Thursday, April 17, 2014

Homecoming - Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh 2014

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other's life. 
Rarely do members of one family grow up under the same roof.” 

Susan grew up less than 30 miles from where we toed the starting line at Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh for the inaugural race this weekend. It was a bit warmer than we were used to for April, but much better than the ice storms Raleigh was experiencing just two weeks earlier. The dogwoods were starting to bloom. Everything was pointing to a pleasant trip home.

We got in Friday and were lucky to get to the expo before it closed, avoiding the usual day-before crowds. The race was capped at 12,500 for the full and half marathons and it sold out a month in advance. With registration for next year already available, word has it Raleigh is a sure bet for Rock 'n' Roll races for another few years.

Nice new touches by the local Tourism Authority. Raleigh really went all out to welcome the race this year.
We took the opportunity to sign up for a few more races. Our friend George is working on something absolutely amazing for Rock 'n' Roll Chicago. He shared details, but you're going to have to be there to see it. Ron also finally made the decision to skip his 30 year high school reunion and finish the North American circuit by signing up for Rock 'n' Roll Philadelphia this year.

Raleigh gave us a TON of time with our Rock 'n' Roll Gypsy friends. Beth and Jim live in the area and Beth was a gracious hostess, presenting us with some absolutely gorgeous hand made cards and a box of local goodies, most of which didn't make it to the plane ride home! I can't say enough about how much we've enjoyed spending time with Beth and Jim since meeting them in Chicago a few years ago. I mentioned to Jim that Susan was going to be on a hunt one of her favorite treats growing up. We had been in Raleigh less than 2 hours before Jim secured a large order of hush puppies for us to share.

OK, maybe Susan really didn't want to share, but there were a lot of them!
We hit the expo again in the morning and saw a few of the usual suspects. The CGI Staff had things humming along smoothly. Since we just did RNR San Francisco the week before we didn't actually need much in the way of supplies. We DID run into one of our White Continent / Punta Arenas Marathon Maniac friends, Roscoe Douglas who drove up from the Atlanta area. The world seems to keep getting smaller.

We have to thank Mary Kramer and the folks at the 518 West for putting up with all the last minute adds to the reservation for pre-race pasta. Jim gave a toast and talked about our little "race family". It was really touching. I realize we see this group about once a month which is more than I see my brothers who live less than 30 miles from us in California.

I'm estimating that the folks in the picture below represent more than 350 Rock 'n' Roll races combined. We didn't even have all time record holder Joe Harris for his 86 Rock 'n' Rolls.

(Left to Right) Front: Mega, Jack, Michelle, Middle: Susan, Sylvia, Mary, Beth, Kevin. Back: Ron, Kamika Andrew, George, Ted, Jim.
And though they didn't race, Meg and Mikey made it out for dinner. Meg was with us for our first marathon in Anchorage with Team in Training in 2005. We put a reminder that our 10 year marathon anniversary (and our 20 year wedding anniversary) planning should start immediately. We may be heading back to the 2015 Mayors Marathon in Alaska where it all began.

Race day was probably the easiest we've ever had logistically. The start and finish lines were a block apart and our hotel was right in between. Susan's parents, Art and Helen, were coming in from Chapel Hill so we splurged for VIP passes so they could be comfortable while they waited for us. This was their first time at a race after all. Why not give them the first class experience?

Seriously, I really like taking "making of" pictures as much as the pictures themselves.  Kevin taking a picture of George and Joe in the standard pre-race hug.

I suppose at some point, I should stop referring to people as "MySpace friends", though that's where I actually first met Megan. She's been a part of Team in Training for years and was one of the few of our group who did the full marathon. She had some hip and knee issues at mile 24. Having only done a half, I felt it absolutely necessary to make sure she had company for the last few miles (and get more miles in myself).

Ron, Meg, Susan in corral 15. Ignore the creepy naked guy behind us.
Art and Helen were able to get into the city early for the VIP breakfast. While it was a bit overwhelming for them at first, they said they enjoyed the atmosphere. It was their first experience at a race and like I tell people, Rock 'n' Rolls are the place to be for first timers.

Raleigh was about as scenic as you can get for a city race with lots of shaded park and residential mileage. Team Blue was out in force honoring fallen servicemen and women. While the total ascent/descent was less than 1000 feet, the hills had a lot of people swearing under their breath.  There were several well placed bands at the tops of some hills to get us through.

University Marching Bands totally rock.

We estimated our time for Art and Helen so they could try to come out and see us cross the finish line. We must have done a lot better than we told them since they had just come out as we were working our way through the finisher area. Susan and I walked the entire race in preparation for American River at the end of April. On a hilly course, I managed to break 2:35 and Susan barely missed her walking PR at just under 2:38. I think we're ready.

Also meeting us after the finish area was Beth's mother Anne and our friends from TeamUp. Beth had a great piece on WRAL the night before the race and several media events to highlight the carbon fiber technology in her brace that allows her to run with Foot Drop. TeamUp has partnered with the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association for the past few races to build awareness for CMT, the most common form of inherited disorders affecting the peripheral nerves. If you know anyone with CMT or Foot Drop, pass on the information. The technology is a life-changer.

We had some work to catch up on after the race since we'd flown most of Friday and were flying back Monday. We did happen to get back to Dickey's for a full meal. Local BBQ pork with several sauces and another mound of hush puppies. I think Susan is set for the rest of the year.

My order was actually pulled pork with hush puppies and a side of hush puppies. The corn was for balance and just took up unnecessary room.
We left Raleigh on Monday afternoon after having a lunch with Art and Helen at Sweet Tomatoes. This was the first time we'd been back to the area in over seven years. We appreciate the time that we had with them and may get back eventually for another race. 

Coming home can be a great experience. 

But sometimes, home is not defined by where you are, 

              ...but by who you're with.


The Inaugural Rock 'n' Roll Raleigh started and finished in downtown Raleigh next to the Sheraton and Convention Center. The course was actually probably the second most challenging Rock 'n' Roll we've done behind RNR San Francisco. There were 1626 finishers in the full marathon (median time finish time 4:49) and 8614 finishers for the half (median finish time 2:23), making this the biggest road race ever in the capitol of North Carolina. The median time was even slower than RNR SF, again, due to hills and partially because of the slightly warmer weather. The course was a mostly shaded loop course for the half marathon with the full marathon extending further west before merging back with the half course at mile 22.

The V Foundation for Cancer Research was the race's charity beneficiary. Team V showed up in force with over 100 runners raising money for the cause.

On a sad note, two local runners passed away during the race. Several friends saw them fall or being attended to by paramedics. While the incidence of fatalities is race is lower than the majority of daily activities, it reminds us to be sure to get ourselves checked out for heart abnormalities and be cleared by our doctors.

We'll likely be back for another RNR Raleigh, but currently have not registered for 2015.


  1. Ron, I'm so grateful that you came back out on the course to bring me in to the finish line! And that I got to spend so much time with Susan earlier on in the race. The miles shared with friends are always the best ones :-)

    PS... A cautionary note for your readers who might be considering doing the full next year... Although the half marathon course was, as you described, shady... the same cannot be said of miles 10-22 on the full marathon course. So you would do well to plan for exposure. Last Sunday it was sunny, quite warm, and quite windy... so dehydration was a serious concern.

    1. Thanks for sharing that insight on the full, Megan. Races seem to have a great plan for a course for the half distance, but I still have yet to see a course with a full and half where the full is as scenic or shaded. The extra 13.1 and the later time really can test the runner!

      It was great to see you again too! Looking forward to Chicago :)