Strength in Numbers – RNR DC 2018

Running is an individual sport, but the sheer numbers in the community is what keep people coming back. I mean, how many people have the mental fortitude to lace up for a 13.1 or 26.2 mile race when it’s below 30 degrees out in our nation’s capitol? Maybe it’s my wimpy California weather tolerance, but at least it wasn’t going to be as bad as the biblical flood of 2015 or the polar vortex of 2017.

Saturday races on the east coast usually start on Thursdays. Taking Southwest on the Companion Pass is an awesome perk (I haven’t paid for a flight in over 4 years!), but the lack of non-stop flights means an early wake up and still missing the expo. When we landed, the Westin Crystal City was overbooked because the nor’easter had prevented people from flying home. We got bumped to the Westin Arlington Gateway which worked out OK. Both hotels were on the metro, just a half-dozen stops apart.

Friday, March 9th
I’m a big fan of TSA-Pre. For an $85 investment we get to skip lines like this for 3 years (probably the spring break rush) at Oakland International. When our membership runs out, I’m likely to go to Global Entry on the off chance they add another continent. Harry and Harriet are along for the ride again.


We went straight to the expo from Reagan International (DCA). We caught up with Amy from our old CGI days and also ran into Christine whom we met on the rooftop of our hotel back in San Diego. She’s got a busy schedule this year including a couple of World Majors, so she’s putting off her White Continent/Punta Arenas trip until 2020.

This is the third race of the year and we were really hoping that Ironman would have the Hall of Fame Banner after a big disappointment in New Orleans. While they didn’t have it hanging up, they DID have a slide show with the Hall of Fame pictures scrolling through the Rock n Roll booth. The unofficial Pannell Report estimated 176 people had a shot at the Golden Headphones for 2017. There’s was a video loop and grabbed a few dozen still shots (some shown below). Hopefully you were in it!

I guess when you hang around long enough, you start dressing alike?  This was totally unplanned!

Saturday, March 10th. Half and Full Marathon


A quick shout to my friend Sherry. She hasn’t missed a Rock n Roll race weekend since fall of 2015, a run (pun intended) of 59 consecutive RNR’s. With a few new last-minute additions in China for 2018, I wonder if there was enough time to book travel to some of them coming up. If she ever misses a race weekend, I don’t think the mark will ever be broken. Regardless, this streak is only part of her record 179 total Rock n Roll events at all distances. She ran the full in DC.


Our start was the standard wave of selfies, Juanfies and hugs. With the Black Sheep Run group starting to look off for different adventures, the vibe is still there, just smaller. A few corral group pics. Layers were the order of the day. Even #barefootElvis donned a pair of sandals for this chilly one!


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The best part of being up in the corral was knowing about the background of Ann’s shout out. Credit to Amy H. who turned a Black Sheep gift collection for Ann’s bike accident into a “Make Ann Pretty Again” fundraiser to help Ann pay for costs of the dental work. Ann blogged that, as a contractor, she didn’t have dental insurance. Hearts and wallets opened instantly.

Ann sent us videos for each of the 5 days countdown gifts. The last was a check from the Black Sheep (and a donation of a set of baby teeth from one of the future BSRs)

My orthopedic surgeon said I’ve got a standard IT band syndrome affecting my right knee, but I wanted to see if I could keep a higher cadence to keep the impact per step lower. Walking 12 minute miles felt pretty good. That pace was relaxed enough to take time to appreciate the course. DC can be pretty this time of year. We weren’t there for the peak cherry blossom season, but it’s always humbling to pass the monuments.

The course didn’t cross over the river this time, but we did go along the banks like usual. The Blue Mile up 24th Street seemed a lot longer than usual and I lost count after 50. A woman in front of me stopped at one picture, touched the sign and started crying uncontrolably. I touched her on the shoulder to make sure she was OK. Thank you to all from Wear Blue: Run to Remember for the inspiration!


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The spectator signs in the back half were appropriately creative for the location. The Final Crusade reference was one I had to catch. I did let her know that the folks doing the half chose wisely.


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The last 200 meters were up hill and a right turn at RFK stadium. I was pretty solidly at goal pace, but decided to wait at 13 so I could finish with Susan. No pictures this time, I just wanted a hand to hold across the finish.

We caught up with folks as we walked from the finish, past the beer garden and to the area in front of VIP where we seem to congregate after picking up medals. That’s where we foudnd Joe, Karin, Beth, Jim and Sandy. Amy was able to find us after a successful race #3 for her Hall of Fame run. Ann on the photobomb.



TeamUp had a good day. This was Beth and Jim’s 99th Rock n Roll race. We got some news that they are looking into ways to increase access to Allard braces and hope to hear more when they run their 100th Rock n Roll in Raleigh the first week of April. We’ll be in San Francisco to continue our one legacy race, but will be wearing TeamUp gear with pride.


Susan had a last-minute client meeting scheduled near DC and since I fly free only when we’re together, we stayed over the weekend and left Monday. This gave us a chance to grab a wonderful brunch with my friends from the MySpace days on Sunday and catch a showing of the Black Panther in the afternoon.


On Monday, I took 6 hours to walk around the various evil government agencies, visit the International Spy Museum and the Natural History Museum on Monday. DC has tons to see and do if you have free time and a good map!


Running is an individual sport, but what keeps us coming back is the people we see, week in and week out, and some that we get to visit once a year. If it weren’t for this series, there’s no doubt in my mind that we wouldn’t have met 95% of the people we think of as our closest friends. They keep us going. They fill us with life, love and laughter.

There is strength.. in numbers.

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:



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.

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.


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.

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.



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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

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!

Dorcas directing incoming traffic
Darlene’s retirement seems pretty busy. I’m wearing my  100 Half Marathons Club finisher shirt in Tawni’s honor.
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.


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!


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.


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!


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.

Gypsy reunion outside the Willard. Ron, Al, Ted, Michelle, Joe, Beth, Sherry, Jim, Lisa Marie, Marissa and Caryn.
The start line. This always make it feel real for me!
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.
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.

Business completed, we jump into the corrals.
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!
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.


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.
Running the Mall
A lot of people were thinking these were cherry blossoms. They are actually Saucer Magnolias.
The turnaround over the Arlington Memorial Bridge. I love seeing our faster friends on the way back.
Along the Potomac
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.
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.

Tawni and Daryl came in just under their 2:30 goal
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.

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.


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.