1310.94 Miles and a Chewbacca Onesie

Once again we continue to be in awe of how many seemingly normal people we know who have accomplished things we thought were impossible when we started racing.

Ok, maybe ‘seemingly normal’ isn’t quite accurate here.

When we were planning the weekend, we cut back one night to save a vacation day because of a lot of things happening in the back half of 2017 and hopefully early 2018. Then Susan found out she was double counting her days off and we have more days than we thought. We might have even been able to do the 5K on Saturday if we went straight there from the airport, but oh well.

Rock n Roll Arizona is usually our kick off race for the year. While it’s historically cool and a flat, fast course, being scheduled midway through the Eating Season and the horribly brutal California winter training season, we rarely looked at this race for PR’s. It’s also the first race of the Rock n Roll season and in the last 3 years, we looked forward to seeing all of our friends on the Hall of Fame banner. With 162 people in the 2016 class, the pictures were small. And also a little blurry. It looked like the printing bled a bit so the pics weren’t sharp. Hopefully this was a rush job and there is a second banner in the works?

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This is the 20th year of the Rock n Roll Marathon series since the first race in San Diego in 1998. There were some really nice retrospective signs leading us past the bib and shirt pick up areas. There are a lot of stars of the running world who’ve made a mark during the Rock n Roll Series – even some we know.

We weren’t sure when this was going to happen, but the redesigned Heavy Medal series was unveiled at the expo. Anyone signing up for multiple races AND registering as a Heavy Medalist could earn some of the new extra bling. Note that the new 15-race Hall of Fame Medal was not yet ready for prime time.

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Competitor added two more challenge medals for Coast to Coast racing incentives. People completing either San Francisco/Brooklyn or San Diego/Virginia Beach could earn the Bucket List or Beach to Beach medals.

Another half-zip and random pins later, we leave the expo for food. Drew had planned dinner at Alice Cooperstown and since it also had a decent amount of TV’s we could get there early to watch a few playoff games. We stayed and chatted until dinner. One perk of travel is that friends from former lives seem to be everywhere. We met up with Kate, one of our participants from Team in Training in 2009. She did her first (and only) half marathon at Nike San Francisco that year on bad knee. Since she was raising money for her brother Jared, there wasn’t a force on earth that would stop her from finishing. 7.5 years later, she felt strong enough to try another half marathon. She ended up shaving nearly an hour off her time.

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This was another 100 Half Marathon celebration for one of our friends. At last count, this was 10 in the last two years. We presented Drew with a small bib and a lifetime membership to the 100 Half Marathons club. Beth sent us a TeamUp medal which got Drew a little choked up.

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The food was memorable. The company, even more so.

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Drew had a group of friends in from Dallas. Some, like Stephanie,  were joining him for their first half marathon and all of them did the 5K Saturday morning. Drew had a local friend, Rachel, bake a cake for the occasion. The decoration was perfect for Drew. And the cake. I don’t think I’ve had a chocolate cake that good in YEARS.

Sunday January 15th. Half Marathon
Getting to the starting line from the airport hotels via light rail was really convenient. Usually we end up driving since we use our timeshare, but with San Francisco, San Diego and Las Vegas having good spots in the Shell Vacations network, we thought we’d try something different. The all day pass for $4 is a must as there are train stops at both starting lines and the finish line. Arizona is the only Rock n Roll where the full marathon starts in a different location than the half. We met for 7:30 pictures before the 7:50 start.

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We can tell we’re going to get along fine 🙂

We had a good group and were able to pair off to match paces. Tamara was a bit under the weather and ran with first-timer Stephanie. Drew bounced back and forth between them, us and for the first mile until he settled into a good slow run with us.

You can learn a lot about someone over the course of a race. This wasn’t a time where we were going to push and ‘see what he was made of’, but to go easy, and find out what makes him tick. We asked the standard questions. What was your first half? At the end, he told a friend “we should take a picture. I mean, how many of these do you think we’ll do?” We heard stories about college and the senior prank week and being dropped off in the middle of nowhere to walk home. We found out that if you state a dress code as “dress comfortably”, you better be more specific or one of your guests might come in a Chewbacca onesie (the host was much more specific the following year).

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Host: “Son of a bitch! This is not what I meant!!! 😛

The Garmin data showed the race to be 13.25 miles. We attribute the extra distance to Drew’s penchant for on-course puppy therapy. These four were all sitting in a line in sweaters just past the first mile.

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We had the same out and back at mile 8.5 up the hill crossing East McDowell. This time the Taiko drummers were at the top. Excellent motivation and they kept up a good beat. We even caught Tamara and Stephanie for a shout out as they came down the hill about 10 minutes ahead of us. I’m getting to be a big fan of these high-five tunnels.

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One pic with Rock n Roll jesus at mile 11. That nickname is growing on me.

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Then we head for home. The finish line used to be at the stadium, but the park is quite a bit more relaxed than the asphalt in the parking lot and a nicer view coming over the North Mill Avenue bridge. I’d asked Drew if he wanted us to go ahead of him to take video from the front as he crossed the finish line for the big milestone. He said he’d wanted to cross with the three of us holding hands. Damn. I didn’t think I’d get that kind of honor two races in a row. Nearly brought me to tears again.

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We caught Tamara and Stephanie in the finisher area. Stephanie ran a solid first half marathon and was happy to have Tamara to pace her and give her tips on the way. I think we may see Stephanie at a race sooner than she thinks *coughDallascough*. Everyone got their medals this day. First timers, and 100th timers.

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There were no Double Down medals for finishing Las Vegas this time around. And since we skipped the 5K, we just had the one medal for the half. Drew was pretty surprised to be the one with the most medals this time around. Definitely well-earned.

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Susan, Gary and I had to grab a quick lunch before getting back to the hotel to check out. Loco Patron was right off the light rail stop just a few blocks from the finish area. We didn’t have enough time to grab an ice cream sandwich at Slickables. It was a bit cold for that this trip anyway.

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For the first time, I was able to take a page out of Ann Wessling’s book and survive the whole trip with just a backpack. This was a short one though.  It feels weird that we don’t think much about hopping on a plane for a race in another time zone and just going back to normal life less than 30 hours later. I guess that’s the kind of mindset you get when you race 100+ half marathons or so.

Just don’t ask me to wear a onesie.

~//~

Rock n Roll Arizona  finisher numbers are down about 1,000 from 2016, mainly in the half marathon (2,345 for the full, 10,377 for the half and 2,206 for the 5K). The course for the half is relatively flat except for the hill at mile 8.5 (100′ climb). We haven’t done the full for this event, but a lot of folks say it’s flat and primed for a PR. The short hop from Oakland to Phoenix makes this stop a regular on our race calendar unless we have another high priority like Star Wars in 2015 or a new continent. We’ll be waiting for TourPass 2018 to become available so we can save money on the non-refundable processing fees.

With the light rail running very early and every 15-20 minutes, its very easy to get where you’re going during race weekend. Look for hotels near the airport and skip the car if you’re looking to stretch your marathon dollars. Speaking of which, Marathonfoto actually dropped the prices for their full packages to $20 (and I heard even lower to $10 later). I was considering buying the package anyway, so with the lower price, it was a slam dunk. If this continues, I may be a more regular customer. 

We’ll be headed to Rock n Roll New Orleans next for the 5K and the half. Hope to see everyone there!

Top 16 for 2016

We’re a bit behind the usual year-in-review posts, but we didn’t want to miss out on noting some of our personal highlights from what ended up being another productive and memorable year. The race quantity was about the same, but quality continues to improve. Our goal of making every year better than the last continues. Not all of these are about race moments, but all happened on race weekends. The Marathoning for Life top 16 for 2016:

16. Regarding Henry
I used to blog on MySpace, back when people were anonymous and you could throw out opinions and you’d likely never meet any of your readers unless you made a consciousIMG_1521 effort to do so. Being a lot more visible on a race blog makes for cool things like meeting Henry in San Francisco, who recognized us from the blog when he was doing research on Rock n Roll races.  Henry told us he was shooting for 20 races in 2016 (more than we’d ever done!) and went on to set multiple PR’s at the 5K and half marathon distances. Way to go Henry!

15. Hall of Fame Three-peat
I only put this as low as it is because it seemed like a foregone conclusion once we put the
plan in place. I do put it on the list because regardless of how well you plan, there’s always the chance to injury, travel delays and unavoidable conflicts that can derail you. Working the races into your schedule (and making other plans around them) take some serious commitment. We look forward to seeing if we can do this again in 2017. If you get to a Rock n Roll Expo, you’ll see a huge banner with rows of pictures. Ours are below.

14. RNR Los Angeles Candy Crunch
I don’t buy race pictures often, but this one will go down as one of my all time favorites. The Candy Store was actually an idea that we had a few years ago, but we missed 2014 (for RNR Vancouver) and did a PacMan theme in LA for 2015. The fact that the six of us did the entire race together made it something special.

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13. First Steps
Ryan and Virginia had been along the journey for years. Ryan was always on the other side of the table handing out medals and Virginia was working on the 5K distance. This year, they both stepped up and finished their first half marathons – Ryan in Savannah, Virginia in Vegas. It doesn’t look like either of them will be a one-and-done. Note that they both celebrated the accomplishment in different ways.

12. Biggest Hall of Fame Induction Yet – San Antonio
The number of Hall of Famers increased 4 fold since the inaugural 2014 year. Among the 162 people who finished 15 or more half or full marathons in 2016 there were dozens of first-timers. Five people ran the table with all 25 logistically possible events and a handful even finished 20 or more in back to back years. Every person in these pictures has a great story to tell.

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Photo Credit: Competitor Group
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The Rock Superstars who ran 25 races. Not pictured: Will Flynn

11. Chicago Storms
We’ve had an amazing run of weather luck for the last 10 years. Before 2016, we’ve only had significant amounts of rain on 2 out of over 100 races. In 2016, we had a dusting during RNR Nashville and DC and a good soaking in San Antonio. We even had our first lightning-related yellow flag that suspended the RNR Chicago for nearly half an hour. Ron and Al finished the last 100 yards as the announcers told people to find shelter. Susan didn’t have to worry about that as she finished the race 6 minutes earlier – with a brand new PR!

10. The next to 100 Rock n Rolls
Kevin Gonzalez hit the 100 Rock n Roll race mark at Rock n Roll San Diego. Kevin plans to chase world majors in 2017, but he finished 2016 as the All-Time Number 2 for RNR Heavy Medal races with 108.  He has finished 106 half marathons (2nd), 110 total events (6th) and 5th in all time RNR race mileage.

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11. Changing of the Guard
Probably the biggest news off the course was that Rock n Roll founder, “Mr. Marathon”, 12301576_10207587601625553_6517062093939443634_nTracy Sundlun was let go by Competitor Group. I remember the year Rock n Roll Cleveland was cancelled just a month before the event. We got a personal call from Tracy apologizing for the inconvenience, asking what he could to keep our loyalty and come back for another race. It was these kinds of touches that makes going to races more of a family reunion than an endurance event. We’ll miss Tracy. I think a lot of people will.

10. Double Live, Part 4
Mid November will be a highlight for every year as long as Disney and Rock n Roll continue to have the morning/evening race combination. For the last 3 years, we’ve done the Disney Avengers (renamed Superheroes) Half in the morning, hopped a plane and finished the Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half that night. 2016 had relatively good weather for both ends of the trip (compared to the windstorms in 2014 and 2015).

9. The 100 Half Marathon Club
We joined the 100 Half Marathons club late in 2015 and it dawned on us how many of our friends are close to or past that incredible milestone. Juan ran his 100th at RNR Mexico City, Tawni reached the 100 mark at a rainy Rock n Roll DC, Hyalker got there at Rock n Roll San Diego and John did the same at Rock n Roll Vancouver. We weren’t on hand for a few more including De Moe (Mayors Marathon, Anchorage). At least three more friends who are on track for 100 in 2017.

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8. The Next Generation
This was one of those non-race moments that made me appreciate the people we’ve come img_5927in contact with over the years. We met Ann Wessling on a flight from San Diego to Phoenix and I credit (blame?) her for getting us started on the Rock n Roll circuit when she told us about the 2011 expansion and the new Rock Idol Heavy Medal.  She and Peter are among our best friends, so when we went to RNR Denver for the weekend, we wanted to have a mini baby shower for the expecting mom and dad. Ann had baby Juliana a few days after Rock n Roll Las Vegas.

7. Winners at The Biggest Loser Race Series Chicago
As we mentioned on the Runner of a Certain Age Podcast earlier this week, we love this series because it gives us a chance to compete in a walk division. Both Susan and I took first place in our divisions with Susan finishing 3rd overall. We had a great time catching up with Christina and also cheering Jen in for her first half marathon finish.IMG_4200

6. Going for Gold
I loved this moment because I know how much it meant to Nalani and Drew.  Drew had been wanting to get the 10-race Rock Idol medal since it came out in 2011. Even though they redesigned the medal to be the Gold Record, 2016 was going to be the year. After starting out with a badly sprained ankle and Nalani nursing a tweaked knee for most of the year, we finished RNR San Antonio with Nalani getting a PR. Picking up the Gold Record was an emotional moment after such a long road.

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5. Catching them All – the next 100 Rock n Rolls
Rock n Roll San Jose weekend was Al’s 100th Rock n Roll and 300th Half marathon. There were a lot of moments that will stick with me from the weekend including Beth and Jim surprising us at dinner Saturday night, catching a Charizard during the 5K and Al beating Roger Craig to the tape to finish the half. It was a relaxed race, but it gave us a chance to find out a lot about Al’s extensive experiences. Al is tied for fourth on the all time list for total RNR events at all distances, 4th in total race mileage, and 3rd in half marathons.

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4. The First Lady of Rock n Roll
Sherry became the third runner and first woman to hit the 100 Rock n Roll mark at Las Vegas. She finished 2016 at second all time for total RNR events at all distances, second in total race mileage and as high as second all time in RNR full marathons (records before the Remix era are admittedly very sketchy for fulls). She’s also a cancer survivor which makes this achievement all that much more special.

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3. A Red Shoe Surprise
We have friends who don’t ask for much and like to stay under the radar. I get that, since I’m kind of the same way. But when we found out Kamika was going to finish his 50th Half marathon state in a small race in Iowa the same weekend as Rock n Roll Nashville, it was something we just couldn’t pass up. Somehow we able to keep it secret and show up to surprise him before the starting line.

2. 26.2 Miles with too many Hearty Breakfasts
We knocked off continent number 6 for full marathons in July at the Victoria Falls Marathon. This wasn’t just a moment, but an entire week worth of unforgettable experiences ranging from safaris, lion and elephant walks, aerial tours of the falls. The trip was arranged by Marathon Adventures and every last person on the trip was an absolute pleasure to spend time with. The race itself was challenging and Susan was in the position of having to drag Ron to a heat-induced, cramp-filled finish. Just one more continent (Asia) to go!

1. The one race you wish it actually DID rain
We capped off the year with Ron’s 50th birthday by doing the Honolulu Marathon. Race day was the typical hot and humid Hawaii in December, and the pace was as relaxed as the weekend. Even though the race itself isn’t my favorite, it’s hard to beat being in Hawaii when you’re done.

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There were a lot of other moments, milestones and people we remember from the year, but capturing them all would make for an even longer blog than it already is. Special thanks to John Pannell for following the numbers, Southwest Airlines for the companion pass, Rock n Roll for keeping up the TourPass program, SportHooks and Allied Metal for the cool medal hangers, Sport Medicine Institute and TEAM Clinic for keeping our bodies able to maintain the schedule and to our gypsy and Black Sheep friends and family for making each trip worth writing about.

We’re already into our third weekend of 2017 and are one race blog behind. Time to start catching up again!

Bring the Rain – RNR San Antonio 2016

San Antonio, 2013. I like to think this is where the next level of crazy kicked off for us. After finishing the #SA2LV challenge (RNR San Antonio in the morning and RNR Las Vegas that night), things just looked, well, more possible. We continued that year with the img_7376inaugural Berkeley Half to bump our Half Fanatic status up a few orbits, our first two trail half marathons with Brazen Racing and doing our first double marathon week the month after.

With all that history for us as a place where things started, it’s really cool to see the end of the Rock n Roll year and all the people who accomplished some pretty amazing things. That weekend in 2013, everything went according to plan. But sometimes, the weather, your body and the people you’re with make you consider changing your objectives. Flexibility, it turns out, is a good trait.

We had a forecast for rain pretty much all weekend. We weren’t looking to do a lot of touring, though it would have been nice to catch some of the Riverwalk decked out in Xmas lights. I had no problem spending most of the time at the Expo catching up with friends.

img_0060-2First stop, a final look at the 2015 Hall of Fame banner. I asked CGI what they do with these after the year is over. They’re cleaning house and offered it to me if I could pick it up in the first few races, but I don’t know what I’d do with it or how I’d get it home from Phoenix or Arizona. It’s kinds of a shame. It might become a collector’s item some day.

I’d like to give a special shout out to our friends Marcey and Pete at SportHooks. They’ve been one of CGI’s vendors for as long as we’ve been racing and this year added a booth for their home line of products under the Kaktos Rose brand (run by their daughters Ashley and Katie). I saw this and put a reminder to get some online shopping done for the holidays.

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Pete also showed me a custom job he did for Tiki which I shared on Facebook before she saw it (Oops). Tiki was getting to her second Hall of Fame year after a full marathon in San Antonio. While this is a custom job, it’s available for purchase online ($130 at the expo.  Subscribe to their newsletter and keep an eye out for holiday discounts).

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Nice Rack!

By 3 PM, our friends started rolling in. The regulars at the races know that if you stand at the Rock n Roll booth long enough, you’ll see just about everyone. Sherry drove in from Austin. The roads were pretty packed, but she got a congratulatory lei from Kamika for finishing her 100th Rock n Roll in Vegas. Al got a quick interview to follow-up on his 100th RNR from San Jose. He was busy processing the 45 minute cab ride from the airport with Meb where he was giving his take on how the first sub-2 hour marathon might happen.

I caught this selfie with Justin, one of the creators of the Black Sheep Run group. This would be his third time getting to the Hall of Fame, something only a handful of us have done. It was also his birthday weekend. Not a bad way to celebrate.

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We had dinner at Rosario’s. It’s one of our favorite restaurants and I pretty certain I could survive on their chips and salsa alone. Just for perspective on how things have ramped up since 2013, back then there were 27 people who finished 15 races. Our table alone had 10. Al showed me an email from the mid-2000’s where they wanted a picture of the 30 or so people who ran “all SIX” races.

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Erika, Tricia, Al, Zach, Sherry, Dan, Laura, Hyalker, Kamika, Susan.

As I was laying out my race gear for the 10K, I was wondering how I’d deal with the rain, mid 40’s temps and 10-15 mph winds, especially with the mile or so walk to the start line. I wondered if the clothes I wore in Antarctica were going to be good enough and stopped myself. We’ve done Antarctica. This would NOT be a big deal.

Saturday December 3rd. 10K
Susan and Al decided to play it safe and get some sleep and work a bit. Kamika, Drew, Nalani and I went in for some character building. Adrian and Almi skipped the 10K as well,
img_3417 so a few of us grabbed the #fotofoto from corral 3. I count at least 15 Hall of Famers in this pic.

The rain and wind actually wasn’t horrible and it ended up being good scouting for the next day. Some of the roadsides had big puddles so getting to the sidewalks early was a good strategy. There were a few intersections where there was no dry way through and a few of the paving stones at the cross streets, cobblestones and lane markers were especially slippery. Nalani and I were nursing gimpy knees but she still managed to have her fastest mile at the start. So much for playing it safe. 

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At this point, it might be worth the training tip if you’re doing back to back races with cold, wet conditions. I heard a lot of people got sick that day, probably because they didn’t come back and warm up immediately after the 10K. Get your protein and 200 calories in, but shower and change before going on to keep your weekend on track!

The big event for the weekend was the Hall of Fame presentation at the expo. I plan to dedicate an entire blog to the year in review complete with the latest unofficial Pannell Report data. Just the highlights for now – 162 people made the Hall of Fame with 15 Rock n Roll races this year. The top five (Amy, Greg, John, Sherry and Will) all finished 25 races, the most you can do in 2016 considering the overlapping scheduled. I’m going to be curious to see how small the pictures are on the banner in January.

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Amy, Greg, John and Sherry share the spotlight with Meb and Jared Ward
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Classic Adrian selfie stick fotofoto.

Dinner that night was at the Market on Houston. All of the usual places on the Riverwalk were booked, but the restaurant in th lobby at the Sheraton was just fine. Andrea “Rhode Hazard” Herrman(?) joined us with to hand off a 13.1 x 100 Club banner to the west coasters. Think about it. I hang around with more people who HAVE done 100 half marathons (or more) than have NOT.

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Drew goes for his 100th half in January. I think everyone else is past that milestone.

Sunday December 4th. Half Marathon
In hindsight, this was the right time to upgrade to VIP at the Hotel Contessa. Having reasonably close gear check to the start and finish lines as well as a dry place to warm up was well worth the price.

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There was enough rain outside that the phones stayed in the pouches for a good part of the race. The smattering of trash bags and free ponchos from the VIP area were handy.

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The first half of the race we went between too warm with all the layers to just right to chilly as the wind kicked up. The hard rain never showed up, even with the 90% chance that we saw as of Friday. We met up with Jeff Calene. He actually did 23 races this year and should hit his 100th Rock n Roll in DC in 2017.

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About mile 5, we took a look at our split and Nalani realized she was on a PR pace. At the point, I just decided to suck it up with the road conditions and the gimpy knee and got our mile pace down 30 seconds. We dispensed with all but one picture so we could keep on pace. This one had to happen. Drew has been trying to get his 10th race for the last five years.

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Coming down the stretch we had three different video’s going. Mine turned upside down for some reason, but I got a screenshot of them passing mile 13. Nalani beat her PR by nearly 4 minutes.

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About mile 10, Drew told me he might actually cry when he got his Gold Record. He’s been chasing the 10 race mark since they Rock Idol medal. I remember how it felt when we crossed the finish line in Miami Beach in 2011, so I wouldn’t blame him. It happened. It was my favorite moment of the weekend.

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I had one piece of unfinished business left. After missing Sherry finishing her 100th Rock n Roll in Vegas, I wanted to wait up for her. We actually passed her at the mile 12 mark when the full and half courses split. She wasn’t having a great race and the rain was starting up again, but just like every race this year, she gutted it out and finished. I’ve known her for a long time, but we didn’t get to be good friends until two years ago in San Antonio. I’m in awe of what she’s been able to accomplish.

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Sometimes things don’t go as planned. I started off the year with the fastest races in the first four months and ended the Rock n Roll series happy with a race a good half hour slower. I really like about the circle of friends we’ve collected. There always seems to be someone we can hang out with, on the course and off. And it doesn’t matter what the weather is like.

Bring the rain.

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~//~

Rock n Roll San Antonio was run for the 9th time in 2016. Overall participation is down from last year by about 12% with most of the decline in the half marathon distance. The marathon actually had more finishers that 2015. Median times were slower than usual (2:30 for the half, 4:58 for the full),  likely due to the rain.

Susan and I end the year with 88 Rock n Roll Heavy Medal qualifying events. If all goes as planned we should hit 100 in our hometown race in San Jose 2017. There isn’t much we can do to pull that up since we’re saving vacation for Continent 7 in 2018, but with any luck, we’ll be well on our way to a fourth Hall of Fame come October.

We have three more blogs planned before the end of the year: Honolulu, The Rock n Roll Year recap and our top 16 for 2016. With any luck, we’ll have them done before the ball drops Saturday night.

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.

Chasing the Century Mark – Rock n Roll Marathon Lifetime Achievement Project

After joining the 100 Half Marathons Club last year, I’m seeing more and more Facebook posts about friends hitting major milestones. My friend Hyalker will be running his 100th half marathon in San Diego in a few weeks. 13.1 x 100 club founder Andrea finished her 250th at the inaugural Disney Dark Side Half in April and we’re starting to plan for a big 300 this fall.

As mind-boggling as those numbers are, an even higher bar would be to finish 100 races in a single race series. Last year, “VIP Joe” Harris was the first to reach 100 Rock n Roll events (half and full marathons) at Rock n Roll DC 2015. A few weeks from now, Kevin Gonzalez, the all-time number 2 on the Rock n Roll circuit, will reach the 100 mark at Rock n Roll San Diego.

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It takes a lot to get to 100 in one race series. And to be clear, I’m going to consider half and full marathons for the sake of the count. Obviously, the series has to be successful enough to last. You have to be in good enough physical shape to keep going for 3 – 10 years, and have the vacation time and finances to be able to afford the race entries and travel. Finally, they have to be happy to continue racing and not lose interest in the distance. A lot of friends hit the road race circuit for a few years then branch out to Tri’s, Ultras or Century Rides and there has to be a choice in where you spend your training time. It has to be a passion for you. Let’s face it. How many things do you really stick with for that long?

So where does a Marathoner for Life go to establish that kind of loyalty? Mainly Marathons has become a national staple for those pushing to do up to 5 – 7 races i as many states on consecutive days. As of this writing, only two “Mainlyners” – Parvaneh Moeyedi, and Pam Penfield – have achieved the 100 mark. Jim Simpson is listed with 98, but I haven’t seen the page updated since the Independence Series last weekend. With 50 races per year (including new ones opening in Hawaii in 2017), this is a great series for those accelerate the completion for the 50 States Half Marathon or 50 States Marathon Club. Registration ranges from $85 – 130 for a single race or $500 – 700 to sign up for an entire 5 or 7 state tour and the Series are set up so you can drive from one place to the next in the week. I’ve heard people really have a lot of fun with these week-long events because you’ll see a good percentage of the people all week on what are mostly loop courses. You could theoretically hit 100 races in 2 years and change if you have the vacation time.

Northern California-based Brazen Racing boasts 26 events per year. All but a few of the events have a half marathon or full distance and a couple have 50K or 6 hour and 12 hour events. At the New Year’s Eve race, Brazen has an annual ceremony recognizing  “Streakers” – anyone who participates in all 26 events, either in the race or as a volunteer. Peter Dea and Katherine Ingram have been Streakers every year since 2010, and while it’s not shown how many of those were volunteer and which were running, I’m willing to bet they’re over the century mark. Registration fees range from $65 – 75 depending on how far in advance you sign up. Big perk: Brazen gives a free race entry if you volunteer to support a race, so in theory, you could finish a dozen halfs of fulls a year without paying a dime! This also means your aid stations are mainly staffed by marathoners so they know how important it is to be there. A Brazen racer could get to 100 in 4 years. The fact that all the races are within a 25 miles of our house would make this an easy task if we weren’t out of town all the time!

This brings me back to the Rock n Roll Marathon Series. Rock n Roll has been around since 1999 when the first marathon was run in San Diego. Two weeks ago marked the 200th race in the series (Rock n Roll Madrid 2016). With 30 separate Tour Stops (25 possible per year if you exclude events that overlap), one could hit the 100 mark in 3 – 4 years. I see the main limitation on that to be financial. Rock n Roll tends to pick destination races where hotel and airfare could add up quickly. Unless you have a really good bank roll, some connections in the travel industry, or a job that takes you to the right cities at the right times, getting to more than 15 races a year puts a dent into your wallet. Last year, Leah Reid partially financed her Tour-leading 23 race journey by selling her car. Rock n Roll’s registration fees actually aren’t so bad with the Global Tour Pass. For $479, you can register for as many races as you want, including the shorter Remix races.

As if traveling all over North America and Europe isn’t challenging enough, Rock n Roll also set up some logistical challenges for the more adventurous including the same-day SA2LV (RNR San Antonio in the morning, RNR Las Vegas the same night in 2013) and Tex2Mex (RNR Dallas/RNR Mexico City on the same day in 2016) challenges and some back to back Saturday/Sunday full marathons.

While Competitor Group (the company that runs Rock n Roll) does a nice job with the yearly incentives like Challenge Medals, multi-race Heavy Medals and the Hall of Fame, one thing CGI doesn’t have is something on par with an official lifetime achievements award. I ran into Tracy Sundlun of Competitor Group at Rock n Roll Nashville and it sounds like CGI wants to continue celebrating the marathoners who have shown that level of loyalty to the series. So consider the following food for thought!

Last year, a few of us (thanks, Amy and Joe!) compiled a list of people we think have 50 or more lifetime Rock n Roll races.  In addition to Kevin getting his 100th at Rock n Roll San Diego, we could have 7 more hit the 100 mark before the end of the 2017 race calendar. Al Hernandez is lining up San Jose this fall. This is a home town race for him, and he’ll be one of the few dozen 11 year Legacy runners. Side note: Al has Legacy status in 7 active RNR races 4 discontinued races. I can’t imagine that’s not the most for Rock n Roll and would likely challenge the most number of Legacy races in any other Series.

Jeff Calene, 4th all time (some races still to verify) stands at 85 races currently and told me he is shooting for either Las Vegas or San Antonio for his 100th. #5 Sherry Ricker has 83 races and is going for it all in 2016. She could hit 100 in DC or Dallas 2017. The back half of 2017 is a long ways off, but Beth, Jim, Kamika, Susan and I are in the 78 – 80 range. If we can keep up the pace from 2014 and 2015, Fall of 2017 looks like a good plan.

Since I’ve been cross checking the data from Athlinks, Half Fanatics and Marathon Maniacs sites, I was able to start digging into with who might be the highest total mileage with Rock n Roll, including the Remix races that started in 2014. I ran into numerous issues including races that have no results (inaugural Montreal), some where Athlinks ignores my age group (Dallas 2016) and some where hyphenated names didn’t make the conversion between Active to the current database.  I’m down to anyone who we had listed at 60 or more lifetime races as of the end of 2015, so the data is nowhere near complete. But for those I have confirmed:

Most TOTAL Rock n Roll Miles including Remix.
(14 people are over 1000 miles)
Joseph Harris 1785
Sherry Ricker 1487
Al Hernandez 1400
Most Rock n Roll Full Marathons (Lifetime)
Hardest to really confirm since there were very few half marathons in the 2000’s. A lot of people with 30 lifetime events may have all full marathons!
David DeNeire 30
Shirley Shaw 28
Sherry Ricker 25
Mitchell Ginsburg 25
Most Rock n Roll Half Marathons (Lifetime)
Joseph Harris 106
Kevin Gonzalez 97
Al Hernandez 85
Most Rock n Roll miles (single year).
(This includes anyone we know who had 50+ RNR’s as of the end of 2015 and the Heavy Medal Elites for 2015)
David DeNeire (2012)
Greg Heilers (2015)
Louie Soriano (2011)
Bradley Carpenter (2015)
David DeNeire (2011)
Sherry Ricker (2015)
517.1
414.0
399.2
378.4
373
351.6
Most Consecutive Rock n Roll Tour Stops
(From RNR Vegas 2010 to RNR Nashville 2013. Excludes overlapping events)
David DeNeire 54

I’m not done with the workbook, but if you’re interested in seeing where you are in the chase for the Century mark or just want to count Rock n Roll specific races or miles, I’ve created a public spreadsheet that adds up miles based on which cells you fill out (H for half, F for Full, 5 and 10 for shorter distances). For convenience, I’ve grayed out years where the events weren’t held and I’d be happy to add your sheet to the workbook I have if you want to see where you land on the all-time list. Feedback and suggestions for upgrades are welcome!

Also, I have no really good idea if there are other race series that might set people up for a 100 mark. Any recommendations would be welcome!

We have four weeks left before our TNT Peninsula team hits Rock n Roll Seattle. This is an On Your Own weekend with a chance of rain in the morning, so I plan to get a lot of slow, wet, lazy miles in.

We haven’t lost interest in chasing the 100. Not by a long shot!

~//~

Thanks to 100 Half Marathons Club members Rachel and Cortney, I’ll call out Southern California based A Better World Running as a good series to race to 100. ABWR had over 50 events in the last 12 months not including a monthly virtual race. Registration fees range from $35 – 45 and anywhere from 100 – 300 people finish each race (including full/half marathons and 15k/10k/5k distances).  Professional race photos are posted on their Facebook page (download for free!).

From One to Juan-Hundred – Rock N Roll Dallas and Mexico City 2016

In 2013, nearly 2 million people finished a half marathon. That’s a little over 0.63% of the US population. How special is it to be in this number? And how often do you meet someone who has finished a hundred?

Well, if you hang around with us, that’s more often than you might think.

In 2013, a schedule conflict moved Rock n Roll San Antonio to the same day as Rock n Roll Las Vegas. That created the opportunity to finish two races in the same day, one in the morning and one at night. The SA2LV double, in my mind, kick-started the drive for getting Heavy Medals as much as the Tour Pass did in 2011. CGI said the double day would never happen again, but in 2016, Rock n Roll Dallas and Rock n Roll Mexico City fell on the same day. Tex2Mex hashtags started showing up as soon as the schedule was announced. The flight takes about 3 hours and you get an hour back with the time change and the tightest connection was making the outbound flight at 1 PM. The international flight required a little more lead time, but it was certainly doable. All that said, it was shaping up to be an epic weekend.

And no, surprisingly enough, we didn’t join them. We were cheering for this one from the hotel room in Dallas.

Friday March 18th
A mid-afternoon flight out of Oakland put us into Dallas Love Field for a late dinner. We grabbed a rental car and drove a short hop to the Sheraton Suites Market Center. For future reference, this location was significantly cheaper than downtown and has a free shuttle that would take you most anywhere you needed to be for the Saturday 5K, the expo and possibly the Sunday half marathon. We’ll test that in 2017. The weather the week before RNR Dallas was 85 degrees and high humidity. By the time we landed though, forecasts for both race days started in the low 40’s and warmed up to the high 50’s. Other than slight chance of rain, it was looking like great race weather after shedding a layer or two of disposable clothes. Fortunately, we had a big enough room to spread out two sets of race clothes.

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Saturday, March 19th. 5K
We got to Fair Park at 6:50AM for the 7:45 AM start. Parking was plentiful, and sunrise wasn’t until 7:15 so we picked up our bibs and went back to the car to stay warm. We met up with Drew, fresh off re-injuring his ankle and with a new knee scooter. He admitted that after this weekend, it was time to get some uninterrupted recovery time. This is a reminder that you shouldn’t take this kind of schedule lightly.

The course was the reverse of last year’s 5K, circling the Cotton Bowl along the surrounding railroad tracks and streets. There was a glitch in the placement of the mile 2.5 turn that shorted the course by about a quarter mile. Those of us wearing GPS watches were aware, but anyone who didn’t were amazed by their PR’s. Here’s the view of last year’s course for comparison, showing the east hairpin turn placement.

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Our friend Shawna took 2nd in the women’s division. I wonder if this guy on the right won?

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I’m guessing he finished the 5K, the half, ran to Mexico City and back in time to see us finish.
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Drew gutted out another finish. His friend Nalani (left) had a meniscus tear a few weeks ago. She did RNR DC last week. It’s like we attract crazy people.

Sherry and Marissa met a new travel partner catching an Uber ride from their hotel before the 5K. David found out about the Hall of Fame and set his sights high. He was doing a lot of last minute arrangements and, with Sherry were among the 39 of the crazies who were preparing for the Tex2Mex challenge after the finish. We got a picture of a bunch at the finish line.

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Mitch, Sherry, Justin, Elaine and Monique were with the Tex2Mex group.

After a quick trip to the hotel to clean up we headed to the expo. Other than signing up for next year’s Remix combo, it was a relatively quick visit. We were missing a lot of our gypsy group this race, but it’s good to see them on the Hall of Fame banner. Susan caught up with Ilona and Carl Marino, stars of Homicide Hunter – Lt. Joe Kenda. Their filming schedule moved to Saturdays, so it’s going to be harder for them to make Rock n Roll races.

We stopped by the Sport Hooks booth to wish Marcey a happy 29th birthday. We’ll go with that.

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We had lunch at the usual place, Iron Cactus. The queso alone is worth it.

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Susan and I went back to the expo to wait for my friend Laura. We met in the old MySpace days and she was ready for her first half marathon after a few years of planning, training issues and general life getting in the way. A few years ago, I bought some car magnets from an expo that I was going to give her when she finished. I still had them. While we were waiting, two more of our Tex2Mex friends stopped by the Rock n Roll booth.

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Hyalker was running the weekend for his mother. Juan’s double would be his 99th and 100th half marathons.

Laura made it to the expo with a few minutes to spare. She had just enough time to grab a few items and sign up for next year’s RNR Dallas Half and when home with her kids to rest up and we somehow missed taking pictures. Dinner at Ravenna was relatively relaxed and the fettuccine bolognese was as good as I remember it from last year. I like that we’ve gotten into a routine for this event.

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Sunday, March 20th
While we weren’t doing the Tex2Mex, Al was working on his next adventure. One of his friends had a wedding on Saturday with an evening reception, so Al drove to San Francisco for a 12:40 AM flight into Dallas Fort Worth. As long as everything went well, he’d land just before 6 AM, 2 hours before the start of the half. We checked first think in the morning to see this. Weather and schedules seemed to be going well this weekend!

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Al’s Uber got to the hotel at 6:45, giving us plenty of time to drive to the start at the Hyatt at Reunion Plaza.

Laura got to VIP at 7:40, giving us a rush to the start line. We missed Drew and Sherry who were going out of the early corrals – Drew so he could have more scooter time, Sherry so she could catch her AeroMexico flight at 1.

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Reminiscent of the SA2LV bib a few years ago.
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“Feels like” 34 degrees at the start. Layers stayed on a little longer than usual.

Training has been going pretty well for the year so I experimented with Jenny Hadfield’s “Running in Colors” method. Ignore the paces and go by feel. I went on the intermediate schedule – 5 miles orange (nearly full sentences), 5 miles yellow (choppy sentences), 3.1 red (everything you have left). It felt great. I even had enough in me to take a few pictures, but Susan’s were actually better. About mile 10, I got a text from Sherry saying she’d finished and was on her way to DFW to catch her flight.

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This was a welcome sign on the approach to the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge
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The last mile on the Houston Street Bridge. Headwinds the entire way. There was a lot of grumbling about this afterwards.

The last 5K miles in the red zone paid off. I walked a 33:15 and finished at 2:24:16, a 62.99% age grade. Overall, this was a solid Remix weekend, the short 5K course notwithstanding. Al had a rough time considering the late landing, but we met to take a few selfies after the finish … in a totally… random…  place.

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How is it that I miss the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders EVERY year? I’m convinced they’re always on break when I cross the finish line.

Susan finished about 20 minutes later. Here is a picture of her crossing the finish line from a totally random place.

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Drew finished the Half and the Remix. He says this is the last race before he goes into full on rest and healing mode. We’re going to hold you to that, Drew!

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Remembering how hard the last mile was on the bridge, I went out to meet Laura. She was sore, but keeping a good pace. We pushed the last quarter mile and I ran ahead to ask Creigh Kelley for a first finish shout out. I think Laura was so glad to cross the line that she didn’t even hear it. I bought a VIP pass for Laura and the location was less than 50 yards from the finish line. After picking up our Heavy Medals – Remix, Texas Legend – we closed the place down. Laura took a look at the bonus medals and I saw that look. It was the same one a lot of us had when we saw the new Heavy Medals at San Antonio in 2014.

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Laura had a great first race. She signed up for Dallas 2017 and is already recruiting friends and family to join her.

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Up until Saturday, RNR Mexico City was under an air quality alert. There were even rumors that they would delay the race start an hour to let the cooler night temps clear the air. The alert cleared as many of us were glued to our Facebook feeds to see who had a data plan to let us know they arrived and were on the way to the starting line. As far as we know, all three of the possible flights landed on time. They braved the air, the altitude and the border crossing to earn another spot on the hall of crazy. Twelve of them have run the table for 2016, earning the first dozen Roadie 5 race medals. Congrats, Tex2Mex!

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A special congrats goes to Juan. We haven’t seen him on the RNR circuit since San Antonio, but these two races put him at 72 heavy medal qualifying races, enough to put him in or near the top 10 all time. He was part of the SA2LV double in 2013 and was one of the four Elite Heavy Medalists in 2014. This double and his 100th half marathon is just Juan more star on his running resume.

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He’s Juan in a Million. And yes, those puns just keep going.

We have a week off from Rock n Roll races before we head across the Bay to Rock n Roll San Francisco. Our Peninsula TNT team will be at Sawyer Camp Trail doing 8 or 13 miles Saturday morning. I plan to take it slow and cheer them on.

Who knows? Maybe someone on our Team will be the next Juan to catch the bling bug.

 

Another 100 in the Nation’s Capitol – Rock n Roll DC 2016

A year ago this weekend, we saw Joe Harris become the first (and still only) person to finish 100 Rock n Roll half and full marathons. Apparently this is the place to celebrate big milestones as our friend Tawni chose this Rock n Roll DC for her 100th Half Marathon. I can’t say enough about this circle of friends we’ve made. Not only are they downright awesome in their longevity and dedication, they know how important it is to celebrate these amazing accomplishments. Running is an individual sport, but it doesn’t mean you can’t share moments like these.

We landed at Reagan National DCA late Thursday night. After last year’s monsoon, the forecast looked a lot better – high 40’s to start the half on Saturday and climbing into the mid 60’s by the finish. We stayed outside the beltway at the Westin Crystal City and took advantage of the excellent Metro system to get around.

The Expo was at the DC Armory off the Blue Line. Security was pretty tight as we were warned ahead of time, so we waited until 11 so we didn’t get caught in a long security line at the 10 AM opening. We checked in with our friends at the CGI staff including Dorcas, the “retired” Darlene, Ryan, Mindy, Colleen and new staff member, Juan. We’ll have to get his last name or initial to differentiate him from “Juan Runner” Aguilar. Maybe we should call him Juan 2? We also caught up with Jennifer to get her and Blair an early wedding present. Twenty-eight days (as of today) and counting!

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Dorcas directing incoming traffic
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Darlene’s retirement seems pretty busy. I’m wearing my  100 Half Marathons Club finisher shirt in Tawni’s honor.
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Colleen and Jennifer at the Rock n Roll booth. We’re pretty easy to convince to sign up for DC 2017.

We found Ann Wessling to ask for a big favor at the start line the next day. For those who haven’t seen her on Facebook or Twitter recently, Ann gave up social media for Lent. I’m not sure I could survive that! In return I’m trying to use my work contacts to find her a supply of Burt’s Bees Lip Shimmer.

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Bay Area speedsters Diane and Shawna were in town. I had a note in Arizona that Diane had finished second in the Half Marathon Grand Prix for 2015, but after going through all the tiebreakers, she actually placed FIRST. Shawna also won the 5K in San Antonio for the females. We see them again in Dallas next weekend and I’m excited to track their progress for 2016!

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We met Kamika and took off for lunch and some quick sight seeing around the Capitol. We found the best places to take pictures of the White House and saw Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speed by in a motorcade. I’m certain he waved at Kamika.

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Dinner was at Teddy & The Bully Bar. Tamie found a few decorations. Apparently it’s hard it is to find “100” party favors because people don’t generally live that long. Joe organized a give of a shadow box from Fond Memories Graphics. About the only bummer was the restaurant wanted to charge us $135 dollar for them to serve us Tamie’s cake.

It occurs to me now that seven people at that dinner have hit the 100 half marathon mark already. Given that only 0.5% of people in the US have finished a half marathon at all, this was one crazy bunch!

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Saturday March 12th.
Race morning was a bit of a scramble. Coming in from Crystal City some of us met the other gypsies at the VIP area at the Willard while Susan, Kamika, Tamie, Tawni and Sherry went straight to the corrals.

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Gypsy reunion outside the Willard. Ron, Al, Ted, Michelle, Joe, Beth, Sherry, Jim, Lisa Marie, Marissa and Caryn.
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The start line. This always make it feel real for me!
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Corral 10 as the meeting point. Left to right: Ron, Tamie, Daryl (Tamie’s husband who ran with Tawni for her first half marathon), Tawni, Kamika and Phil.
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Caryn, Lisa Marie, Al and Sherry were able to join us. This was the first race Lisa Marie ran with us where the weather wasn’t dreadful.

Susan barely made it to gear check before they shut the doors and had to wait for a porta-potty line before we started (#raceproblems). We finally shuffled in with corral 18.

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Business completed, we jump into the corrals.
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After Michelle, Susan and I wore the back bibs in San Antonio, we knew this would be a great way for Tawni to get some encouragement. Bib courtesy of Caryn!
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Annie gave Tawni a wonderful shout out at the start. I don’t know that Tawni expected being challenged to do a cartwheel at the end!

Tawni wanted to run with Daryl for the full distance, fitting since the two of the ran their first half marathon together. With the weather dry this year, Susan was able to take a lot of pictures of the scenic course.

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Sisters Tamie and Tawni. Over 250 races (all distances) between them.
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Patty at mile 1 cheering on the runners.
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Mid morning Saturday makes for a pic without a lot of tourists.
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Running the Mall
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A lot of people were thinking these were cherry blossoms. They are actually Saucer Magnolias.
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The turnaround over the Arlington Memorial Bridge. I love seeing our faster friends on the way back.
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Along the Potomac
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Quite a few people cheering from the bridges.
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The Blue Mile. Remembering fallen soldiers who served our country.
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They were positioned on the mile 6 hill and were great motivation to get to the top.
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Sunrise down mile 8.

I caught up to Daryl and Tawni around mile 11.5. They were shooting for a sub 2:30 and made the mistake of taking shots of whiskey from a table in the Georgetown neighborhood.  It was a mistake because it was labeled “champagne.” Why not celebrate early, right?

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Tawni estimated about 300 congratulations on her milestone event.

Ann gave Tawni another shout out at the finish line. Dan Cruz from Competitor took some video. I’ll post a link if we see anything go up on the web anywhere. We had maybe 5 minutes of light sprinkles the whole day. The weather gods were certainly smiling on Tawni this day.

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Tawni and Daryl came in just under their 2:30 goal
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I missed the finish line picture, but was able to catch them just afterward. This is the kind of day I’ll remember for a while.

We had a celebration dinner at Marrakech just off Dupont Circle. The restaurant was kind enough to let us serve the cake that Patty and Tamie drove in all the way from Ohio.

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The Barbie with the Tawni haircut and bib were a nice touch. The poop-colored icing was quite delicious.

A group of us walked off dinner by going down to the mall for night time pictures. Sherry ran the full marathon in a time she hadn’t seen for some years. Her year is shaping up to be a good one. Kamika retired to his hotel room. With his travel schedule from Hawaii, it’s good for him to not have to sleep on a plane. We stole the elf on a shelf idea and used the Tawni doll for a few pictures.

I really like how these milestone celebrations are becoming more frequent. There’s a lot that goes into finishing even ONE half marathon so getting 10, 25, 50 or a hundred is something that I still take time to appreciate.

There are a few big numbers coming up in 2016 and with any luck we’ll be still on the road to help celebrate them all.

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We hope you can join us!

~//~

After three Rock n Roll events in 2016, the upgraded Pannell Report is humming along well. Totals after DC:

Races     #
2              1147    (683 New Double Beats compared to RNR NOLA) 
3               152

After DC, Rock n Roll has a double weekend in Dallas on Saturday (5K) and Sunday morning (half) and Mexico City on Sunday night. It’s possible that someone could collect up to 9 medals in the weekend if they do the Remix, Mexico City 2015 (bonus for doing both years) and RNR San Antonio 2015 to get the Texas Legend. They would also earn the Groupie 4 and might be able to pick up the Roadie 5 race Heavy Medal.

Latest word from Rock n Roll shows potentially hazardous air quality in Mexico City. Hopefully things clear up in time for the race Sunday night.