Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Year Isn't Over Yet - Inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon

The Rock n Roll Series is over for 2013, but the supply of Bling continues. November 24th marked the Inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon, 10 Mile and 10K events. This was Ron's 19th and Susan's 20th race of the year. Inaugural races are always special. Everyone is doing the race for the first time making it that much more memorable. When the race organizers are experienced, it helps ensure a successful first event. Plus, you're a Legacy :). 

Weather can be unpredictable in late November, except in California. We were blessed with a beautiful sunny day, cool at the start but comfortable at the end with our layers on. The course was fast and flat with two "hills" (one freeway overpass and one at the very end at Golden Gate fields reminiscent of Insult Hill in Anchorage or the final climb at RNR Seattle).  In general though several PRs were set that day. Susan included with an eighth personal best of the year!

The wave start spread out the participants nicely so the course was never too crowded. The out and back along the Bay in Emeryville allowed participants to say "Hi" to one another and cheer each other on. Near the Berkeley marina were were surprised with two off-road sections. The loose gravel is always a challenge for faster walkers to gain traction. One suggestion for next year is to redesign the course to be 100% on road to minimize the risk of twisting an ankle, but those who appreciate a softer surface would find this a welcome change. There were three distances for this event; a half marathon, a 10 miler, and a 10k, giving first timers and beginners a chance to challenge themselves. 

The Medal - The ALL important race bling - was large and beautifully designed. Berkeley partners with the San Francisco Marathon so it was similar in design, but Bigger and nicer than the SF half marathon medal this year. For those of us who did both races, there was an additional spinner medal to add to our growing collections.

Medal Mantra: It spins, we're in!
The designated parking decks filled up and oversold. After a creative parking job, we were grateful to have gotten in before the closed the garage! (Note to self:  Get there earlier next year!). If your group can arrange to have two cars, park one at the finish line and one at the start. The lines for the busses at the end of this point-to-point race were long and if not for the mild weather, would have been a bit rough as it was exposed to bay winds.

Opportunities for Adventure - While there weren't many takers for the whiskey at mile 9, apparently shocking the system with some unexpected good or drink is actually a race strategy for some extreme endurance athletes according to Al.

Nike has it's Chocolate Mile. Berkeley has the Whiskey Mile
You don't usually expect to have more adventure on the ride home than on the race course itself! Our bus driver was moving us along so quickly that one individual hadn't settled in her seat and ended up falling in the aisle while changing seats. This meant the bus had to stop so the driver could write up an accident report. Another bus drove up pretty quickly to rescue us. We were just glad we hadn't just done a full marathon because once you sit down, it's not that easy getting back up again!

A week after RNR San Antonio/RNR Las Vegas. For the Half Fanatics keeping score, this put Susan and me on Mars with 3 states in a 10-day span!

Great to see our fellow TNT walk coaches, Carolyn, Barb and MaryAnne.
The Inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon, 10 Mile and 10K was held on November 24, 2013. There were 4,682 participants in the half (Median finish time of 2:04), 486 in the 10 Miler (median finish 1:39) and 1,395 in the 10K (median 1:07). This was a relatively fast race. Results are posted here.

The 2013 Half Marathon course started at Civic Center Park, wraps around the west side of the UC Berkeley Campus, and then continues straight through the heart of Berkeley on University Avenue, passing local shops and parks on the way to the marina. At mile 4, the course turns south along the waterfront, along the Berkeley Marina, turns around to head north to Cesar Chavez Park, looping around the park, exposing breathtaking sights of the SF skyline and the bay. Finally, the route continues north for a finish and celebration at Golden Gate Fields.

Weather (2013): low 50's F at race start and mid 60's by finish. Like we said, this is winter in California!

Since this was a local race, we were treated to some home cooking by Al with a load of fudge from expert baker Caryn. Ron has now successfully (and unsuccessfully) make pizza margarita several times and we've been inspired to make our own pasta the night before our next local race. Like a lot of things that happened in 2013, we blame Al :).

Bonus note: Corrigan Sports 10-Miler/5K Series will hold their first race in Foster City on January 12th, 2014. Completing this and the other two races in Marin County (May 25th) and Santa Clara County (August 24th) earns a bonus medal. The last price increase is on January 6th, but you can get a $5 discount if you use CARINO in the coupon code for registration. Ron plans to use it as a taper for Rock n Roll Arizona the following week. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Momentary Immortality - Rock n Roll San Antonio and Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathons

It's been two weeks since we toed the starting line at the Rock n Roll San Antonio Half Marathon. The plan was to do that race in the morning, fly 1260 miles to Las Vegas and end the day with butter cake after finishing the Rock n Roll Las Vegas Half Marathon. There has been so much to process with the Thanksgiving holiday in between and we're just now getting ready for Christmas decorating.  

How can we really give a good feeling of everything that happened on the 17th of November? Susan and I are project managers in real life. We live off time lines, so to cram every detail of the day into a single blog, I thought I'd just put it to a timeline and make it short with comments.  

For reference, San Antonio is on Central time, two hours ahead of Las Vegas Pacific time. SA2LV is the hashtag created by Competitor Group for the San Antonion to Las Vegas event. Some of the videos below can be played as background. You know, for effect.

If you're short on time, there's a link at the bottom to a 5 minute video with the highlights. Also, see Beth's blog on the Double Live weekend with a few of her notes on the interviews for Get Back Up. Enjoy the ride :)

4:45 AM    Wake up call
5:45 AM    Walk to the Westin Riverwalk to meet Al and Caryn
6:00 AM    Arrive at the Westin. Get a mysterious text from Al to come up to the room.
6:03 AM    Get a text from Caryn saying that Al can't find the keys to the rental car.
6:04 AM    Panic
6:04:05 AM   Get the location of the car from Al. Find the keys on the passenger's seat in an unlocked car in an uncovered parking lot. Thank stars.
6:12 AM   Pack up Chevy Tahoe with luggage from the four of us. Realize that it's going to be hard to fit luggage for seven.
6:15 AM    Drive to the VIP parking area where the #SA2LV participants meet
6:20 AM    Get stuck on a left turn and almost diverted to the freeway. Al convinces the policemen to let us turn.
6:30 AM    Finally get through the drop off line to the parking area. Ditch the unnecessary extra layers since it was already 65 degrees.
6:40 AM    Speed walk over to the starting line. Say hi to Jeremiah and James on the way (they were doing the 5K)
6:45 AM   Meet at the start line with the rest of the SA2LVer's. Find Beth and Jim. See George Melichar. Look for Kamika Smith. Take epic pictures that end up in the San Antonio Express-News the next day.

Left to right: Susan, Caryn, Jim, Ron, George, Beth. Front: Al.
6:55 AM   Pose for a group picture at the starting line with the #SA2LV group. See Kamika. Finally.

3 Brides. Explanation of joke to follow.
7:02 AM  Meet Michael Wardian. Olympic qualifier who was aiming to run the fastest two marathons on one day (2:37 average).

7:25 AM  Listen to the first national anthem of the day.
7:30 AM  Rock n Roll San Antonio starts
7:48 AM  See the Alamo. Susan and Caryn don't remember passing it. Heh.

8:29 AM Al greets a pig with an air conditioner in his rear-end. It's going to be 85 degrees, so this is a good thing.

9:20 AM  Al stops for hydration, then finds Jesus.

9:50 AM(or so) Beth and Jim finish, shower and catch the early shuttle to wait at the airport to check two large bags with Allard braces.
10:18 AM Susan, Caryn, Al and Ron finish. Ron is texting Kamika furiously to figure out where he is and almost forgets to pick up a finisher medal. Kamika is only a half mile behind and can make the ride to the airport.
10:28 AM Kamika finishes and is able to join us on Mr. Al's Wild Ride to the San Antonio airport.

10:41 AM Depart for airport. Scarf down Fritos and chocolate milk. Hydrate, hydrate, hyrdate. 
11:05 AM Arrive at the airport. Al, Susan and Ron have A-List status on Southwest and convince the TSA agent to let the whole party through.
11:20 - 11:40 AM Mass freshening up at in the restrooms. Try to figure out what and how much to eat and drink for the 3 hour flight and time change. Take pictures for the Competitor Group SA2LV event.

The day isn't half over. Beth and Jim are feeling the fatigue already.
11:50 AM Begin boarding Southwest Flight 3750. Eighty people were scheduled to do both races. Most were on the first flight leaving at 12:15 PM Central time. Al gets the exit row seat and the seven of us get the block. The flight attendant asks if all the runners can sit together so the rest of the passengers can breathe easier. Some of the non-running passengers weren't laughing.
12:19 PM Flight departs San Antonio a few minutes late. Pilot knows about the SA2LV and promises to take the short cut.

I bet the guy sitting next to Caryn wishes he'd chosen another seat.
Al's battle cry for the week was "SUIT UP!" In flight entertainment? The Avengers, of course!
12:19 PM Central - 1:00 PM Pacific  Most of us were icing or walking around to keep loose during the three hour flight. We got two hours back on the time change.  The rest of the times are Pacific.

1:00 PM Land in Las Vegas on time. 
1:25 PM Al kept telling us that transportation from LAS to the Westin was 'handled'. We meet up with Patrick, our Limo driver. How else should you get to a wedding?
1:29 PM Head to baggage claim to get Beth and Jim's bags. Reporters waiting for us who knew about the #SA2LV. Al does the honors. I still haven't found the broadcast.

1:36 PM We're wondering how we are going to get the luggage into this car. Patrick makes it happen.

1:39 PM Enjoying the ride. Monitoring the luggage.

1:50 PM Check into the Westin. Grab quick changes, showers and touch ups for the weddings.
2:10 PM Head to the start line and Run-Through Wedding Check in.

3:28 PM Jim and Beth see Kevin at the VIP tent. Sherry and Ethan find us at the check in.
3:33 PM Procession to the starting line ceremony begins. We see Stephanie Bradsher near corral 23 briefly as she has to go back to get the baby.

3:48 PM We swing by the starting line to see Ann Wessling and John Bingham. In classic Ann fashion, she gives us a pair of Candy rings for the ceremony.

4:09 PM Beth and Jim are on the starting line stage with Ann and John receiving recognition for completing 18 Rock n Roll races as Elite Heavy Medalists.
4:13 PM Ceremony in front of the starting line. Audio is garbled because of the speaker position. I remember tearing up a lot. Jim and Beth are at the end of the video. We also see Kamika again. Finally. (2 min, 30 sec)

4:30 PM Second national anthem of the day.
4:33 PM We finally see how it feels to be Kamika. He waits to see the elites (and a lot of the corrals) start. It's a really neat perspective. Michael Wardian is in the center in the orange singlet. He won Rock n Roll San Antonio (2:31), but fell short of the world record, finishing Rock n Roll Las Vegas in 2:57.

4:40 PM We jump into Corral 5 and wait take off with the back of the corral. We start our second half marathon of the day.

4:56 PM Pose for a picture in front of DJ Carmin Wong who we met at RNR Los Angeles 2013.
5:12 PM Get passed by Kevin Gonzales around mile 2. He went on to finish in a course PR 2:31.
5:15 PM Photo op In front of the Luxor.

5:56 PM  Al hasn't hydrated enough. Stops for a shot of Sangria.

6:03 PM  Al remembers he hasn't eaten much. Stops for a taco.

6:33 PM Since Al and I were going slightly faster than Caryn and Susan, a lot of people were looking at the ladies and congratulating them for getting married. Good thing we were keeping an open mind and laughing it off!
7:15 PM Pose for a Louie Soriano picture with the local law enforcement.

8:21 PM After a long day, we get to mile 13. With 0.1 to go, we hear Ann giving us a shout out that ends when this video starts. Usually we give her a high five. This one was worth a hug.

8:25 PM We cross the finish line, but before we get our medals, John retrieves Beth's frame which he carried a mile and a half from the starting line. We will be forever grateful for that and for putting up with us asking you to take this video.

8:47 PM Finally get to the SA2LV to pick up the special spinner medal. We know its a once in a lifetime event since CGI will be separating the races next year.

9:05 PM Back at the Westin for a quick shower, change for a 9:30 dinner reservation at Mastro's.
11:15 PM We get through dinner with little conversation, like the post-credit scene in The Avengers where they went to get Shawarma

We did get Caryn her butter cake though. It was a great way to cap off the five months of planning leading up to the Double Live.

I'll leave the usual race descriptions off this time around because the weekend and the day were sensory overload. One thing that we kept very low key was our sorrow for Jim and his family. Jim's mother, Georgia, passed away just days before the Double weekend. Jim left the funeral on Saturday to arrive less than 10 hours before the first race.

There's a tribute to our little group of Rock n Roll Gypsies that is too big to upload to this blog so it's posted at our Marathoning for LIfe page. Here's the direct link. It's a compilation of moments we'll always cherish. Thanks to Al for picking the background music - appropriately, "Road of the Gypsy" by Adrenalin. 

Thanks for an unforgettable weekend. ~ Susan and Ron.

Links to SA2LV Coverage:
Marathon perfect vehicle to spread uplifting theme  - Las Vegas Review-Journal (11/16/2013)
Complete list of participants in SA2LV: Competitor Group SA2LV Hall of Fame
Heat is no sweat for Runners - San Antonio Express-News, 11/17/2013
'Rock 'N Roll' Runner Overcomes Paralysis, Will Compete in Two Half Marathons Sunday - WOAI Radio. (11/16/2013)For more stories about Beth's amazing journey as a runner with foot drop, Like her Facebook page at Get Back Up.

If you're interested in joining us next year for some of these crazy adventures, it's not too late to sign up for the Unlimited Tour Pass. You get up to 24 race entries on North America for only $400 (as little as $16 per race!) or for only $450, you can add the 6 European Races. Details at the Tour Pass page.

Monday, November 18, 2013


This weekend was transformational. Planning six months for a race is ordinary. Coordinating the logistics for two races in two states on the same day with your closest Rock ‘n’ Roll gypsy friends is extraordinary. Welcome to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Double Live Tour recap – from the female perspective.

Flowers are symbolic of happiness for me. So when I discovered Fellow Flowers at the Rock ‘n’ Roll Chicago expo, the joy I feel on the race course was elevated to a whole new level. Wearing a flower in my hair makes it possible to feel beautiful as an endurance athlete. Up until this weekend, this had been a solo venture. Fortunately, now I have amazing women with which to share my passion for flowers.

The flower colors for this weekend were yellow and orange - to match our custom made race shirts designed by Al - and white for Ron and Susan's plus Jim and Beth's wedding vow renewals. Fellow Flowers assigns the following meaning to these colors symbolic of our journey:

  • WHITE represents being a “Dreamer” who welcomes new beginnings.

  • YELLOW represents being “Authentic” who embraces laughter, joy and happiness.

  • ORANGE represents being “Fiercely United” honoring the journey of friendship.

Across the miles, there are select memorable moments that stay with us for years to come. Symbolic of the friendship bond between us; Caryn, Susan, and Beth wore Fellow Flowers on race day. Each of us has different reasons for pursuing the Double Live Album Tour; we’ll each walk away with our own unique story and with a renewed sense of purpose.

So the next time you see someone wearing a flower on the race course, be sure to reach out to them, even for a moment, to comment on their flower. Our community is strong and growing. Join the movement, feel more connected and embrace flower power.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Amazing Race Weekend - Preview

The Amazing Race x 2 - Rock n Roll San Antonio and Rock n Roll Las Vegas 2013

Two Cities

Two States

Eleven Hours.

One Epic Day.

Let's place credit (blame?) where credit is due. Back in April at Rock n Roll San Francisco, Al Hernandez found out that the dates for these two races were moved to be on the same day. Conflicts with existing races in San Antonio and a desire for warmer weather in Vegas put them both on the weekend of November 17th.  Vegas has been a night time race since 2011. 

How much convincing did it take for us to sign up for both?  Honestly, not a lot.

At last count, 202 people were confirmed to do the Double. The majority of us are doing half marathons in both cities but several are signed up for the full marathon in Vegas. George Melichar originally signed up for the full in both cities, but we'd have to see how his ankle feels after a spill in St. Louis a few weeks ago.

Logistics are simple. 
Step 1: Get to San Antonio any time before the expo closes Saturday afternoon. 
The Rock n Roll Gypsy group (Beth, Jim, Al, Caryn, Kamika, David, Donielle, George, Susan and I) are arriving on Thursday and Friday. The race starts at the Alamodome less than a mile from the scenic Riverwalk area. We hope to connect with the gang a few times to contemplate this amazing road we've travelled this year. 

Step 2: Rock n Roll San Antonio. Race start 7:30 AM on Sunday.
Competitor Group has gone above and beyond to help the 202 participants make the #SA2LV event happen. We'll be going out of early corrals to start and finish sooner. Folks who come in faster than 2:30 can enjoy a shower and catch a free shuttle ride to the airport. Our crew will be in a van to give folks a little more time to finish.

Step 3: Fly to Vegas. 
There are two direct flights on Southwest from San Antonio to Vegas. The first leaves at 12:15, so if we're at the airport by 11:15, we should be in great shape. Back this up and we have about 3 hours to finish the race which should be a good bet. Some of us will have to freshen up in transit, no doubt. The second flight leaves at 2 PM and won't land until 3:30. The full marathoners will be on that flight.  Fortunately, the wave start in Vegas and the sheer size of the race means that even if you arrive as late as 6, you're still able to start and finish the half in Vegas.

Step 4: Get married.

Ok, to be more specific, get RE-married. Susan and I and  Beth and Jim will be renewing our vows in a special ceremony at the start of RNR Vegas. We need to get there by 2:45 to pick up our wristbands and to the starting line by 3:15 for the ceremony. If we drop our bags off at the Westin, we'll have maybe a half hour to get back on the streets to make it to the White Sands Hotel where the Run Through Wedding check-in boot is located.  The four of us have been on the phone and email with local news in both San Antonio and Las Vegas all week as a sub-story to the group doing the Double. With any luck, we'll have even more souvenirs here than we did the last time we renewed our vows in 2010!

Step 5: Rock n Roll Las Vegas. Race start 4:30 PM.
I can't imagine there's any way we would take the second race seriously. When we get to the point when we hear the starting gun go off, the rest of the day is going to be like a huge theme park. It'll be just us, our Gypsy band, and 45,000 of our closest friends.

CGI made special vanity bibs and awesome medals for the SA2LV group. We'll have some shout outs in the event guides and the starting lines. Sunday is still days away and I feel the race day excitement already.

The planning is done. The training is over.

It's time to Rock this weekend!

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Through the Gateway - Rock n Roll St. Louis Half Marathon 2013

What do you do when you over-deliver?

In 2005, we completed our first marathon. That was part of our Life Top 10. Since we crossed it off the list we had to replace it.  At age 38 and 36, respectively, we thought a reasonable next goal was "50 events by age 50". Including full and half marathons, we crossed that off the list earlier this year in Phoenix and St Petersburg.

So what's next? We celebrate the milestones as they come.

Rock n Roll St. Louis was my 50th Half Marathon and my 10th Rock n Roll of the year, earning me a third Rock Idol Medal. Susan wasn't able to pick hers up at Brooklyn, so she claimed hers in St. Louis as well.

It was in the high 30's at race start. It was actually good preparation for a warm day in Antarctica. We added a few extra layers and kept the gloves on until the race start.

We met Rhonda and Rick on the way in from the train station. Both are Half Marathon veterans. Rhonda has completed 30. Rick will complete his 50th in early 2014 and run his first full marathon in late November.
I like to see my Facebook feed the days after race weekend because I always see friends adding other friends. Connecting in this community is easy since we all have something in common right away.

I also get to catch up on some pictures of the weekends that I missed. I'm glad I don't miss some of them myself!

Beth Austin-Deloria representing well for getbackuptoday, dressing in the local spirit.
I can't remember many starting guns this spectacular. It even rivaled our Solar Eclipse in Port Douglas last year.

I was wearing Susan's "Celebrating my 50th Half Marathon" sign on my back right over the I Rocked 10 Races in 2013 Rock Idol bib. I had dozens of people congratulate me on the achievement, many saying it was their first half marathon. My answer was always "we all start somewhere!" A few people wished me a happy 50th birthday. I can see how they could interpret the sign that way, but I would have hoped I don't look older than I am.

A lot of things go through your head during a race when you're targeting a time - what's my pace this mile? when's that next aid station? when do I eat again? For this one it was nothing like that.

I thought about the other Half Marathon's I'd done, starting with Nike in 2005. I went through what I thought were the prettiest natural course (Avenue of the Giants, 2006, 2007 and Kauai 2010), my favorite urban course (RNR Chicago 2011, 2012, 2013), the hilliest (San Francisco First Half 2013), hottest (Maui 2007, 2008 2009), coldest (RNR Las Vegas 2011). I ticked off my personal bests (Nike, RNR Seattle 2010, Eye-Q Twin Cities 2010, RNR Providence 2011, RNR Chicago 2011, RNR San Jose 2011, RNR San Diego 2012, RNR San Jose 2012, American River Parkway 2013 and San Diego 2013 - yes, I remember them all).

I was moving pretty well to stay warm, but it wasn't until I saw our friend Jennifer near the finish line that I realized the 50th Half was almost over.  Funny how time slips away when you're walking down memory lane.

Jennifer was our maid of honor at our wedding in grad school and drove down from Springfield to see us despite having her foot in a boot. Before she knew we were dating, she always ended up sitting between us in classes. Here she is in her usual position. 
There are other opportunities that present themselves when you're on the race circuit. Before we left, Susan asked if I wanted to see the Red Sox play the Cardinals in the World Series, a thought that somehow hadn't occurred to me. A painful trip to StubHub and we were in the third deck over the Red Sox dugout, watching Uehara pick off Wong to win Game 4 and send it back to Fenway where they clinched the title at home for the first time in 95 years.

The Red Sox jerseys were delivered to our hotel the day before the game.
Because my wife is awesome that way.

October finishes with both of us having 50 Half Marathons and 3 Rock Idols on our racing resume.

I like to believe that as long as we look for opportunities to do something new, then we can continue to deliver on my only New Year's resolution - "Every Year Better Than The Last". It's going to be hard to top this one. But it will be a lot of fun trying.

And by the way, the next bucket list is "100 Events (Half and Full) by age 50". We're 38 away with 37 months left. 

And through the Gateway we go...


The Rock n Roll St. Louis celebrated it's third running in 2013. The even has a full (1543 finishers, median finish time of 4:29) half (7471 finishers, median finish time of 2:17), wheelchair and Half Marathon relay division (winning times were 2:17:58 and 1:34:12, respectively). The loop course starts on Market Street off Poelker Park into an amazing sunrise behind the Gateway Arch and the old Capitol Building. We passed Busch Stadium (home of the St. Louis Cardinals, 2013 National League Champions) and Keiner Plaza before turning west on Washington and Delmar. The parks near mile 7 - 8 were a refreshing contrast to the city landscape. There were a few long grinding hills but the elevation changes weren't very severe enough to slow you down for long as the downhills were just as friendly. 

Weather (2013): 37 F and at the starting line, warming to 55 at the finish. While we seem to be able to hold off precipitation, we can't do anything about the temperature.

Race weekend activities: 360 Restaurant on top of the Hilton gave us stunning views of the Gateway Arch and the preparation for Game 3 and 4 of the World Series. Jennifer came to watch Game 3 from our hotel room. There was a very annoying 18 second delay between live action and the TV broadcast, so the fireworks went off before we saw the obstruction call on TV.

RNR St. Louis was our first race in Missouri, checking of our 17th state including Washington DC. This was Susan's 51st Half Marathon and Ron's 50th. Susan finished in 2:35:10 feeling really good considering she walked most of the way in the mid 11:30 minute/mile pace. Ron walked a 2:31:15, beating his goal time of 2:35:08 (no reason other than it's a Fibonacci sequence).

We're now two weeks away from our Double Live Album Tour

Two Cities, Two States, 11 Hours
One Epic Day

Monday, October 21, 2013

THIS - The Nike Women's Marathon San Francisco 2013

Susan and I are coaches for Team in Training. 

We have day jobs that pay the bills, but our coaching job is what feeds our spirits.

THIS is our job description.

THIS is my office
Mile 6: The start of the first hill at Crissy Field.

THESE are our mentors
Coach Al and Mama Lisa have trained thousands of marathoners and ultra marathoners between them and they continue to inspire generations of coaches to follow their example.
Florencia Borelli (Half Marathon) and Emily Gordon (Full Marathon) won the race.

THIS woman also won.
Coach MaryAnne Ravano with Shellie David. Shellie trimmed 15 minute off her previous full marathon PR.
so did THIS one,
Tiana showing her heart in the half marathon on the Cliff House hill. I tell people she was so far in front of the pack that you couldn't see anyone else.
and THIS one,
Lally Reyes finishes her first half marathon. We had to pry her away from her family at mile 12.9 to do it.
and all of THESE women. 
The San Francisco All Bay Walk Team - Team Remo. We raised over $140,000 this season.
and so did 30,000 more.

THIS is how the mission started.
Bruce Cleland and his daughter Georgia. Bruce started Team in Training 25 years ago. He and his friends raised over $300,000 for cancer research in honor of his daughter. 

THESE are our customers. They are the reason we have our jobs.
The Honored Patients at the Inspiration Dinner representing close to a million people in the US with blood cancer.

THESE are our coworkers. They all stay until the lights go out.

THIS is our annual report.
$9 million raised in 2013 for Nike alone.
and THIS...
Sue Yee is a long time participant and cancer survivor. She had been worried about not being allowed to finish the full marathon because of the new cut off time.

THIS is our paycheck.
She made it. And she set a personal best.
With four weeks left to our two state, double half marathon, this was our longest mileage of the season. Our legs are ready.

And now our hearts are full. That should carry us the rest of the way.


The Nike Women's Marathon San Francisco celebrated its 10th year in 2013. The 30,000 participants makes it the largest women's race in the world. There were 26,404 finishers in the Half Marathon (median finish time 2:36) and 4,261 finisher in the Full Marathon (median finish time 5:14). Despite the name, men are welcome to participate as 383 did in 2013).

The 2013 course had a slight modification near mile 4, heading up Van Ness instead of through Fort Mason. The Government shut down was rumored to have some effect on route planning. The Full course was modified to be an out and back to Lake Merced instead of a loop, giving some flexibility in sweep points. Fortunately, the race organizers were generous this year and none of our participants had to hop the sag wagon. 

Weather (2013): low 50's F at race start and fog that held through the entire morning. It got a bit chilly on the Great Highway. We apologize for not having the spectacular views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Race weekend activities: Fortunately, the Government run tourist sites were open. Locals were fighting the Bart Strike to pick up bibs during the week, but Bart had no effect on the race. Susan was busy working since she was doing a quick turnaround back to Bethesda for a conference.  We DID manage to get a post-race dinner with the walk coaches and a few of our rock star participants at Zingari.

This year was our 9th time participating in Nike. It's still my favorite race to support. Be sure to Like our Marathoning For Life Facebook community page!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The First of the October Milestones - Staying in step at Rock n Roll Cleveland

This weekend marked the first of several races with major milestones for us. Earlier this year, we both crossed off "50 events (half and full marathons combined) by age 50" from our bucket lists - years ahead of schedule. We reset goals to be 100 events by 50 and started ramping up the frequency. The Inaugural Rock n Roll Cleveland was Susan's 50th Half Marathon. Because of our previous schedules, she's one Half ahead of me and that's fine because this race would be all about her. The room was decorated with 50's. Her shirt was decorated front and back. Susan was coming off the IPM weight loss contest feeling (and looking) fantastic.

(This blog is co-written from Ron and Susan's different perspectives)

The universe gave us clear skies on race day despite the forecasts for thunderstorms as late as 10 PM the night before. If you have an outdoor event planned in the near future and want to have a clear day, feel free to call us to keep the rain away :)

Kevin Gonzalez and I planned to race together since we've always seen him bolt out of the gate fast and then have his last 5K be painfully slow. The concept of negative splits had never crossed his mind so we fitted him with Susan's old Garmin 405 so he could better track his progress. As the air horn went off in the shadow of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame I started calling out mile splits. This race was an education for Kevin, but also an incredibly proud event for me in quite a few ways.

I've always told people that Susan is a better walker than I am. She has better form and in the short distances, she's faster than I am, walking a 10:20 mile even a few years ago. She never seemed to push herself because in the back of her mind, she didn't want to risk injury. As usual at the start of the race, I kissed her, wished her a good race and told her I'd wait for her at the finish line no matter what the weather had in store for us that day.

Susan: Usually my races go exactly as I had trained. Today, however, was different in more ways than I could have ever imagined. I wasn't taking this race very seriously based on the number of desserts I sampled at the Horseshoe Casino buffet the night before. The forecast was for rain so I wore my oldest pair of running shoes that I planned to throw away at the end of this trip. I forgot to bring electrolytes with me and couldn't find any Nuun at the expo so I just put plain water in my bottle and did without. Nothing leading up to the start indicated that this was going to be a particularly good race day. But then it was time to head to the corrals tiptoeing between a few raindrops. Oh no, here comes the rain.... But it never materialized. I followed Ron and Kevin into the front of the corral and realized that I was going to get trampled once our wave started. We always start at the back if the corral - not today. I looked up and saw Kamika taking pictures of us on the sideline! Wait! Did he have a race bib on? What's he doing taking pictures of us when he should be lining up?! If we had been at the back if the corral we would have missed him and him us. We were already a step ahead having no idea what was in store for us next.

Photo by Kamika Smith who has been flying all over the US for the last few months. He came in after a race in Plymouth Michigan the day before.

Ron: Kevin had a great first 3 miles, knocking out a good 11:15min/mile pace even with a few slight hills. We agreed I'd lead so that he would be able to hold back, and we were helping each other call out the tangents to shave the distance down as much as possible. At the 3 mile mark, we were walking right on schedule at 34:41 at the 5K mark. It was a muggy start at 70 degrees and my shirt was soaked already. This was Kevin's element being the Florida native that he is.

Susan: Within the first mile, there already were more hills than I had expected. Apparently Western Cleveland is flat but we were on the Eastern side of Cleveland - not so flat. Ahead I saw a group if 3 women racewalkers. I was busy admiring their form (great arms, great turnover, great race etiquette walking only 2 abreast) and decided to follow them for a while. I quickly realized that my top walk pace was slightly slower than theirs and I was going to lose them if I didn't run to catch up. I hadn't run in training for quite a while but decided following these women was worth it. I hung back so as not to disturb them with all the "Congratulations!" comments I was getting on my 50th half marathon. But I kept jogging to catch them and didn't want to let them get too far ahead of me. I said to myself, "Susan, you're a veteran half marathoner. You know better than to let someone else set the pace for you." But what the heck. I decided to ride the tidal wave of supporters who were in awe of my 50 halves accomplishment while I was mesmerized by the trio in front of me. So be it if I burn myself out today. Let's just see how long I can hang with them using them as my butt magnets and I tried not to look at my GPS which would have told me that I was averaging 2+ min per mile faster than I had trained. Next thing I know, around mile 5 the trio of race walking ladies were catching up to Ron and Kevin which meant so was I! I'm not sure who was more surprised. Them or me!

Ron: Susan had picked up a group of three racewalkers from Cincinnati. The ladies had excellent turnover and were keeping a solid 11:10 - 11:15 pace for the first half. Susan was putting in some time jogging, but still holding her own during the walk intervals. We stayed within 20 yards of each other for the next 5K. Kevin dropped our pace to about 11:10 through 6 miles. I had thought about letting him go and see what he had left for the second half. The Cincinnati gals were matching us stride for stride so I decided to see how the group could work off each other. I have to say, something about having a good pace group really made it easy! We hit the 10K mark at 1:11:06.

Susan:There comes a point in every race where you know you're going to finish. Sometimes it's before you start and sometimes it's not until you actually see the finish line at the very end. Today, I realized around the 10k mark that not only was I going to finish, I was going to do it in record time. The continued adrenaline rush from my fellow racers who went as far as to take out their headphones to congratulate me on my 50th must have been the fuel I needed to keep going at this blistering pace.

(Ron) Miles 7 to 10 were still in the low 11's. Susan was right along side us the whole way. She mentioned some of the comments she was getting about her "Celebrating my 50th Half Marathon" sign on her back. Major swelling of pride. I was just beaming.  We left one of the Cincinnati walkers behind us, but were still trailing two others. A few short, but good sized hills shot my heart rate into the mid 180's as Kevin telemarked his way to a 10 meter lead. Geez. I thought I walked hills well.  The heat and grades were getting to us though. We finished the first 10 miles at 1:54:08.

Susan: At this point my trio was starting to slow down into the 12's. I made the conscious decision to catch up to Ron and Kevin up ahead. They were still holding their pace in the 11's and I was still going strong so why not use them to get me the rest of the way. We never planned for this and we weren't even sure what to make of the three if us being together. I could tell Ron was focused on Kevin and I quickly switched my focus to the lead Cincinnati gal who had broken away from the pack and was charging ahead.

Ron: The last three miles got mental pretty quickly. I was going through my checklist. Ate too much right before the race, didn't have enough water. Took the hills too fast to keep up with Kevin. Between shouting some form adjustments and telling Kevin to give it more, I'm surprised he didn't go into John Binghan's "Bite Me Zone" before we finished. We caught sight of Kamika Smith on the Carnegie bridge during one of the Polka DJ's songs. Coming down the last two turns, Susan passed us, looking annoyingly fresh.

Susan: The "run breaks" were paying off. Training with my new heart rate monitor with my Garmin GPS, I learned that my heart rate dropped when I was running at the same pace as walking. Therefore, I broke up muscle fatigue from walking with some light jogging until I caught up to the Cincinnati race walker in front of me. One of the ladies broke off from her girlfriends and charged ahead. I looked at Ron and he kindly said, "Go ahead and finish strong!"  I took off after her but never caught her. At this point she was cruising in strong and I was jogging in at my only sub 11 min/mi of the race. I had no desire to finish ahead of her even if I could have caught her. After everything those Cincinnati Racewalkers did to help pace me, it was an honor to finish behind the leader of the pack.

Coming down the chute I saw John Bingham. I quickly turned around (dancing) so he could see my "Celebrating my 50th half marathon" sign on my back. In true Bingham style, he announced to the crowd that not only was I celebrating my 50th half marathon but that I had just started running a few months ago! Then he kept saying, "Where's Ron? Where's Ron?"

Ron: Kevin and I came down the chute following one of the Cincinnati walkers. Neither of us had much left so I felt great that we left it all out on the course. Near the finish, John Bingham congratulated Kevin on finishing his '422nd Rock n Roll race'. Those of us in the know like to bet on the number.  John also let me know that Susan

finished about '20 minutes earlier.'  I know she was ahead of us, but wanted to see where her final time was.  Kevin and I matched finish times at 2:30:53.

Susan: This was a new experience. Normally Ron is the one waiting for me at the finish line. I did the only thing I could think to do. I pulled out my phone and started taking pictures of Ron and Kevin crossing the finish line. Kevin was striking up conversations with those around him. Ron was stopping to stretch to ward off near cramping. Susan was feeling great and amazed that the walk-run routine had worked as well as it did. 50 in the bag!

We made our way to the VIP tent that CGI was so gracious to extend to us in Cleveland. We waited for Kamika to come in so we could take the official "Rock n Roll Gypsy" pictures before going our separate ways.

Ron, Beth Deloria-Austin, Sherry Ricker, Joe Harris, Jim Austin, Krissy Foley, Kevin Gonzalez, Michelle Johnson, David DeNeire with 50 Half Marathoner Susan
Susan is off to do the Rock n Roll Brooklyn 10k next weekend and to get her Rock Idol while Ron will be with Team Remo in San Francisco for send off and the last training before Nike. We'll be traveling to St. Louis at the end of the month to get our third Rock Idol as a married couple.

Then it gets crazy.


The Inaugural Rock n Roll Cleveland Half Marathon had 5044 finishers (Median finish time of 2:19:43). There was also a Mini-Marathon that was not timed (or at least there are not results posted at this time). The course starts on Erieside and Rock n Roll Boulevard on the steps of the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and crosses west over the Cuyahoga River as far as W 6th Street, taking a southern loop around Tremont Park before crossing back over the Carnegie Bridge. The last few miles head into downtown, ending at the Tower City Center in the plaza outside the Horseshoe Casino. 

Weather (2013): 60 F and high humidity at the starting line, warming to 70. The thunderstorms held off and there was almost no rain to speak of on race day.

Race weekend activities: Minimal due to the rain threat, but the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame was a great few hours of history. Thanks RNR for the discounted tickets that helped us skip the line at the opening! Had the Indians not lost the wild card game, it may have been a lot more crowded near our hotel on Carnegie.

RNR Cleveland was our first race in Ohio, checking of our 16th state including Washington DC. This was Susan's 50th Half Marathon, her 61st event and her overall PR (2:30:05). Ron and Kevin finished at 2:30:52.