Sunday, November 29, 2015

A Long Road Behind. An Open Road Ahead.

Deal with the past. Practice forgiveness and gratitude.
Be optimistic about the future. Let go of worry and fear.
When you can do that, you can truly celebrate the present. 

I'm a bit of a statistics geek. When I get a bucket of numbers or lists and I have free time (like I do during a slow Thanksgiving week), I like to look at the past to see what I can learn.  With our 100th half marathon coming up next week in San Antonio, it was nice to take a trip through the first 99.

We started in 2005. When we were racing with Team in Training, the idea of doing more than a half marathon every 12 weeks or a full more than twice a year was not within the realm of possibility. We didn't even speak about it. I think the idea was that our participants, many first time marathoners, should concentrate on their event so it's the highlight of the season. Pre-event tune up races detracted from the big one. I get that. And that's how we trained for the first four years. Most of the races we did for the first 5 years were with TNT.

That changed in 2009. Our tenure as TNT mentors and coaches went to an every other year basis and the teams in the Bay Area got smaller, probably due to competition from other training organizations. We added a few of the short hop destination races like Rock n Roll Vegas (with a day-time Run Through Wedding) and a local race featuring a Walk Division (Eye-Q Twin Cities Fresno).

Rock n Roll Las Vegas 2009. Our first vow renewal, photobombed by Elvis.
In 2010, we also found out about the bonus Heavy Medals offered by Rock n Roll. That year, we had 3 halfs and a full to get the Grand Slam. We also met a Marathon Maniac, Kamika Smith. That meeting on the Seattle causeway led us to join the Half Fanatics and eventually the Marathon Maniacs.

This was one instance where Susan and I did different races. Susan did the full in Seattle because I had done one extra full in Anchorage. I did the half 5 months after reconstructive knee surgery (and PRed).
Kamika finished his 100th full on the day we met. I never thought we'd come anywhere close to that total for races.
2011 was a step change. We were on a Southwest flight for RNR Arizona and somehow we had an unscheduled layover in San Diego. We were sitting in the aisle/window in row 2 when a perky blonde lady from the C group asked if she could sit with us. She ended up chatting with Susan for the hour long flight to Phoenix and it turns out she knew all about Rock n Roll. She even mentioned that they were adding a few inaugural races in Providence, Rhode Island; Savannah, Georgia and Miami Beach. By the time we got off the plane we were so excited we registered for another 5 races that year.  Turns out that young lady was Ann Wessling, the striped-socked, high-fiving announcer for the Rock n Roll races. We ended the year with 10 races (9 half marathons) and our first (inaugural) Rock Idol Heavy Medal. Garret Schmidt saved us a second medal for our picture on the shores of Rock n Roll Miami Beach (ours was in the mail).

We hit another inaugural in RNR Pasadena in 2012. I'm not sure where it got into our heads that we would do another 10 races, but the schedule filled up quickly. We met Dan and Jackie Evans, contestants from The Biggest Loser season 5.  They were in the early stages of setting up The Biggest Loser RunWalk race series. We signed up to raise money for Team Future, the Chicago area charity they were supporting, and they were gracious enough to treat us with VIP passes for Rock n Roll Chicago. That was the race we met Beth Deloria and Jim Austin. Beth is the director of social outreach for Allard and the GetBackUp Today movement. She runs with a special brace on her left foot because her ankle was paralyzed from a spinal surgery, but it hasn't slowed her down. She's a Boston qualifier and she and Jim are among our closest friends. By the end of the year, we bought memberships to the Half Fanatics group (#1731 and #1732) as Christmas presents to each other.

In 2013, things took a turn for the ridiculous. We had become good friends with Al and had dinners and post race celebrations with him and Caryn since RNR San Jose 2012, but when Competitor Group had a scheduling overlap putting Rock n Roll San Antonio and Rock n Roll Las Vegas on the same day, Al called me saying 'you know, it might be possible to do both'. We'd done full marathons before that, obviously, but even this was a step up. That was the year Double Live / SA2LV happened. We also added the inaugural Berkeley Half Marathon the following weekend to moon up to Earth level as Half Fanatics with 3 halfs in 3 states in 10 days. That split double gave us a good start for the Brazen New Years Eve/New Years Day double, just a month before we did full marathons 4 days apart on Antarctica and South America.

A second vow renewal, this time with a larger party on an emotional weekend.

The finish line at Vegas with a warm welcome from Ann.
2014 was our busiest year with 47 half marathons between us. Susan had the extra race that year at the Zooma Women's marathon in Napa, California. I didn't race in it, but was there in full support in an electric blue tutu. We also added the 50th Anniversary Mustang Half, a once in a lifetime chance to race on the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. We were able to walk in The Biggest Loser RunWalk races in Casper, Wyoming and Panama City Beach, Florida. It was also the year we did our first Disney races, starting with the Dumbo Double Dare in September and Disney Avengers in November (as the first half of the Avengers/RNR Vegas Double Live 2). We were even part of George Melichar's moving art museum at Rock n Roll Chicago. At Rock n Roll San Antonio, we hit our 15th RNR race, putting us on the first ever Heavy Medal Hall of Fame for CGI.

2015 saw another pair of Disney races and two The Biggest Loser RunWalk races.  We went back to where we did our first full marathon in Anchorage, Alaska to mark 10 years since our first race. The celebration was also our 20 year wedding anniversary.  With the inaugural Rock n Roll Brooklyn Half, we checked off the 25th state for half marathons. After this year's Disney Avengers/Rock n Roll Las Vegas double, we also finished our 15th RNR for another entry into the Hall of Fame. 

Messing with Darth

Dan and Jackie. The Biggest Winners in our book.

More than anything, we'll remember our first 99 races with our friends. We cheered for Joe for his 100th finishing his Rock n Roll race in DC. 

In the rain at DC for Joe's 100th Rock n Roll

We prayed for Beth as she underwent major surgery in March and recovered quickly enough to race again in May.

Pre-race at Rock n Roll Raleigh. Beth was just a few weeks out of abdominal surgery and came out to cheer us on. We all wore bibs in her honor.
We came together for Erin Zeman. Joe, Kevin and I wore her husband, Jake's bib from the day he passed away at Rock n Roll Savannah 2013.

Rock n Roll San Antonio will be our 16th RNR each for this year and our 45th half for 2015 combined. And it'll be a race where a lot of our best friends are hitting the 15 race Hall of Fame for the year as well. I want to see how many people I can fit into a group selfie of all the friends we've made over the years and the ones we hope to see for years to come.

I am grateful for every time I post a picture of my suitcase and the dozen or so luggage tags from the races we've done that year.

I'm glad that our bodies have forgiven us for the miles that we put on them.

I'm looking forward to the finishing in San Antonio on Sunday. It'll be the last of our first 100 half marathons.

At that time, and always, we'll celebrate the present.


I found this way of displaying our race history a little surprising. It didn't really dawn on me that we have been racing nearly every other weekend for almost three years now, most of them out of state. It does make me wonder if we've found a sweet spot or we're just taking a quick pause before going to the next level.

By the numbers, the 100 Half Marathon breakdown and stats.

Top Race Companies

- Rock n Roll Marathon (67 and 68 halfs, 5 and 4 fulls)
- runDisney (4) 
- The Biggest Loser RunWalk (4)

Most Frequented Races

RNR San Diego (6)
RNR Chicago (6)
RNR Seattle (5)
RNR Arizona (5)
RNR Las Vegas (5)
We've also done Nike San Francisco 10 times, but 8 of those were in support and we did the full marathon as pacers.

States with completed Halfs: 25

In order of completion: California, Alaska, Hawaii, Arizona, Nevada, Washington, Illinois, Texas, Tennessee, Rhode Island, Virginia, Florida, District of Colombia (yes we'll count it), Oregon, Colorado, Ohio, Missouri, North Carolina, Wyoming, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Louisiana, Indiana, Michigan, New York.

Canadian Provinces: 2

Quebec, British Columbia

Legacy Races

RNR Portland (4 years). We haven't seen this on the 2016 RNR schedule yet.
RNR San Francisco (3)
If you count these: Disney Avengers (2) and RNR Raleigh (2). 

Fastest halfs
Walking: Ron 2:22:28 RNR San Diego 2015, Susan 2:29:23 RNR San Diego 2014
Run/Walking: Ron 2:55:54 (yeah, go figure) RNR Chicago 2014, Susan 2:30:03 RNR Cleveland 2013

Best Age graded performances:  
Ron 63.27%, Susan 65.63%

Best Overall Finishes:
Ron: 1st place - TBL Casper 2014, TBL Las Vegas 2015, 3rd Place - TBL Panama City Beach 2014, American River Parkway 2014
Susan: 2nd place - TBL Casper 2014, 3rd place - TBL Las Vegas 2015.

Age grade awards:
Ron:  1st Place - Eye Q Fresno, 3rd Place - Eye Q Fresno
Susan: 1st Place - Eye Q Fresno, 1st Place American River Parkway (twice)

Favorites - random categories, because people always ask the question:
Favorite overall - Kauai. Tunnel of Trees and the most beautiful finish chute starting at mile 11.
Favorite Urban - RNR Chicago. I can do without the bridges, but the city is awesome.
Favorite For Speed - RNR San Diego. 4 PRs in 4 years (one in the 5K)
Most memorable: RNR San Antonio/RNR Las Vegas 2013. For many reasons.


Favorite Rock n Roll race - Vancouver. The last 3 miles smell like fresh cut Christmas trees.
Race with the most to look forward to at the finish: Diva San Francisco (Tiaras, Feather Boas, Champagne)
Most Scenic: Maui, Monterey

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