Monday, February 23, 2015

17th & 18th Events: Cannonball 1/2 Marathon & Greensboro 1/2 Marathon

Please note: My posts for events occurring between October 2014 and February 2015 are overdue but I wanted to finish each of them to start fresh once again. Starting in May of last year I began to struggle with extreme fatigue, which I first thought was simply the result of a very strenuous travel-work-running schedule. I worked hard to get “adequate rest” before launching into my busiest season at the start of September but by then I knew something more serious must be involved. In between road trips I scheduled consults, tests and medical procedures all the while trying to keep up with my events and obligations through the fall and winter. I’m happy to say I was able to manage this…but just barely. For each meeting, race, event, appearance, meal, speaking engagement or celebration you see in my blog photos, the reality was that I would go immediately back to my rental car or hotel and collapse with exhaustion. Although writing a blog requires little physical exertion I found myself feeling lethargic and unable to focus so instead I took advantage of the private moments to rest and conserve as much of my energy as possible.  When I finish updating the missing events I will provide a detailed explanation of my health issues as I hope my doctors have finally determined the cause and likely solution to the fatigue. Thank you for your understanding and patience!

2 Half Marathons in Greensboro and Preparations for a 3rd in Charlotte

Wednesday, October 8th: 

Tamara welcomes me back from San Jose just in time to cart me off to Charlotte for a long day of reconnaissance for TeamUP weekend, to be held here November 13th-16th. We are in charge of coordinating the Charlotte logistics since we live only 90 minutes away, while Angelina Paez plans the challenging agenda from her base in New Jersey. You'll learn more about TeamUP Weekend in a later post but for now we are now planning flights, accommodations, restaurant reservations, meeting times and spaces, transportation, race registrations and more for a group of approximately 30 people! As much as I wanted to rest a bit from busy weeks in Philadelphia and San Jose, we had to get this done this week because I'll be on the road again for the next 5 out of 6 weeks.

On that note, I must give the bulk of the credit to Tamara Smith, hired by Allard in July to assist on a part-time basis with various Get Back UP Today projects. When it was confirmed that Allard would generously host (and fund!) TeamUP weekend the only real way to make it come together was to pull Tamara from other projects and work on this enormous challenge solely. For every hour that I put into this effort, I know that Tamara easily did 10 times more and she made it easy for me to contribute from the road and in person as my travel schedule permitted. Thanks, Tamara!!

Tamara (left) introduces me to Meredith Beaver and Ami McCormick
of Visit Charlotte. They are giving us a guided tour of Uptown Charlotte
this morning.

One of many beautiful public spaces here in Uptown to be
considered for potential photo shoots.

One of the priorities today is to find several indoor, outdoor-open and outdoor-covered spaces to be considered for photo-shoots. Without knowing what the weather will be we need to be prepared for anything and at the same time provide options for "good space and lighting" for the photographers we've hired for the weekend.

Potential outdoor-covered photo shoot locale, which wouldn't require special
permits and is adjacent to a small but picturesque park.

In case you were wondering....

Public art installations can be found everywhere in Uptown.

All of our photos will be provided to the photographers
in advance of their arrival in Charlotte so that they'll have an
idea of what's available without permits and where everything is located.

This is the park adjacent to the planned Start & Finish festivities
of the Charlotte Thunder Road Race Series. It's nice to know we're
only about 5 blocks from our host hotel.

Some of these shots I took for reference as Meredith and Ami
pointed out the locations of the restaurants Tamara and I planned
to check out this afternoon.

We were told that this will be the site of the actual Finish Line
for the Thunder Road races. I'm already thinking that this will
be our "post race" meeting spot since it's so easy to find.

Another restaurant on our short list to visit today.

I was excited to see that Charlotte has B-cycles for rent
throughout the city. Some of our TeamUP co-captains have
difficulty walking but are phenomenal on bikes. No one
will be bringing a road bike with them so in case we need an
option for them we've got one option here.

Thanks for our 3 hour walking tour--we really learned a lot!
Next we were off to investigate a few of the restaurants we're considering for our weekend of events. We will have only 2 days where everyone is in town, plus a day on either side of those where folks will be arriving early or leaving later so we have many things to consider. The most important priority is finding eateries that can easily accommodate such a large group (25-35 people at any given meal) within our extremely tight schedule. We also want fresh, local fare if possible but we definitely need chefs who can accommodate a few special dietary restrictions...and finally, we have to keep within our budget. Whoa, this is gonna be tough! Luckily Tamara did a lot of research ahead of time and between the 2 of us we were able to whittle down our list to approximately 10-12 options which we hope to put our eyes on before it gets too late tonight.

This restaurant looked promising and we had just enough
time to order 2 quick appetizers before going to our
next appointment.

The food at Kings Kitchen was definitely fresh and
local, however we learned that it would be very difficult
for them to accommodate such a large group that weekend.
One more marked off the list!
With part of the agenda for TeamUP weekend being the collection of very specific gait analyses (with and without bracing) for each of the co-captains, we need to make sure we have the space for the process and for the videos of this project. We visited Ability Prosthetics & Orthotics who graciously offered the use of their facility for anything we needed while in town.

While the staff and the facility were top-notch here at Ability, we felt that the rooms were going to be too small to meet the needs of the videographers. For those of you in the O&P industry you will agree that most of the video of patients' gait is filmed in tight spaces with the individual walking a few steps forward and then back away from the camera again. It's difficult to tell what's really going on without longer walks back and forth and without filming from the side as well as front and back. It is our hope to collect numerous videos from a variety of angles to be used for research/education purposes during TeamUP weekend. With the wide spectrum of diagnoses/foot drop severity among co-captains we really don't to miss this opportunity. So, Ability is a backup option for us but not ideal.

Next it was on to the Westin, the hotel we selected based upon group rates, location and impeccable hospitality. We were given a tour of the facilities and were pleasantly surprised to see just how much they were willing to do for us during our weekend in November, especially considering it will be one of their busiest weekends of the year.

Tamara took the initiative of reserving 2 of the corporate meeting rooms for our use throughout the weekend.  We need 1 room for meetings and presentations and the adjacent room for individual gait analyses, videos and photo shoots. Without knowing if the lighting would be ideal for the latter our Westin host showed us other public spaces we could use at no charge as long as we were respectful of other guests who wished to use the same spaces. 

The workout facility here at the Uptown Westin is fabulous!
Plus, we were told that it stays empty most of the day except
for the early morning hours and the 5-8pm hours so it may
be a great option for videos or photo shoots during the middle
of the day.

After the hotel tour we were off again to explore the restaurants. We are in a hurry to finish as early as possible to beat the infamous Charlotte rush-hour traffic; our trip home could easily change from 90 minutes to 3 hours if we get ourselves caught in the worst of it.

Sorry, I didn't get photos of everything because I was so busy taking notes. Tamara and I met with the restaurant managers to discuss the costs involved in reserving spaces for large groups and getting the availability confirmed. We heard from everyone that our TeamUP weekend was one of the busiest of the year due to the peak of the fall tourist season, the Thunder Road Race festival and the Carolina Panthers vs. Atlanta Falcons NFL rivalry home game.

Whew! This was a long day, sandwiched between 90-minute drives to and
from Greensboro but we got a lot done. We feel we have the necessary information
to at least make our restaurant recommendations to the head honchos
at Allard and get those places reserved.
Mission Accomplished...for today anyway. :-)

Sunday, October 12th:

Thursday and Friday were long days of meetings and planning-correspondence to keep things on track for TeamUP weekend. The good news is that I've been able to sleep in my own bed for 4 nights straight--a rare occurrence these days--and I've been eating well and thanks to a prescribed medication I've been restoring some of my stamina. I've decided that I feel strong enough to honor my commitment to run the Cannonball Half Marathon, but after last week's flat course in San Jose I'm not sure how my body will hold up to the hills here this weekend. Let's give it a go!

The race starts and finishes at Country Park in Greensboro,
one of our most beautiful and historically significant local

Awaiting the start of the Half Marathon and the 5K.

Are we crazy? Barring unexpected changes in our schedule
we're in the midst of 5 Half Marathons in 5 weeks.

Here we go!
Just a side note, this is the first time Jim and I have run the Cannonball. I think this is it's 9th or 10th year in existence and we've heard both amazing and daunting accounts from our running friends. Everyone agrees that it's incredibly well-run, entertaining and scenic but we've heard how the hills have really affected some runners' performances.  Here's the official description taken from their website:


Country Park is the host venue and I’m not going to lie has a few hills. The course is an out and back that crosses beautiful Lake Brandt. You will have views of Lake Brandt and much of the course is a closed greenway. The leaves are just beginning to turn in October so you won’t find a better backdrop.
The half marathon has a time limit of 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Oct in North Carolina is usually perfect for running. Average October Temperatures: Low 47° / High 68°. But be warned heat can be an issue. Temps could be in the 80s

For the most part, I agree with the above description but they fail to mention that one of the toughest hills is a nearly-1-mile climb from mile 11 to 12, followed by an uphill finish until you cross the 13.1 mark! UGH. That being said, you'll see that some of the course is indeed flat and really beautiful:

We find our friend, Rick Buckner, cheering us up
the last hill to the finish line. Thanks, Buck, for the support!

The finish line party is really fun at the Cannonball: great
music and plenty of local beer and food trucks with which
to reward yourself afterwards.

It's so great to see friends from home!

I was shocked to learn that I won my age group,
but that's the upside of running a challenging race--
not so many folks in your age group!!

My time was just under 2:04, certainly not my best time ever
but considering the hills, the heat today and my ongoing medical
challenges I'm extremely pleased with this.

As we say here in the south, "Cheers, Y'all!"

Saturday, October 18th:
Six days after the Cannonball Half I'm ready to tackle the Greensboro Half Marathon. All week long I've been shuttling myself from one doctor appointment to another, with computer in tow to keep up with all my work while I wait ridiculous hours in waiting rooms. I'm ready to get outside for a break! 

It's a gorgeous fall day here in Greensboro!  Center City Park,
just 7 blocks from our house, is proving to be a perfect spot for
race festivities. 
I apologize for the lack of photos but we literally ran down to the start line and started running as the gun went off moments later. Because I was carrying a water bottle with me I didn't take my phone out during the race. Two things I can tell you about any race in this city is that most likely it will be hilly and most likely it will have an uphill finish. Both true today.

Jim says he's happy to have survived the hills and heat today.

 (Jim) Austin powers: International Man of Mystery?
Here he is sporting his Montreal 1/2 Marathon shirt with
his Dublin 1/2 Marathon hat and Greensboro 1/2 Marathon medal.
 Nicely done, Jim!

I was happy to find honorary co-captain Steve Loflin in
the park today. He's been recovering from a surgery but
showing clearly that he's on the way to Getting Back UP.

On the walk home Jim asks O. Henry for his autographh.

See you next week in Los Angeles for the Rock 'n' Roll Half Marathon!

1 comment:

  1. This place was very comfortable. Restrooms were decent. Coming at halls in Los Angeles with my friends was an amazing experience. This is my favorite place now, because of its excellent food, perfect lighting, vibrant atmosphere and great ventilation.