Thursday, November 7, 2013

St. Louis Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon:

A Weekend of Adventure: Rock 'n Roll St. Louis, World Series, Monday Night Football

Thursday, October 24th:

My weekend started off with a great update via an early morning email from Common Ground Adventures, one of the non-profit organizations awarded Dralla grants this year, so I wanted to share:

A beautiful sight--he'll be soaring in a wheelchair today!
For those of you who may not have heard of Dralla Foundation, it is the nonprofit organization started by Peter Allard ("Dralla" is "Allard" spelled backward) and for which I am a board member. Every year the committee selects other nonprofit groups who are looking to provide the "best day" to someone with mobility issues. See the link for more information:

A big THANK YOU to Jen Buehler for all her work at Dralla and for sending me this great update just before I left town!!!

And now back to my own adventures...

Believe it or not (and those who know me well will NOT believe it) I was actually completely packed last night with plenty of time to spare before my mad dash to the airport. This means I have a few hours this morning to start a project I've been mulling over. I have some future plans for this but want to see how it works on a practice run this weekend in St. Louis...
I'm using leftover pieces of foam core to make a picture idea I 'borrowed' from Leslie and her friends at the Tennessee Trot last month.

My supplies don't look like much but I think this is all I'll need.

The inner frame is complete, thanks to my black Sharpie and 2 colors of acrylic just waiting for it to dry on my bench by the window...

...and now for the outer framework, which I'm hoping will eventually look like an antique picture frame.

I tried some metallic gold paint but it didn't really add much so I'm sticking to my basic acrylic and water combo. You can see at the bottom right that this frame is being constructed with scraps and will eventually be taped together on the back. I plan to make a hinge out of the tape so that I can fold this in half for travel purposes.

Ta-da!! Inner frame taped to outer frame and looking just like I'd hoped it would. Not bad for an hour's effort but now I've gotta get moving.
Sorry for the foray into Craftland but it was a part of my day today, afterall. (Reminder to please remind me, Jen or Angie: if you're reading this I did film a tutorial on the making of race signs...I will send you the files even though this is way overdue!) 

Now it's off to the airport to good ol' St. Louis. I'm not certain what to expect on this trip outside of the Rock 'n Roll race. As it turns out, every hotel in the city is booked thanks to the World Series games being played here on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. The Cardinals will be hosting the Boston Red Sox so it's sure to be a crazy time, and on Monday night the St. Louis Rams will be hosting the Seattle Seahawks for Monday Night Football just a few blocks from Busch Stadium and the World Series crowds. With all of these events on tap for the city there hasn't been anything else scheduled for me work-wise--I think the Allard reps had a difficult time trying to get anyone to commit to anything due to the excitement over all the team sports. We'll see what develops when I get to town.

Made it to St. Louis, famous arch in the background.

Over the river into Cahokia, IL to the only affordable hotel I could get, thanks to the World Series Fever.

My stunning view from the hotel room in Cahokia.
I was on my own for the day, nothing more scheduled until tomorrow morning's interview at Fox News 2 at the KPLA11 Station west of St. Louis. I was just told I need to be there by 6:45am so I'm planning a reconnaissance mission now to make sure I allow enough time in the morning, especially since I'll be coming from IL at rush hour. 

Wow, just finished my trek over to and back from Maryland Heights, MO and figure I will need to allow an hour just to be safe tomorrow morning. I've been in town only half a day and already I'm tired of the trips back and forth across the river! Now I plan to make an early night of it and get rested for my interview tomorrow. 

One thing I must say about my hotel: the place isn't much to look at but the attendants here are all so friendly and helpful and I've got everything I need nearby. There's no restaurant here (Comfort Inn and Suites, Cahokia) but there's a grocery store less than 100yds from the front door and my room has a fridge and a microwave--I'm all set!

Friday, October 25th:

As I was leaving the hotel at 5:30am I learned that the hotel also offers free breakfast but alas, I'm too early to partake. The coffee is ready for me though, and it's fresh and hot--perfect for my drive over to Maryland Heights.

I arrive at the station with 15 minutes to spare thanks to light traffic once I got through downtown St. Louis.

Wow, I feel right at home inside the station where I'm watching the Andy Griffith Show. Go, Mayberry, NC!

I brought my picture frame with me to test out what I have in mind for my future project. The security guard was only too happy to help me!

They bring me back to an empty, dark studio to wait for my interview. 

Love it! The sound guy makes for a perfect portrait study.

And finally, about 40 minutes after my arrival I meet the anchorman, John Pertzborn, who will be doing today's story.
UGHHHH. I always get so nervous before an interview and constantly remind myself "This isn't about me, it's about the message". These interviews are so important in that they have the potential to reach the very people we're hoping to help "get back up" and yet they are also a very difficult part of my job. My nerves are always a wreck and when we go live (rhymes-with-hive, not give) like today there's always the potential to royally flub-up.

More often than not I get great reporters who make it so easy on me to stay on message but every once in a while it's a true challenge. Sometimes the challenge is in correcting the facts, sometimes it's getting the important points inserted into mere seconds of air time and other times I feel I'm catching a flaming boomerang and I've got less than a minute to hurl it back out there with our intended message surviving the toss. 

Today felt like the latter. 

As we say here in NC, "John Pertzborn, bless yer heart." You gave me an incredible opportunity today and for that I am so grateful and yet, wow, "one-legged runner"...really?

He even met me 10 minutes before air-time and saw with his own 2 eyes that I have 2 legs and yet he still called me a one-legged runner. I apologize to all my amputee friends. 

Also, with the fact sheet right in his hand he called my condition "foot-dropsy"... that's a new one and immediately reminded me of my childhood book, Peter Rabbit, with Flopsy, Mopsy and Foot Dropsy (I mean Cotton-tail!) 

Then he asked me what shoes I run in, I told him I was wearing New Balance today but that I run only in he pointed to my New Balance shoes and called them Brooks. My apologies to both shoe companies. 


Oh well, as I said, this isn't about me (or my shoes) but it is about our message of encouraging those with mobility issues to regain quality of life. On that note, we did get our point across, even got the brace name in there, and hopefully the viewers with foot drop will see that great technology is out there and it's improving every day. Here's the link to the story that aired:

Once the interview was over I made the trip back into St. Louis and had planned to go directly back to my hotel. However the morning traffic was heavy and I exited into town instead of staying in the bumper-to-bumper madness. After all, it was a beautiful morning and I was in no particular hurry. I drove to the historic riverfront landing area and walked around in the crisp morning air.

Cobblestones and construction between 2 bridges along the St. Louis river. Another beautiful day shaping up.

After a 45-minute walk along the river the traffic was clear and I was back on my way to IL.

"And it was still hot."
Not sure why my favorite children's books are popping into my brain this morning. For those who didn't immediately recognize it, the above quote is the last line from Where The Wild Things Are. Upon my return to the hotel I realized it was still quite early and the free breakfast was still available. I usually don't go for biscuits and butter but after my awkward interview I was craving a bit of comfort food along with my protein. (And more coffee.)

I just got a kick out of the fact that I'm 15 minutes from the heart of St. Louis and here in my hotel parking lot it looks like I could be in the middle of East Texas.
When I finished breakfast I took advantage of the (very small) pool at the Comfort Inn and worked on my aqua-running drills. I was told that the area surrounding the hotel wasn't the safest place to run and so I opted for the water workout instead.  The rest of my day consisted of working on the computer and taking advantage of a very rare "quiet day" in which I got to stretch, read and relax in the room. I guess that's a really nice thing about being in the middle of nowhere (sorry to anyone who may live in Cahokia, but that's how it felt!); there's no nearby temptations for sight-seeing or exploring so I didn't feel guilty just resting in the room for the entire day and night. Plus, without appointments scheduled with Allard reps or media I had so much more free time than usual...  I ALMOST felt like I had the day off. :-)

Saturday, October 26th:

Jim made it to town after working elsewhere the last few days and joined me for breakfast at the hotel. As much as I don't like having to make the drive back and forth across the river, this hotel and the people here have been really fantastic. Not only do you get free internet, free parking, free breakfast and great service... they also have a coin-op laundry (plan to use this after running on Sunday) for only $1 and they give you the detergent for free.  

Mom, I promise I did have a mixture of fresh fruit with this but the bowl didn't quite make it into the shot! (My mom doesn't like it when I don't "eat the rainbow" and from here it looks like I've only covered the yellows.)
Another hearty breakfast in my belly and now we're off to the Expo to check in for the race and to scout out our travel/parking plan for tomorrow's event. Usually we're in a position close enough to walk to/from the race but not this time... we'll have to make sure we know where we're going and how early we need to get there before the road closures take effect.

More practice with my frame.

I love Rock 'n Roll Marathon Jewelry...even when they don't showcase our Get Back UP medal... but I love it when they do. Thanks, Emily!

A portrait of friends.

Oh. My. Gosh. I was stunned to find out that my PR team had secretly conspired with Emily and had asked her to give me a card and gift when I stopped by to say 'hi'. In honor of our 48th race (2 months ahead of schedule) they designed this charm for me... what an awesome surprise!!

On one side it reads, "Thank You, Your BKI Team" and on the other it says "Strength, Courage, Confidence". This was so unbelievably thoughtful and special. To all the beautiful people at Bouvier Kelly, thank YOU for guiding me through this amazing journey. 

And thank you, Emily, for being the bearer of such great gifts... especially the gift of your friendship!
Race crew getting into the spirit of the game. :-)

Jim and I left the Expo with maps and gear in hand and set off to scope out our parking area and travel route for tomorrow. Unbeknownst to me, my phone wasn't completely plugged into my charger last night and my battery power is quite low. Hence, no photos of the afternoon but here's a list of what we accomplished:

We went to the Goodwill Store south of town and bought inexpensive clothing to wear during the chilly wait on race morning. Jim found an oversized St. Louis Rams pullover for $2 and I found some warm PJs for $4. I also scored a St. Louis Cardinals baseball jersey, found it in the Boys' section for $5, and it fit perfectly--I hope to wear this wherever we end up watching the game tomorrow after the race. (I don't actually have a dog in the fight--so to speak--but since I'm in St. Louis I'm planning to cheer for the home team.)

We walked along the riverfront, beneath the Arch, and had fun people-watching as throngs of Cardinal- and BoSox-fans filled the streets.

We went souvenir-shopping but found nothing we couldn't live without.

We made a roundabout trek but eventually found a craft store (I had something up my sleeve for the Monday Night Football game and needed supplies while I had the time) and got lost on the wrong highway trying to get back over to Cahokia.

We went to the Beerhouse at River City and treated ourselves to a locally brewed pint (I had Urban Chestnut and Jim had a Schafly) along with a very light dinner (of which I did take a photo with my battery barely hanging in there):
For some reason (rarely happens!) I didn't have much of an appetite so I opted for a light meal of 3 side dishes. Not that you care, but I ended up scraping away most of the cheese from the baked potato and piled my coleslaw onto it instead. The broccoli was steamed perfectly, just the right amount of crunch, and Beth was a happy girl. 
And finally, we made it back over to IL and stopped at the grocery store next to our hotel for bananas, water and yogurt for tomorrow's race-day breakfast, then retired to the room to get our gear and our alarms set for tomorrow.

Sunday, October 27th: RACE DAY!!!

BRRRRRRR. 2 races in a row where the wait at the start is downright cold. Thanks to the efforts of my PR crew and the graciousness of Rock 'n Roll/Competitor Group racing we are getting a shout-out at the starting line, or rather, a 3-minute interview regarding our 48-races-in-24-months campaign. I need to meet the emcee at 6:40 and have to decide whether to go to the stage in my Goodwill PJs or brave the cold in order to look more presentable....

I'm all bundled up in my (last year's) Cardinal hat, craft-store $2 gloves and fleece PJs. And yes, Dick Kutz,  this is remarkably the 3rd race for this sign! :-)  Thanks to my new suitcase it actually fits for air travel and is still holding up well. I did darken the blue letters to almost black and changed the orange to red (hard to tell here) to make it more Cardinal-friendly and I added a World Series sticker to the back. Perhaps I can get one more race out of it yet...

I get a rare glimpse of the race start from the broadcasting booth--way cool. Literally. It's very cold up here.

There was absolutely zero chance of Jim giving up his "warmies" before he had to. He is a NC boy for sure.

I shed my PJ bottoms to acclimate to the weather before the start but then stuck close to my friend, Shaun Schultz,  to keep the wind from turning me into a popsicle. You may remember Shaun from last year in St. Louis, he works with another great friend, Jim Campbell, who's working the sound systems at the race on the West Coast this weekend.

The broadcast crew is busily updating all runners and pumping up the crowd as the race start draws near.

My first ever race-start interview. Let's Rock and Roll, St. Louis!!!

We hopped off the stage and quickly made it back to gear check and made our way to the starting line corrals.  While it's cold now, you can see the sun beginning to rise over the Arch in the background. It's going to be a great day to run.

Waiting for the singing of our National Anthem...

... while Jim waits until the last possible minute to shed his layers. 

A true Rock 'n Roll runner! A quick pose here and then I drop my Goodwill PJ fleece top along the rail. I did opt to keep my neck-gaiter on for the race, I wasn't prepared to part with this favorite item. 

Sorry if you're disappointed but my hands were too cold to take photos of this race course. I tried several times but when I took my gloves off to work the camera my hands were shaking from the cold and everything was blurry. I put the camera away and had a great time running with Jim and talking to spectators and runners along the 13.1 miles... but no photos to show for it.  Next race, I promise!

Ahhh, even better than the food at the finish line was the sun!! The rolling course was beautiful and the weather truly was ideal for running but once we stopped the chill set in just a bit. A hot cocoa and a plate of food was just what this chick needed!

My post-race assortment.

The VIP tent at the finish line festival. We're ready to get back to IL for warm clothes and showers but we want to wait for some of the Gypsies to finish before we take off.
In true Gypsy style! Ron Carino crosses the finish and quickly works to replenish.

Congratulations to my friend and fellow RnR gypsy, Ron Carino, for finishing his 50th half marathon!!! You ARE a Rock Idol!

Ron and Susan really know how to celebrate in style. You both are so incredible.

Ron, Jennifer and Susan sat together in grad school--in this order--when they all first met. Apparently Ron and Susan didn't let Jennifer come between them and their inevitable relationship. :-)
(Jennifer was a bridesmaid at their eventual wedding)
Jim and I made our way out of downtown St. Louis as the full marathoners were still making their way to the finish line. We crossed the river and headed back to the hotel to warm up, clean up and gear up for an evening adventure back in St. Louis. First stop: Tigin's pub, the only place we could find where they were showing the Tottenham Spurs football match (soccer, to those of you in the US).

We found a true soccer/football haven at Tigin's.

And to our surprise, we found another Tottenham Spurs fan--what a shock! Adam was here on vacation from London to watch the Boston Red Sox in the World Series. He has tickets to all 3 games here and is praying for a finale in Boston where he hopes to watch the BoSox win it all before he heads back home. (He also is a season ticket holder for the Spurs games, how lucky!) COYS!!
Tottenham wins!! The first of a series (no pun intended) of good fortune to fall upon Jim and I this evening...

On a whim, we decided to mill about the stadium to see if anyone was going to sell tickets to tonight's game at a decent rate. We totally lucked out by meeting a couple of Boston fans, young college guys who purchased tix for all 3 games here in St. Louis. They had an expensive trip down and wanted to sell tonight's tickets so they could better afford the long weekend... tomorrow's game is already definite since St. Louis lost last night and they'd rather see that one than tonight's. We paid a bit more than face value but felt we got a huge value nonetheless, considering every other outlet we tried was asking upwards of $500!!! Yikes.

My first World Series!

We're in...and climbing higher and higher to our seats.

Wow, what a great night! Notice the Arch cut into the grass on the outfield? I love it!

Yes, we were high up but our view was great and the excitement here was unbelievable.

Just happy to be here.

Sadly, the Cardinals lost on a rare pick-off at first base. One more game here tomorrow and then the teams go back to Boston. Oh well, I still totally enjoyed the night.

Spectacular view on our way back to the car. What a gorgeous evening here in St. Louis.
Monday, October 28th: One final adventure before heading back home

Hmmm... should I opt for the "rainbow" food in the far right canister, Mom?
No, Mom, I didn't have the Fruit Loops. I stuck with yogurt and bananas today, along with a small glass of OJ and an extra-large coffee. Jim has work today just outside of town so he's dropping me off at Laclede's Landing to enjoy the morning and then we're off to tailgate for tonight's Monday Night Football game. 

For those who don't know, Jim is an avid NC State Wolfpack fan. Russell Wilson was a great quarterback for 3 years at NC State. He then transferred to the University of Wisconsin for his last year of collegiate eligibility (long story with a happy ending) and finally was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks to begin his NFL career. So, Jim became a huge Russell Wilson fan and followed his progress throughout his stint at UW and now into his NFL games. Thus, Jim has become a Seattle Seahawks fan. So Jim's been looking forward to seeing his first Seahawks' game, which just happened to coincide with the RnR St. Louis trip and his work here for Austin Enclosures. While Jim is working this afternoon I will be putting the finishing touches on same gameday gear I cooked up as a surprise.

A stop at the great costume shop at Laclede's Landing was in order.

Chatting with some friends.

(A fact most people don't know about me: my sisters and I all had pet rats when we were younger. My parents were so cool to allow this. My rat--domestic rat of course--was called Delta Dawn. She was black with a white belly and little white spots all over. Becky's rat was Prince, an Albino white rat with pink eyes. Maria had 2 favorites, one was Brie and for the life of me I can't remember the other one's name. As you can imagine, with at least 2 females and one male rat we quickly had dozens of pet rats. My parents were so tolerant.)
Jim made it back from his meetings and met me in the parking garage where I had been hard at work on my MNF project....


Another ridiculous(ly cool!) outfit for Jim to wear.  I was actually fairly surprised myself when he was happy to wear the Seahawks foam hat and feathered collar (fashioned from a boa and some floral wire found at the craft store). While the majority of fans in St. Louis were glued to the Cardinals' Game 5 of the World Series, this bird was watching football!

Before we arrived in town Jim had already purchased these seats online. We had great, club-level seats and had a perfect view of the action.

That would be me, a Seahawks fan just for the occasion.

And that's Jim, his eyes peeking through under the foam hat.

And that's the two of us. Believe it or not, we had requests to be included in photos with dozens of fans--both Rams' and Seahawks fans!

Jim pulled his feather collar down to eat... I did take this into account when designing the finished product.
(And by the way, the Foamheads were purchased not made, courtesy of an awesome company called ReadyGolf who made sure these were delivered to the hotel for no extra charge!)

We actually didn't expect so many fans to be in attendance, with the Cardinals being the main draw in St. Louis. The Rams played a really good game and should have won (even Jim admits this) but due to a odd choice of play as time ran out, Seahawks and Russell Wilson escaped with the win.

The MNF broadcasting crew on the sidelines for post-game commentary.

I lent my Sharpies to these Rams fans who were waiting for the players. They all asked to have their picture taken with me (still dressed as a Seahawk). I've been amazed at the great sportsmanship and grace of the people of St. Louis, even when their teams have lost to visiting teams.

I'm not a Rams fan but apparently this is one of the players and my new friend (with my Sharpie) is getting his autograph.

What a fun night!! Now it's back home to reality.

A 3-ticket weekend!

Thank you, St. Louis!!

Bonus coverage:

One thing I miss being on the road all the time is my friends and family! With only one weekend (out of 9) at home my 2 friends who are brand-new mommies came by to catch me and to introduce me to the new additions.

"Aunt Beth" with Amy and her Miles, and Marian (with her Coleman still asleep at her feet in his car seat). Amy and Marian had their babies 2 weeks apart almost 5 months ago and this is the first time I get to meet them.

With soccer strong in both of their genes I believe we're looking at future teammates and phenoms in Miles and Coleman.

He followed me home...can I keep him?!! This is the precious Coleman just waking up.
And precious Coleman with precious mom, Marian.

And then we're off to see my "surrogate parents", the Niles, for the Tottenham game. Thanks for the great breakfast, Julia, and for the insiders scoop from Terry. Oh well, I guess we'll settle for the draw and a share (at least) of 3rd place.

And finally, a Skype chat with my nephew Joey, seen here...

...along with his brother, Jackson, who's birthday it is today--November 2nd!! (Happy Birthday, Jackson! Sorry we couldn't be there with you but hopefully we'll see you over the holidays at the end of the year.)

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