It’s All About … Us – RNR Seattle 2017

Finishing a marathon, ultimately, is an individual accomplishment. When you cross the finish line, you’re the one who gets the medal. You’re the one who gets the time posted on the internet. As you make your way to the post race bananas or chocolate milk, you should take satisfaction at the job you’ve done.

This is not to say that other people can help you along the way. Someone may have inspired you to start training. There’s the woman at the shoe store who did a gait analysis to recommend the right shoe. There are the coaches and teammates for your fundraising charity who kept you motivated as you got into higher mileage. There’s the chiropractor and orthopedic specialists who put you back on track as your body started to complain. And all the way through, there are the people who just show their support, cheering you on and giving you the freedom to pursue this activity.

That’s usually the story I hear at the end of a first race. Now think about what it takes to keep that motivation going to finish 100 races! I was thinking about this as we headed to Seattle to watch our friend Kamika run in his 100th Rock n Roll race. He would be the sixth person to reach this milestone in the 20th year of the series.

Kamika picked this race because he went to school in Seattle. It was also the site of his 100th marathon in 2010, and being as there are no

Rock n Roll events in Hawaii, this was as close to a home town as he could get. Because of the travel time, he usually doesn’t come in early to run the remix race. This time he made an exception. The free trip to the Seattle Museum of Flight (with your bib as the ticket) was a nice perk for those getting there early for the 5K.

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We landed mid morning on Saturday and headed to the expo, finding our gypsy friends to give them some gear we picked up to honor Kamika. At first we weren’t sure if the pineapple thing might be going a little too far, but everyone was curious about them. Some even asked if we were selling them for the race.

I’ll remember that night at dinner for a long time. Seated at the table was a combination of over 2000 Rock n Roll finish lines crossed including three of the other 100 Rock n Roll Century club members (Jeff couldn’t make it in time) and nine of the top 14 lifetime totals. Outside of the series there were multiple Boston qualifiers, Seven Continent Marathoners, 50 State Marathon and Half Marathon finishers, 100 Half Marathon finisher and some who’ve crossed of several of these challenges in their lifetimes. But one thing I noticed? There wasn’t an ego in the room. No one really talked about accomplishments. People talked more about longevity and the future. There was just an outpouring of appreciation of just knowing each other, making this trip and taking time out to enjoy each other’s company.

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Left clockwise: Susan, Tawni, Lynda, Zach, Sherry, Bree, Tamara, Drew, David, Tim, Jim, Beth, Tricia, Kamika, Joe, Al, Ron.

Beth said some wonderful, touching things about each of us in turn. I’m really excited that her work now wants her to run more Rock n Rolls because that means we’ll see her and Jim more often.

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She also wowed us with her decorative talent with hand-made cookies for the occasion. They looked too good to eat, but we somehow managed. I mean, after all, we needed to carbo-load, right?

On the way out, we caught Leny, who arrived on a later flight, with Juan. The timing was great since we could give Leny a pair of pineapples and take a Juan-fie.

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Sunday, June 18th. The 100th Race
The point-to-point format in 2017 made getting to the start line a bit more challenging. The Link light rail had trains so full you’d have to wait for the next ones and many runners were forced to get a ride share or were late to the start. Even the Lyft drivers were having trouble getting close and a few even refused to go near the stadium, even with nearly double surge pricing. Note for future races: reserve the night before, come early, drop off and walk the rest of the way.

We had a good amount of time to snap some group pictures in VIP. There may have been some goofing off with the pineapple gear.

Quick group fotofotos at the corrals before we scatter. Kamika hugged every single person before they left.

The other runners were starting to call us the pineapple crew.  Sherry later noted that pineapples are a symbol of hospitality and friendship. In hindsight, I think we nailed the theme. It was really easy to see us on at Kamika’s customary position on the other side of the starting line.

After watching a dozen corrals go out, we made our way into corral 10. Kamika got a nice 100th Rock n Roll shout out from Ann at the start. We made sure that she got into the Aloha spirit as well. Jeff’s Uber driver dropped him off just in time for him to join us for the first half mile.

There was a lot more of Lake Washington shore on this new course and it was a beautiful day to enjoy the weather. We got into a good run/walk pace with enough time for pictures. I smiled every time someone cheered for the pineapples.

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Drew and I traded carrying the Pineapple balloon guy until I gave him to a little girl at the end of the Blue Mile. The Mile has given us a lot of inspiration to keep going at some of the toughest points of our races. It seemed right.

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Kamika likes to run under the radar. He kept trying, unsuccessfully, to get us to go ahead and not wait for him, so I’m hoping he didn’t mind the company for the first 12 miles. We were in communication with Dorcas at the finish line and Drew, Susan and I went on a head. Joe was standing at a break between the full and half marathon chute so he could direct Kamika onto the full marathon side for a less crowded finish line. Tawni grabbed a perfect angle for the video at the finish.

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Celebrating a friend whose humility and generosity truly embodies the spirit of his island state was something I’ll have in my top memories for years and not for the reasons you think. It wasn’t the milestone 100 race, the destination city, or even the dinner with our group.

When my older brother, Gary, gave a toast at our wedding, he talked about when the three of us (including our younger brother, Eric) played volleyball together after college. He said he realized how special that time was because he knew it may never happen again.  Seattle was a joyous weekend and it gave me a very similar feeling. I realized at some point that being with this group of people and the extended family of Rock n Roll enthusiasts is the thing that keeps us coming back year after year. The race itself is only a small sliver of the time we spend over the weekend and who knows when these opportunities are going to happen again?

Finishing a marathon is ultimately an individual achievement. There are times I’ll admit as I crossed the finish line after a good race that it was all about me. But once I get that medal around my neck, I remember to be grateful for my wife who races with me everywhere we go, the friends who make me laugh and remind me that there are other people just as crazy.

In the end, it’s not all about me.

It’s all about… Us.

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~//~

Rock n Roll Seattle was run for the 9th year in 2017. There were 14,799 finishers over the weekend (2457 in the marathon, 10776 in the half, and 1566 in the inaugural 5K). The course this year was a point to point format starting at University of Washington’s Husky Stadium and ending at Century Link field. Other than the logistics of getting to the start, I liked the route better. There were a decent amount of hills for a challenge and a long stretch of waterfront path.

According to my records, Kamika is only the 6th person to reach 100 Rock n Roll Heavy Medal qualifying events (half and full marathons with the option to include 10K Brooklyn 2011-2013 since that was the only distance offered). He is one of 13 people to have finished 100 overall events (including Remix 5K and 10K) and is easily the record holder for most miles traveled to Rock n Roll events. A study by William Flynn showed that, at minimum, Kamika traveled 100,00 air miles per year just to get to 15 events (that doesn’t include stops and his legendary luck with United Airlines delays through SFO). 

This is the first of four blogs in our backlog. I just wanted to get it down in electrons because it was the most important. Thanks to everyone who continues to feed our passion, either as spectators, participants or coaches. We hope to be doing this for many more years to come.

 

Weather or Not – RNR DC 2017

For a four-year stretch between August 2010 and October 2014, we had an amazing run of weather luck. We had no rain during our races except for a sprinkle or two, even when the forecasts the night before called for downpours and lightning. It always seemed to clear up.

Then we met Lisa Marie.

For some reason, every time she was in a race with us, the weather conditions just got weird. At IM Florida, the current was so strong that they cancelled the swim. She raced the 10K at Joe’s 100th RNR downpour in DC 2015, was in Vegas 2015 with the 40 mph winds and came to DC again in 2016 where we got a good shot of rain and mid 30’s temps.

She wasn’t actually planning on running RNR DC 2017, but signed up on a Groupon deal at the last-minute. We checked the forecast and saw this:

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We admit that we’ve met our match when it comes to controlling the weather. Fortunately for us, we have a pretty good set of cold temperature gear. We brought nearly the exact same clothes that we used for the White Continent Marathon in Antarctica. That race started at 30 with wind chill into the high teens then dropped by 20 degrees.

This was a Saturday race and a Thursday flight through Columbus. Uber-Al picked us up for a short drive to the Westin Crystal City, just a stone’s throw away from Reagan
International. The rental car turned out to be a IMG_2385good idea to stay warm with the point-to-point course. Joining us this trip (and likely for the year) was our penguin Peanut. Al reminded us that we still have 14 more races, so even Peanut could make the Hall of Fame. Crystal City had a few good dining choices including Jaleo. Tapas style dining hit the spot after the long cross-country trip.

Saturday, March 11. Expo Day
The expo was in the DC Armory again. We took a short walk to Dunkin for breakfast just as the rain turned to sleet and snow. Given the security screening at the Armory and the weather, we waited to go until about an hour after the open so we didn’t have to stand outside in case there was a long line. Those who came later that afternoon had to wait 10 – 15 minutes as the line stretched around to the metro stop.

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This was the coldest race we’ve participated in, even Antarctica.

Right up front was the 2017 Hall of Fame banner and the welcome sign for Jeff Calene – the fifth person to reach the 100 Rock n Roll race milestone.

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We started building an album I’ll refer to as the “Peanut Gallery.” It seems everyone we knew had no problems humoring us for a candid. Peanut did her best to blend in.

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With 4 hours to dinner, we caught the 2:50 showing of Logan, the new X-Men release. I didn’t actually notice that we were in the NC-17 version which explains why there weren’t many kids in the theater.  In case you’re wondering, YES, it’s decidedly more gory than the PG-13 content. I felt like I had to wipe screen blood off my shoes as we walked out. We had dinner at Portofino’s. Jeff joined us, proudly displaying his custom bib for the race. He’d also wear bib number 100.

Sunday, March 12, Half Marathon
Usually, DC is 100% metro accessible when it comes to hotels, start and finish line. That is, unless you’re a wimpy Californian and want to keep your fingers and toes. Last year, the wait to get INTO the metro after the finish was about a half hour and with temps in the 30’s, the rental car option was worth it. We had a bit of a cluster getting into Lot 5 parking lot at RFK. The police manning the roadblocks didn’t get the right instructions early so we had to park at lot 7 and make a beeline for the 5:30 shuttle. Thanks to Lisa Marie for keeping us posted and telling the bus driver to wait a few more minutes.

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My eyelids froze shut.

We hopped off the bus south of the mall and trekked a few blocks to the Willard. At some point, I’ll figure out how I want to set up my phone so i don’t have to take off my gloves for selfies.

 

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Since there was only one shuttle from the VIP lot, we were at the hotel around 6 AM. The full marathon started at 7 but that half started at 8:30, giving us a good 2.5 hours until the start. It actually worked out well so we could catch up with everyone. Living in DC this year seems to have a different vibe. I’m sure it’s just that climate change hoax that people in DC talk about.

 

I had to make sure we took a group picture for Drew who missed the race to be with his mother. Family comes first, but you’re in our thoughts. There will be other races.

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It’s a Drew pose. If you know him, you’d understand.

More shots for the RNR Peanut Gallery.

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Just a few pictures before the first half of the race. The gloves stayed on after the starting line.

Jeff and Jacquline at mile 0.2.

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The course hasn’t changed much in the last few years except for a few minor tweaks around construction zones. The cold air made it a little harder to breathe and our heart rates were 10 – 15 bpm higher than they usually are at that pace. Fortunately, the volunteer crews at the aid stations gutted it out. There were a few cups of Gatorade with a thin layer of ice on top and I was pleasantly surprised that we didnt have any black ice hazards after the stations.

Just after mile 6 we hit the hill at Shoreham Drive. I was lucky to have caught up to Joe and he asked me to take pictures at the Blue Mile. It’s one thing to pass the pictures of fallen servicemen and women, but it’s entirely another to be with someone who knew them.

This sign should have been at mile 2. I would have definitely used the shortcut.

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This wasn’t a fast race. No excuses for the cold, though, I’m way behind on fitness compared to last year. With Dallas, San Francisco and Raleigh coming up and stuff at work loading up, I’ll need to force some time to get my aerobic capacity back. In the meantime, don’t forget to take those finish line selfies. Smiles can really warm you up.

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One of the first things we learned back when we started was that we should be ready for anything on race day. On days when you wake up and see rain, heat, wind or bitter cold, it’s tempting to hop on an indoor treadmill or just skip the workout altogether. If you don’t try it once, you won’t know if your gear is right for the conditions. The best thing to do is just stick to the plan.

Weather or not.

~//~

Rock n Roll D.C. Ran under the RNR banner first in 2006 as RNR USA. This year there were 16,960  finishers (2,423 in the full, 13,050 in the half, 1,487 in the 5K). Participation is down about 2,000 since 2016, mainly in the half marathon. This is the third RNR race of the year that offered a full marathon, so I expect to see a lot of friends posting the special marathon medal.

Weather in DC has been in the 40’s or colder for the last few years, so come prepared with layers and a water/wind resistant outer shell. Pack an extra space blanket or throw-away layers if you plan to take the metro to and from the race since you may be outside waiting to get into the station. Side note for the gear: DC has a no-masks policy (thanks to Lisa Marie for bringing this up!) so if you wear a buff or bandana to keep your face warm, be aware that it might draw attention.

Big congrats to Sandy (“Sandstorm”) who ran a PR of 1:42. She started running only a few years ago and her improvement has been amazing. She may be joining her cousin Beth with a BQ sooner than you think!

Pokemon hunting is relatively good in Crystal City and on the national mall. The Gen2 assortment was limited to the Marills and Slugma with a few of the starters. Gym strength was respectable with the Level 10 gyms bottoming out at 2600 CP. The area is predominantly Mystic.

As of D.C., the number of people who have done all three RNR races stands at 130 (compared to 152 in 2016). 588 people have done two of the first three races. Pannell Reports should be posting shortly in the Black Sheep Run group and with Dallas and Mexico City this weekend, the data crunching should ramp up quickly.

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!

A Big Participation Award – Honolulu Marathon 2016

Why do ‘participation awards’ get such a bad rap? Most people know the term – you get a prize or something cool if you just show up and finish whatever it is you signed up for. If that’s not something to be proud of, why do people make such a big deal about birthdays? Isn’t that essentially the same thing?

Ron turned 50 this year. The initial thought was to go to Kauai for the week and just hang out. Susan, with the best of intentions, wanted to motivate more friends to come join us and what better way to do that than to sign up for a race? The Honolulu Marathon was always around the week of my birthday and just an inter-island $49 flight away. There’s just the little detail that whenever anyone asks what I think of the race, the answer “the only part about the weekend I don’t enjoy much is the race itself.”

The first time I did Hono was in 2005 where I (unknowingly) had an 85% tear on the ACL in my left knee. The doctor I saw at Kaiser told me to stay off it, take some Advil and I’d be fine (which is why I’m no longer with Kaiser). I raced anyway. I started cramping at mile 10. The only highlight of the last 16 miles was just after the finish when I found out Susan had beaten me by less than 30 seconds after a really impressive negative split. After finishing RNR San Antonio the week before, I was probably 60-70% able to race because of my right knee. It took some pretty aggressive ice, foam rolling, electro-stim, Graston and anti-inflammatories to get me feeling mentally prepared for 26.2.

Friday December 2nd.
Flying west for a race from California and arriving around lunch time was a nice change of pace. Usually the 5+ hour flight means we burn an entire day traveling, but we landed in time for a room key hand-off as Sherry, Al and Annemika were headed to Kauai for a day trip. A quick Uber to the Sheraton and we had enough time for lunch before the Expo.

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As big as the marathon is, it was pretty deserted around lunch time. One of the sale items included a tech towel with the names of all participants printed on it, reminiscent of the Nike Women’s Marathon wall in Union Square.

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Al and Sherry had already picked up their bibs, but they left a message for us on the traditional graffiti wall.

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Susan and I went to Duke’s for dinner with a spectacular sunset view. We watched the Sheraton’s 3D light show by one of the hotel pools before turning in for the night.

Saturday, December 3rd
We were signed up for both the Marathon on Sunday and the the Inaugural Kalakaua Merrie Mile on Saturday (so named after the Merrie Monarch, King Kalakaua). The Mile started at 7:00 with the non-elite sub-8 minute milers starting first and 3 minute wave starts for every group after that.The elite runners took the stage around 7:30, just when the last of the mortals would be finished. We never stayed around for the RNR Savannah or Virginia Beach mile races, so this was actually the first mile race for Susan and Ron (so it was an automatic PR – yay!). The start line at the Honolulu Zoo was about half of a 2K egg from the hotel. Given the conditions, there really wasn’t much reason to push anyway, so we spent more time taking pictures and videos.

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The Post race refreshments included locally bottled, cold-pressed pineapple juice. Now there’s something you don’t see everyday (or ever).

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We found perfect spots to watch the finish for the elites. Edwin Kiptoo ran a blazing 3:57.40 to take the first prize. Nicole Sefuentes and Shannon Osiku finished 4 seconds behind Kipto (4:29 with the 27 second headstart) to take second and third). I posted a live video of the final minute on Facebook.

 

We grabbed a quick lunch poolside after aqua yoga and visited the USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. One of the highlights of the weekend was coming back from our visit to Pearl Harbor. Sherry had been img_0547having a rough few weeks at work closing out the year and was really starting to enjoy her first trip to Hawaii. She enjoyed it even a little more when Zach showed up at the hotel. He flew out from San Diego at the last-minute to surprise her. And yes, he paid the $320 expo registration for the marathon the next day.

Dinner at SKY Waikiki was spectacular. It drizzled a little, but the clouds always make the sunset more picturesque. We had an outdoor terrace table and shared a lot of appetizers and more than a few drinks.

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With the marathon start at 5AM and a 15 minute walk to the shuttles, we backed up our wake up time to a mind-numbing 2:20 AM. It’s good to start early because of the temperatures, but even THAT translates to a 5:20 AM Pacific time wake up call. Those of us who like to roll out of bed late and sharing rooms with people who need 1 – 2 hours more prep time were a bit peeved.

Sunday December 4th. Marathon
Remember that forecast of rain? It didn’t happen. Not a drop. We’d be wishing for some near the halfway point, but when woke up, the streets were wet, but the skies were relatively clear. Hono has a ten-minute fireworks show before the starting gun. I remember the first year we were there, we were in the back of the starting corral, but since we were near the start for the Marathon Maniacs picture, we got an even better view.

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They’re blowing up the porta potties!

Hono has no assigned corrals and no wave start, so it’s up to you to decide when to go.We waited about 5 minutes before jumping into the stream of people crossing the starting line. For the most part, the elites and real runners knew enough to be close to the starting line. We didn’t actually have too many people pass us for the first 5K, even though we were doing about a 16 minute mile, mainly to take pictures of the Christmas decorations in downtown.

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Sherry and Zack went out faster than us from the start. Susan realized that she had brought her prescription sunglasses while wearing contact lenses, so we took a quick pit stop at the hotel as we went by. Kamika and Al moved on ahead, no doubt depleting the island of Pokemon.

One of the best views of the ocean was climbing up the south side of Diamondhead at the 7.5 mile mark and seeing the sunrise. The flag in the foreground was a nice touch.

Getting to the Kalanianaole highway at mile 11 is the big accomplishment. I needed to mentally prepared for a 4 mile stretch of highway out and the same stretch on the return by finding ways to occupy my mind. This race is famous for having a lot of Japanese tourists who treat this as an excursion (like we would treat a trip to Disneyland when visiting LA). The people watching and counting down the kilometer markers actually made the race feel shorter. At this point, we saw the stream of 3.5 – 4 hour marathoners heading back the way we came.

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Susan and I caught Al and Kamika at Hawaii Kai drive just past mile 16 as the sun came out strong pushing temperatures into the high 70’s. We weren’t pushing the pace as it was, and there was even less reason then. The weather started taking its toll on some of the runners as a few ambulances came by. One gentleman in particular was so badly dehydrated that he was leaning to the point of falling over. Susan and I went ahead and let a policeman and the next med tent know to keep an eye out for the fellow, but Al stayed with him and firmly talked him into dropping out at mile 21 for his own safety.

The distance and the long downhill  at mile 24 were wearing on my knee, so Susan and I forged on ahead, down the west side of Diamonhead and into Kapiolani Park at the finish. I let Susan jog ahead of me to keep her string of Hono wins alive. Kamika, Sherry and Zach were waiting for us in the finish area. For future reference, the Honolulu app has a nifty selfie feature.

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2016 was our fastest time at Hono, so given the knee issues (again) I guess that’s a win. While I’ve been pretty firm that I’d rather never do the marathon again, something about heading out there for the mile and the 10K seems very appealing if we can swing it on another milestone birthday weekend. We’ll hope for continued health and good fortune and just be able to show up again and finish the distance.

If we’re back again in 5, 10 or 20 years and can still do this, I’d be more than happy with a participation award.

~//~

This was the 44th annual Honolulu Marathon and it was our last race for 2016. This year, Lawrence Cherono won the race with a course record 2:09:37. Hono consistently has over 20,000 finishers making it one of the biggest marathons in the world and is billed as the People’s Marathon. There is no time limit. The final finisher crossed the line past 9 PM with a time of 16:11:44. The volunteer staffing level is excellent, the water stations were frequent and the Gatorade was a little stronger, probably to address the higher temperatures. 

We’re in full recovery mode after a bout of a cold, bronchitis, ITBS and a couple of slightly smelly puppies at home. We have two more blogs to post for the year including the final Rock n Roll Heavy Medal standings and a top 16.

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.

Gifts – RNR Denver Weekend 2016

People love gifts. Sometimes, they’re physical items – birthday gifts, Christmas gifts, anniversary gifts, wedding gifts, the list goes on. Sometimes they’re small gifts like the note your wife leaves you on the mirror when she goes off for a week-long business trip. Sometimes, it’s the gift of time that you’ve been given when a meeting ends early or you just make the light before it turns red. Sometimes the gift is more subtle, because you’ve gotten so used to receiving them that it feels like a part of your life. It’s no longer special.

I thought a lot about gifts this last trip to Rock n Roll Denver. There were the good gifts like the ones we brought for Ann and Peter who are expecting their first child in November. There were the usual gifts of clear, dry race weather that we somehow seem to have at 98% or our races. Then there are the ones I forget to appreciate, like the gift of health. My right knee, surgically repaired 26 years ago, was showing signs of swelling and clicking ever since the Old Glory Relay and I wondered if this long streak of uninterrupted racing was in jeopardy. img_5891-1

The Friday trip out of Oakland gave us just enough time for Uber-Al to get us to the expo to pick up our 5K and Half bibs. The
stockyard was quite a bit further than the Convention Center, and it seemed very quiet, even during the last hour for the locals who took off work early. I was happy to pick up another half-zip color, but for the third straight race, Merch had no luggage tags and pins. We’ve been collecting them for the last 6 years and I’m getting a little annoyed with the lack of race-specific souvenirs.

I did get a half-zip though. Unlike Joe, I don’t think I’ve reached my quota yet.


Saturday, October 15th. 5K.
The inaugural RNR Denver 5K was a great way to get moving and acclimate to the elevation. Temperatures were perfect for the warm up. We caught Kevin, Diane and Jeff at the start, but the majority of the diehard Rock n Rollers were at the other race in St. Louis. The pre-race pictures were smaller than usual. I swear, Susan was there, even though it looks like we photoshopped her in.

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Ann is midway through her third trimester and was probably glad to not be on a plane for this weekend. We do find her sitting more than standing these days, but considering she probably gets as many steps during the race as people doing the 5K or half, it’s completely understandable.

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The course was a loop with a few decent rises. Easily the highlight of this race for us was seeing our friend and TeamUp Captain, Virginia at the finish line. She did the 5K/10K combo on Denver weekend as she ramps up to her first half marathon in Vegas next month. She wears two Allard braces to overcome the conditions brought on by Charcot Marie Tooth disease. I remember Al saying how he thinks his long history with races isn’t nearly as impressive as he didn’t have the kind of challenges to overcome as others like Virginia.  Talk about inspiration!

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Photo credit: Beth Austin-Deloria

After a quick shower and change, we met Ann and Peter for lunch at Mercantile in Union Station. Peter would be on stage announcer duty with Ann for the first time during the half. After introductions, Al and Peter had some in-depth discussions about bikes and Joe, Susan and I got a download on all things baby related.

Ann: “Joe, this is Peter. He’s the one who did this to me.”

The “Porn for New Mom’s” book was a big hit.

“Let me get rid of all this junk so I can make room for the jogging stroller”.
Our pre-race movie tradition continued with a showing of Max Steele, a good off-mainstream superhero movie that looks to be the first of a good series for the Harry Potter generation. Dinner at the Yard House with Kamika ended up being a Pokemon update much to Susan’s dismay. Kamika was putting us to shame with the number of Pokémon he caught on-course at RNR Brooklyn the weekend before. I gave him a quick lesson on gym battles before heading to bed. I had an Exxecutor in the Sheraton gym for over 5 days.

 

Sunday, October 16th. Half-Marathon and 10K
Why is it that the closer we are to the starting line, the later we seem to get there? We got 14721740_1068986229888952_2158833474201152937_nto the corrals just about 7:05 for the 7:15 start, enough time to catch Jim and Beth. We missed Nalani completely, even though she was responsible enough to get to the start early. In the corrals, Beth gave us an update on Becky Piper, another TeamUp captain who was doing the 10K. Thank social media for this connection. Beth read on Facebook that Becky would be there just the night before. Becky was a mountain biker, runner and XTERRA off-road triathlon world championship qualifier before her world changed overnight. Becky’s story was very different than Beth and Virginia as Becky’s paralysis was caused by a brutal home invasion attack. Three men broke into her home, beating her and leaving her for dead before her husband found her. Read the amazing story of her fight to GetBackUp here.

Peter was holding his own on stage, but his lovely wife was still the star. I think they’ll make a really good team.

Between altitude, allergies and babying my knee on race 4 of 10 in 10 weeks, there wasn’t a lot of incentive to push. Susan and Joe were racing ahead together. Al and I considered waiting for Kamika (who ended up catching just short of 100 Pokemon during the race). We spent a bit of time catching up on the last few months of racing and planning for the next 6 races before we go into our winter hibernation.

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It ended up being our slowest race of the year, but we finished though. The knee held up. The allergies never got overwhelming. And with Al having an early flight, we had just enough time to catch up with Jim, Beth and Virginia for lunch. Jim was showing off pictures of he new grandson. Virginia was fresh off her 10K and looks to be more than ready for her first half marathon. Susan and Beth were busy planning what to do when Susan visits North Carolina over Thanksgiving.

At one point during lunch, I wondered about all the things that happened that got us together at that table. We used to miss both Denver and St. Louis because they usually fell on the same weekend as Nike San Francisco. Now with Nike folding up shop without so much as an explanation, we alternate between the two Rock n Roll locations. Were it not for the series, we would have never met any of these people we think of as lifelong friends. This isn’t the first time in recent memory, but there was no picture to accompany that meal. For the last year, I’ve been letting that slip because I just want to be in the moment and enjoy the company.

These moments are gifts. Never take them for granted.

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~//~

2016 was the 7th year of Rock n Roll Denver and the first year of the Remix 5K. Given the reported low turnout in St. Louis this year, we may end up doing Denver more than just every other year. With the light rail connection to Denver International Airport complete, the $9 one-way ride beats a cab or rental car if you just plan to be downtown most of the weekend. If you plan to hop out to Colorado Springs or Red Rocks, it’s definitely worth the side trip.

Archway Achievements and Mile High Milestones:
Big shout outs to our friends Amy and Mitch who finished their 50th and 75th Rock n Roll events respectively at RNR St. Louis. I think now that Amy has a companion pass on Southwest and her mother Jamie is all-in for Hall of Fame this year, she may be hitting 100 in the next 3 years. Mitch keeps saying he’s going to cut back, but now is contemplating hitting 100 Rock n Rolls by the end of 2017. Sherry is still on track to hit 100 by Rock n Roll Las Vegas. Jeff and I went through his records and it looks like 100 will be his first race in 2017, likely Rock n Roll New Orleans.

This was our 13th Rock n Roll half of 2016. We don’t count 5K and 10K’s toward the lifetime RNR heavy medal totals, but Susan and I collected our 100th RNR race medals last weekend – Susan on the 5K, Ron on the half. Records at this level are pretty solid, but I’ll still say “unofficially”, that makes us the 7th and 8th people to do it. I guess it takes a certain amount of persistence and quality for a race series to not get boring 

Pokemon Highlights:
Downtown Denver is a good hunting ground, especially up and down the 16th Street Mall. The free Mall Shuttle travels from Civic Park to Union Station at speeds that may even allow you to get egg distance. The Mall has a poke stop just about every block, so your bags will fill quickly. Wild monsters of note are Magnemites, Magnatrons, Ponyta, Electrabuzz, Jynx and Charmanders. Gym strength is reasonable. The Level 10 gym outside the Denver Sheraton had a bottom defender in the 1700 CP range. My Exxecutor had a 4 day vacation before getting kicked out. On-course players should expect a Pokémon dead zone between miles 2.5 and 4 where the course goes by some industrial sections of town. I’d recommend dropping incense only when you get past mile 8 to maximize catches.