Thursday, March 26, 2015

A Zone of Appreciation - Rock n Roll Dallas 2015

"There Will Come a Day When I Cannot Do This.
Today is Not That Day"

This is one of my favorite slogans. I see it at almost every race expo at the OneMoreMile booth on car magnets and shirts. This saying was also top of mind for me at Rock n Roll Dallas. After celebrating Joe Harris becoming the first Rock n Roll marathoner to finish 100 races in the series, the thoughts of our Rock n Roll Gypsy group turned to our friend Beth.

We met Jim and Beth at Rock n Roll Chicago in 2012. She was hard at work making a sign for the Allard "Get Back Up" campaign. We found out that they were one of the only other married couples on the RNR circuit to have earned the 10-race Rock Idol medal. We instantly bonded. As the years went on, we looked for each other to catch up at races, spending a lot of time together at RNR MontrealRNR Raleigh and of course, the epic Double Live adventure of RNR San Antonio and RNR Las Vegas in 2013. 

For those of you who don't remember those blogs, Beth has a condition called Foot Drop in which her right ankle was paralyzed and she can't lift her toe, making it difficult to walk much less run. After some time with the condition, she discovered Allard, a company that makes a specialized brace that not only allowed her to run, but be fast enough to qualify for Boston. She's one of my personal heroes and has been inspiring other people with foot drop to walk, run and take control of their lives - literally, Get Back Up. Beth told us the prior week in DC that she had to go back in for surgery and because of her previous conditions, there was a chance that this new procedure would leave her paralyzed from the waist down. 

We kept Beth and Jim in our thoughts the whole weekend and entered what we've dubbed the Zone of Appreciation.

Race weekend started early Friday morning. Susan, Al and I caught an early flight and landed around noon at Love Field, headed straight for the Aloft and to the expo for bib pick up. At mid week, the forecast for the Saturday 5K was about a 50% chance of rain. Sunday was looking to be close to 90% chance of rain. It was time to call in our legendary Weather Luck to see if we could make the weekend better. The expo visit was well timed. We met Joe Harris as we walked in.

After the race on Sunday, we actually were approached by two women at lunch who recognized us from the Hall of Fame banner. Amy and Ainsley are planning on hitting 15-19 races this year to make the Hall of Fame
Marcey from Sport Hooks decided at the last minute to run the race for the first time as a mother-daughter team. Sunday also happened to be her daughter's birthday. Since Marcey was working the booth that weekend, she hadn't brought any gear with her, but fortunately, there were a lot of good places to shop at the expo. Pete wondered if his wife would ever get back to the booth to work - it looked like she was having way too much fun shopping!

We ran into Rock n Roll race announcer, Ann Wessling, on the way out. Ann was in Mexico City the previous weekend when Joe hit 100, so they exchanged greetings and cards in Dallas. I took the opportunity to give Ann a care package of Snappers, a snack that she introduced us to last year in Denver which we got totally addicted to. Word is that the care package didn't survive the weekend.

We met Beth and Jim for dinner at the Iron Cactus. Hyalker and a few friends from our SA2LV adventure (Leny and Nancy) joined us. I was caught up in the conversation so much I don't even have any pictures. Jim's daughter Kristen would be running the 5K the next morning, their first race as a family. The forecast was clearing up nicely. Thank you, Universe!

I'll have you hop over to Beth's blog on the 5K at this point. Not only did she have a great set of pictures for Saturday, she also had a lot of detail from Rock n Roll DC that I missed and some information on her upcoming surgery. After reading that, you'll get a good sense of how concerned we were for Beth's health. I did get a chance to take a video of the 5K family finish. Al, Susan and I formed up behind Jim, Kris and Beth. The rain held off for the race. The first drops started falling as we left Fair Park. Our zone of appreciation continued.

Susan, Al and I were back on Main Street at CBD Provisions for lunch. We caught up with Kevin and got the recap of the Inaugural Rock n Roll Mexico City. Not only did Kevin have a good race time wise, the event was a big success. It looks like 2016 is definitely on and there are rumors that it will be the same day as RNR Dallas. The "Tex Mex" challenge may be popping up soon.

Pre-race dinner was at Ravenna, the same location as last year. Tawni and her aunt Missy joined us and Kevin actually surprised us by not ordering his usual Fettucini Alfredo. He went for spaghetti and meatballs (but no clams). 

Al was suffering from some really bad seasonal allergies. Smiling or laughing generally resulted in coughing up a lung. Kevin... well, I think he was between smiles in this picture.
Race morning came and the forecast for the 8 AM start was down to 5% rain. Let's just say, everything was lining up to give Beth a great race day. We caught up with a few friends at the Omni then headed out. Beth chose to go out of corral 5. We formed up an RNR Gypsy support circle around her before taking a few more group selfies.

I had the group move over to the left side as we approached the start line since Ann was on the announcer stage. I'd asked Ann earlier to give Beth a shout out to start the race.  Tears flowed freely, but we wiped them away as we started on the course.

Jim and Beth took off. With Al under the weather, we had no hope of keeping up. She finished her half in under 2 hours while most of us came in between 2:30 and 3 (with pictures and videos). The sky reflected our moods, but we didn't have a drop of rain.  Kevin had a solid 2:25 a week after walking a 2:29 in Mexico City altitude. I walked sub-2:30 (and over a 60% age grade) in March for the first time ever which bodes well for the training year. Tawni kept Al company and Susan caught up to them in the late miles. Susan said she was in a "Zone of Appreciation" for this entire race with the realization that we should never take anything for granted.

This cowboy at mile 11 was doing this rope trick for runners who stopped. The reason Al, Tawni and Susan are staying very still was that the woman who went right before them held up her arms and got caught on the rope. No bueno.

I caught Ann at the finish and thanked her for Beth's shout out. She said she saw Beth finish, looking strong. I must have been really overcome with emotion at the time since I didn't know that the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders were right behind Ann off the chute.  I waited for Susan, Al and Tawni at the finish so I wasn't able to catch up with Jim, Beth and Kevin since they had early check outs.

We did catch up with Joe at the Victory Tavern. We also found a woman with a great pair of shoes that match any color gear. 

Those colorful feet belong to Master's Half Marathon record holder Deena Kastor. We saw her world record setting effort last year at Rock n Roll Philadelphia.

We caught up with Jim, Beth, Joe and Lisa later at the Press Box Grill. Jim had to find a place to watch the NCAA tournament. It is, after all, March and they're doing what comes naturally to North Carolina residents. It was the first weekend we actually spent a lot of quality time with Joe. He's even learning how to take group selfies (with a little help from Jim).

We laughed a lot at lunch - more than I remember in a while. We talked about the next person to likely hit 100 Rock n Roll races in our marathoning subculture of agelessness and our plans for Hall of Fame this year. On TV, I think all of the right teams won. Lots of appetizers were demolished and drinks were drunk. We sent Beth off with all of our positive energy. I even told her I'd trade our weather luck for healing.

Beth went into surgery Tuesday morning. She posted her blog recap for DC and Dallas just a few hours before that so we knew the latest news. Tuesday afternoon, Susan got a text from Jim saying that the surgery went well. As of Wednesday night, it looks like she has mobility in her legs and she can start the road to recovery.  We'll see her in Raleigh in a couple of weeks and she said she'd be on the sidelines cheering for us. If all goes well, she can get back to training in 6 to 8 weeks and maybe we'll toe the line with her in Chicago where we met years ago.

They say that running is an individual sport. That doesn't mean you're alone.

And there may be a day where Beth, or any of us, won't be able to do this anymore.

Today is not that day.

We're in our home town for Rock n Roll San Francisco this weekend. Follow us on Facebook at Marathoning for Life.

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