THIS POST IS DEDICATED TO MY CMTA FRIENDS IN LAS VEGAS, NASHVILLE, PHILADELPHIA/NJ/NY, TO THE ONLINE COMMUNITY OF CMTA AND TO ALL OF THE CMTA FRIENDS I HAVE YET TO MEET. I AM SO GRATEFUL TO KNOW YOU.
43rd event of our 24-month tour: Rock 'n Roll Philadelphia Half Marathon
Thursday, Sept. 12th:
Yet another 3:30am wake-up call to be at the airport by 4:30am. My flights were uneventful and Laurie Lasky, Allard rep for the Philly area, met me at the airport at 10:00am to begin a long day of appointments. What a treat to have airport transportation!
First stop of the day was an O&P facility in New Jersey called Pro Fit. This was one of the most unique operations I've had the opportunity to visit and I really enjoyed getting to meet the Pro Fit team:
|Judging from the warm reception I received and by the smiles I saw on all the patients coming and going, this sign says it all.|
|Every room here was so different, this one houses a state-of-the-art ventilation system necessary for fabricating braces and prosthetics.|
|I commented that this reminded me of a disco dance floor, and immediately our host turned on the incredible sound system. These guys know how to keep their employees happy!|
|Looks like we have a lot of wallflowers in the disco room.|
Thanks, Virtua, for your hospitality and great energy! Now we're off to a Rehab facility back in Philly so we make our way out of NJ through traffic back over the river. We were visiting with Carol and Julie at Magee who graciously gave us part of their lunch hour for the visit... and given this, we brought freshly-made Dunkin Donuts for their team.
|Upon entering the reception area you see this inspiration painted on the wall. This facility was really hopping today but again, I was unable to get many photos because patients were doing Physical Therapy everywhere, including up and down the halls.|
When we left Magee, Laurie and I made our way over to the Italian Market along 9th street for a much-needed meal. Both Laurie and I were up so early and it's now late afternoon and both of us were famished. I'll tell you, if you ever have the opportunity to travel with Laurie she's locked in to all the BEST local food places in the northeast. We had a great lunch but also a fun walk through all the specialty-shops and purveyors in the Italian Market. I think Laurie must come here a lot, even though she lives in NJ, because everyone was on a first-name-and-a-hug basis.
|The menu at Anastasi Seafood Market. This place is unassuming in decor for diners and you're surrounded by displays of the day's fresh catch. Very authentic and very tasty!|
|A thin plexiglass half-wall separates diners from the fresh-catch cases.|
|Fresh seafood chowder.|
|Caesar salad to go along with the Calamari we ordered (we scarfed it down before I was able to get the photo!)|
|Another display case beside the front register.|
Back to the hotel for the evening where I got a quick bite at a kiosk outside my hotel and an early bedtime. It's been over a week since I'd gotten more than 6 hours of sleep and I was determined to get 8-10 tonight.
Friday, September 13th:
Friday the 13th--cool! Laurie is preparing for Yom Kippur with her family tomorrow so she left me to work in the hotel for the morning. Jim will be arriving by train from his business trip in NY and when he arrives we plan to check in at the Expo. I always seem to have so much to do and never seem to get caught up so I am actually relishing this opportunity to get something accomplished.
3 hours later and Jim shows up at the hotel--off to the Expo we go!
|Jim arrived and so did our CMTA shirts!!|
Two of the power-players within the CMTA (and 2 incredible women they are!) are Susan Rudiger and Jeana Sweeney. I met Susan by phone almost a year and a half ago then met her in person 11 months ago. I got to meet Jeana at a Las Vegas-based CMTA support group meeting last December and am so excited to see them both when they arrive in Philly tomorrow. Susan came up with the idea to have a CMTA team run Rock 'n' Roll Philly together with GetBackUP. We hope to start small and learn how best to move forward in the future and this just seemed like a perfect way to begin. Susan and Jeana recruited runners for the team and organized a group of supporters as well. Some of the runners and some of the supporters have CMT, while the rest of us love someone who has it. The runners were all given race shirts for the Half Marathon while the supporters will be decked out in CMTA t-shirts.
|Jim insisted that we didn't create a 'staircase' of heights like we usually do, this seemed to work fine, right?|
|Another favorite RnR gypsy, Dorcas with Women's Running. Great to see you, my friend!|
|Another gypsy and friend, Kevin Gonzalez, just in from Florida.|
|Home of the best vegan "hot wings" ever!! I've been craving them since last year so we popped in for a quick appetizer then headed back towards the hotel to drop off the race gear.|
|Cool sculptures w/in this urban oasis.|
|I had one of these last year after my run and it was so yummy.|
|The interior of Hip City Veg.|
|My table mates. :-)|
|Vegan Crispy "Chicken" sandwich--my favorite on the entire menu!!!|
|...this will be devoured in short order.|
Another exciting day ahead! After a bit of work in the morning Jim and I head back to the Expo to meet Sandy and my Uncle Dan who are just arriving from DC.
|Sandy loved her new pony and apparently, so did Merle.|
|Marathon Joe and Kevin sharing a laugh at the Expo.|
|David "The Clydesdale Runner" DeNeire on stage at the Expo being interviewed by John "The Penguin" Bingham. David stole the horse from Sandy for his interview.|
|Who thought balloons were for kids? Oh, and did you notice that the horse has foot drop? Luckily we know we can fix that!|
|My good friend George made the promo wall here.|
|Jim is a poster boy for Champion Systems running apparel in his CMTA shirt and Team UP jacket. Looking good!|
|Decisions, decisions. Sandy finally opted for a Sweaty Band to match her CMTA shirt. Unsure of how well she will run in her first Half Marathon, she wants to be sure to look her best at least. Good plan!|
|Uncle Dan, the Horse Whisperer... who knew?!|
|Never one to miss a photo op, I take on the Eagles before I tackle the RnR Philly Half Marathon tomorrow.|
|This photo is for my sister Maria. Maria, these are stockings that totally remind me of "running on dead bunnies"! I know, they're cats, but I think you'll see the resemblance. I miss you!|
|This one is for Dad and Suz... I miss you both so much, especially here in Philly where we had such a good time last year.|
|Half of our group (CMTA and BKI in this shot) enjoy each other's company while looking over the menu...|
|...while the other end of the table is deeply engrossed in last-minute planning for meeting up in the morning.|
|Wow, one of the sandwiches arrives but this photo hardly does it justice.|
|Here, Bob from Aetrex shoe company (sponsoring part of the CMTA events this weekend) tries to add perspective to how huge his burger is. Looks like this burger would break Jim's "Never eat anything bigger than your face" rule!|
We leave Devil's Alley and our Aetrex, Bouvier Kelly Inc. and CMTA friends to rush back to the hotel. It will be an early morning tomorrow and with things still left to be done tonight we're already looking at a mere 5 hours of sleep.
|Making my sign in the colors and spirit of the CMTA! Meanwhile, my new Mophie and my Garmin running watch are charging overnight and hopefully will be ready to roll in the morning.|
Sandy met us at our hotel promptly at 6:15 and we walked the 2 blocks to Laurie's hotel (she made it back to town late last night). We have a parking pass and Laurie has a lot of gear to haul for the race today so even though we could walk to the event we rode over with Laurie to make sure she was set.
|As usual, even on a Sunday Laurie is taking business calls !|
|Jim is still asleep, I think, while Sandy flashes a nervous smile. Her first Half ever and she barely got any sleep last night in anticipation. But hey, she looks great!|
|Never too nervous to skip a healthy breakfast! Yogurt and a banana are her fuel for the race. I'm so proud of my cousin for going from total non-runner to a Half Marathoner in less than 6 months.|
|YAYYYYYYY! Finally Diane Beesley, who works at the Allard USA HQ in NJ, gets to come to a Get Back UP event!! Diane, YOU ROCK and I'm so glad I get to spend some time with you outside of meetings. Nice sign, too!!!|
|CMTA POWER! We are ready to rock 'n roll.|
|An absolutely perfect day for a run.|
|The Philadelphia Art Museum in the background. We will be running away from the museum and then using it as a beacon through our last miles running back towards it.|
|Jim, Sandy and Jen find the shade along the beautiful race course. We chose to run together to show our support and solidarity with the CMTA.|
|The 10-mile marker in sight and Sandy is about to run in uncharted territory as 10 miles was her longest training run. She's feeling strong but definitely feeling the miles taking their toll.|
|Uncle Dan has made his way all around the course today, running his own virtual half marathon it seems, to support his youngest daughter on her big day. Jim holds the sign while Dan gets photos of Sandy's last mile of the day.|
|She did it!!!! Way to go, Sandy, you were amazing today.|
|This is how it feels to cross the finish line after 13.1 miles.|
|And this is how it feels to sit down after 13.1 miles.|
|A quick stop to visit with Emily again and to deliver the news that Sandy has officially added her RNR bling to her charm bracelet after a successful finish.|
|Part of the incredible CMTA team conquering today's course; whether walking, running or cheering, we are raising awareness in Philly and inspiring hope for a cure.|
|DB (background) summed up the efforts of the CMTA in one word today:|
|Jeana chows down on the dessert tray... clearly, this was her inspiration for her 10K today!|
Yesterday was such an emotional day. I hope to get photos from Susan and Denny to post at a later time, they were able to capture so much more of the love and support exchanged throughout the weekend. As exhausting as these half-marathon weekends can be (between the running, the events and the outreach) I always feel reenergized by the incredible people I meet along this journey. I often feel like the luckiest person in the world, thanks to my spinal cord injury and subsequent foot drop, to be connected week after week with the very best people on the planet.
It's now Monday and I have another work day here in Philly before going home to NC for 1 day tomorrow then starting it all over again on Wednesday in Montreal. Laurie meets me at the hotel where we load up and check out then we're off to NJ to an MS Support Group.
|Laurie gets her projector set up and all the Allard goodies out.|
|Laurie speaks to a riveted crowd of about 20 people affected by MS. I was so impressed with her easy rapport, she truly comes across as a loving mom, not a salesperson, and you can tell this means so much to the group.|
We arrive on time despite the crazy traffic and find a parking spot right in front of the main entrance, what luck!
|On our way to Dr. Orlin's office I see this poster on the wall. Since getting foot drop I am fascinated with gait-studies and other related research on biomechanics.|
Wow, Dr. Orlin is a new favorite person of mine! She is so passionate about her research and work with children who have Cerebral Palsy. I took zero photos because we were so engaged in discussion about running, about the similarities of foot drop and the gait issues that CP can present, about the desire to keep everyone active--despite whatever mobility issue someone may have--and overall about our common mantras of falling and GETTING BACK UP. We were only supposed to have a few minutes of her time but we had a great hour or more together before we had to rush off to make my airplane departure. Before we left she gave me some further links to her research and also gave me the contact name and info for a colleague of hers she wants me to meet in Chapel Hill. Thank you so much for your time today, Dr. Orlin, and thank you for the important work you are doing!
Here's a link to professional info about Dr. Orlin and I'm sure that you can google her name and find many of her published and on-going research projects:
It was a mad dash to the airport but Laurie got me there just in the nick of time, whew! With only one day at home before leaving the country I could ill-afford to miss this last flight of the evening!
And once I rushed through security to my gate, I was granted the ultimate wish by the USAirways Upgrade Fairy--ENVOY SEAT in FIRST CLASS!!
|First time I've been on a 767 in an Envoy Seat!|
|Wow, good thing it comes with a manual.|
|Guess who's gonna be snoozing?!!!!|
|The seat itself was so comfortable I slept the entire flight and did not take advantage of any of the extra, amazing features.|
|With all the other incredible events this week, I almost forgot that I ran a Half Marathon. Here's the bling to show for it!|
|And thanks to a 2-minute reunion with my good friend Geo, I scored my new favorite George-Bling. George, great job, I can't believe you have TWO pins now--you ROCK.|