Tuesday, June 3, 2014

5th & 6th events of 2014: Mary Therese Rose Run, Race 13.1

Get Back UP Today in NYC and Mahwah, NJ...then Race 13.1 in Greensboro, NC

Wednesday, May 7th:

2.5 short days at home and I was back on the road, this time heading for New York City. I had a full day of appointments today so the earliest flight I could get had me arriving at Newark airport at 11pm. By the time I got to the hotel it was almost midnight--and I had a 3:30am wakeup call for the long day ahead.
Instead of reading my book to help me fall asleep,
I worked on my signs for tomorrow's adventure in NYC.
Laurie Lasky, the Allard rep for NYC/NJ areas, reminded me
that she'd be back to make sure I was up & ready by 3AM--and
then she snapped this pic.
Thursday, May 8th:

As promised, Laurie had us on our way before 4am on this rainy, cold day in NJ. If ever there was a day that I'd love to have an extra hour to stay tucked in under the covers it was today.

I guess this is the best way to avoid traffic between NJ
and Manhattan--make sure you're driving before the
rest of the world wakes up.
Despite the early hour, by the time we crossed the Hudson River into the city the traffic was already getting heavy. Laurie--a seasoned professional when it comes to driving in Manhattan--found a great parking spot for us just one block from our destination at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (or "30 Rock" as it's known by locals). Due to heavy-at-times rain we ducked into the foyer of a bank, thanks to Laurie's bank card giving us access before business hours, to finish the Get Back UP signs before our scheduled sign-in at 5:30am. Today's signs are a bit different because our mission is to spread the GBU message live at The Today Show this morning, so I capitalized on the "Today" by incorporating their logos into ours:
Laurie braving the rain, holding up our "Throwback Thursday"
sign (left) featuring the Today Show's old logo and the newest
version, right. We just finished waterproofing our signs in the
bank's foyer with the lawn-and-leaf bags I brought with me from
NC last night.

I'm wet and freezing but still enjoying the atmosphere here,
hoping the sun will come up soon.

This is the Plaza outside the studios and the corrals they
set up to manage spectators. Clearly today is not a popular day
on the Plaza, the weather must've scared everyone off.

You may notice a slight change in the sign from the previous
photo of Laurie: security made us take off the handles due
to "threat of danger by weaponry". Luckily one of the
handles is from a Swiffer Sweeper that telescopes down so
I was able to tuck it back into my pack. Not sure why it was
no longer considered a "weapon" but I didn't ask any
questions. The other handle was a broom handle so Laurie
tucked it behind a planter on the Plaza, hoping it would still
be there when we were done here.

The PR team in NC made sure Laurie and I were on the list for a
great viewing spot "on the ropes". If it weren't for trying to share
the Get Back UP Today message I don't think I would ever have
considered doing this, but I must say that they create a very
festive atmosphere. They have a truck with free breakfast food,
hot chocolate, hot coffee and free rain ponchos for the people
who register. Laurie and I take some practice "selfies" and ham it
up in the rain.

Helping to create a welcoming & fun environment for the Today Show
spectators/fans is host Alex Ficquette, aka "AlexOnThePlaza". He spent
a lot of time with us, asking questions about our campaign and sharing
great stories of his adventures with NBC. Thanks, Alex, for your help and
Basically, our goal on the Plaza today was to gain some national exposure for the Get Back UP Today campaign while we were here in the area. Our hope was to get a "shout-out" on live TV--which we did!--but mostly just to get a foot in the door with the Today Show in hopes of getting better coverage in the future. As it turned out, the weather was probably a blessing in that the crowds were much lighter than usual and we got a lot of time with everyone from the show. It was also quite interesting to see first-hand how they run the show from inside AND outside the studio. In between segments the hosts come out and talk with the crowd while the production team walks around to learn more about where/why people come from their homes to drop by the Today Show. I was asked for my card and links to the GBU websites so I'm guessing that was about the best outcome I could've expected for this little adventure. Here are a few of the fun "selfies" I got to take with each of the show's hosts:
Carson Daly

Matt Lauer, who playfully commented that I almost took myself
out of the picture--not good "selfie" form. Thanks, Matt!

Savannah knows how to take the best selfies;
she helped steady my camera with an extra hand.

Alex took this photo of Laurie and I in between segments. He
also took one on his own camera and later Tweeted it to his
followers. By the way, Laurie and I had the most air-time with
our signs because we were the only ones who thought to
weather-proof them. All around us were undreadable, rain-sopped
sheets of cardboard strewn on the ground.

This was a treat for me: Natalie Morales came out to ask me
if I was the runner she was told about. She's an avid marathoner herself
and we talked about a few of the marathons we've both run, including
Boston. Laurie tried unsuccessfully to get her to come out tomorrow
for our Mary Therese Rose Run in Mahwah, NJ. Can't blame a girl
for trying! :-)
While I enjoyed the morning a bit more than I expected, by the time we left at 9:30am we had spent more than 4 hours on the Plaza in wet, cold weather. I was really ready to be warm and dry again!

We got back to our car and headed straight into an
infamous NYC rush-hour traffic jam. It took us over 1 hour to
make it the less-than-2 miles to the Holland Tunnel.
Hey, at least I was warm and dry!
After finally getting out of the city it was smooth-sailing in NJ. Our next mission of the day was a very quick stop at the HQ of Allard USA in Rockaway, NJ where Laurie had to pick up a new expense card. It wasn't exactly on our way but I was happy to visit my friends in the office--I almost never get to see the Allard team outside of the reps I travel with.

A quick visit with my boss, Carol, outside the office HQ.
You'll notice I changed into my workout pants--I was still
trying to get warm after 4 hours in the rain this morning.
Next stop was to grab an early lunch on our way over to Westbrook, NJ where Laurie has an inservice scheduled for us at 2:00pm. Laurie opted for Hibernia Diner, a tried-and-true local favorite where the food is great and the service even better.


This is pretty much how Laurie looks during every waking
hour that I've ever traveled with her. Always working!

Meanwhile, I took advantage of a cup of hot coffee and
a cup of hot, homemade split pea soup...did I mention
that I was still trying to shake off the chill?!
The soup was probably the best split pea soup I
ever had--and it was completely vegan.

Since I hadn't eaten anything since 5:30am (and that was just a banana
and small cup of yogurt at the Today Show) AND since I wouldn't have
an opportunity to eat again until 6:30 PM I ordered the Grilled Eggplant Melt
Sandwich. After the soup I wasn't able to eat all of this but I did
eat most of the eggplant, some of the cheese and just 2 or 3 fries...

...and not even one of these delectable morsels.
From Hibernia it was off to Westwood, NJ to meet with an Orthotist and Physical Therapists at CareOne Rehab:
A truly dedicated and passionate Orthotist, Corey Ayer CPO,
is helping people Get Back UP on a daily basis. Thanks for the
work you're doing, and thank you for including me in your mission!

Laurie shows several quick videos of patient outcomes, before
and after using Allard bracing products.

You really can't see it here, but the next video she showed
was the TeamUP video--which never fails to get a great
conversation going about how many people can be helped
with dynamic, carbon-fiber AFOs like Allard's.

The director of CareOne's PT staff has severe arthritis and
wears a splint on her hand out of necessity. It was so fabulous to
me to see that she had one designed to look like chic jewelry--
I love this!
If you know of anyone that needs to wear a similar splint, this one was made by Silver Ring Splint, site address below:


but I also found a link to this silversmith's shop as well:


Thanks so much to Laurie, Corey and the staff at CareOne
for a great afternoon of learning & sharing...I appreciate
the work you all do so much!
After several hours at CareOne we were off to Mahwah, NJ to check into our hotel and change clothes for our dinner meeting back in Mt. Arlington, NJ. By the time we actually got there we had just a few minutes to change/regroup before getting back in the car for the hour-drive to Pub 199. I neglected to get photos because I was enjoying myself so much visiting with a few of my Allard co-workers...and trying not to fall asleep after such a long day. I couldn't find a website for the pub, but here's a link providing info from TripAdvisor:

Final summary of Thursday, May 8th: Wake up at 3:30am after 3 hours of sleep, in NYC 4:50am-9:30am, followed by appointments seemingly all over NJ until finally getting back to hotel in Mahwah at 10:45pm. Here's the map to show exactly where we were today, A to B, B to C, C to D, D to E(hiding behind G), E to F and then F back to G:

Friday, May 9th:

I was hoping to be able to get several hours of work done in the hotel today, since yesterday was nonstop action, but only managed to get a few hours in early before we were on our way again at 9am. Laurie had a few stops planned and I was in search of the Mahwah Suburban News which was running a story on us today in advance of tomorrow's 5K. In addition to that, we had to pick up Jim at Newark Airport so he could join us for the CMTA dinner tonight and the Mary Therese Rose Run tomorrow. Despite stopping at 6 stores, Laurie and I were unsuccessful finding a copy of the paper and we were going to be late getting Jim if we tried even 1 more place. So, off we went to Newark while I made some calls to the paper to find out where they had printed papers in stock. Our best shot, I was told, was to stop by the main office in Ridgewood after 11am, so we added that to our agenda.

As a reference, you can refer back to yesterday's map--this time we went from G back to B to get Jim, then to D (Ridgewood) and back to the hotel (G)...all of it in heavy Friday traffic. And this doesn't even include our later dinner trek 1.5 hours each way from the hotel, which you can see just below A to the left of Elizabeth, in Westfield (words cut off by cropping) and back again to G. I don't really want to think about how many hours total I will have spent in a car this week. :-)

Alright, back to the action. Jim was on-time at the airport and despite heavy traffic we made it to Ridgewood in time for lunch. I was able to get 2 copies of the Mahwah News, the only 2 they had left at the office, here's an online link to the article:

Many thanks to Catherine Carrera for this story, and for helping to raise awareness for both the Get Back UP mission and the Mary Therese Rose Fund.

As usual, Laurie knew the perfect spot for lunch in Ridgewood, a Mediterranean restaurant called Lisa's Turkish Kitchen:

thinly rolled dough filled with turkish feta cheese and parsley.

Fresh falafel with a light Tahini sauce (I think!)

Laurie and Jim enjoy a break in the rain to walk off some of their lunch
along Ridgewood's main corridor.

Scenic "downtown" Ridgewood.
We stopped for a to-go cup of coffee on our way out of Ridgewood while Laurie drove us back via the scenic route to Mahwah. The small, historic towns along this route were gorgeous so it was nice to have Laurie as driver and tour guide while Jim and I took it all in. Once back at the hotel, I worked for about an hour before getting ready for our long drive to Westfield. I wasn't really looking forward to  Friday rush-hour traffic but I was very excited to see old and new friends at tonight's CMTA dinner.

Other than my view of Laurie on her cell phone, this was the next most
prominent scenery for all 5 days of my trip to NYC/NJ.
Traffic was even heavier than usual, per Laurie's experience, so we were a bit late getting to the CMTA dinner. Luckily the restaurant owner knows Laurie personally and took care of the entire group until we arrived. I can heartily recommend the food, the service and the cozy feel of this family restaurant:


I ordered the Eggplant Rollatini and loved every bite of it.

Jim ordered Chicken Francese with Penne Marinara.

A great surprise to see Angie Paez from Allard along with her
beau, Jon, tonight. She was here to support Trent, an amazing
young man who wears an Allard ToeOFF.

That's Trent in the middle between his mom, Darla, and a young, new friend
who recently learned that she has CMT syndrome.

There were 3 full tables of folks here with the CMTA group (Charcot-Marie-Tooth
Association), including many friends whom I met in Philadelphia last fall.

The menu options that were offered to our group this evening. Everyone
commented that their food was delicious so many thanks to Allard USA
and the staff at La Famiglia Sorrento for
making this evening possible.

Trent enjoys his pre-race cake! I will see you tomorrow at the race, my
friend...hope that slice won't slow you down!
We had a great time meeting the new faces tonight, and especially connecting with my friends from last year. Mark Willis and Douglas "DB" Rex each spoke to me about planning to meet in Philly again this year--I hope we can make it happen! Due to the crowd in the restaurant on Friday night it was too difficult to get a group photo, but I want to thank everyone for inviting Laurie, Jim and me into your circle--we gain so much strength and inspiration from you and hope we can repay the favor by raising awareness on your behalf.

Saturday, May 10th:

By the time we got back to our hotel last night it was after 11pm so I was happy for a "late" race start today. We all got a great night's sleep and met for breakfast in the lobby at 8:00am. From there we made the SHORT DRIVE (woo-hoo!) to the park for the race which was less than 2 miles from our hotel. I'm planning to meet reporter, Lindy Washburn, at the park to follow up on a phone interview we had together yesterday.

I don't think I've yet mentioned anything about today's race event. Laurie first brought this to my attention last year, she works with Lisa Crilly (physical therapist) who started this race a few years ago along with her husband, Jack, in honor of their late daughter, Mary Therese Rose. This race resonated with me for 2 reasons: 1) it celebrates life without limits and 2) every dollar raised in this event goes towards helping indigent families get much-needed bracing/mobility support for their children. I could not think of a mission more in line with our Get Back UP goals so I committed to becoming involved this year.

Here's the link to the official website, I encourage you to check it out because this is such an amazing family & organization:


It was cool and rainy when we left our hotel this morning but by the time we reached the park 5 minutes later the clouds were beginning to part. As it turned out, we had PERFECT weather for the entire event. Here are some photos of the day:

Laurie tries to lure me back to NJ next week.

Reporter Lindy Washburn interviews Laurie before the 5K.

Jack and Lisa Crilly, parents of Mary Therese Rose Crilly and
founders of the Mary Therese Rose Fund/5K run.

Everyone here is a member of the immediate Crilly family--with the exception of me
as I photo-bombed the family portrait.

Darla, Trent and Jim line up in the starting corral.

Trent and I show off our ToeOFFs.

Chrissy Thomas from Allard USA (left) and her good
friend from PA, Virginia, get ready for the run.

The crowd ahead of us makes their way across the start line.

Men, women and kids of all ages and abilities participated in today's run.
As we make our way back into the park for the final half mile,
Jim seems to be contemplating a new line of work.

Jim brings his support for the CMTA to the beautiful woods of Northern NJ.

Laurie stands with her friends, the Matos' as Maxx
Matos, 8, gets psyched up for today's run.

Chrissy and Virginia make it to the finish line in style!

Trent makes it to the finish line with amazing speed.
Way to SHOW OFF your TOEOFF, Trent! Congratulations on
another great accomplishment.

After the 5K, the event called Mary's Mile was featured. This was an
inspiring short sprint for children of all capabilities--so much fun to see!

Here's the link to Lindy's article about today's race (which was published the day after this event):

The events of the morning were a lot of fun, definitely invigorating to be around this many great kids and their families. I'm so impressed with my new friends, Jack and Lisa Crilly, and hope to continue to support them as they grow their outreach for mobility-impaired children...what an amazing family they've created. Once the 5K and Mary's Mile wrapped up we had to abandon the party and get back to the hotel to clean up and check out...but I wish I could've stayed longer to meet more of the families who participated. Oh well, there's always next year!

Laurie planned to take Jim and I to Newark Airport but in true Laurie fashion she would not let us go without first taking us to another great restaurant. This time it was Iberia in the oft-overlooked up-and-coming Newark neighborhood called Ironbound.

As this banner suggests, Ironbound is a Portuguese-Spanish neighborhood
tucked in right beside Newark airport.

A rare glimpse of Laurie without her cell phone, car or customers in the
Seafood and other Portuguese/Spanish fare are the specialties here, so Laurie recommended a few dishes for the table:

Fresh clams in a light wine broth...

Seafood stew with fresh clams and shrimp...

And grilled halibut with a light vinaigrette and fresh veggies.
We had all been so hungry after our race morning that nothing was left on our plates. Thanks yet again, Laurie, for your foodie advice--we loved Iberia.
Laurie shows us around North Ironbound just as the
rain decides to reappear.

This neighborhood was actually really cute. In my many trips via
Newark airport I never knew Ironbound existed.
That's another view of Iberia...the place is huge, with the main restaurant
to Jim's right (only patio plants shown) and their banquet facility
in the background--the castle-looking place.

Finally, back to the airport where there was a bit of drama
on the tarmac. This police car plus about 8 more officers
escorted a passenger off the plane and into the car, handcuffed.
It was eerie, almost like something you'd see on TV, not in real life.
Cruising in for a landing back in Greensboro. This was
the view from my seat and I couldn't resist taking a photo.
Sunday, May 18th:

Although this wasn't an officially planned event for me, I couldn't miss running in the inaugural
Race 13.1 event just a few miles from my home. I ran into so many friends, scored an interview with WFMY about the race, and even ran into a friend of fellow TeamUP co-captain, Shannon Poortenga, from Kalamazoo, MI--what a great morning!

Shannon, we both miss you, Sista'!!

Jim's showing his support for the CMTA and Carter's
Challenge via wristbands today.

The crowd is impressive for this inaugural event--can't wait to
see the course, which starts and finishes at Friendly Shopping Center.

To all of our CMTA friends, you're with us out here today!

Ha--I LOVE this shirt. Anyone whom I've helped coach
over the years will get a laugh from this...I've been
known to say something very similar. If you can't read
it well in this shot, it says: If at first you don't succeed,
try doing what your coach told you to do the first time.
This was a great event, I'm certain it will only get bigger
next year. The one thing I will say, if you're going to run
it you should seriously consider hill training--this was a
scenic but tough little course!
Next up, the Franklin Half Marathon in Franklin, Tennessee...hope to see you there!

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