Friday, October 11, 2013

19th Event of 2013: Rock 'n Roll Cleveland Half Marathon

19th Race of 2013: Inaugural Rock 'n Roll Cleveland Half Marathon

Friday, October 4th:

Jim and I went to Chapel Hill last night for a belated birthday dinner for both Jim and Bob. We stayed the night with my folks due to the fact that we booked our flights out of RDU (Raleigh-Durham airport) for a 5:25am departure this morning. UGH. I've not had much sleep in the last few days--another brief 2 days at home in between races--and I've got a busy day scheduled with Shawn Notarione upon landing in Cleveland.
The car's dashboard displays the time we arrived at the airport this morning. Thanks, Mom and Bob, for letting us use your place as a crash pad--hope we didn't wake you on our way out!

Yes, it's really 4:18am and we're checked in and ready to roll through security.

Flights were on time and believe it or not, we made it to the hotel in downtown Cleveland in time to make the complimentary breakfast buffet! I love the perks at the Doubletree!
I will be traveling with Shawn today, he's the Allard District Sales Manager for Ohio. We have a busy day planned and I had just enough time to eat my breakfast before meeting him in the lobby.

Our first stop was an in-service with the team at the Cleveland Clinic. During an in-service, the Allard reps usually provide lunch or snacks while they do an informal educational presentation. 

Vince, left, is an Orthotist who really knows Allard's products and he works with the team of doc's and PTs here at the Cleveland Clinic. With everyone on such a busy schedule it was easy to see how much they appreciated Shawn's presentation during an early lunch opportunity. 

Shawn answered a lot of questions today and the conversation really took off when the PTs tried on various braces. This team primarily works with MS patients and they loved seeing our TeamUP video and hearing more about Jill Walsh (Ironman Triathlete with MS and foot drop). I'm thrilled when we meet with people who say up front that they can only give us a few moments of their time, but once we get going they always want to prolong our visit--even after more than an hour! It was obvious to me that these professionals truly care about their patients and I loved hearing how much they advocate for them. Thank you, Cleveland Clinic, for helping so many people Get Back UP and for your generous time today.

After the morning in-service Shawn and I were scheduled to meet with a local physician, Dr. Mendenzsoon, who also works with Vince and Jonathan at Gre Engineering (orthotist/prosthetists with whom Shawn & Allard have a great working relationship). However, Dr. M was called away for surgery so Shawn and I had lunch with Vince in a section of Cleveland called Little Italy. Weird, seems I just left "Italy" back in Providence and again in Philly.

Another view of the neighborhood.

I was still full from my late breakfast but the Italian Deli here was almost too hard too resist.

I did manage to resist the homemade pastas and pastries but I hope to come back with more of an appetite after the race.

I couldn't pass up the Caprese salad was soooooooo good. Super-sweet tomatoes with perfectly (and lightly!) salted homemade mozzarella with fresh basil and a light olive oil.

As we are leaving Little Italy to get to the race Expo, the sun pops out again.

The hotel I booked for this trip is within walking distance to everything downtown: The Theater District, 4th St. area, Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame, Convention Center and all the race activities.

Shawn and I went through the Expo and met Dr. M's wife who was manning the Achilles Running Store booth. We were busy 'meeting and greeting' and I neglected to get photos in our haste. We did manage to remember the main reason we came by the Expo--to get the race guide book for this weekend to share with the CMTA folks who plan to come out and cheer us on. I will need to see the book to figure out the best places to meet up with Shawn and with anyone from the CMTA who may opt to brave the weather on Sunday.

The reason I needed the book tonight is that Shawn, Jim and I plan to attend the CMTA Support and Action group meeting by invitation of the facilitator, Heather Hawk Frank. The meeting is about 40 minutes outside of downtown and we plan to meet there at 6:00pm...not much time to get the rest of our tasks done before we meet again. Shawn drops me at the hotel to change while he takes off for a bit more work on his way to the CMTA dinner. When Jim arrives at the hotel with our rental car we immediately depart for Brooklyn, OH where I finally get to meet Heather in person.

As with every CMTA group I've met, our newest friends in Cleveland are an incredible team. I told my own story and how I came to connect with the CMTA (see this year's Philly or Nashville posts for more info) and then we talked a bit about TeamUP and the Get Back UP mission. From there, Shawn was able to provide more information about what the Allard braces can do for people with CMT (to help with foot drop, overall stability and fatigue prevention) and then we all just started talking together more personally. I'm continually amazed by the candor and grace with which people share their incredibly personal (and painful) stories with us. Thank you, CMTA Cleveland, for welcoming us into your 'family' and for sharing your strength and your generosity!! Especially, thank you Heather (back row, pink t-shirt) for connecting with me on Facebook and for the work you do to promote Support & Action in Ohio! (By the way, your extra medal is on the way as of today!)
When the conversation was winding down and I took the opportunity to award everyone with a Get Back UP medal, Heather and I spoke briefly about plans for meeting at the race on Sunday. I left the race booklets and a parking pass with her but ultimately we decided to talk tomorrow about any specifics. At this point the weather looks to be pretty nasty--hard rain and thunderstorms--and nobody needs to be out in that if they don't have to be. By the time we said our farewells and made it back to downtown Cleveland it was 9:00pm and I was exhausted after such a long and full day. Bedtime for Bethy!

Saturday, October 5th:

As seems to be the norm these days, I spent the morning in the hotel working on my blog from the last race (Providence this time) and following up with emails and phone calls. I've been waiting for any updates on media possibilities but also I plan to connect with Todd Hart, a local runner/triathlete who wears a ToeOFF to compete and has an amazing Get Back UP story of his own. We've "talked" online in the past year and I am really looking forward to meeting him in person tomorrow...

The view from my room as I get to work on my blog. For now at least the day is beautiful, but by the time I expect to finish all my work the rain is predicted to roll in.
Yay!! Blog post complete...check! Connect with Todd about meeting tomorrow...check! Follow up with Shawn on a plan for tomorrow....check! Touch base with the PR team (Ashley this weekend) for potential media...check! Get sign board for the GBU sign...thanks to Jim for running to the art store for me--check! Now we're off to the Expo so Jim can check in and then off to do a reconnaissance mission for race start and finish line areas.

This is a little park between our hotel along Lakeside Dr. and the Convention Center where the Expo is being held. In the back we see the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame and according to our guidebook that's where the race will start tomorrow. We decide to walk the few blocks to the Hall of Fame so we'll know exactly how much time we'll need to allot for this in the morning.

As if on cue, it is now starting to rain!

That's the Cleveland Browns football stadium in the background, located along the southern shore of Lake Erie.

Getting oriented...

And here's the reason why Cleveland is home to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame...'s the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame and where the race will start tomorrow. Let's hope the rain stays light!

Jim spotted this stand on the way to the Hall of Fame and now that we're back on track for the Expo he wants to stop for a hot dog.

I'm now thinking of Ron and Susan's description of themselves waiting in Montreal for the start of the race there... they had space blankets wrapped around them in hopes of keeping dry and warm and said they felt like these hot dogs Jim's about to purchase, wrapped up in foil.

While Jim has his snack I'm checking out the nearby sights...

Behind the Fire Department Memorial Monuments we find the "world's largest rubber stamp". Jim uses it as an umbrella while he finishes off his hot dogs.

I found this particular view amusing.

We arrive at the Expo just in time to escape a heavier downpour outside!

"ANOTHER half marathon?!"

So fun to see our friend, George Melichar, on the life-sized promo posters.

Always great to find our RnR gypsy friends: Jim, Krissey Foley, Sherry Ricker, Hyalker Amaral and me.

We got through the Expo quickly and tried to stall inside as long as we could before heading back out in the downpour.

You can't tell from this photo so much, but we were under cover here and still the waves of water kept blowing in.

I missed capturing a photo of it, but a woman just got doused by a bus that plowed through the puddle just as she crossed the street to this side--yikes!

Under a light sprinkle now we head from the Expo to Cleveland Public Square to scope out the Finish Line area for tomorrow's big race. 

This is a 125-foot monument to Civil War soldiers and sailors and has great scenes on all four sides.

The Arcade sits at one end of East 4th street, which looks much more like an alley...

...this East Fourth Street "alley" is home to several restaurants, clubs, bars and boutiques and is a very popular nightspot here in Cleveland. On a rainy afternoon there's not so much action.

Jim and I were really hungry (I hadn't had a thing to eat besides my Doubletree cookie and Starbucks coffee this morning) so we find this pub around the corner from East Fourth.

This is for Michelle "Cecil" Sanford back home: This wasn't my order, it belongs to the patrons sitting next to us, but it's TATER TOT NACHOS! The bar has been raised. :-)

As it turned out, the Pub didn't have a lot of Beth-friendly food so we left after watching the tail end of today's coverage of the President's Cup. Sadly, we didn't find anything that suited us on the way back to the hotel and all of a sudden I was really tired and ready to get back to the room. My gourmet dinner this evening: Pizza from the Doubletree room service menu... not bad but not recommended as pre-race sustenance!

With Caprese Pizza in my belly I set to work on my sign and then set out all my race gear for the run tomorrow. We'll be meeting Todd at the hotel lobby around 6:15-6:30 and then meeting Shawn at the RnR Hall of Fame by 7:00am. Pray for Ron Carino weather!
Sunday, October 6th: RACE DAY!!!

I love it when everyone is when-and-where they're supposed to be! Terry Hart (Todd's twin), Shawn, me, Todd Hart and Jim arrive at the RnR VIP before the sun does. The weather forecast for the day calls for T-storms to come through sometime this morning but so far we can see a lot of breaks in the clouds. 

I love that I'm not the only one who "blings out" my ToeOFF--Todd has some fun stickers on his brace as well.
And, speaking of Todd, here's an excerpt from an article published earlier this week in a local magazine:

Major kudos to Copley’s Todd Hart, who will participate in the Rock ’n’ Roll Cleveland Marathon on Sunday.
Todd, who also competes in triathlons, will be running with an extra challenge: foot paralysis caused by a melanoma he suffered in 2008. “The surgeries after his diagnosis eventually left him with dystonia, a neurological movement disorder that causes his foot to contract and twist into painful, abnormal postures,” wrote Ashley Watkins, spokeswoman for Allard USA.
“He overcomes the pain with regular Botox injections that leave his foot paralyzed. A lifelong athlete, Hart is now able to run again with the help of a technologically advanced, carbon fiber orthotic device made by Allard USA. The brace is designed to mimic the biophysical movement of the muscles in his legs and feet.”
He will be joined by national marathoner Beth Deloria who also wears an Allard brace. She was sidelined in 2004 due to a spinal injury that resulted in a similar “foot drop.”

I've been looking forward to meeting Todd since I first heard from him. He's an amazing ambassador for "getting back UP" and also for Allard's ToeOFF. He and his twin brother are triathletes and although Todd's medical challenges have left him with a few challenges he's not letting anything stop him... we plan to run together today.

Also, I heard from Heather earlier...she and the CMTA crew have decided to stay home today. The weather forecast is iffy and Heather's been fighting a sore throat. No worries, Heather, we will be together in spirit today!! Thank you again for everything!

Jim, Shawn and Terry are debating whether to skip the race event and just tour the Hall of Fame now that we have special access.

I waterproofed the sign with a lawn-and-leaf bag I brought from home... just in case.

The back of this week's sign.

The back of Susan Carino...running in her 50th Half Marathon today... Congrats, my friend!

 We pose for a few photos before lining up in the corrals. Jim has decided to run with Todd and me today so we'll all be together in case they call the race due to storms.

Running for CMTA Cleveland today!

Officially ready to ROCK!

The Gypsy Crew: Ron, Susan, David, Todd, Jim, me and Joe.

As we head to the corrals, a light mist greets us but the air feels surprisingly calm...and humid. Our trio, (Jim, Todd and myself) pledged to take it easy today and enjoy the sights--and the hills--of Cleveland.

Heading into Corral 3.

Listening to the guitar-solo version of the National Anthem.

The skies look much more benign than we had all expected. We're hearing many runners asking whether this is the calm before the storm.

Todd and I show off our superpowers!

Shawn snaps this photo of us with the sign before we take off.

Heather, this is for you!! Not long into the race this lovely young woman asked us if the CMTA on our shirts was for Charcot-Marie-Tooth. We get so excited when anyone knows what it is...especially from another runner beside us in a race. We tell her our connection with CMTA and she says her cousin has CMT...then asks us if we've ever heard of Heather Hawk Frank. What a small world--we got to run with Heather's cousin for a half mile or so before she left us in the dust.

The clouds came and went but the rain never materialized. We actually were wishing for rain by mile 3 or 4, the air was so thick with humidity.

The autumnal tone of this photo belies the hot and humid 'last gasp' of summer along the Great Lakes.

This was the last of the cloud cover we'd get today...the sun is ready to come out in full force.

The view across the river looking back from about the 9 or 10-mile mark. We'll be heading back into downtown across the bridge you see here.

We made it to the bridge and hit big winds for a short section of the run.

We finished and thanks to Emily of the RnR Press Crew we were able to score this interview at the Finish Line. Congrats, Todd Hart, on becoming an inspirational media mogul! It's so fun to be on this side of the camera for a change!
Here's the link to the interview and story that aired over the weekend, thank you WKYC and journalist Randy White for helping us spread the GBU message in Cleveland:

Shawn finishes his sign-toting, cheering duties for the day once we finally cross the finish line.

Thank you, Allard USA for giving us the opportunity to Get Back UP in Cleveland!

Susan finishes her 50th Half Marathon with a PR (personal record) while her proud husband, Ron, beams in the background. No telling what Jim is thinking. :-)

Jim was probably thinking about food.

Thinking David DeNeire is gonna take off soon we grab a Gypsy photo while we have the opportunity, though we hope Kamika makes it to the Finish Line soon so we can take a shot with him too.

Meanwhile, the winds are really picking up and Jim decides to put the GBU Cleveland sign out of its misery.

Kamika makes it back before any of the Gypsies leave... we are just missing Hyalker but we think he's left the finish line area. Back row: Krissey, David, Susan, Joe, Malia, me, Kevin, Jim. Front row: Kamika, Michelle, Ron and Sherry.

Almost back to the hotel and Jim realizes he left my sign handle back at the Finish Line. Oh had a decent run. Time to buy another Swiffer.

I love urban art. The little guys tucked in and around these gates were so cute.

Somebody forgot his pants.

The work is never done.

Taking a break with the locals.

We passed a place called Winks on the way back to our hotel and decided to come back after we had showered and changed. They had a homemade veggie burger which was the perfect post-race dinner for Beth!
Monday, October 7:

Jim drove to Columbus, OH for work meetings before dawn this morning while I took the rarest of opportunities to sleep in--yes!!! Because we went to sleep so early last night I actually woke up around 3:30am and couldn't go back to sleep. Luckily I must've dozed off after Jim left because the next thing I knew, it was almost noon. Wow...haven't done that in a long time. 

The rest of the day was spent mainly "unplugged", unless you count an hour of mindless daytime TV. I had some plans and documents to read & review and letters to write (snail mail!) so I took advantage of the time in the room to recharge myself and all my electronics. I did follow up on new emails and returned a few calls--if I let these go more than a day they can really pile up and it's much harder to devote the proper attention once they do. Jim wasn't back from his meetings until later in the evening so we grabbed a quick bite downstairs and called it a day.

Tuesday, October 8:

Back in the groove again! I chose to stay the extra day while Jim was working here--it's always easier (and cheaper) to travel together if we can work it out. With most of my workload being on the computer I find that sometimes it's easier to get more done when I'm not at home distracted by all that needs to be done there. That being said, I'd almost always rather be home! Either way, today is a short day here before we're back on the plane and home in NC for the next 2 days.

I spend the morning uploading photos and making travel plans for my trips 3-6 weeks out. I check out of the room at noon and order the lunch buffet while I wait for Jim. I didn't get photos but I was pleasantly surprised at the healthy items on the buffet. I had a fantastic, huge salad with all kinds of fresh veggies and a bowl of lentil soup on the side. They had heartier items available but I've been craving "fresh" and "green" so I added 2 servings of perfectly steamed broccoli to my salad plate and was feeling revitalized by the time Jim came back to pick me up.

A cool but gorgeous day after the storm front came through town. We're off to return the rental car and board the plane.

The Cleveland airport was practically empty this afternoon so we got through check-in and security much sooner than expected. Not too much to see but the RnR gift shop was pretty cool. 

Becky and Maria, this is for you... reminds me of that hilarious ride back from Gold Cup. Becky: "There are 2 kinds of people in the world: Chestnuts and Buckeyes." Beth & Becky in unison to Maria, "YOU? You are a chestnut."
Hahahahahahahaha. No one else will ever get this... and if they do, perhaps they should be locked away.
:-) I miss you both!

Boarding on time!

My view several times every week doesn't seem to change.

OMG!!! Did someone forget to turn off ALL electronics?! Yikes, I sure hope it was no one I know.

Thank you, Cleveland, for a great weekend. Thanks to Shawn, Cleveland Clinic, GRE Engineering, RnR Competitor Group, Heather Hawk Frank & CMTA-Cleveland, WKYC, Todd Hart, our Gypsy friends and Allard...together we are making a difference.

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