Friday, October 4, 2013

An Amazing Run of Luck - Allard USA and the Oasis Rock n Roll Montreal 2013

For the past eight years, it seems Susan and I have had an incredible run of what I refer to as "weather luck". With rare exceptions, it seems like we hit a sweet spot in the weather systems for our races. In 2010 in New Orleans, it poured all night before the race and storms hit hard the day after. Race day was perfectly sunny and clear. In 2011 in Nashville, we barely missed a row of storms and tornadoes and were even able to visit Graceland down in Memphis before flying out just ahead of the next storm front. This year in Chicago, the heat wave broke and we started the race about 10 degrees cooler than the forecasted mid 70's for the race start.

Granted, we have had our share of deluges, notably at our first full marathon (2005 Mayors Marathon Anchorage) and Rock n Roll Providence in 2011. Providence was my first time walking under 2:40 though, so maybe walking on water actually helped.

I was re-evaluating our 'weather luck' as we stood in corral 21 on the Jacque Cartier Bridge overlooking Montreal a few weeks ago. It was in the low 50's (10 C for those keeping score) with a stiff breeze and a steady drizzle. Being on the bridge made it a little more exposed as we waited about a half hour for the wave start to get us moving. Fortunately, we prepared well for the conditions. We wrapped ourselves in a space blanket from a previous race and shared body heat like a pair of foil-wrapped hot dogs in a street vendor cart. Susan later said that was one of the fondest memories she's had for our races this year.

About 10 minutes earlier, we had another type of luck. This seems to happen to a lot of marathoners we know, but out of the 30,000 people who were in the race that morning, we only knew three other people. Two of them - Beth Deloria and Jim Austin - happened to find us on the way to our corral. We've had the privilege to share our Rock n Roll journey with some inspiring people and these two are near the top of our list. In Montreal, we spent a lot of time with Beth Deloria and Jim Austin, a couple from North Carolina who, as far as I know, are the only other married couple to each have two Rock Idol medals. Jim was joking that he wanted to stay close to us to keep the rain away.  He's also the one who coined the term "Rock n Roll Gypsies" to refer to a group of us who follow the Tour.

Beth has foot drop, a condition resulting from a spinal surgery that paralyzed her left ankle. This is a common injury that prevents many people from walking without canes or walkers. She wears a custom orthotic brace from Allard where she is the Director of Community Outreach. Not only can she walk without assistance, she can  run. Jim beams at the fact that she's even faster than him! She and Jim are nearly done with a 24 month schedule where they'll be doing 48 races, mostly half marathons. As they race they'll be spreading awareness for Allard products.  At dinner the night before RNR Montreal, she told us about visiting a clinic near Montreal where they met a woman who had spent years using a cane. They fitted her with a brace and within minutes, she was able to walk across the room without assistance. The woman was in shock and overwhelmed with emotion. It was the kind of freedom she hadn't experienced in years. The story of Beth's racing journey was picked up across the Canadian newswire. The device has been available for years, but Beth's passion and her campaign through racing is really bringing the possibilities to the spotlight.

The rain held off for the most part. Other than having to splash through some very wide puddles in the amusement park before mile 2, both Susan and I did very well.
After the race, we walked by the CGI VIP tent just as they were coming out. We exchanged hugs and parted ways. We'll be seeing Beth and Jim in Cleveland, St. Louis and in our Double in San Antonio and Vegas.

Luck is something you can make for yourself. Put yourself in the position to experience new things and take advantage of the situations that present themselves. There's an exciting life at the intersection of opportunity and initiative.

Beth, Jim, Susan and Ron before the start of Rock n Roll Montreal 2013.
For more information on Allard and their life-changing product line, visit Follow Beth by liking her Facebook page at Get Back Up Today.

Rock n Roll Montreal had it's second running in 2013. It was previously sponsored by the Oasis Juice company before being acquired by Competitor Group Inc. In 2013, the Half Marathon had 11488 finishers (median time 2:09) and the full marathon had 2885 (median time 4:07). Montreal also held a 10K and a 1K fun run.  Every distance is a point to point course. The half and full marathons start on the Jacque Cartier bridge and proceed east and downward onto the island into the amusement park before crossing back into eastern Montreal. The race finishes at Parc La Fontaine.

Weather (2013): 10 C (49 F) at the starting line, warming slightly by the finish. The rain was light for the most part, thankfully. Winds were infrequent except for a few strong headwinds in the downtown area and the bridges.

Race weekend activities: Il Campari Centro (an Al Hernandez recommendation and Susan Approved Eatery), Chinatown and the Notre Dame  Basilica, fresh hot bagels at Fairmont Bagels, climbing Mont Royal and seeing La Croix at night with my cousin Marites. The Metro is very reliable and a weekend pass for $18 for 3 days is a bargain.

This was our first race in Montreal and our first half marathon outside the United States. Susan's 49th Half Marathon was a minute off her walking PR at 2:40:40. Ron's 48th Half was a respectable 2:29:29 (the fact that Kevin Gonzalez had a 2:29:38 the previous week at RNR Philadelphia had absolutely nothing to do with my finish time). We'll be celebrating our respective 50th Halfs in Cleveland (October 6th) and St. Louis (October 27th).

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