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.