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.

A Big Easy Race – RNR New Orleans 2016

Rock n Roll New Orleans is always a tough race to plan for, mainly because the date is based on Mardi Gras so it moves around every year. In 2015, we were in NOLA in late January. This year we’re racing in the last weekend of February. There’s also the matter of the unpredictable winter weather. Earlier this week, the southeast was getting hammered by tornadoes. The weekend was looking clear and mid-50’s when we took off, basically ideal racing conditions.

At least dealing with the weather would be easy!

This was also the race where our friend Joe Harris was coming back to the RNR circuit after surgery. Among our close friends, it seems we’ve seemed had a lot of health issues in the last few years. Statistics say 50-75% of runners get hurt every year, but few of these are the typical joint or muscle pains. I’m happy to say that every single one of us has bounced back to return to racing, something about the group energy that brings us motivation to GetBackUp! As a tribute, Al brainstormed the “VIP Joe 116 mile challenge.” Three of us ran or walked 116 miles in the month of February, one for every Rock n Roll race Joe has completed. Lisa Marie finished her 116 on Thursday.  Al and I hit 116 sometime in the last few miles of the half marathon on Sunday.

We took a late Friday flight in, landing right about when most of downtown NoLA was just coming to life. We skipped the festivities, but I heard George Melichar was putting on an aerobic dance party near his place on Camp. The lights from Canal Street were a peaceful backdrop to get some sleep.

On Saturday morning, we went through the expo pretty quickly – well, for us at least. We took about an hour and a half which is better than usual, and we somehow controlled our CGI swag spending for once. 2015 was the Year of the Half-Zip for Ron. This time, just the usual luggage tags and half marathon pins. This was the first time Al and Joe were able to see the 2015 Hall of Fame banner with pictures of everyone who finished 15 or more RNR half and full marathons last year. It’s really humbling to know so many people who made the Hall this year.

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Seeing Joe was a great lift. A lot of our group skipped out on RNR Arizona so it’s been over two and a half month since most of us had seen each other. Al surprised Joe with a brand new pair of his favorite racing compression pants. After running behind him for a while, he figured it was time to get a backup pair to prevent any on-course wardrobe malfunctions.

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Fortunately, he didn’t try them on right then and there.
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Susan thought up the idea of sending Joe a card for 30 days after his surgery. He ended up treating it like an Advent calendar, enjoying every day and getting motivated to get back to running.

We met up Rick, our friend from Nashville who we met a few years ago in St. Louis and headed off for beignets. Unlike most of the folks who took suggestions from the volunteers, we went to a smaller shop that didn’t have the hour long wait. The beignets were just as good.  We even stayed long enough for Kamika to check his Facebook feed and realize we were just down the street. Social media has it’s advantages.

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What you don’t see is the 5 orders we polished off before Kamika arrived.

We took a quick walk downtown to find some photo ops and ended up next to George Melichar’s house on camp. The hashtag banner will end up in a museum somewhere. I kept expecting him to appear on the balcony so we could throw him some beads. Heh.

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We found some good photo ops. Even in broad daylight, there’s a lot going on downtown.

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St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square was the inspiration for the 2016 race medal
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Really no idea what was going on here, but they were very enthusiastic about it.

I planned to push this race, knowing how flat the course was and having a decent month training, so Susan and I put our feet up at Canal Place for a showing of Deadpool. Probably not the kind of movie Susan was expecting, but it fit into the schedule before dinner.

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Parmesan popcorn, butternut squash spread and blood orange Italian soda. I wish we had these back home!

We joined Sherry, Joe, Al and birthday boy, Don for a quiet dinner at the 5 Fifty 5 on Canal. I’m starting to get out of the habit of taking pictures because I respect the time we spend together. Maybe I’m getting lazy?

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The view before bed.

The Sheraton was one of the Team Challenge hotels and our floor had a few dozen team members. We woke up to a row of doors decorated with motivational signs. The first time we were here, we were with Team in Training and one of those were on our door. Feels like we never left!

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Susan got out a little early to visit our gypsy friends at the Hilton, including local celeb, Geo. He’s got some big projects in the works this year. Stay tuned!

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Geo takes a Juan-inspired selfie.
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And apparently, Geo was really glad to see Dave. Either that or he was choking on a pre-race po-boy.

We started in corral 10 for a quick group selfie or 4. Drew is still not completely healed from the high ankle sprain the put him on a scooter in San Antonio. Rick was working through some nagging back issues. Sandy was gunning for a PR in her 3rd full marathon with Beth and Jim pacing her for the first half. Dave’s friend Jeff was running his first race of ANY distance. Probably the coolest thing about waiting in the corral was that every minute or so, someone else we knew showed up and it seemed like everyone had different objectives.

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The half course is seriously flat. Susan’s Fitbit actually measured zero flights of stairs for the event. I think there was a rise and fall of about 9 feet, but obvious hills were non-existent. The challenge for NOLA is the pavement. The first 8 miles are an out and back on the long curve of St. Charles and hugging the inside tangent put you on the canted gutter on the way out. While it was tempting to shorten the route, it put a lot of stress on my hips. There were a few diversions for road construction in the same place as 2015 and a few crosses over the railroad tracks. For whatever reason, I just couldn’t generate the kind of lift I was getting for the last few weeks. My Garmin data tells me my stride length shortened by 4 cm, translating into a 2.5 minute gap. The PR wasn’t happening this week, but I still walked in just over 2:25 – not bad for February.

It was sunny at the finish and we sat on the track at the City Park listening to headliners J. Roddy Walston and The Business. The beads in the picture below weren’t from a side trip down Bourbon Street, those are the lanyards for the medals. Those of you who’ve been reading our blog will recognize Carl Marino (top left), star of the Investigation Discovery Channel’s Homicide Hunter – Lt. Joe Kenda. It’s quite an addictive show and I’ve been binge watching them on treadmill workouts. His wife Ilona (bottom) has made a dozen appearances in various roles. This was the first time we’d seen her without the knee scooter that she used for almost half of last year.

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Jeff had a good first race, capping it off with a stogie. Joe was overflowing with gratitude for the friends he came back to see and being able to get back on the race circuit again. We had to catch the shuttle back to the hotel before Sandy and Sherry finished the full, but both did well. Sandy got that PR.

IMG_1493NOLA is likely going to be on our 2017 schedule seeing how there isn’t much else to do between mid January and March. If vacation time frees up a bit, we might spend the extra night and actually get to enjoy the city a bit more.

If nothing else, we’d go back for more beignets.

~//~

Rock n Roll New Orleans was run for the 7th time under the Rock n Roll name. This year there were 17,791 finishers. There were 3,625 in the full (median finish time 4:51), 11,553 in the half (2:27), 2,613 in the 10K (1:17). As noted earlier, the course is really damn flat, though by a few reports measured it being a bit long (13.2 miles by my Garmin). Unlike previous trips out, we didn’t have any rain around the weekend at all. Race day, as usual, was clear and sunny.

With only 2 RNR races down so far, John took time to upgrade the Pannell Report, adding some visual basic programming to make it easier to figure out who the Elite Heavy Medal leaders are after each weekend and also highlighting former Hall of Famers to see who is on track to repeat or three-peat. John is focusing on the Race 13.1 Series in his home state of North Carolina this year, but will be doing more than a handful of Rock n Rolls.

After NOLA, 464 participants (about 1.65% of the total number of finishers) have finished half or full marathons for both weekends. We’ll see how this shakes out after a busy March with seven races – DC, Dallas, Mexico City, San Francisco and Raleigh –  in the next two months.

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About Us

This is the journey of two “Adult Onset Athletes” who discovered the power of the marathoning community. Susan and Ron Carino are marathon walkers in the San Francisco whose lives were changed by following up on a Bucket List item. “Complete a Marathon” turned into “completed our FIRST marathon.” We’ve supported several causes, met some inspiring people and are seeing the world through a different lens.