Tuesday, February 12, 2013

January 2013: Part 1 of 3

Allard's National Meeting to start the New Year

January 4th, 2013:

Happy New Year!!

Since my last entry I have been frantically busy trying to get all of 2013 planned before I leave tomorrow, when I head to Allard's annual national meeting in Oahu, HI.  I have planning meetings scheduled via conference calls with Allard HQ in NJ, with Allard's parent company in Sweden and meetings in person with Bouvier-Kelly, the agency we depend upon for our PR needs. I am also scheduled to do a presentation detailing the accomplishments of the 2012 Get Back Up campaign then mapping out where the campaign will go in 2013. 

This is a lot to do in 8 days, especially with the New Year holiday smack dab in the middle of my assignments. 

I truly wish I had more time to wrap up my personal memories, experiences and revelations gained from the GBU journey of last year but that has to wait. I have never been one for New Year's resolutions but one goal I have for 2013 is to write more in this blog about my personal insights and about the conversations I am having with others since embarking upon this journey last January.

I know it must seem like an excuse but last year I felt I barely had time to get home from one Half Marathon or other event before I was off again for the next...with hours of planning and social media crammed into every "free" moment I had. I did get my blog entries posted but never felt I was able to put forth the effort beyond describing where I was, what I did and who I met. This type of entry does provide you with a general idea of how I am proceeding with my mission but little about what we are actually achieving. 

So, although it's not going to happen right here, right now, I do hope that once I get through January 2013 I will better manage my time so that the content of my blog may delve a bit deeper into why I believe this GBU mission is so important. For now I'm going to have to settle for giving you the who, what and where:

January 5th:

After almost 24 waking hours we landed in Honolulu! This is my first time in Hawaii and although most of my time will be spent in hotel meeting rooms I am very excited to see this island. 

Made it to Turtle Bay Resort and Conference Center on the north shore of Oahu. It's windy and rainy but temperatures are very mild.

A gorgeous evening view to end a very long day of travel.

January 6th:

Jim and I got up early to sneak in our first run of 2013. We dodged rain and darted among rainbows along very picturesque trails. The run felt really good, especially after so much sedentary work over the last 2 weeks, but I have been dealing with a pulled muscle in my back which remains an irritating distraction every day.

Slow, easy trot along the north shore ocean front.

You can't tell here but there were rainbows almost everywhere you looked here at the tip of Oahu.
After an afternoon spent working on my presentations for tomorrow we met the rest of the Allard team for a welcoming luau at 6:30. This was scheduled to be outside but the dinner got moved indoors due to high winds and rain. After dinner it was an early night's sleep to prepare for the upcoming meetings.

January 7th-9th:

Most of each day was spent in meetings where I learned so much about Allard and the people who work for the company. I came away with a renewed respect for the Allard team and a revitalized energy for helping more people Get Back Up in 2013. Stay tuned as we continue with our plans for this year, we should have some exciting projects to share with you soon!

Entrance to our hotel.

The Allard sales force, aka My Heroes! These are the folks that make it possible for so many to Get Back Up. These people are so dedicated, not only to their customers but also to the end users who receive Allard's braces. I am proud to be able to work with them and I hope to live up to the standards they've set as ambassadors to the products and education efforts.

A break in the meetings reveals a break in the clouds!

Stunning views.

Amidst the work we took time out to celebrate Peter Allard's birthday.
January 9th:

Once the meetings were over Jim and I hopped an evening flight to the island of Kauai. We previously booked a few extra days here for a much needed break before jumping back into our busy work schedules. By this point Jim was going stir-crazy by himself while the rest of us were in meetings and he was hoping for better weather on Hawaii's "garden island".

For those of you who follow the blog you may remember "meeting" Kamika Smith, one of our Rock n Roll gypsy friends who ran more than 20 of the RnR events last year. We knew he lived on Kauai so once we were certain we'd make it there we contacted him in hopes of connecting with him while we were here.

As it turns out, Kamika was planning to leave Kauai tonight at 9:30 on his way to running the Disney Half- and Full Marathons. Before he left he invited us to join him at his family's luau. We were thrilled to get to see him at all so upon landing we followed his directions and went straight to the luau site.

When Kamika said "family luau" we expected maybe 20 people at most. What we discovered was that the Smith Family Luau is voted the best luau on the island of Kauai and is a hugely-popular tourist attraction! We were so thrilled to be a personal guest of Kamika and we enjoyed everything about our evening at the Smith Family Gardens...along with 300 or so other tourists!

This is the ceremony where the roasted pig comes out of the ground. Kamika is kneeling (towards the center of the photo) and hold a microphone while he explains the tradition and emcees the ceremony.

Jim is sporting the pooka shell necklace, complimentary of Smith Family Luau, as well as his perfectly-themed shirt from Design Archives in Greensboro.

Kamika is the Master of Ceremonies while hundreds are enthralled with the festivities.

Fabulous music and hula dancing are part of the entire evening. Here we are enjoying pre-dinner drinks and enjoying the show.

A few of the many people enjoying the evening with us.

Kamika amazed us with his beautiful voice and elegant showmanship, along with the rest of the Smith family hosts and entertainers. 

The food was delicious and I finally got to try authentic Hawaiian Poi. Believe it or not, I really like Poi!
A moment with Kamika before he boards his plane for Florida.  I must say, after our long journey to Hawaii from NC we have a renewed respect for how many of the stateside events Kamika travels to!!
January 10-15th:

The weather turned out to be incredible on the island of Kauai and Jim and I really enjoyed our brief vacation. I am including a few photos below but one thing that happened while here was that my back pain from what I thought was a pulled muscle or pinched nerve got much, much worse.

I began to realize that my injury, something I had been dealing with for months on and off, may be more serious than I thought. After the second day on Kauai I was in extreme pain and had numbness presenting down my left arm. My solution was to take several Advil at a time and hope for enough relief to make it home without further incident but still be able to enjoy what I could while in Hawaii.

Perfect weather.

This was from our hotel beach in Poipu. Every day while here I could see humpback whales frolicking in the surf just offshore.

Poipu beach.

This was along the river cruise, also a treat for us provided by Kamika Smith. His family runs these tours along the Wailua River daily up to Fern Grotto. 

Our tour guides provided information on all the local flora and fauna as well as gave us fun details, such as the number of popular movies filmed here on Kauai.

Disembarking from the boat on the short walk to Fern Grotto.

Lush forest and vegetation everywhere we looked on Kauai.

The music and dancing provided at Fern Grotto.

It is no wonder that this island is called the Garden Island.

Taro fields on the north shore of Kauai.

Spectacular views of the taro fields with mountains all around. 

Did I mention the perfect weather?
January 16th:

As much as I loved Kauai I can't describe how anxious I was to get home and hopefully to get some answers and relief regarding my back pain. I probably went through 2 bottles of Advil in the last few days just to keep from crying every moment, the pain was really that bad. The 4 flights back (Kauai to Honolulu, Honolulu to Phoenix, Phoenix to Charlotte, Charlotte to Greensboro) were torture for me...and for my husband who couldn't do much to help.

The only problem with getting home at 8:30am today after flying all night is that I am scheduled to be on a flight to Phoenix tomorrow for the first Half Marathon of 2013. I called my doctor immediately upon landing where I learned that I can't get in to see him until Monday...4 days from now!

Upon speaking with my physician we decided that a steroid pack may provide the relief I need until I can get a better diagnosis next week. I will decide tomorrow whether to go to Phoenix or whether the pain will be too much to travel with again.

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