Monday, February 23, 2015

20th Event: Phoenix 3TV Half Marathon

Phoenix 1/2 Marathon, another Gait Course and Meeting a New Friend

Please note: These 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!

 Wednesday, October 29th:

 Jim and I met back up at LAX to share the flight to Phoenix. Luckily we were both on time and the flight itself was quick and smooth. I had a car awaiting me at the rental car center but we were so tired we took the shuttle straight to the hotel from the airport and made plans to get the car tomorrow.

The sun is setting as we slowly begin our descent into Phoenix.
Thursday, October 30th:

Our hotel was located about 6 miles from the rental car center so we took the opportunity to get some exercise rather than catch a cab to pick up our car. As you may remember, I've been instructed by my physician to limit my "exertion" to my scheduled races but since I've had 3 days of rest since the LA Half I figured it was okay to do an easy walk-jog this morning.

Our airport area hotel...not exactly the luxury of the
LA apartment but it's a nice place nonetheless.

We're off to the Rental Car Center, taking it slow
in the Phoenix sunshine.
Not the most scenic run ever, but it was nice to stretch our legs:

We made it!

What? Never seen a jogger at the counter before?
I actually overhead the guy behind me say:
"Runners are weird."
We got the car and went back to the hotel to get cleaned up. Neither Jim nor I had appointments with anyone today so we used the time to do some area reconnaissance and check out some of the local sights:

I used the bread and cheese as a partition between my side of our appetizer
and Jim's meat-laden side of the plate. For the record, I didn't touch the
bread or the cheese either but my vegan sampler was yummy.

I didn't go vegan for my entree and opted for
a perfectly-grilled portion of salmon on Caesar salad.

SHOCKER! Jim ordered a Beth-meal instead of the usual "burger bigger than his head".
I must be contagious.

The ever-developing riverfront in Phoenix.

Jim is such a sport.

The riverfront at night:

Friday, October 31st: Halloween

The rest of the weekend will be quite busy so today I took the opportunity to get about 5 hours of work done from my hotel room. The remainder of the day was spent attending to errands: grocery shopping for the next 4 days, picking up our race packets, scouting out the race festival grounds and making a quick trip to Fountain Hills so we'll know how long it takes to get there tomorrow.

I realized when I got to the grocery store that I needed to eat
some protein because it was time to take my medication. Rather
than go for a big meal or a processed protein bar I found these--perfect!

Meanwhile, Jim went next door to this cool shop/cafe and ordered
himself a real sandwich as I shopped for groceries.

Next was a stop at the Runner's Den to get our race packets.
Seeing the Boston logo always brings back incredible memories
and emotions for me. I wonder if I'll ever run a 6th Boston Marathon...

Saturday, November 1st:

Last night was low-key for us because 1) we're still on East Coast time and get tired early out here and 2) because I didn't want to get caught up in all the Halloween activities. Usually I LOVE Halloween but with my lower energy levels I didn't want to encounter large and rowdy crowds this year. The upside is that I got another great night's sleep and awoke early to have a great breakfast and do a little work with the help of 2 perfect Decaf Americanos.

As I was glancing through the local paper I saw that there was an art festival about an hour north of Phoenix in the town of Carefree, AZ. Unless I got a last-minute call from the media I figured we had enough time to enjoy the festival and still make it back to Fountain Hills where we'd be meeting up with Jeff Smith and an online acquaintance of mine for dinner at her restaurant. Jim was game, so off we went:

Yes, this is a real place at the corner of Ho Hum and Easy Streets
in Carefree, AZ. What better place to spend a morning??
The festival was wonderful and we met some beautiful artists and gallery owners during our brief visit to Carefree. This is definitely on my list of places worthy of a return visit. For now though we've got to head south and east to Fountain Hills. I'm looking forward to seeing Jeff again, but more importantly I'm very excited to meet a woman who reached out to the Get Back UP campaign via online correspondence. She and I have had several conversations about our experiences with foot drop and the pros and cons of having to wear a brace. Her name is Carolyn Redendo and not only was she willing to share her story publicly on behalf of Get Back UP Today but she's invited us to the restaurant she owns with her husband. I'm glad it worked out that she lives so close to one of my race events this year.

Okay, so we're in the picturesque town of Fountain Hills but where is the
famous fountain?

We had time to grab a coffee while we waited...

...and sure enough, there it is!

I guess I'm holding her shoes while she goes for a dip in the lake.

I never know what trouble to expect when Jim and Jeff get together.
The restaurant that Carolyn and her husband own is called Sofrita and I immediately loved the look and feel of this place. I was also happy to learn that the reviews on all major review sites were great; from Urban Spoon's 4.5 out of 5-star rating to the 4-star ratings on Yelp, Trip Advisor and Google everything was overwhelmingly positive. Below are a few photos, but please know we sat outside so the lighting appears a bit dark:

Our meal was outstanding...please check out their official website for more information and don't miss the GREAT introductory video. Also, be sure to stop by when you're in the greater Phoenix area, you won't be disappointed:

Before our meal was finished Carolyn and her husband, Anthony, came to our table to visit with us. It was so nice to meet them both in person after Carolyn and I have been "talking" online for about 6 months. When their dinner rush was done (Carolyn runs the restaurant operations while Anthony is the chef) we got a tour of their facilities and got a chance to talk a bit more personally.
The bar area inside Sofrita.

An alter with many lit candles in the ladies' room.

Anthony makes these crosses himself and many of
them are for sale.

In honor of Halloween, Carolyn set up an elaborate Day
of the Dead altar in the banquet space.

Jeff Smith, me, Carolyn and Anthony on the front steps of Sofrita. In case you were
wondering, Carolyn doesn't wear the full Day of the Dead makeup regularly but she
loves getting into the spirit of Halloween.
Thank you so much, Carolyn and Anthony, for a wonderful night of great food and great company. Carolyn, it was so nice to finally  meet you and I look forward to seeing you again at Jeff's Gait Course in Scottsdale on Tuesday!!

Sunday, November 2nd: RACE DAY and my nephew's Birthday!!

We woke up again at O'Dark Thirty and made the 15-minute drive to the start line area. Here are a few shots of the race day festivities:

Thanks to Jim for taking my "I run for Andrew" photo. By now
most of you know I do this for my little buddy who suffers from
Juvenile Arthritis.

Jeff and Jim share a laugh over coffee at a ridiculous hour
in the early morning.

Apparently I am NOT ready for my closeup.

Daylight breaks.

I finish the 1/2 Marathon and get word from Jeff that we have an
interview awaiting us at the Finish Line area. 

I apologize for this, but the live link to this interview is no longer active... many thanks to the 3TV crew for helping us spread the Get Back UP message in the greater Phoenix area!

Jeff taking ownership of the new BMW i3 electric sports car.

Next we pop over to a diner just a few blocks from the finish line
for a well-deserved breakfast celebration.

Breakfast of champions.
Jim and I entered as Team Get Back UP Today
in the Couples category. In case you are
wondering, we did not win.

Last but not least on this special day, Happy Birthday to my nephew Jackson! We love you, kiddo and we're sorry we had to miss out on your fun today.

Tuesday, November 4th:

I'm meeting Jeff and Carolyn at a local rehabilitation center for another 4-hour gait course before I catch the red-eye to Tampa for my next event. It was so wonderful to see Carolyn again and to witness the progress she's making coming to terms with having foot drop. She's actually still improving and my hope is that she's one of the lucky ones who may regain total function as the months go on..

Carolyn looks so beautiful without her spooky face paint!

Words to the wise.

Jeff makes his dramatic entrance.

Another great turnout for Jeff's course today.

Hard to see it but Jeff is getting ready to roll the TeamUP video,
thanks Jeff!
As I mentioned, I needed to get to the airport for my trip back east. This is going to be a rough night since I fly from PHX to LA in an hour but then I have to wait in LA until 12:30 a.m. to catch the red-eye to Charlotte. From Charlotte I'm connecting to Tampa for my work this week/end with Buzz Hanie, the Allard District Manager in the southeast. Guess I'd better fuel up now...
Airport dinner menu for tonight.

You guessed it, more fish tacos.

Landing in LAX from PHX...

And leaving LAX in the dead of night for Charlotte
and then on to Tampa.

Wednesday, November 5th:

My overnight flight to Charlotte was fine, though I can never seem to get real sleep on the red-eye flights. Then the delays came and I was stuck in Charlotte for awhile before finally getting on another plane to Tampa. By the time I arrived I was exhausted and ready for a long nap, I've got a long day on tap for tomorrow but luckily it won't involve planes or airports.

By the time I got to my room it was early afternoon...
but lucky for me it had black-out curtains.
Night night.

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