Wednesday, October 15, 2014

15th & 16th events: Rock 'n' Roll San Jose: 5K and Half Marathon

In Memoriam

I would like to dedicate this entry to the memory of Mr. Doug Brance, the father of Allard's Northwest District Sales Manager, Carl Brance. Mr. Brance died suddenly just a few weeks before Carl joined me here in San Jose, which was understandably a very difficult time for Carl and his family.
Carl (left) enjoying happier days in the northwest outdoors with his dad, Doug Brance.
To Carl, the first person I met who wore an Allard brace,

We've formed a bond over the last 7 years which began because of the brace/footdrop we had in common. Our friendship, however, developed because of who we are on the inside...and I am so grateful to now have both you and Ashley in my life, you are beautiful, amazing souls. While I did not get to meet your dad I know he was a wonderful and loving man because I know YOU...and I know how much he loved you and influenced the man you have become.

I always enjoy my time with you and this week was no different, though I truly wish it could have been a more happy occasion for you. I will never forget a conversation we had a few years back, where we discussed "life with foot drop" and the journey of reclaiming our lives after serious injury--this particular conversation was pivotal in my decision to share my personal journey with others. 

The epiphany I had while talking with you was that our visible disability (the limp, the shape of our atrophied leg, the bulky brace) was truly the least of our challenges. Rather, it was the invisible challenges that were the most difficult for both of us to navigate; the depression, the anger, the fear, the loss, the seeming isolation.

To this day I remind myself that I may never know what types of invisible injuries people may be facing. Despite looking otherwise "normal" a person can be experiencing profound loss or pain in any given moment... and thus everyone should be treated with compassion and respect.  I don't think anyone you worked with here in San Jose knew the grief you were going through because you were so focused and professional while helping others. But I knew.

Carl, you didn't have to be here this week--everyone would have understood--and yet it is so in line with who you are to want to be here to help others in their own journey of healing. I am forever grateful to you for so many things, but most of all I'm grateful to be able to call such a passionate, kind soul my friend. Thank you for joining me in San Jose and thank you for being the man your dad was so proud of.

Your friend,

Events No. 15 & 16 of 2014: San Jose Rock 'n' Roll 5K and Half Marathon

Thursday, October 2nd:

I left Greensboro at 4:50am aboard the first of 3 flights to San Jose. By the time I got to my connection in Phoenix the sun was finally up (visible from the ground too, not just from 10,000 ft in the air). I'm always surprised to see how brown everything looks in some areas of AZ and CA because flying home to NC the vistas are lush and green at least 85% of the year. Even in winter there are so many conifers in NC that we still see green when everything else is dormant.

My view as we depart Phoenix airport for San Jose.

En route over the southwest desert regions.

Approaching California finally...

And a great view of the Pacific Ocean for my
first time since June!

Finally, I'm seeing some green again.

San Jose airport vicinity...

...and on the ground in San Jose!
By the time we landed, got luggage and checked into the hotel it was 2pm local time which meant almost dinner time by my body clock. Since this will be such a short trip, just 3.5 days, I hope to keep my internal clock aligned with East Coast time so I don't have such a hard time adjusting for work on Monday morning. We opted for a 4-mile walk around the San Jose area to work out our "airplane legs" and then for a bite to eat and early bedtime.

A gorgeous day in downtown San Jose!

This is for our friends in Dublin, Marta and Eddie, whom we
met in the Temple Bar neighborhood. I never knew the connection before
my first trip to Ireland. Hi Marta, Hi Eddie...hope you're both doing well!

While Jim was off taking care of our rental car and parking passes
I took the opportunity to tour the art museum, which I wasn't able to
do during my first trip to San Jose 2 years ago. 
I feel somewhat spoiled when it comes to art museums due to the fact that my dad and stepmom live in northern Virginia, so I've had ample access to DC's Smithsonian museums as well as many independent museums and galleries in that same area over the decades. That being said, I'm not there often enough when my schedule isn't already packed so it's been awhile since I've spent quality time taking in art so this is a great treat for me. Although I appreciate art of all kinds my favorite genre is modern/contemporary, which just so happens to be the focus of the SJMA--fabulous! While touring the museum I learned that they are fairly lenient when it comes to taking non-flash photography however they are adamant that these must be for personal documentation only, not to be shared publicly, so I cannot post my pics from favorite exhibits. Instead, here's a link to some of the current exhibitions and collections:

What a fun excursion...especially on such a hot day here in SJ...and a great
way to start my weekend.
After the art museum I met Jim back at one of my favorite downtown restaurants, Good Karma Vegan Cafe. Yes, everyone, despite Jim's meat-lovin' tendencies he actually enjoys vegan food from time to time. :-)

I had the Kale Bowl with steamed kale, black beans and quinoa topped
with a delicious cilantro-lime tahini dressing.

Jim had the spicy basil tofu along with the vegan drumsticks (sorry,
forgot to take photo of his appetizer). 
Following our delicious early dinner we took the long, scenic route back to our hotel to scope out some possible restaurant options for tomorrow's dinner with Carl Brance, the Allard rep for northern California. We walked to the newly-expanded San Pedro Square Market and found some great restaurants in the market and along the streets adjacent to the Square.

The newer side of the San Pedro market.

Not my photo, but this was the view from the public seating
in front of the historical Luis Maria Peralta Adobe house
(without all the people enjoying theSan Pedro Square Market.)
 Behind the home you'll see the other half of the Market...
there are 2 main buildings of the SPSM with the Peralta house preserved in between.

The view of the house from the street. On the left and right side
are the 2 main market buildings.

Friday, October 3rd:

With my internal clock still set to EDT I awoke at 4am local time and spent several productive hours working via computer in my hotel room. Carl Brance and I were supposed to have a presentation at Santa Clara Hospital today but due to an unforeseen circumstance they had to cancel our meeting and reschedule with Carl for later in the month. Oh well, that will give me more time to catch up on work and still get everything else done from today's list!

I've been up for about 3 hours and finally see the sun rising, this
is the view from my hotel room in downtown San Jose.

Looking out the other way you'll find the San Jose Convention Center,
the building in the foreground of this photo, which is how far I have
to walk to get my race packets later today...less than 1/2 a block!
While I was working in the room Jim went for a workout in the hotel fitness center and came back with today's paper...
It may be "lovely" to some people, but for those of us running this
weekend the heat wave will be a bit uncomfortable!

According to the article there's been more than 1 week-long heat wave
here in the northern California area. This week's will have temps reach
the 90's for an October "Indian Summer."
Before it gets too hot Jim and I opt to head out for a run to get acclimated to the weather. Although it is warm, 91 degrees this morning, the air is dry so it feels surprisingly comfortable compared to last week's humidity in Philadelphia.

We happened upon this worker who was putting up
"No Parking" signs in advance of this weekend's Rock 'n' Roll races.
With the 5K and Half Marathon on Sat/Sun respectively this gentleman
told us that they had 1,900 signs to post--wow!!!

Jim is trying to find all the shade he can.

The best shady stretch of our run was below the streets of San Jose
 along the "river".  Here we're heading back up to street level after
a mile or so along a very dry water to be seen anywhere!

Back to the streets!

Crossing the final bridge back to the hotel after an 'easy'
3-mile jog in soaring temps.
Next stop, the Convention Center to pick up our race packets for tomorrow and Sunday. Lo-and-behold, we find some of our favorite RnR Gypsies awaiting us!

The Rock 'n' Roll officials allow early-entry into the Expo for TourPass holders, however due to
confusing verbiage we were still 1/2 hour early. So, we bought a coffee at the
Convention Center and enjoyed some quality time with Ron Carino...
...and Joe Harris...

...before we finally got inside the Expo to see...

...Emily Schulte Underwood! 
After some time at the Expo visiting our friends and the vendors we headed back to the hotel to get all our race gear organized for the weekend's two races. I put the finishing touches on my Get Back UP sign and by early afternoon I was completely set and ready to roll. Lucky for us, Carl Brance likes to be on an early schedule as well so we planned to meet him around 4:30pm for dinner--downtown SJ gets really busy on Friday and Saturday evenings so our only option was an early reservation.

As we walk back to San Pedro Square for tonight's dinner we notice that the RnR team
has already begun welcoming the runners. I'm guessing that we'll be running through here
in both the 5K and Half Marathon since the official Finish Line is only 2 blocks from here.

The restaurant we chose was called "SP2 Communal Bar + Restaurant" and had high ratings from online resources and locals. Plus, they had room for us if we showed up before 5pm which wasn't the case for some of the other nice restaurants in this area.  Here's the link to the restaurant, followed by photos from our early-evening dinner:

This was a feature from the Happy Hour Appetizer Specials: Seared tuna bites with
winter root vegetable chips.

Our view of the outside patio as it begins to fill up for the night.

The interior view from our table facing the bar area. There are only a few couples seated
here now, but by the time our dinner arrived this place was almost full.

Jim happily samples a local micro-brew along with our Tuna and Olives appetizers.

Carl sighting! It's been several months since I've seen Carl and he's looking well. Carl is
the only Allard sales manager who actually wears the company's product. I know he used to
wear the Blue Rocker but I think here he's sporting the new Allard ToeOFF 2.0.

Carl orders steak with green beans and potatoes...

...and gets ready to dig in.

I'm surrounded by carnivores!!!

Jim demonstrates that this time his sandwich is NOT actually bigger than his head.

I chose the pan-seared Salmon entree with panzanella heirloom tomato salad...though I skipped all the bread
and ate everything else on my plate.
After a wonderful meal and a great time catching up with Carl, Jim and I made our way back to the hotel. On the way we learned that they were having a "First Friday Artwalk" here, very similar to what we were currently missing back at home tonight. We chose to add an hour to our walk and enjoyed the festive atmosphere on South First street.

Just in case you didn't believe me about the current heat wave here, check out tonight's temperature as we make our
way back to the room for the night!

Saturday, October 4th: 5K-RACE DAY!!

The best thing about West Coast races for me is that it feels like I'm sleeping in, even with waking up at 5:00AM. Today we're meeting Carl in the lobby of our hotel which is only 1 block from the starting line of this morning's 5K, which starts at 7:30AM. Here are the photos from the morning's events:

Jim wasted no time in hitting the Starbucks this morning.
(And from the looks of this photo it hasn't quite kicked in!)

Carl comes walking in right on time...just before 6:30AM

What a handsome pair!

TeamUP ready to Rock'nRoll!

Jim and Carl follow along to the start line area. The sun
is starting to rise but due to the hot forecast we'd rather the sun
stay hidden until we finish the run!

I've asked Carl to hold our TeamUP jackets for us while we run. He said he would
as long as I clarified that he was not holding my purse.
For the record...

TeamUP selfie before the 5K. Thanks for coming out
to support the TeamUP efforts, Carl!!

National Anthem before the start of the 5K.

Here's Carl at the mile 1 marker, dutifully taking photos!
This is one of Carl's Mile 1 shots...Al Hernandez is pacing me
through the 5K here. (In reality, Al didn't want to go out too
fast since he's doing heart-rate training for his Ironman Triathlon
in 5 weeks. As such, he paired with me knowing "too fast" wasn't
a possibility this way!)

This is me taking a picture of Carl taking a picture of me at Mile 1.

That's Carl on the far right as I'm coming down the straightaway to the Finish Line in the distance. Thanks to the sign he's so easy to find!!

Carl took this photo as I passed by en route to the Finish Line. Look at how great my Ypsilon is doing!

Another race done!

I saw Carl in 3 different spots along the course
today...what a great 1-man support crew!

Friend and fellow RnR Gypsy, Sherry Ricker, finishes her 5K.

Gypsies Michelle, Joe and Susan have also crossed the 5K finish line.

Carl has a bit of fun demonstrating how bad he feels after today's race-support duties.

Cooling off in the fountains after the race.

Carl finds Roger Craig (San Fran 49'ers great!) at the Finish Line festival. Roger ran the 5K
today also and plans to run the Half tomorrow before heading back to San Fran to watch
Sunday's NFL matchup.

Thanks, Roger, for helping with my sign!
Roger and Jim share a few laughs while Carl photo-bombs them from the background.
Thanks for helping to support TeamUP and all the other runners in the San Jose Rock 'n' Roll Racefest, Roger!

After the race it was back to the Expo to secure a parking pass for Carl, he will need it
for tomorrow's Half Marathon events.

Carl makes it look easy to take first place!

From the Expo it was a short walk to the corner for Jim's second Starbucks of the day.
Great (Gypsy) minds must think alike--we found Joe Harris doing the same thing.
Once Jim was coffeed-up we headed back to the hotel to shower and make plans for the afternoon. With yesterday's unexpected "free workday" I find myself caught up on my assignments and realize I may actually have some bona fide free time today. The weather here made it easy for me to select a preferred plan of action: for the first time in almost one full year I steal a few hours and spend them relaxing at an outdoor pool! Thanks to our Marriott's roof-top pool I was able to relax, unwind and still remain "on call" right next-door to the Expo in case of potential media. What a great day!

Not a great photo but this is the view I had as the sun was making it's way over
the building and onto the pool deck for the afternoon. Ahhhhh...
We took a quick break from swimming and relaxing to walk back to the San Pedro Market for a quick  lunch:

We chose the brand-new Spuds kiosk for our lunch (this is only their 2nd day open). I ordered the Vegetarian baked potato
with Quinoa, Tofu, Black Beans, Kale and other assorted veggies...delicious!

The nondescript Spuds counter inside San Pedro Square Market.

Jim ordered the American Baked Potato filled with fresh corn, tomato, bacon, onions,
pulled pork and topped with creme fraiche.

This was for Laurie Lasky back in NJ: It may not be the Reading Market but it's got
all that Jim needs! :-)

Following our tasty lunch and a 2-mile walk around downtown we made our way back to the hotel. I finished writing a few post cards then packed up everything except tomorrow's race gear and my outfit for the long plane trip home afterwards. On our way back from lunch we passed another outdoor bistro that had seating available for an early dinner at 5PM back we went to the San Pedro Square area yet again!

With the San Francisco Giants in the MLB Playoffs right now, every local restaurant and pub has the game on
and is hosting large crowds of Giants' fans. This particular game went into extra innings and we were lucky enough
to have a view of the TVs from our outdoor table at San Pedro Square Bistro & Wine Bar.

I ordered the Salmon Nicoise Salad...

Jim ordered the Angus Steak and Frites. OMG--his "frites" were Garlic Fries and
smelled sooooo good. I resisted the urge to eat them but I was enjoying the aroma.

Sunday, October 5th: Half Marathon--RACE DAY!!!

'Twas another early day for the TeamUP crew. Carl was meeting Jim and I at the VIP lounge near the finish line--he had to be there by 6:30am to beat the road closures.

Jim and I were within walking distance to both the finish line
area (3 blocks away) and the starting line (10 blocks away). This
is Jim in the elevator giving me his "I NEED COFFEE" stare.

Joe Harris is everywhere! We find him just outside the VIP lounge (being hosted this year
by McCormick & Schmicks restaurant) as the sun slowly begins to rise.

Carl has been here awaiting us for half an hour already.

I just got a call that a local news station wants to interview us now, over at the starting
line. With that being more than 1/2-mile away I need to check all my post-race gear here
at VIP before leaving. One thing I have to do first: take my "I Run 4 Andrew" photo
so I can post it for Andrew and his mom on the "I Run 4 Michael" site.
(for more info:
We skipped pre-race breakfast in order to get the great media opportunity. Carl did his best
all weekend with the sign, always holding it high for people to notice and inquire about.

I love Carl's shirt, the CMTA sells these as another way to create awareness for
Charcot- ("Shark O") Marie-Tooth disorder.

Thanks, Norbert, for this opportunity to share the TeamUP and Get Back UP message with
the San Jose area!

Rock 'n' Roll Gypsies are everywhere!

This is one of Carl's shots as we make our way across the start line. For
those of you who've asked about my above-knee strap, I wear it to
help prevent ITBand syndrome. I think I am prone to Ilio-Tibial Band issues
due to my leg length discrepancy but the lightweight band seems to be
doing the knee pain for Beth!

Carl was able to make his way back to the Finish Line for this shot. Thank you,
Allard and my new Ypsilon brace for getting me through another Half Marathon!

3 people, 4 Allard Braces!
This young woman, Karen, was stunned to see Carl and I wearing similar braces. Karen had a brain aneurysm and,
thanks to the help of her Allard Blue Rockers, is in the process of Getting Back UP. Great to meet you, Karen--you are
my newest inspiration!!

Carl and I enjoy a bit of rest after 2 days of race events.

Meanwhile, we learn from Joe Harris (whose plate this is) that all the food items on
the menu are complimentary for those of us with VIP bands. Wow--we thought these were
all for purchase--now we're going to stay for breakfast!

Jim is eyeing Joe's bacon...

...but Joe has a knife and is not afraid to use it! Congratulations on another great race, Joe!

The cocktails were for sale, the food items were complimentary. I ordered a veggie omelet,
Jim ordered an omelet with ham and cheese. Neither lasted long enough for me to get photos.

Jim couldn't resist...he ordered the BACON Bloody Mary....sheesh.
After breakfast we said goodbye to Carl, he had an early flight back home to Oregon. We stuck around to catch a few more moments with our Rock'n'Roll Gypsy friends...for many of us this will be the last time we see each other this year.

Al Hernandez multi-tasks as a beacon for our fellow gypsies to find us (everyone now
knows to look for the GetBackUP sign) and as a photographer for some other friends.

Ron Carino sporting his haul for the weekend: Both medals for this weekend's 5K & Half Marathon
races plus the bonus Remix medal for doing both, Rock Idol medal for completing 10 RnR races in
2014, and the Cali-Combo medal for running San Fran RnR plus San Jose RnR (which is
similar to the bonus "Beach to Bell" medal we got on the east coast last week).
Congratulations, Ron--you ARE a rock star!!

YAY!!! Kamika Smith crosses the finish line--we haven't seen Kamika since the Seattle
race back in June.

So many gypsies, so much hardware! Everyone ran both events this weekend which makes for a lot of bling in one photo.

We've missed you, Kamika! We'll be in NC for TeamUP weekend while you guys are running Avengers & Las Vegas.
Sniff....(wiping tears)...we will miss being with you for another double-double this year, take lots of photos!!

Medal for the San Jose 5K

Medal for the San Jose Half Marathon

Side 1 of the Remix medal, for running
both the 5K and Half Marathon...

...spinning Remix medal...

...Side 2 of the San Jose Remix medal.

Immediately after finishing the races and saying good-bye to our Gypsy friends we headed back to the hotel to check out. We had an afternoon flight from San Jose to LA, where we then had the Sunday overnight/red-eye flight to Charlotte then one more to Greensboro, arriving just in time to work a full day Monday! 

Next stop: Cannonball Run Half Marathon at home in Greensboro--woo hoo!