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