Just another (100) day(s) at the Office – RNR San Jose 2016

People approach milestones in different ways. Some people celebrate every birthday with a huge party. For others, it’s nearly impossible to get them excited because they realize it’s something that happens with the passage of time.

We’re somewhere in between. When we started racing, our coaches would always know what to say to us at the end of long training when we’re tired and aching. They would always ask us to look back and see how far we’ve come. It always put things in perspective for the single training, but after 10 or 20 races , it just seems like another day. That’s why we think it’s important to figure out the big milestone races and mark it with a celebration.

Al doesn’t make a big deal out of milestones either. Truth be told, until we celebrated his 250th half marathon in Arizona 2014, I don’t think even he knew exactly how many races he had run. He started racing back before the internet records (or even the internet) was even a thing and this weekend, he was not only running his 100th Rock n Roll half or full, but also his 300th half marathon. He plans really well though. And he planned these two milestones to coincide with a hometown race.

Friday September 30th. Expo
I’d been sending CGI the lifetime stats for a while now and after San Diego, we checked to make sure they set aside bib number 100 for the half. It was good to see this (and amusing to see Al’s full name mushed into one screen).

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The sign at the entrance to the expo was a nice touch.

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Al Hernandez – stick figure

As far as we know, Al has the distinction of being Legacy at the most Rock n Roll locations. He’s run every year at six of the current races (accounting for 44 of his 100 RNR’s). He’s even outlasted five of them.

14463195_10209997340587521_7453316143388398975_nDorcas was kind enough to surprise him with a commemorative Rock n Roll logo shirt, signed by the CGI staff. You don’t keep coming back to the same series 100 times unless the people behind the scenes are there to make it a good experience.

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After clearing out the Squirtle from Guadalupe Park, I headed home to finish cleaning up the house for Kamika. The dogs greeted him enthusiastically, probably because he brought a few pounds of Kahlua pork.

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Saturday, October 1, 5K:
I really like the 5K logistics. There’s free parking at the SAP Center parking lot and it’s a short walk to Plaza De Cesar Chavez park with plenty of room for selfies. The group below will probably finish 2016 with over 200 races.

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Will, Sherry, John, Caryn, Amy, Kamika, Noah, Jamie, Al, Susan, Ron

Al wasn’t sure what he wanted to do for the finish line at the half marathon, but he did know he wanted to share it with his friends. Most of the 5K was a relaxed pace and we finished as a group.

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This was not our fastest race, mainly because we stopped to catch a Charizard at mile 2.6
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Down the chute. My group selfie aim was a bit off that day.

This was the first time in a month that I’d seen a few of the folks chasing the Hall of Fame. Amy, Sherry, John and Will were all in San Jose still sitting atop the race total board with Greg in Querataro. Mitch (far left behind Al) would become the first three-time Rock n Roll Hall of Famer after the weekend. We also saw Homicide Hunter stars, Carl and Ilona, for the first time in a while since their filming schedule shifted, preventing them from a lot of Saturday and even Sunday Rock n Roll races.

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Breakfast afterwards was at Peggy Sue’s. We talked about the RNR Los Angeles costume theme (Candy Store) and Tricia’s iPhone battery problems. And laughed. A lot.

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I spent the afternoon finishing up the 13:11 minute video that we worked on for Al’s 100th Rock n Roll. When we celebrated his 250th half, Susan put together a scrapbook with photos and notes from friends that almost brought a tear to his eye. My goal was to remove the ‘almost’ this time. I think we succeeded.

Pre-race dinner at Piatti’s was off the beaten path, but with so many of us being local and having cars, it has always a good choice. We had 8 people for a reservation for 10 but Al asked us to save the last two for a few friends he saw at the expo.

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Turns out Beth and Jim were able to make the trip fit with their business travel and came in to surprise us all. Al caught them going into the expo just before close. Seeing them really made the weekend, but dammit. Can’t we go a whole weekend without him having a surprise for us? The video (here on Facebook) went over well. I’m fearing the payback already.

Sunday, October 2nd: Al’s 300th Half and 100th Rock n Roll
We’ve done this race many times before. We know where to park. VIP hasn’t moved in years. The starting line is always in the same place. The only thing new here was getting up on stage before the gun. Ann handled the interview and Al shook hands with 49er legend and RNR San Jose backer, Roger Craig.

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And with that, we were off. 13.1 miles of pictures and reflection. We asked Al about his favorite races, toughest races, best drinks on course, fastest marathon running backwards (4:18 in Rome), longest legacy (I think it was 20 years). We also told him our favorite Al moments. Drew talked about San Antonio 2015 when he was on a scooter. I recounted Seattle 2015 and Hernia Hill. Along the way we picked up a few of the people who’ve shared the first 100 Rock n Rolls – De, John, and Marissa and Cindy.

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Zach joined us at mile 10. It’s a good thing too since he and Sherry were able to go ahead and meet Caryn at the finish line to hold the finish banner on the 10K side of the mats. Roger Craig met us at mile 13. He and Al had an all out sprint to the finish with Al winning by a nose. I’m pretty surprised that the cameraman didn’t pull a hamstring following them in.

 

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Al debated on with how fast to take this race. With the exception of Jim and Beth, none of us could keep up with him if he were running at his usual speed. He eventually made a decision to run the race the way he’s run many of his 100 Rock n Rolls.

Finish with friends. Let them share the moment and the celebration.

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The award ceremony tied up the weekend well. Part of Al’s speech talked about how everyone on the course inspired him to do one more “so I guess I’m on to Denver.”

 

Along with the video we put together, we asked our friend Marcey at SportHooks  to craft a custom hanger. Al donates his medals to Medals 4 Mettle, but he does keep his bibs. Just in case he wanted to keep a medal, we had an extra hook added.

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Milestones are a funny thing. If you don’t make a big deal out of one or keep track of it, they could pass you by.  While I don’t think we would have had a problem celebrating at the 101st race, I’m glad almost all of us were there to see Al finish this one. “I guess I’m on to Denver”.

Congratulations, Al. It was just another day at the office.

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