The Next Time I See You – RNR Dallas and San Francisco, RunAPalooza

Living vicariously through friends is a lot more fun when you have friends like ours.

We are five races into 2018 and most of them have had very little free time between airport arrival and departure. Dallas was a 30 hour round trip. San Francisco was a last minute change to a drive-in race because the start and finish lines were announced after our time share reservation options were full. Even RunaPalooza was a one day trip for me while Susan stayed on the east coast to visit with her parents. As I’m writing this, we’re in Chapel Hill for a day before heading to Rock n Roll Nashville.

Following friends on social media really filled in a lot of gaps for us. Every time we finish a race and say goodbye, I wonder what we’ll have to catch up on the next time we see each other.

The last time I saw a Rock n Roll expo, the Hall of Fame pictures were on a rotating slide show. Now we got to see all of our friends at once.

The next time we see Drew, he will break his goal of petting a dog per mile.

The next time we see Brent, he’ll extend his world record for the number of countries where he’s run a marathon. The picture below is a year old and 35-ish countries ago.

The next time I see Laura, I’ll have to congratulate her for getting her daughter to finisher her first half marathon (two years after Laura’s first!).

The next time I see Ann, I’ll let her and Peter know that they’ve changed the way I look at life… again.

The next time I see Al, I’m hoping he loses this new accessory and has a good path to finishing the year at Ironman. Thanks to Fred and Leny for helping him at Dark Side.

The next time I see Beth and Jim, I’ll want that picture of the two married couples to have both finished 100 Rock n Roll races.

The next time I see Julia, I know I won’t see Tom. F*ck cancer. It’s a colder world without him.

The next time I see Lida, I’ll ask her what it’s like to run over a hundred fifty miles in the desert at the Marathon des Sables… for a second time.

When I see Caryn and Tawni again, they’ll be finishing milestones – Caryn’s 100th half marathon and Tawni’s 50th State for half marathons.

The next time I see my wife will be later today when she picks me up at the airport in Raleigh. We’ll see Meg for dinner and Susan’s parents for breakfast before we head to Nashville for a couple days.

Life goes on without us. Even though we get to see the pictures near-real time, I look forward to catching up with friends.

The next time we see you.

Strength in Numbers – RNR DC 2018

Running is an individual sport, but the sheer numbers in the community is what keep people coming back. I mean, how many people have the mental fortitude to lace up for a 13.1 or 26.2 mile race when it’s below 30 degrees out in our nation’s capitol? Maybe it’s my wimpy California weather tolerance, but at least it wasn’t going to be as bad as the biblical flood of 2015 or the polar vortex of 2017.

Saturday races on the east coast usually start on Thursdays. Taking Southwest on the Companion Pass is an awesome perk (I haven’t paid for a flight in over 4 years!), but the lack of non-stop flights means an early wake up and still missing the expo. When we landed, the Westin Crystal City was overbooked because the nor’easter had prevented people from flying home. We got bumped to the Westin Arlington Gateway which worked out OK. Both hotels were on the metro, just a half-dozen stops apart.

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I’m a big fan of TSA-Pre. For an $85 investment we get to skip lines like this for 3 years (probably the spring break rush) at Oakland International. When our membership runs out, I’m likely to go to Global Entry on the off chance they add another continent. Harry and Harriet are along for the ride again.

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We went straight to the expo from Reagan International (DCA). We caught up with Amy from our old CGI days and also ran into Christine whom we met on the rooftop of our hotel back in San Diego. She’s got a busy schedule this year including a couple of World Majors, so she’s putting off her White Continent/Punta Arenas trip until 2020.

This is the third race of the year and we were really hoping that Ironman would have the Hall of Fame Banner after a big disappointment in New Orleans. While they didn’t have it hanging up, they DID have a slide show with the Hall of Fame pictures scrolling through the Rock n Roll booth. The unofficial Pannell Report estimated 176 people had a shot at the Golden Headphones for 2017. There’s was a video loop and grabbed a few dozen still shots (some shown below). Hopefully you were in it!

I guess when you hang around long enough, you start dressing alike?  This was totally unplanned!

Saturday, March 10th. Half and Full Marathon

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A quick shout to my friend Sherry. She hasn’t missed a Rock n Roll race weekend since fall of 2015, a run (pun intended) of 59 consecutive RNR’s. With a few new last-minute additions in China for 2018, I wonder if there was enough time to book travel to some of them coming up. If she ever misses a race weekend, I don’t think the mark will ever be broken. Regardless, this streak is only part of her record 179 total Rock n Roll events at all distances. She ran the full in DC.

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Our start was the standard wave of selfies, Juanfies and hugs. With the Black Sheep Run group starting to look off for different adventures, the vibe is still there, just smaller. A few corral group pics. Layers were the order of the day. Even #barefootElvis donned a pair of sandals for this chilly one!

 

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The best part of being up in the corral was knowing about the background of Ann’s shout out. Credit to Amy H. who turned a Black Sheep gift collection for Ann’s bike accident into a “Make Ann Pretty Again” fundraiser to help Ann pay for costs of the dental work. Ann blogged that, as a contractor, she didn’t have dental insurance. Hearts and wallets opened instantly.

Ann sent us videos for each of the 5 days countdown gifts. The last was a check from the Black Sheep (and a donation of a set of baby teeth from one of the future BSRs)

My orthopedic surgeon said I’ve got a standard IT band syndrome affecting my right knee, but I wanted to see if I could keep a higher cadence to keep the impact per step lower. Walking 12 minute miles felt pretty good. That pace was relaxed enough to take time to appreciate the course. DC can be pretty this time of year. We weren’t there for the peak cherry blossom season, but it’s always humbling to pass the monuments.

The course didn’t cross over the river this time, but we did go along the banks like usual. The Blue Mile up 24th Street seemed a lot longer than usual and I lost count after 50. A woman in front of me stopped at one picture, touched the sign and started crying uncontrolably. I touched her on the shoulder to make sure she was OK. Thank you to all from Wear Blue: Run to Remember for the inspiration!

 

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The spectator signs in the back half were appropriately creative for the location. The Final Crusade reference was one I had to catch. I did let her know that the folks doing the half chose wisely.

 

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The last 200 meters were up hill and a right turn at RFK stadium. I was pretty solidly at goal pace, but decided to wait at 13 so I could finish with Susan. No pictures this time, I just wanted a hand to hold across the finish.

We caught up with folks as we walked from the finish, past the beer garden and to the area in front of VIP where we seem to congregate after picking up medals. That’s where we foudnd Joe, Karin, Beth, Jim and Sandy. Amy was able to find us after a successful race #3 for her Hall of Fame run. Ann on the photobomb.

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TeamUp had a good day. This was Beth and Jim’s 99th Rock n Roll race. We got some news that they are looking into ways to increase access to Allard braces and hope to hear more when they run their 100th Rock n Roll in Raleigh the first week of April. We’ll be in San Francisco to continue our one legacy race, but will be wearing TeamUp gear with pride.

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Susan had a last-minute client meeting scheduled near DC and since I fly free only when we’re together, we stayed over the weekend and left Monday. This gave us a chance to grab a wonderful brunch with my friends from the MySpace days on Sunday and catch a showing of the Black Panther in the afternoon.

 

On Monday, I took 6 hours to walk around the various evil government agencies, visit the International Spy Museum and the Natural History Museum on Monday. DC has tons to see and do if you have free time and a good map!

 

Running is an individual sport, but what keeps us coming back is the people we see, week in and week out, and some that we get to visit once a year. If it weren’t for this series, there’s no doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t have met 95% of the people we think of as our closest friends. They keep us going. They fill us with life, love and laughter.

There is strength.. in numbers.

Time and Perspective – RNR New Orleans 2018

Just about everyone I know says they don’t have enough time to do everything. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

I would argue that people have enough time. I’ve seen some people accomplish amazing things with the same 24 hours a day that are given to all of us. What we don’t always have is enough perspective.

My parents moved into a continuing care retirement community last month. CCRC’s have a range of care options from independent living, assisted living and skilled nursing. With mom and dad in their early 80’s, they still have enough time to enjoy life but will be taken care of when needed. Other than the idea of leaving a home of 40 years and packing/selling/donating all the stuff they accumulated, helping them with the process made me look at things a different way.

After they were fully moved and started to settle in, it felt like a good time to reflect. It hit me that so many material objects we covet and hold on to are going to eventually be given away and that at some point, there will come a time where the life you live will have to change.

This brings us to New Orleans. We have 24 hours from landing to take off, a lot of people to see and a lot of beignets to eat!

Saturday, March 3rd. 3:00. Expo.

There was early facebook notice that the Hall of Fame banner still hadn’t been finished. It seems like a small thing to the new owners, but for a few friends who really worked hard to get to 15 last year, it was a big letdown. RNR knows this and said they’d make it right. I hope they do. That’s a memory and a picture that really made me feel good the first time we saw it in 2015. The posters up front did show a few familiar faces though – Barefoot Elvis, Kathrine Switzer and “Marathon Larry” Macon. All of them were in NoLa this year.

The race-themed gear was better in New Orleans, which I went out of the way to give the staff credit for. The shirts and hoodies with the list of participant names still doesn’t grab me as much as I thought it would. It looks like it’ll come out in a few washes, but I’d love to hear what people say. The race shirt was the neon green color that I might have worn back when I was in my mid 20’s playing volleyball. The design was so similar to Arizona that it was pretty much not going to make the annual closet clean out.

Two people were on our must-see list before 5 PM close. First was George Melichar, New Orleans resident and one of the biggest names in the Gay Games. This year he told us he’d converted from his specialty field and mid distance running events to, of all things, racewalking! He actually didn’t want to tell us until he finished a race without being disqualified for technique violations. He is also helping the New Orleans Track Club organize the Pride Run/Walk in September.

We had a long chat with Ann Wessling about her recovery from a broken jaw and the until recently secret news that she’s pregnant. Imagine making your living with your voice but having your jaw wired shut for 5 weeks. Then think about how hard it is to get nutrients through a liquid diet while trying to feed a growing life at the same time! She went through some dark times, and thanks everyone for the support while she healed. The 5K that morning was a good test for the 8 hours at the mic on Sunday.

Dinner that night was at Kingfish. Kamika made the race as part of a business trip and to see his friend Donna. We may not see him again until Seattle, which really bums me out. On the way back to the hotel, we swung by Sucre. The waitress described it as an adult dessert shop. I asked if she meant “grown up” instead of adult. This is New Orleans after all.

Sunday, March 4th. Half Marathon.

Staying at the Le Meridian hotel had the perk of being a block from the starting line. We rolled out of bed and heard Ann doing the pre-race announcements. We barely needed any extra layers with the temps in the mid 50’s for the short walk to gear check. What a great way to start a beautiful, clear race day!

Katherine Switzer, first woman to run the Boston Marathon, gave the crowd a pep talk before the gun. Amy S. met us in the corral on her way to her 50th state half marathon and we waited below the stage while corral 3 and the Black Sheep group went by. Amy H did a phenomenal job of organizing a 5 days of gifts countdown that Ann received just before NOLA. The last ONE should be in her hands when she got home.

We had an afternoon flight and a date with Cafe Beignet after the race. Seeing how I’ve not had a lot of time to train since, well, San Antonio in early December, I took this one easy and looked for photo ops.

One with Amy. We met her at The Biggest Loser Run/Walk Crown Point a few years back when she was half way through her quest to finish half marathons in 50 states. This July, she’ll finish the circuit in Washington.

The long out and back for the first 10 miles on St. Charles a great set up to see people. I caught up to Larry Macon. He’s up to 2030(ish) marathons – he’s basically lost count. A few minutes later, I passed Jim on the sidelines. He was sitting this out to support Beth so that she could pull even on Rock n Rolls on the way to their 100th at Raleigh in April.

This one’s for Drew. I didn’t pet ALL the dogs, but had to stop for this one. Somehow, I missed the pig.

On the turn back, one of the Team Challenge coaches pulled alongside me saying “you must be the world’s only pineapple-headed racewalker.” It took me a while to recognize Dave McGovern with the gator hat. But having a multi-time Olympian call me a race walker was kinda cool!

I wanted to keep up a decent pace, but about mile 6, I realize that the lack of training is hitting my knee, and badly. I did manage to catch up to Lindsay for the last 5K. She’s only doing a couple of Rock n Roll’s after making Hall of Fame in 2018, so I felt especially sad that there wasn’t a banner at the expo. Hopefully this picture doesn’t get flagged when I upload it to WordPress.

This was the 300th anniversary of the city of New Orleans. Rock n Roll has a bonus medal for anyone doing NOLA and San Antonio (also celebrating a tricentennial). Both of them are already on the schedule!

This wasn’t a stellar race. The idea that an MRI was in my near future was getting more certain as I trudged out of the finisher chute to the shuttles. I had a feeling if I took the detour across the finish line festival to the beer garden, I wouldn’t be able to get moving again. Fortunately, I had a good seat mate on the ride back who recognized my hat. We chatted about NOLA, how nice the weather was for the race and coming back in 2019.

The shuttle bus dropped us off a half mile from the hotel. I did catch a Corsola on the way back! PoGo players will get that. Shower, change, pack and roll. Cafe Beignet is a bit closer than the more well known Cafe Du Monde and we like the food better. Seating is a bit tight, the tables are big enough to hold 4 orders of beignets for 5 people. Yeah, I know. We’re missing an order.

This weekend was a microcosm of our life. When I knew going in that we had 22 hours on the ground and way more people were in the city than we had time to catch up with. When you have those kinds of restrictions, you have to make choices. Some people we’ll see again at DC, Dallas or San Francisco. Rather than have a few minutes with a lot of people, it was special to have a lot of time with a few. As for the race gear, I hope the SOTR shirt finds a good home as a donation.

Chalk up RNR number 2 for 2018 and 106 lifetime. Next up is D.C!

The Butterfly Effect – RNR Arizona 2018

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.[2] -Wikipedia

A more specific example is that when a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world, the small additional movement of air can cause a hurricane halfway around the world.

People can be butterflies. Their actions, intentional or not, can affect hundreds or even thousands of people. We find a lot of butterflies on the marathon circuit.

Take for example Harriett Thompson. She set the world record as the oldest woman to finish a marathon at age 92 and a half marathon at age 94. In October of 2017, she passed away after complications after a fall. She was out delivering gifts when it happened. I remember riding with her in 2016, the year between her world record runs and there was no way you could not be inspired by her spirit. It was the same for everyone who met her. She raised over $115,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Team in Training.

Last year, we recruited one of our stuffed animals to be a race mascot after a frigid forecast for RNR DC. Peanut the Penguin came to 14 races with us and one with Tawni to reach the vicarious Hall of Fame level. This year, in honor of Harriett, we’ll be bringing a pair of hedgehogs – actually named Harriett and Harry. They made the rounds meeting our friends at the expo and pre-race dinner.

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At the expo, Lisa told us that our friend Ann was in a mountain biking accident, going over the handlebars and doing a full-on face plant. Damage included 10 stitches, a chipped tooth, a pierced eardrum and a broken jaw that will need to be wired shut for a few weeks. The picture below isn’t her, but it’s what her husband, Peter, said it looked like when she hit the ground.

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Photo credit: tdwsport.com

As traumatic as this was, she’s still finding the energy to write about it in her new blog called “Chew While You Can“. I’ll let you hop over to the blog with a warning that the post accident pictures are not for the faint of heart. Through all this, Ann saw the bright side of chipping a tooth since it gave her a way to get liquid nourishment through a straw instead of a feeding tube. She’s resting quietly at home with two mothers, her daughter and her trusty bulldog.

Ann’s voice at the start of the Rock n Roll races keeps the crowds pumped and hearing her in the last stretch before the finish is the sign that the celebration is ready to start. She has been heard by literally millions of people over the years, some who are at their first race, some who come back knowing she’ll be there to give them a high-five at the finish line.

We had a family moment at the start of the half marathon. Thanks to Adrian for the GoPro footage. We did our best to do the trademark Ann Wessling countdown for corral three. Is Ann a butterfly? You bet she is. And thousands of people wish her a speedy recovery as we look forward to her return for Rock n Roll New Orleans.

Jim Diego sang the national anthem for the half marathon start, his 41st different state on the way to a goal of singing before races in all 50. He’s targeting the Route 66 Marathon in Oklahoma to finish the quest.

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Bring the Music. National Anthem singer Jim and #barefootelvis Henry

Meanwhile, Juan started his 2018 “Elbows Up” tour. Arizona was his 89th Rock n Roll heavy medal event. He’ll be the 14th person to hit the 100 race mark and plans to have a different accessory at every location. Oddly, not a lot of people took him up on his request to Spank the Taco.

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Add one more small but very influential lady to the butterfly roster. Beth (center, behind the Mad Photobomber, Drew) was back after a fourth round of spinal surgery. The first one left her with a paralyzed ankle so she runs with a carbon fiber brace designed by Allard. The brace allows people live active lives with ‘foot drop’ that can be caused by spinal injuries, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, MS or ALS. She and Jim spread awareness of the company wearing the orange and blue TeamUp colors. She is a multiple time Boston Qualifier, and she does this without using the disability adjusted times. She’s a butterfly, but she could fly through a hurricane.

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This wasn’t a race for time. Arizona rarely is. Instead it was a long weekend of spending time thinking of people who’ve come into our lives and made it better, just by being who they are.

After the race, we joined Tawni and Tamie at The Butterfly Wonderland. It was the obvious inspiration for this blog, but it was also a good hour of quiet reflection. These creatures fly around their habitat, not knowing who they’ll land on, who they’ll make smile, and how that person might change as they go back into the world.

One race finished for 2018. Sixteen more planned, not counting a couple of 5K’s here and there.

Let’s go out and change the weather this year.

2017 – Rock n Roll, By The Numbers

In our longer trainings, probably the best trick to keep us focused mentally is not only check how many miles you have to go, but also look back and feel good about how far you’ve come. So maybe I can’t start a new race year without taking a quick look back. Besides, that gives me a heads up of any upcoming milestones worth a celebration.

Twelve years into marathoning, we’ve finished 180 races according to Athlinks. 135 half marathons, 17 marathons, 21 5K, 8 10K, 2 15K, and a one-miler. The math doesn’t quite add up because a few races didn’t get posted online – yet, or ever.

We’ve finally finished marathons on all Seven Continents. It’s official now that the Rock n Roll Chengdu results were posted. I need to check on a few things, but I can’t imagine too many people will want to claim that they’ve walked marathons, much less one on all seven continents.

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The medal from Rome 2008 is stuck in a large shadow box.

Rock n Roll remains our race of choice, finishing our 100th Rock n Roll Heavy Medal race in October in San Jose. The 104 lifetime Heavy Medal races puts us at #8 and 9 on the all time list according to my records. Joining the Century Club this year also were Jeff (RNR DC), Kamika (RNR Seattle), Greg (RNR Chicago) and Mitchell (RNR San Antonio).

 

 

We finished the year with 129 Rock n Roll races (99 half marathons, 5 marathons, 20 5K’s and 5 10K’s – Susan has one more full and one fewer half). That total puts us tied for 6th behind Sherry (174), Greg (152), Joe (151) and Al (140). The 98 and 99 half marathons is behind by Joe (135), Kevin (116), Al (111) and Jeff (104).

Lifetime leaders for the 5K and 10K’s are less complete since we’ve been concentrating on tracking the heavy medal races, but of the folks with 70+ RNR’s, top 5K totals belong to Sherry (42), Greg (35), Amy (32), Deb (27) and Mitchell (22). Greg and Jeff have the most 10K’s at 8. We’re going to need a lot of help for anyone who’s racked up a lot of finish lines in the last 3 years.

2018 should have three, possibly four, new members of the Century Club. If all goes well, Beth and Jim will have Rock n Roll Raleigh for their 100th. Juan will hit triple digits at Rock n Roll Los Angeles. Deb is less than a dozen races away, but may be concentrating on other races. Amy, Hyalker and Jessica are likely on track for 2019 at their current count.

A more obscure record actually fell in San Antonio. Back in 2012, David Deniere ran 27 Rock n Roll locations in the year. A record that due to scheduling and overlaps has been logistically impossible ever since. But in addition to 2011, he ran the last 11 races and in 2013, the first 7 races for a streak of consecutive 55 Rock n Roll races.  We had to do some actual date-digging, but Sherry did 25 races in 2017, 25 in 2016 and (in reverse order), San Antonio, Las Vegas, Savannah, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and St. Louis, bringing her streak total to 56!

As for the Hall of Fame medal? The unofficial Pannell Report has  14 people who have three straight years of 15 or more races (2015 – 2017). Since the class of 2014 was so small, we’ve verified that only 5 people have Hall of Fame Legacy status – Joe, Jessica, Mitchell, Susan and Ron.

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Somehow, we always miss Joe.

As far as I can tell, Susan and I don’t have any major race milestones this year. We’ll be adding a few more states for half marathons, trying to make it 5 years in a row for Hall of Fame and celebrate a big birthday some time in May.

My only New Year’s resolution for the last half-dozen years has been “every year better than the last”. Looking back on what we did in 2017, I think we’re still on track.

Let’s start this all over again in Arizona next week.

~//~

The final Pannell report numbers for 2017 have been delayed due to the data transition post-CGI. RNR San Antonio times just recently came online so now it’s easier to tell which entries count toward the Heavy Medal numbers. It’ll be interesting to see how we did against 2016 and how 2018 looks with the new management in place.

Because of the Global TourPass starting the wave of 20+ races/year for a lot of people, it’s entirely possible that I’ve missed a few people who are within a year or two of hitting 100 RNR’s. If you’re reading this and want to get on the tracker list, please leave a comment and I’ll get in touch with you. With luck, Ironman will continue to celebrate the loyal runners who continue to come back to Rock n Roll year after year.

Prom Night – RNR San Antonio 2017

Rock n Roll San Antonio has been the last Rock n Roll Marathon Series event of the year since 2012. After the 15-race Hall of Fame medal was introduced in 2014, San Antonio became something of an end-of-year celebration among the folks who travel the country following the tour. In 2017, the popularity of the Global Tour Pass was at its peak, paving the way for more Hall of Famers than ever before.

We landed mid-day Friday with plenty of time to hit the expo. This was the first one being organized by Ironman and there were some nice touches right out of the gate. The legacy website and stars at bib pick-up were a really nice tribute to the runners who’ve been here for all 10 years.

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Phil Buchanan finds his star.

All through 2017, CGI had a couple of panels of a large banner that runners were able to sign. We finally got to see the completed work for the 20 Years Running celebration.

THIS IS YOUR MOMENT. CONGRATULATIONS!

 

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This was the last chance for people to get that milestone 15th race for the Hall of Fame Heavy Medal. By last count, the Pannell Report had 74 people sitting at 14 races, making it likely that this would be the most Hall of Fame medals ever awarded at a single event. There were some hiccups at bib pickup, but we saw quite a few people sporting the 15 bibs and the new duffle bags.

 

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There was a lot going on Friday night, so Susan and I went over to Rosario’s for our traditional Friday meal for dinner. We caught a group of Black Sheep (Tony, Stéphanie, Josie, Andrea and Ali) and joined them for queso and fire roasted salsa. Definitely a must-have when in town for the weekend. Six of us hit Hall of Fame this year. Stéphanie was one of the few who ran all of the European Rock n Roll’s.

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Saturday, December 2nd. 5K and 10K
The forecast for the Saturday was a bit warm but dry. Given the biblical flood we had in 2016, I was pretty happy. I took the first few miles at a faster pace, but decided to finish the last 4 chatting with Henry (aka, Barefoot Elvis). About the only thing we had to  complain about was that they added the 5K option late in the year after we had registered for the 10K. Oh well. Same Remix medal and more steps.

 

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Saturday afternoon was busy. We had to go back to the expo to pick up our 16-race vanity bibs, but we weren’t in time to catch Mitchell Ginsburg’s Facebook Live interview with Ann on the occasion of his 100th Rock n Roll race. After that we hit the RNR booth for the Heavy Medal presentation where Aaron, Andrea, Leon and Sherry got plaques for running all 25 possible races in 2017 (including two same-weekend doubles and one same-DAY double). We made a quick change then headed down to the St. Anthony to see the tribute to Larry Macon’s 2000th marathon.

 

 

I just read that last paragraph again. It’s absolutely crazy that we know all of these people!

This year we did something different. Rather than have the usual, last-minute, disjointed, multi-venue dinner plans, Al and Amy put together a huge event at the Sheraton Gunther – by runners, for runners – for pre-race fueling and a tribute to the accomplishments for the year. Thanks to Drew and Kamika for pitching in on the set up and to Greg who jumped in to work the merchandise and raffle table.

 

Ann, Ryan and Dorcas from the CGI staff made a surprise appearance. Ann gave a moving tribute to the people in the room who’ve made Rock n Roll even more of a family than before.

 

Al was able to get a bunch of donations of running related items as door and raffle prizes including a few free race entries to Rock n Roll events for 2018. Amy presented Hyalker and his siblings with a special gift and a donation from the group to the Alzheimer’s foundation in memory of their father’s passing. “H” has been one of the most giving, generous people we’ve met on the Series. It was great to be able to give back when he needed it.

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I gave a quick pre-race update for the Pannell report. Odds are good that we crushed last year’s total of 151 Hall of Fame medals. Amy and Ainsley closed the nights presentations with a tribute to Mitch’s 100th Rock n Roll.

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We had just under 100 attendees and a surprise appearance from a few of our favorite CGI staffers. The event exceeded just about everyone’s expectations and I have to say, we clean up well! Al is already looking for a venue for a mid-year reunion at Rock n Roll Chicago in July.

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Photo credit by surprise visitor Adrian @maurruns

Sunday, December 3rd. Half Marathon, Full Marathon and Mitchell’s 100th Rock n Roll
Just like Greg’s 100th in Chicago, Ainsley organized a shirt printing for Mitchell. The theme this time around was a nickname he earned while traveling with Greg and Amy. The big reveal took place at gear check along with a champagne toast.

 

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One last starting line. One last Rock n Roll for the year. We have no races for 6 weeks, so I took a look around a little more than usual.

 

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Take it slow. Stop and chat. Hang with a bunch of Hall of Famers (and a few repeaters).

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Remember to stop for the right pictures. Pet all the dogs. Fist-pump for Rock n Roll Jesus.

 

Brush off the downpour. It’ll stop soon and you’ll dry off. Just watch your step.

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Stop for one of the best race entertainment of the day – a traditional Mexican dance on the bridge above.

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We didn’t catch Larry Macon before the split at 12.5, but we did run into Phil and Sherry before they headed off for the second half of the marathon.

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The half ended with hugs and bling. Lots of bling.

 

 

I got back out to see Mitchell finish the marathon. With a lot of people already waiting for him after finishing the half, I think this was the biggest finish line Century Club celebration so far. Mitchell is the 10th runner to hit that lifetime mark.

 

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2017 was a good year in a lot of ways. Since I’ve dragged my feet in publishing this recap, I’ll just do our annual review in a paragraph here.

We ended our year with 23 Rock n Roll races – 15 half marathons, one full (including our 100th Rock n Roll race in San Jose) and 7 Remix races. The full in Chengdu was our 7th Continent, completing a goal that started at the Mayor’s Marathon in Anchorage, Alaska 12 1/2 years ago. We’ve applied for membership and certification in the Seven Continents Club and should be official once the Chengdu results are posted. We did only one other race this year, the 4th (and possibly last) Disney Superhero half on the front end of the double day in November. There weren’t any PRs this year, but we spent a lot of miles chatting about past races, future milestones and everything that goes on outside the start and finish lines. 2017 was a lot about solidifying old friendships and getting to know new ones.

This year, more than most, felt a lot more like a graduation than previous years. We’ll look forward to seeing everyone at the class reunion in Chicago.

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With the ownership of the series transitioning to Ironman from Competitor Group, the Tourpass pricing structure changed. No longer are we allowed to register for any race for the year (including the Remix) for one fixed price. The new Tourpass was now limited to 10 events, regardless of distance, at a price 20% higher than 2016. Early reaction wasn’t great, but it remains to be seen how the numbers play out next year. There was a long line of people waiting for the Winter sale on December 14th and I suspect there will be more for the Summer event. If it turns out that the pricing drives people to find other races, we’ll be thankful for sharing the time we did.

The San Antonio results, as of New Year’s Day, are posted, but times are listed as NULL. The results site lists 13,374 finisher (10,465 in the half, 2,909 for the marathon). The location looks safe for another year. We’re starting to see the medals, shirts and signs of a different ‘runner experience’ through the RNR email lists. I guess we’ll see how things look in a couple of weeks as we start all over again in Rock n Roll Arizona.

There will be 3 (maybe 4) more entrants to the Rock n Roll Century Club in 2018. Beth and Jim are targeting home-town race Raleigh and Los Angeles will be Mr. Aguilar’s Juan-hundredth. Depending on where Deb ends up, she could be at the 100 mark late in fall or early 2019. My records show Amy, Jessica and Hyalker sitting in the low 70’s but records get decidely sketchy after that. If you’re reading this and know that you’re at 60 or more lifetime Rock n Roll half or full marathons, please drop me a note. I’d like to get you on our list!

 

The Final Encore – Double Live 2017

Two states. Two Half Marathons. One Day. Seemed like a good challenge in 2013 when Rock n Roll San Antonio and Las Vegas were on the same day. Beth, Jim, Kamika, Caryn, Al, Susan and I were part of the group of 87 who completed the SA2LV challenge and Beth nicknamed the event the “Double Live Album” tour. In 2014 and every year since then, the Disney Avengers (renamed Disney Superheroes) fell on the same day as Vegas. Kamika, Al, Susan and I did it every year and Drew joined us for 2017. Earlier this year, Disney cancelled all of the California races for 2018, citing construction at the park.

Each year the blog for this weekend got longer, so this time around, fewer words. More pictures. 2017 was a bittersweet ending to a November tradition.

Two states. Two expos. Pretty much the same calm but excited mood.

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Two states. One awesome vendor. Two themes to show off your goods.

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Two states. Two meals. Both with tortillas and drinks.

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Two states. Two medals. And something to carry our bling.

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Two states. Day one. Take in a movie and a show after dark.

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Two States. Off to bed, but first a churro in the park.

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Two states. Day 2. At the Disney start line for the last(?) time.

Two states. Feeling good. On the field at mile 9.

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Two states. Different corrals, but we come together at mile 10.

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Two states. A Coast to Coast medal. But he couldn’t get a churro again.

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Two states. Hop a flight. Take time to relax and smile.

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Two states. On the Strip. High security at every mile.

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Two states. Wall to wall crowds. We’re still able to find our friends.

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Two states. The fireworks start. We’re off to the races again.

Two states. Race number two. After the tragedy, we celebrated under the lights.

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Two states. The finish line. The perfect end to a perfect night.

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Two states. Two Races. Hall of Fame year Four.

Two states. Two races. One Day. What a way to end the Tour.

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So ends the Disney/Vegas double run. I’m not certain we’re going to try to replace it since I actually like spending time in Vegas. It’s usually the weekend Susan usually flies back from a quarterly company meeting in Chicago. Having one destination would be actually a relaxing trip for once, but who knows? We may want to find another challenge when we get closer to the fall season.

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The Disney Superhero race was in its fourth year in 2017. The cancellation for 2018 is a real bummer because it would have been year 5 of the Infinity Gauntlet challenge. People who did the 10K Saturday and the half marathon on Sunday earned the bonus medal and an Infinity Stone for the first 4 years. The fifth and final stone may be lost to the ether for all time. This year, the course didn’t have a lot of the typical Disney cheer stations we’re used to seeing. Absent were the army outside Angels Stadium and the classic cars. There were even fewer cheerleader squads. I hope for the runner’s sake that Disney makes a comeback. Even with the high price, Disney races have a very loyal fan base.

Rock n Roll Las Vegas was in its 9th year, the 8th time it was held at night. After the Route 91 Harvest shooting, the starting area had to be moved to the T-Mobile Arena. Spotters were monitoring the numerous hotel windows and the side streets were blocked by city buses all along the course. Even the corrals were lined with law enforcement vehicles. Security was a priority with such a large crowd and we didn’t hear about any incidents.

After Vegas, the Hall of Fame inductee total for 2017 got to triple digits. The unofficial Pannell Report numbers put us at 101 people with 15 or more Rock n Roll races for the year. We’re assuming that the 74 people with 14 races all showed up in San Antonio, making this year the biggest Hall of Fame group ever.

This was also the final Rock n Roll event led by the staff of Competitor Group. Starting in San Antonio, the new owners will be organizing the races. While we hope to see some familiar faces there and in 2018, we do thank the CGI Staff for all the love, support and memories they’ve given us over the years. Without the event, we wouldn’t have met so many amazing people. And without all of the amazing CGI people, we never would have the events. We hope our paths cross again in the miles ahead.