Friday, May 2, 2014

3rd Race of 2014: Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh Half Marathon

Inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh Half Marathon

Wednesday, March 9th:

The orchid we bought mom for her birthday last month is still so beautiful,
especially in the early light of her kitchen today. 
This morning I drove from Greensboro to Chapel Hill where I picked up my parents before heading to the UNC campus to meet Mandy Mitchell, a reporter from WRAL-TV. What a great opportunity to share our Get Back UP/TeamUP message here in my home state! Here's a peek at the gorgeous UNC campus in the spring, and a fun morning with Mandy:

Thanks to Mandy Mitchell for a great story, which aired over and over during the race weekend. We got so many calls and emails asking for more info about the brace I wear so hopefully more folks in the Triangle will be Getting Back UP soon:

Thanks to my folks, Anne & Bob, for taking all the photos
for today's interview with Mandy (in the middle).
I prefer being on this side of the camera.  :-)

Thursday, March 10th:

So wonderful to be at my parent's house during a race event! I feel spoiled, last month it was DC at Dad & Suz's house and now it's here in Chapel Hill with Mom & Bob...and both homes have incredible backyard views to enjoy.

Spring has finally SPRUNG--it seems like it's been a 6-month winter, even here in NC. Mom & Bob are now able to enjoy the fruits of their labor with everything turning from brown to green and coming into bloom again:

After a relaxing morning with my parents I was off to meet Allard rep, Jayme Brendle, at a Gait Course for Physical Therapists at NC State. These courses are 4-hour educational lectures, giving the attendees credits which are needed to remained certified. These courses are also a great opportunity to bring real-life situations to the forefront; Allard frequently asks patient-models to share their stories here, providing great opportunities for Q&A. Sorry I didn't get photos but sometimes I feel that it's inappropriate in such a professional setting to be snapping pictures.

After the course I returned to my parents' house where Jim had just arrived for a late dinner.

Dinner menu, courtesy of Chefs Anne and Bob: char-grilled Salmon,
 sauteed kale, fresh grilled corn cut off the cob, salad and bread.

Friday, March 11th:

Spent the entire morning working, using my mom's "art studio/sewing room/guest bedroom" as my office for the day. Later in the afternoon Jim and I headed back into Raleigh to the race Expo and to catch up with a few of our favorite "Rock 'n Roll Gypsies" who were all headed to our home state this time.

More balloon art.

The mood is festive here at the Inaugural Raleigh race Expo.

My new favorite TV station--Thanks, WRAL and
Mandy Mitchell for airing our story so many times.
I'm getting recognized all over Raleigh so it's clear
you're the viewer's favorite too!

Merle-fest came early to NC!
(Inside joke. See here for hint:
Jim's subtle hint.

Great to see you, Dorcas! Hope to get our medals
 from you at the finish line on Sunday.

Official race hotel key. :-)

Two of our left-coast favorite gypsies: Susan and Ron Carino.

We lured the Carinos into our car with some hot, 
Carolina hush-puppies. Susan grew up in this area so 
this is comfort food for her. We kidnapped this pair to 
bring them back to my parents house for dinner...
sadly, no photos of the rest of the night because 
we were so caught up getting caught up. :-)

Saturday, March 12th:

What a great time we had with Ron and Susan, Anne and Bob last night. By the time we took the Carinos back to Raleigh then got back to the house it was well past 11pm and we were zonked. Thanks, mom and Bob, for such a wonderful dinner! Now...where's my breakfast?  :-)

Did I mention that I've been spoiled this week?
Homemade meals every day. This morning I awoke
 to farm-fresh poached eggs with wilted spinach,
fresh coffee and a glass of OJ. Can I please stay forever? 

With a great breakfast in my belly I worked for a few hours before Jim and I had to meet Jayme again; she set up a luncheon for us today with the Triangle area CMTA chapter. I'm so excited for this because the  CMTA groups have become a highlight of my travels--I can't wait to meet some of these folks right here in NC. 

Many thanks to Margaret Lee for the gracious invitation to join her group today, she's the lovely woman in the center of the photo wearing teal blue shirt--hiding behind Jayme (in black shirt). The 3 people on the far left in this shot were new to the group, a win-win situation for all of us to meet here in Durham this afternoon. If anyone out there is hesitant about joining a support group--whether for Charcot-Marie-Tooth, Multiple Sclerosis, Traumatic Brain Injury, etc.--you really don't know what you're missing. Within every support group you meet the people "behind the diagnosis", for lack of a better term. These are warm, beautiful, bright, witty and inspiring human beings who've just happened to be brought together by a similar diagnosis. Yes, there are discussions that deal directly with the diagnosis, CMT in this case, but the value goes well beyond that. There are conversations about work, about family, about love, about triumph and yes, about disappointments and frustration and pain, too. But when I look back on all the support groups I've visited in the last 2 years, it occurs to me that the one thing that stands out the most is the laughter we've shared...which almost seems incongruous knowing what initially brought us together.  

For me, I find huge benefits in the heartfelt sincerity and the candor with which people are sharing their daily experiences. There is inspiration that comes with learning how different people handle life's challenges--no matter what these challenges are--and I walk away from these discussions feeling newly empowered each time. Even more, I walk away with incredible new friendships and so it is always difficult to leave.

When Jim and I did say our goodbyes to the group, we headed East into downtown Raleigh to follow up on another media opportunity then to meet up with our friends just making it into town today for tomorrow's race.

We find Jim C. and Shaun hard at work setting up the sound for tomorrow's big event.
It's quite impressive to see the work that goes into setting up
the sound systems and the stages for these RnR events.
Jim and his roadie-crew will be at this until the wee hours of
the morning. His "quittin' time" comes when all the runners
get through the starting corrals tomorrow...great to see you, Jim!

Jim race's with the balloon art.

I finally meet Ramon Tejeda after getting to know him through
mutual friends online. Great to see you, Ramon!

NC gypsies!! Heath and Cindy McCall are great friends of ours from Greensboro.
Funny to see them here since we've not been able to catch up with them at home.

Cindy sports her new "Rock 'n' Roll GYPSY" bottle cozy.

Apparently, when Ron told Susan he would give her the world he wasn't joking.

AT LAST! A dinner with 20+ Rock 'n' Roll's not all of us, but this is a pretty good showing for our new Raleigh race. For those of you who couldn't be here with us, you were missed. We'll be running with you in our hearts tomorrow morning.
Thanks to Mary and John Kramer for arranging this dinner tonight,
I'm sure it felt like herding cats--fantastic job!!

Sunday, March 13th: RACE DAY!!!

Jayme meets us at 5:00am to head to the race start...what a trooper she is.

Hanging out at the hotel, waiting with friends until the sun comes up.

I love the people I work with. Jayme, thanks for all of your support and for
helping so many others to Get Back UP.

George, Malia and Joe trying not to look sleepy this morning.

Jim and Jayme are in need of coffee...

...and they're in luck ! The hotel cafe opened early for the race today.

A reminder of some of the folks we're running for today.

My favorite moment of this week: Stacy Parr saw our 
sign and came up to introduce herself. She has CMT and had 
no idea we'd be out here running to spread awareness
 for the cause. She then realized that I was "the runner" 
who was speaking at the CMTA meeting yesterday--
she couldn't attend due to a schedule conflict--but now we 
get to meet anyway--soo cool. Thanks for 
sharing your story with me, and good luck in the race today!

Hamming it up before the start.

By all accounts, the inaugural Raleigh event has gone well so far.
The race sold out and the start line corrals are abuzz with great energy.
And we're off! This course turned out to be gorgeous and hilly the entire way. Here are some of the pics I took along the run:

Another favorite moment: I just happen to see a childhood 
friend of mine cheering near the halfway point. This is 
Lisa Frieberg Dion (I haven't seen her since she was just 
Lisa Frieberg) who now lives in Raleigh apparently.
Great to see you, Lisa, now I know how to find you!

Just one of the many bands along the course today,
helping us to rock our way through Raleigh.

Kevin Gonzales race-walking his way up the hill.

Jim's jogs up this hill (background) at the same pace that Kevin can race-walk.

Looking down at how far up we climbed along this last mile.

Jim runs into his old stomping ground, the NC State campus.

Finally, a downhill!

Another climb up and over the road. From here we can see that
the runners ahead of us (back right) are heading downhill again,
can't wait!

The hills in Raleigh got to many runners...we saw a lot of walking here
today. No worries, just provided more time to appreciate the scenery!

A very moving "Mile To Remember" tribute for our fallen soldiers.

Sharing a moment with one of Raleigh's finest!

My favorite water stop was supported by the Black Girls RUN crew. 

Thanks for the support... ladies are the best cheering crew today!

Yay, downtown Raleigh is finally back in our sights.

Familiar faces near the finish line!
That's Billy Williams and his daughter, Kaitlyn,
holding her hand-drawn homage to Coach Jimmy V.

Believe it or not, I spotted my stepdad (back right) as
he was craning to see if we were close...

That's him with the camera, waving and clicking,
and mom is on the fence waving a bright green bag.
I love you both!!

This was Bob's shot of me as I was taking my shot of him...
Too funny.

More of Bob's pics...

And we're done.

The heat and the hills show themselves in the
expressions of the runners at the finish line.

Our trio finished upright again!

I feel so lucky when my family is able to meet me at the end.

Even our PR team came to the race today. Thanks to
Denny Kelly (with sign) and Suzanne Neal (right) for all
of your work and your support out here today.

Kaitlyn is the daughter of friends and fellow SSRC'ers
(Southside Running Club) Billy & Carolyn Williams.
She's an amazing artist and has taken the "mascot-making"
baton from me after all these years. Such talent, way to go,

Billy, left, and Carolyn, right. Carolyn ran today while
her family cheered her along.

It's not official until we see Dorcas at the finish line.

Bouquets grace the tables at the VIP lounge.

Gypsies at VIP: Ron, Susan and Michelle (texting)

Mary and John Kramer had successful races here in their
hometown today. Are you gonna miss us when we're gone?

Just a few of the Gypsy Nation left in the VIP area...
when will we see each other again? Most likely, Chicago.

The finish line festival park.

Enjoying our friends, some food and some beverages.

Andrew Pelletier getting a taste for NC:
BBQ ribs, baked beans and sweet potato fries.

Kamika came from Hawaii for this race, and Mary
looks totally pleased with his decision.

Back at the house: we said good-bye to most of the RnR gypsies
after the finish line festival. Drew and Merle had later flights
and wanted to visit with my folks and check out UNC before
they left town. So Mom was playing host again, even after her long
morning in Raleigh. What a woman! :-)

Yes, it's documented...Andrew is still eating.

Bob is still grilling.

Off to UNC for a quick campus tour.

Merle looks at home amidst the UNC cherry blossoms...

...and the Dogwoods. To think, it was our mutual
love for the Tarheels that brought us together more
than 2 years ago. Who knew when we met in Dallas
that day, watching the game, that I'd be showing you
around campus in the future? I'm so glad we're friends.

The Raleigh race was amazing, and I'm not just saying that
because it's here in NC. The course was challenging but
GORGEOUS, and I will definitely do this again if I'm able.

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