More of the view.

My dinner... Salmon and Fennel with Asparagus and a citrus glaze.

I believe this was a fresh Tuna dish but I don't remember.

Halibut with asparagus and... something.

We are all thoroughly enjoying our food and conversation but can't help to look outside at the rapidly changing light as the sun sets over the sound.

We split 2 desserts between the 4 of us, a rare treat but so worth it. This cheesecake never stood a chance!

The second delicious dessert, a banana/caramel/ice cream concoction that was to-die-for!

The night arrives and we depart.

Jim, me, Sarah and Charlie saying good-bye to one of the best restaurants I've ever visited.

Back to the hotel in time for a good night's sleep... but not before posing across the street in the glove at Safeco Field.
Friday, June 22nd:

It's the day before the race and it is pouring rain in Seattle, go figure! I still need to get my materials to make the Get Back Up sign and for the first time on this journey I know in advance that I need to make it waterproof. So off I go in search of an art store or drugstore for the foam core board and waterproof embellishments, if I can find the right vendor within the downtown area. Thanks to my Waze app, I find the Utrecht art store for the foam core plus FREE plastic bag big enough to cover my sign. Then, 2 blocks down there's a party store where I find metallic fringe streamers to hold up in the deluge... perfect! I'm all set to head back to the hotel when I get a call from a great friend, Lissa Forlano, who is in town to run the race with us. Lissa and her husband, Dan, are from Greensboro and chose to run in an event to support Jim and me on the Get Back Up 'tour' this year. With Lissa's college roommate living in the Seattle area, this race was a great choice for her second Half Marathon ever. Dan, a perennial over-acheiver, was signed up to run the Full Marathon of course :-) and we were so happy to be able to spend time with them this week.

So Lissa calls to say that she and Dan are up for a beer in the Pike Place Market area. We're only a few blocks away so we meet them at Pike Place Brewery... on Jim's list of places to visit while we're in town. Isn't it weird that I have to go all the way to Seattle to get to visit with Lissa and Dan TOGETHER for the first time in over a year?!

Pre-race carb-loading with very special friends.

Finally back to the hotel, chilled to the bone in late-June thanks to Seattle's seasonal rains and cold temperatures. A quick bite to eat before retiring to the room to make my sign and get to bed early for tomorrow's race.
Saturday, June 23rd--RACE DAY:

They've been predicting rain for the entire weekend but so far only overcast skies at 5:00am in Seattle.
The Space Needle in the background of the starting line area, pre-dawn.
Misty, cool architecture in Seattle Center downtown.

Jim carries the waterproof sign en route to the VIP area where we plan to meet up with Lissa, Dan and their friend, Lana.

Thanks to Josh Furlow and his wonderful Competitor Group/Rock 'n Roll Marathon crew we have access again to the VIP tent. 

We are among the first to arrive, the caterers and race crew are the only people here this early.

The skies are looking ominous but so far only misty, foggy air with perfect temps for running. Let's hope the weather holds!

I met Sheila Croft in the VIP area as she was stretching for today's run. She won the full marathon here last year and after a great Boston Marathon this year she's hoping to repeat as winner today. I asked her if she hoped for a PR (personal record) to which she replied, "I ALWAYS hope for a PR." I absolutely love her attitude, and at 37 years old she's still getting faster in her marathons! Good luck today, Sheila, and thank you for taking the time to talk with me.

George Melichar of New Orleans, who once weighed over 300 lbs and is now running full marathons all over the country. After seeing him in numerous RnR events this year (he's hard to miss with his fuschia mowhawk!) we finally met and exchanged contact info. Here's a link to his page and his mission for 2012:

Lissa and Dan made it to the VIP area right on time! We all look so fresh and happy pre-race, let's hope for such a sunny photo post-race!

The crowd scrambling for a spot in the starting line corrals just before the gun goes off.

Lana, Dan and Lissa's friend in town, volunteered to carry the sign all day. Here she's taking advantage of a break in the clouds, and a break in the day, to rest in the VIP tent.

This is the Amazing Lana. She's been up since 3:30 am in support of her friends,  Dan and Lissa, and then took on the duty of advertising the Get Back UP campaign. She's been in numerous photos with the sign and brought another news station to the finish line where we got another fantastic interview. Lana has raised the bar as far as race-support goes... and she's done all of this with a sprained ankle!

I finished and so did Sheila. I DID NOT win the half. Sheila DID win the Full...with her personal best time of 2 hours and 41 minutes!! Congratulations!! My time for the half was 1:57:49... much slower pace than Sheila's but I was quite happy with being under 2 hours. This course was very challenging with its hills, but the rain held off and the temps were cool enough to make it a great day to run.

My post-race scrambled eggs and salad in the VIP tent. Ok, I admit it, I ate a few cookies before I got to the healthy stuff.

A smiling Lissa after her second-ever Half Marathon!! Woo hoo, congrats to you, Lissa! This was her first Rock 'n Roll event and it appears to me that she's enjoying it. 

Another opportunity to thank Josh for the VIP opportunity and another chance to visit with Emily (of RnR Jewelry fame) before the heavy rain sets in. 

Dan finishes his full marathon in great style. The rains have set in but not until the last of our crew reached the cover of the VIP tents. 

Lana poses with the sign she carried around all day.  Now a wish for Lana to Get Back UP herself as she tries to heal her ankle in the upcoming weeks!

College roommates reunited at the Finish Line a coast away from home.

Heavy rain as we make our way back to the car after the day's events.
Sunday, June 24th:

A very coincidental bonus to our trip this weekend; my cousin, Abby Wacker, has just moved out to Seattle for a summer teaching position after her year in India as a Fulbright Scholar. I haven't seen her in over a year but have tried to keep up with her "A Wacker In India" blog half a world away. It turns out she just arrived in town (as we are preparing to leave) but we had a window of overlap enough to share a dinner visit!
A race-weary Jim with jet-lagged Abby... waiting for a dinner which would include 'pulverized morals'. :-) Abby will know what I mean!

Cousins meet far away from either of our homes!

After dinner with Abby we made our way back to the hotel to pack up. The sun was peering out from the clouds again, enough to highlight the numerous hanging baskets in downtown Seattle. I am so jealous of these beauties and hope my own meager baskets are hanging on in the heat at home in NC.

Not my hanging basket.

My Seattle medal.

The bonus medal you receive if you run both Portland and Seattle Rock 'n' Roll events in the same calendar year.  For anyone who may be interested, of all the events I've run in over the years, the Portland and Seattle Rock n Roll Half's are in my top 5 of all time.