Wednesday, July 3, 2013

13th Event of 2013: Freedom Run 10K

Dralla Foundation Week AND Freedom Run 10K: Greensboro, NC

Tuesday, June 25th:

I returned home from Seattle at noon on Sunday and spent the last 2 days doing laundry and extensively cleaning our home in preparation for the arrival of the Dralla Foundation Review Board Committee. The Committee will be in town until Saturday, hopefully giving us all enough time to select our 2013 Grant Recipients and to reevaluate the review process in order to accommodate the recent growth in the foundation.

I've written about Dralla in past posts so I'll resort to the lazy-girl's shortcut--the Dralla website link--for now. After all, this is an extremely busy week for me so I won't have much time for blogging. That being said, this foundation is extremely important to me and I continue my role this year as Review Board Advisor. Please click the link to learn more about the mission and efforts of Dralla Foundation:

With most of my chores done I have to zoom off to Eden (that would be Eden, NC) where I have my last follow-up with Dr. Mark Roy pertaining to my most recent spinal fusion surgery in January. I am hopeful that I will get a thumbs-up from him to resume all normal activity finally. Dr. Roy and his team were previously based at Cone Hospital here in Greensboro, just blocks from my home, but they parted ways and moved to the Morehead Hospital System almost 2 years ago. The hour drive is a small price to pay for such a caring and talented team! I whole-heartedly recommend Dr. Roy/Morehead Spine to anyone in this area needing a neurosurgeon.

Wednesday, June 26th:

All went very well with Dr. Roy yesterday afternoon--I'm cleared (with cautions) to resume all activity I was doing at this time last year. Such a relief!!! Jim and I had planned to catch a Greensboro Grasshopper game last evening to celebrate the good news & to spend some fun time together before the arrival of the Committee today. However the game got rained out so we opted for porch-time with our neighbors, Manny and Laura, who look after our house and lawn while we're running all over the country. As soon as the storm passed we walked back across the street and caught an episode of Deadliest Catch before falling asleep.

This morning I was up at 5:00am to prepare for an interview I had at a local station, WFMY2. I was scheduled to go live on the Good Morning Show with Tracey McCain as a follow-up to the success of TeamUP and as a lead-in to the upcoming Freedom Run 10K in downtown Greensboro on Saturday. The entire news team at WFMY TV2 has been so welcoming and generous towards our efforts of sharing the GetBackUP message locally this year. Thanks to you all and especially to Tracey! 

And thanks to Ashley Watkins of BKI, Inc. for meeting me at the station so early this morning. All the photos are courtesy of Ashley!

Tracey has more than earned her Get Back UP medal for continuing her coverage of our mission. We so appreciate you, Tracey!!
Here's the link to the story and, as usual, if it is no longer an active link you can check out the press room on the website pages:

After the interview it was back home to make a strawberry rhubarb pie from scratch. Last year I made this pie for the review board and it was such a hit, especially for those who had never had rhubarb, that  Grant Administrator, Jen Buehler put in her request for another round this year. I have to admit that I'm a sucker for any excuse to eat homemade pie so I readily agreed to Jen's request!

A few hours later and it's cooling in the window! Wish you could smell the sweet aroma... now I just need some pure vanilla ice cream and I'm all set.
Thursday, June 27th-Friday, June 28th:

The review board members began arriving yesterday afternoon and things have been a whirlwind ever since. 2 of our committee experienced major airline delays due to storms in the midwest and southeast so we began our meetings a bit behind. From there on it was a marathon effort to collaborate on the 50+ grant applications that made it through initial screening this period. Each board member has been thoroughly reviewing all 50 applications/organizations over the past 8 weeks or so and now it's time to come to a consensus on who will be awarded the funds.

After the organizations are chosen, the next step is to determine how to allocate funds. Jamie Button, our newest board member, brought much experience and fantastic ideas to the table this year regarding financial considerations and review-process suggestions. We all are so grateful to have him aboard and with everyone's input we were able to implement some new procedures to accommodate the growth (and inevitable increasing workload!) of Dralla Foundation going forward.

The photos will in no way accurately depict how busy we've been these past 2 days..but perhaps the lack of photos will tell you something! I am going to post a few highlights of the week below:

Except for the fact that I am not seated at the table, this is pretty much what we looked like for 2 straight days. 

That's Josh Ahlstrom on the left, Marc Martinez to the right of Josh...

...and Jamie Button next to Marc.

Jen Buehler, Siena Buehler and Andrew Buehler (foreground) join us after our long 1st day of committee meetings . This is Thursday night's dinner at Lucky 32 here in town. We had hoped for a quick meal in order to have a little fun at the Grasshoppers Game tonight.

If you read my Portland blogpost you will understand why Jen gifted this Webkins Pug to Jim. Jen, Jim thanks you for his new friend and Jim, we thank you for hosting us all at the ballgame tonight!!

A beer at the ballpark is just what the doctor ordered for a weary Committee. The 'Hoppers actually won Thursday night's game in extra innings with a walk-off homer... woo woo!

Believe it or not (and I can prove it!) this photo is completely unretouched. The skies were incredibly gorgeous as the sun set over the storm clouds in downtown Greensboro.

Sorry, this night was so beautiful I had to show another shot of the sky.
Saturday, June 29th--RACE DAY!:

Friday was a repeat of Thursday where meetings, meals and baseball were concerned. We made great progress on the review process changes and enjoyed a more relaxed night at the ball game. Jayme Brendle, the Allard rep for the Mid-Atlantic states joined us for dinner and the game last night--it was great to catch up with her! The evening ended with fireworks at the stadium but I was so focused on spending time with the Dralla/Allard team that I left my camera at home.

This morning Jim, Jamie Button and I are planning to run the Freedom Run 10K in downtown Greensboro. Jayme Brendle, the Buehlers and Denny and Ashley from the Bouvier-Kelly PR team met us at the registration area before the start. Luckily, the race is starting/finishing at the Marriott where all the Dralla/Allard folks are staying which is also only a mile from my house.

Again, the short-cut version of my Saturday will be photos only:

Jim and Jayme are out and about early.

So glad to see my friend and Allard teammate, Jayme, here in town! Jayme..."Does that make sense?"

That's Denny on the left taking photos of the policeman "getting back UP" while Ashley looks on in the background (center of photo under TV). Thank you, ladies, for coming out so early on your Saturday to cheer us on!

Greensboro's Finest!

MY DEAR FRIEND, EMILY BYRD!!! I haven't seen Emily in 2 years (unless you count our Facebook stalking of each other) and she has been sorely missed. Emily went through a very scary event last year and almost died after suffering a serious fall, broken collarbone, pierced carotid artery, skull fracture and traumatic brain injury. We are all so happy she made it through--talk about Getting Back UP!!! Not only did Emily have to endure all of this but she had a 1-year old daughter to take care of as well as a very-public career as a TV meteorologist. She is truly amazing and I was so happy to see her this morning, made my whole year!

Emily and I ran the course together this's a rare opportunity for us to get an hour (give or take) of unopposed time together. Thank you, Emily, for letting me run beside you today. I love you, my friend!

Jamie Button was the first of our group to finish, Jayme Brendle was AMAZING in her support, and Jen, Siena and Andrew were the last to make it down this morning after a very long week for all 3 of them. Can't believe you 3 got here in time to cheer us to the finish--you deserved to sleep in this morning but I was happy to see you all!

Jim had a bit of an adventure today as he stopped to help a runner who was struggling at mile 5. This run is very hilly and, like usual, today it was also hot and humid. The runner, a woman named JK, was weaving and dizzy but refused to stop. Jim and I have learned how quickly "dizzy" can go to "disaster" during an event like this and thus he stayed with her until she got medical attention. She actually got sick a few times but then spent some time in the cooling mister and after her vitals were once again normal the medics allowed her to walk the last mile in. Jim-- as a fellow runner I thank you for not ignoring JK's condition and for walking in with her!

This photo is courtesy of Ashley Watkins...both of us getting different perspectives at the Start.

Brian from Fox8 was waiting at the finish line to help us share the Get Back UP message through their TV station. Thanks so much, I had messages waiting when I woke up on Sunday from people who want more info about the brace!

Jim, Jen, Jamie and Jayme...apparently the "J's" have taken over the city.

I finally get to meet Brie (Gabriella) once Emily and I crossed the finish line. Emily, thank you again for letting me run with you today. I've missed you and it was so wonderful to catch up.

Jamie Button, second from left, won his age group today! Congratulations, Jamie--you won one for Team Dralla!

Honorary TeamUP member (and ToeOFF wearer) Steve Loughlin met us at the race today. Congrats to both you and your daughter for great performances today!
The afternoon was filled with shuttling folks to and from hotels, restaurants and airports. Once everyone was gone Jim and I got to spend a few hours at the baseball game visiting with our friends who actually live here. We have fireworks every Friday and Saturday home game but this weekend was the first time we've seen them in a long time due to our heavy travel schedule. We were not disappointed.

Immediately following the game I had to go home to start work on a special-request cake for our granddaughter's 1st birthday party tomorrow. Don't know how I'm gonna pull this one off but I'm gonna give it my best effort.

Sunday, June 30th:

A 5:00am wakeup call to finish Summer Anne Austin's 1st birthday cake. Kassie, our daughter in law, requested a special cake for Summer since she adores sunglasses... she wanted a cake that was shaped like Strawberry Sunglasses. My husband was such a great help in trying to get the "engineering" of the cake figured out while I worked on icing and decorating details. With literally 5 minutes to spare we had the cake finished and we rushed out the door to the 11:00am brunch at Lucky 32.

If any of this looks familiar it's because we ate here with the Dralla team on Thursday night.  From left to right: Granny Pat, Lauren, Kaylen, Kim, Dwayne and Sandy, Jim (Sr.) and Georgia Austin (my Jim's parents). At the back is Jason Austin holding Rowen Austin who will turn 3 next week. Summer, Kassie and the other half of the crowd are at the next table.

Summer Anne in Kassie's lap, Jason seated and off to the right are Kassie's grandparents and parents.

So this was our rendition of a Strawberry Sunglasses cake. Thanks again, Jim, for your help in making this happen this morning!

Another view.

Grandpa Jim and Rowen sporting their Strawberry colors this morning.

The cake is about to be put to the test!

Summer approves of her cake! Happy Birthday, Summer! 

So that was my week... how was yours?!!

Next trip is to NJ for Allard meetings and projects, a quick stop in DC and then I'm off to Chicago for the next Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon. Hope to see you along the way!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

12th event of 2013: Seattle Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon

Seattle Rock 'n Roll Half Marathon

Thursday, June 20th:

I got home yesterday afternoon from my 6 days in Michigan and 12 hours later I was leaving my house for the airport, en route to Seattle for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon. It was an early start to my day, 3:30a.m., and by the time I land in Seattle it's already early afternoon on the West Coast. 

Upon arrival I get my rental car and arrange to pick up my husband (he was here a day ahead for his business trip) then head to the hotel to check in while Jim meets with another appointment of his. After getting settled at the Silver Cloud Hotel in the Capital Hill area of Seattle I meet Jim again then we're off right away to an interview with FoxQ13 at South Lake Union.

The same sign is still in place in the lobby at Q13. This time Jim is with me so he gets his own "New Girl" photo op.

We made it back to the Green Room...

...and after 45 minutes we make it into the studio!

Reporter Marni Hughes grants us another interview to follow up on last year's journey. 
 Thank you, Marni and Q13 for yet another opportunity to spread the GetBackUP message in the Northwest!! For as long as this will remain active, please check out the link for our interview:

Following the interview we make our way back to the hotel. According to my body clock it's after 8pm and I'm famished after my long day so I'm hoping to find a place within walking distance of the hotel to grab an early dinner. My hope is to be asleep in my room in 2 hours or less since I've had so little sleep in the past 3 days.

The interview at Q13 was live on their early evening newscast which had us returning to the hotel in rush-hour traffic. As you may have expected, it is now raining here in Seattle which adds insult to injury regarding the traffic woes.

To my pleasant surprise we find a restaurant 2 doors down from the hotel that holds promise for a healthy, fresh meal. They have a "daily fresh sheet" in addition to an extensive regular menu.

From the logo you may not expect the "non-bar food" offerings they had...

YUM!! Vegetarian Brussels Sprouts for Beth!! Sorry, just can't hide my enthusiasm when a restaurant (much less a BAR) has perfectly cooked B. Sprouts sans bacon!

Jim and I also shared the local cheese and fruit plate. I didn't want to eat too much since I planned to be asleep within the hour.

Here's a look at Garage from the outside. It's huge inside with 25 regulation pool tables, 6 separate bar/food areas and a 20-lane bowling alley. 
I couldn't get over how great the food choices were at Garage Bowl and I loved the way they utilized the space to accommodate so many activities. Don't hesitate to stop in the next time you're in Seattle:

Not wanting to go to sleep directly on a full stomach, Jim and I walked around the Capital Hill area of Seattle. In all my previous trips here I've never spent any time in this neighborhood so this was a new adventure. Here are a few shots of what I saw along my 30-minute walk prior to returning to the hotel for some much needed sleep:

An almost-equal mix of industrial, retail and residential spaces make up the Capital Hill area.

This sandwich spot was recommended to us by a local so we had to pop in to check it out.

Both Jim and I found numerous options on their menu we'd enjoy so we may stop back in while we're in town.

I love the artwork on display in the Honey Hole.

Another view.

This is a view from the center of Capital Hill looking down the steep hill that feeds towards the water and Pike Place Public Market.

One of the many gorgeous homes nestled in and among the commercial properties in Capital Hill.

Cables form a web over the entire city of Seattle. The public transit system is ranked as one of the best in the nation and had I been staying here longer than 2 nights (or without so much packed into such a short trip), I would not have bothered with car rental: 
The “Metro” public bus system which operates throughout Seattle and King County is one of the most extensive and highly praised in the nation. Having been honored twice as the best-run large public transportation system in North America, Metro operates a fleet of approximately 1,300 vehicles – including standard and articulated coaches, electric trolleys, dual-powered buses, hybrid diesel-electric buses and streetcars – which serve an annual ridership of more than 100 million.

Friday, June 21st:

Unfortunately this day was long on work and short on photos! I did sleep in to catch up on my rest, but that still had me up-and-at-'em by 8:00am Pacific Time. Jim had work with his distributors today and I took the opportunity to finish my Michigan blog post and attend to some neglected emails and voicemails. By the time I was ready to head to the Expo for race check-in I realized that my phone battery was nearly spent. With my Mophie battery back-up still not functioning properly (and no time to get this taken care of between Michigan and now) I was out of juice for any photos...sorry!!

When Jim returned from his day of work here I was able to use his phone for a few shots of dinner before we returned to the hotel to get our gear ready for the Half Marathon tomorrow. In addition to our race prep, we had to be mostly packed to check out of the hotel in the morning; after the run tomorrow we will kill a few hours in town before taking the red-eye flights back to Greensboro tomorrow night.

I read a great review of this place, The 8oz. Burger Bar, in this morning's paper. This was just 5 doors down from our hotel and they offered plenty of vegetarian options in addition to the carnivorous fare so it was a good match for our purposes!

A view from the bar at 8oz. Burger Bar. The place was already packed at 5:30pm.

Another view.

My vegetarian burger--homemade and piled high on a gluten-free bun!

Yum, fresh avocados on the top and tomatoes, onions and pickles on the bottom.

After dinner we walked to Blick Art Supply to pick up some foam board for my Get Back UP sign. From here we strolled back to the room and got ready for our long day tomorrow.
 Saturday, June 22nd...RACE DAY!!!

For the second trip in a row (albeit all in an 8-day stretch) I am so far north in the US that it gets light early and stays light late. We were awake by 4:00a.m. and by the time we left the room around 5:00am the sun was ready to peek over the horizon.

What a gorgeous day here in Seattle!! NO RAIN in the forecast which is a welcome occasion for us on this race day. Here's a view a few blocks West of our hotel before we turn North to head to the starting line area. I love Pike Place Market when it's bustling with activity but it's so peaceful in the early morning when the vendors are setting up for the day.

Jim is all smiles as we make our way to the Space Needle for the race festivities.

All weekend long we've seen media reports that this Rock 'n Roll Marathon/Half Marathon is the first big event in the city of Seattle since the Boston Marathon bombing in April. We decided to show our support for the city's commitment to the events today.

Friendly faces among our RnR Gypsy crew!

George Melichar is signing a copy of his Sports Illustrated article. Congrats on the great Press, Geo!!

I've made George an honorary TeamUP member for the day. Thanks, George, for being so generous in helping the GBU campaign to reach more and more people! (And thanks, Jim, for lending your jacket to the cause.)

Beautiful flower arrangements at the Competitor Group VIP lounge.

Full sunrise is about to reach the VIP tent as my sign cheers it along.

Our dear RnR gypsy buddies, Susan and Ron Carino--ready to rock and roll!

And a Kamika Smith sighting!! 

And a Carl Brance sighting!! Carl is the Northwest District Manager of Sales for Allard and also a wearer of the Blue Rocker by Allard. Carl has foot drop as a result of an accident years ago. In the "small world" category: Carl just realized that Kamika Smith of Kauai, HI signed his marriage certificate when he and his wife, Ashley, got married in Kauai a few years ago at the Smith Family Gardens/Luau. Kamika has become a great friend of mine (and Jim's) since we met on the RnR circuit last year. 

Thanks for coming out to support us today, Carl, and thanks especially for being such an inspiring person to all of us with foot drop.

Jim and I are ready to rock 'n roll! Well, in reality Jim is wondering whether 2 straight days of hard workouts was the best thing to do leading up to this hilly half marathon. We shall see...

Waaaayyyyyyy up front is the starting line. The corrals are packed with thousands of runners waiting to enjoy the beautiful weather this morning...we are slowly making our way towards the start.

Hmmm... that guy on the left doesn't look too happy. If he feels this bad at the start I wonder how he will feel after 13.1 or 26.2 miles today?!

At the band stage near mile 5 I spot a lead singer with a Delorean shirt on! (My sisters and I were the not-so-proud yet oh-so-grateful owners of a Dodge Dart Swinger to share while in high school. Due to our last name, it was affectionately referred to as "The Delorean". I wish we had this man's shirt to go with it.)

So many cheerful sights along the route today.

Optimism abounds on this perfect day to run!
(Get it?... "Half full" as in the glass is...)

Happy runners behind me along the flattest, shadiest stretch of  the Half Marathon today.
I feel so lucky to have come from the beautiful lake runs in the U.P. of Michigan straight to this spectacular marine scenery along the sound in Seattle.

We had a great, flat stretch of road in the shade of the early morning. Jim and I know what to expect with the sun and the hills in full strength for the miles ahead, but for now we are enjoying wonderful running conditions.

Full sun and a nice, long downhill after some tough climbs to this view. Roughly 3 miles to go with some serious uphills still to come. That's Safeco field directly in front with Century Link field behind it to the right.

We've made the turn back North finally along the final 3-mile stretch. Last year they were just finishing the construction of the Ferris Wheel to the left. We had fantastic views of the water and mountains all the way back to the finish line.

And speaking of the Finish Line, Carl is cheerfully awaiting us as we complete our event today.

Most of the Half Marathoners are streaming in now while the Full Marathoners are dealing with the sun and rising temps. The headliner band will be playing in about 45 minutes so the crowds are starting to gather at the main stage.

Gettin' Back UP with amputee runner Nick Roumonada (who also happens to be a sales rep in the industry, so he works to make sure others are getting back up, too.) Nick paced a friend, who shed 50 pounds this year, through his first Half Marathon ...nice work!

Friend and RnR Gypsy, Kevin Gonzalez who is all smiles this morning. Congrats, Kevin!

Carl was fantastic as race-support crew for the weekend. Thanks so much, my friend, we love you!

The Space Needle keeps watch over the finish line festivities.

Says Susan Carino, "This is why I run!!"
(Congrats on another great Half this weekend, Carinos... see you in Chi-Town!)

Though Jim and I needed to rush back to check out of the hotel, we couldn't leave without cheering for Kamika and George at the finish. Great to see you, friends! Also, Kamika...YOU ROCK!! I still can't believe you brought fresh leis all the way from Kauai--thank you, they are incredibly fragrant and beautiful! I think leis are the PERFECT "apres run" accessory!

Post race lunch with the most hard core RnR Gypsies we know. Most of these crazy-determined runners are planning to pull off 2 Half Marathons on the same in San Antonio then in Vegas. To be continued....

As the sun begins to set on Seattle, Jim and I are at the airport for the first of 3 flights tonight.  By tomorrow mid-morning we will be back home in Greensboro. Whew, it's been a whirlwind 9 days.

The Seattle RnR medal along with the bonus Heavy Medal, Pacific Peaks, for completing Portland and Seattle in the same calendar year.
Next up: I'm hosting the Dralla Foundation Review Committee in Greensboro the next 5 days, ending with the Freedom Run 10K a week from today. Another busy schedule but all the work is going towards helping many more people Get Back UP. See you soon!